This week's guest editors

A global debate without the female half of humanity is neither global nor democratic. With this in mind, openDemocracy is running 50.50: a series of editorial projects designed to make openDemocracy a current affairs forum which is written, read and used equally by women and men. We believe there will not be a fairer or more peaceful world without gender equality. Women's exclusion from the global debate affects both the content of the debate and the way the dialogue is conducted.

Palestinians under siege in the West Bank

For the fortieth anniversary of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories as a result of the six-day war of June 1967, the international secretariat of Amnesty International has compiled a hauntingly illustrated and scrupulously documented audit of the human-rights violations arising from the hundreds of checkpoints, closures and blockades, the 700-kilometre wall and the burgeoning settlements or "Israeli colonies" that now pervade the West Bank.
Also in openDemocracy on the predicament of the Palestinians:

Eyal Weizman, "The politics of verticality" (April-May 2002) - an eleven-part project mapping Israel's three-dimensional control of the West Bank

Eyal Weizman, "Ariel Sharon and the geometry of occupation" (September 2003) - a three-part series on the architecture of power embodied in the separation barrier

Stephen Howe, "The death of Arafat and the end of national liberation" (18 November 2004)

Eyad Sarraj, "The campaign that should never stop" (13 November 2006)

Mary Kaldor & Mient Jan Faber, "Palestine's human insecurity: a Gaza report" (21 May 2007

Women won't wait

The German presidency of the G8 has made fighting HIV and Aids in Africa a priority for the Summit at Heiligendamm this week. Leaders of the world's wealthiest countries have committed to supporting HIV/Aids prevention, treatment, and care, with the goal of coming "as close as possible" to universal access to treatment by 2010. But these lofty promises have not yet translated into dedicated funding to address a major and prevalent driver of the pandemic - the deadly intersection of HIV/Aids with violence against women and girls.

To state the obvious - violence against women and girls is a big contributor to death and illness among women, as well as to a host of human rights abuses. Moreover, gender-based violence, and particularly intimate partner violence, is a leading factor in the increasing "feminization" of the global Aids pandemic. Simultaneously, HIV/Aids is both a cause and a consequence of the gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination that women and girls face in their families and communities, in peace and in conflict, within and outside of intimate partnerships, and by state and non-state actors.

Nigeria and the G8: time for action

At the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, on 6-8 June 2007, leaders of the world's richest countries will reaffirm their desire to promote democracy and development on the world's poorest continent. But at the same time, they risk undermining those ideals by welcoming Nigeria's fraudulently elected president into their midst as a partner. Unless the G8 countries use the occasion of the summit to speak out on Nigeria, they risk doing real damage to their own goals in Nigeria and across the continent.

G8: the aid gap

As the German-led G8 summit begins in Heiligendamm this week, activists are taking the opportunity to press European leaders on commitments to Africa made at Gleneagles in 2005, before the presidency passes out of Europe again. While many people see those commitments as a real landmark and celebrate the increase in aid to Africa, especially from the UK, far too little attention is apparently being paid to the use and impact of such official aid. Indeed, the congratulatory air that currently emanates from senior staff in both the aid and non-government aid agencies in the UK around the poverty agenda appears to me seriously misplaced.

The meaning of peace in the 21st century

One of the important tasks of the 21st century is redefining social concepts. I would like to start redefining the word "peace". The main question here is whether peace means the absence of war. In other words, if a country is not involved in a war, do the people of that country live in a green peace?

Open letter to G8: gender at the top of the agenda

  • Open letter
  • In their own words
  • The Women's openSummit blog

  • For the first time, gender equality has been on the G8's agenda this year, under Germany's presidency. Women's rights and women's role in development have been championed by Bundesministerin Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in collaboration with civil society and in official discussion forums prior to the G8 summit of 6-8 June 2007.

    Nothing is impossible, the difficult takes longer

    In 1999, my sister Naela was killed in the streets of Jerusalem. Naela was a public-health consultant who dedicated her career to the rights to life and justice. But her death, as much as it devastated and distressed me, opened a tiny window of hope.

    A Northern Ireland lesson

    I have just returned from the first conference organised by the Nobel Women's Initiative May 2007 where strong and brave women's-rights activists from around the world - Afghanistan to Somalia, Burma to Uganda - shared their stories and work. Amid violence and mayhem, these women are creating amazing networks and capacities to help repair and rebuild their societies.

    A girl, a knife, and Hawa Gréou

    At the end of the last century Hawa Gréou spent five years in prison in France. Those years, she said, were the happiest of her life. She was able to pray to Allah in peace in a little room of her own; never mind that it was locked and that she could not walk in the courtyard during recreation because veils are not allowed in French prisons.

    Globalisation's gender side

    In Africa, globalisation builds on a history of slavery, colonialism and exploitation - a fact many recognize to have a continuing impact on the continent's experiences of the global economy. But globalisation also interacts with a history of gender inequality, casting a long shadow over the present and the futures of Africa's women. This combination harshly limits the lives and hopes of the female half of the population, while holding back a whole continent's people.

    Far from being a disembodied force, globalisation takes place through people, organizations and institutions, who together determine its direction. Equality and fundamental human rights are now enshrined in the basic instruments of today's international community and are central to our vision of a democratic society. But the fine words of these documents stand in sharp contrast to the daily reality of millions of women.

    Merkel's G8 - spot the difference

    As the 2007 G8 summit approaches, Patricia Daniel sees Angela Merkel at the top and asks, how do women best influence the political agenda - from inside, from outside or through the worldwide web?

    Africa and HIV/Aids: men at work

    A self-education in positive masculinity is at the core of efforts to contain the spread of HIV/Aids, writes Patricia Daniel.

    Justice, not globalisation: Lebohang Pheko's voice

    European Union pacts with poor nations push the dispossessed further to the periphery. There is a more humane route to development, trade-policy specialist Lebohang Pheko tells Patricia Daniel.

    How power works for women

    How is the condition of women improved and thereby the world changed? Two intense weeks at the United Nations leave Solana Larsen with a few answers and more questions

    These past two weeks, I have been blogging the United Nations meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for openDemocracy.

    Gendered states

    Questions of culture hindering women’s political participation don’t just arise around tradition, custom and religion. They go to the heart of the state, says Sarah Lindon.

    How she got to the top - reader renga

    It was too easy for an ambitious tea-lady to exploit the indecisive MD at The Lemon Press. He could always be found by the photocopier, comforting the work experience girl. As she cried, he murmured: "stick with it, something will come up..."

    Rattling her trolley along, Ms Slivovitz noticed the lump straining in the pleats of Maxwell Wynne's yellow corduroy trousers. His face remained softly sympathetic as he handed the girl a bundle of paper. "We need ten of these for the meeting. It's the new Armaminta Clark gardening novel. We're getting nibbles from Japan."

    How she got to the top - author renga

    Otto was holding her chandelier as if it were a skirt. He was looking under it for loose wires. "Antiques are complicated. This won't be easy."

    She could smell his fresh sweat and the cotton smell of his dark blue overalls, as he stood over her on the stool. He was a typical Scandinavian hard-working man, six feet tall, blond, quiet, looking down at her.

    "Would it be too expensive to fix?"

    He let the chandelier hang freely. Screwdriver in hand, he caught her gaze and smiled.

    "How about an old-fashioned exchange of goods?"

    Children's education and adult politics

    The past three years have seen a stream of reports - in Britain and elsewhere - on Muslims and education. In a post-11 September 2001 context of rising religious fundamentalism across all faiths, this does not surprise groups such as the international network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML). Its 2002 conference and research it published in 2004 on the "warning signs of fundamentalisms" found education and youth to be a major ideological battleground between the authoritarian religious right and secular and pluralist forces.

    Do women and girls have human rights?

    The Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations was the culmination of pioneering work by the international women's movement. But rather than a vehicle to advance women's human rights, it has become a vehicle of global political interests, says Pinar Ilkkaracan.

    When do you think women and girls were finally deemed to have "human rights" by the world's nations?

    Women, violence and empowerment: the world we live in

    The systemic, worldwide degradation of girl children makes the Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the United Nations a vital event, says Patricia Daniel.

    Security: a feminist perspective

    In the wake of the second Lebanon war and in the face of an Iranian nuclear threat, Israel's politicians and generals focused on their country's national security at the recent Herzliya Conference. Parallel to that high-profile annual event - which provides a platform for the prime minister, the military's general chief of staff and others to articulate policy - Israeli women's and peace organisations gathered to offer an alternative view: to examine security issues from a feminist perspective.

    Invitation - tell us how she got to the top

    An invitation to openDemocracy's readers to take part in a collaborative writing experiment.

    Is another world possible without the women's perspective?

    The World Social Forum must represent the best of the new world not the patriarchal worst of the old, says Patricia Daniel.

    Soldiers without guns

    An encounter with trained United Nations peacekeepers in Mali convinces Patricia Daniel that there is another way of being male.

    South Dakota, sexual politics, and the American elections

    This is an "only in America" story that takes place in the small, conservative state of South Dakota. A few months ago, the national media were obsessed with this state's effort to ban all abortions. Recently, the story has faded, eclipsed by other electoral news, most notably the sharply worsening situation in Iraq and domestic scandals. But the effort to forbid all abortions is far from an insignificant matter.

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