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Women on the front at Raqqa: an interview with Kimmie Taylor

What is the reality of war like for the women of Rojava as they advance on Raqqa? Kimmie Taylor from Britain is on the frontline and puts us in the picture.

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Not all hybrid structures are created equal: Some thoughts on bottom-up peacebuilding

Afghanistan has long experience of complex arrangements with local/traditional forms of governance. It is possible to see what factors work for peace-building and which do not

HIV: both the cause and the consequence of violence against women

In the UK the number of women living with HIV has been steadily growing since the beginning of the epidemic. Newly diagnosed women were only twenty percent of the new infections in 1996, but over forty percent in 2007. There are now more than 25,000 HIV positive women in the UK, but while government policy fails to address the link between HIV and violence against women, it is left to under-funded and under-staffed support groups to campaign for the human rights of women living with HIV.

The challenges for women of HIV and gender violence

The hinterland of acknowledging and dealing with the links between gender violence and HIV/AIDS is mostly unexplored and unmapped. Neither the British government's strategy on gender violence nor that on sexual health deal with the link between gender violence and HIV/Aids. This serious policy gap leaves the issue orphaned and suffering the same status as women struggling with the complex interplay of violence, illness, and taboo.

Nameless, Genderless: The Meena Bazaar Women

What prevents politicians from discussing national security issues and violence against women in the same sentence? Why do politicians continue to treat gender as a stand-alone issue?

Resist-Reclaim-Restore: Militarism No More

Reflecting on the human and financial costs of militarism in terms of the prospects for democracy, sustainable living and peace presents a bleak picture, argues Kavita Ramdas. It is against this background that the real worth of the Nobel Women's Initiative shines through.
Reflecting on the human and financial costs of militarism in terms of the prospects for democracy, sustainable living and peace presents a bleak picture, argues Kavita Ramdas. It is against this background that the real worth of the Nobel Women's Initiative shines through.

There is no honour in ‘honour killing’

Islam is more tolerant of male-female relationships than some would have us believe. The issue of ‘honour killing’ is not one of dishonour and immorality, but of disobedience and control. At the end of the day, one has to say what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. Honour killings are heinous crimes and are against anything and everything that is holy in this life.

“We have failed. We have nothing to celebrate”

There is a growing wave of unrest among young women at the failure of governments to recognise and implement reproductive rights as a human right for all.

Conflict Transformed? The start of a debate

In the first article of her series, Diana Francis reviews the aspirations and achievements of conflict transformers over the past twenty years, and argues that the only realistic response to the global phenomenon of war is to develop ‘nonviolence’ as a just and effective way forward.

When the global is local: UN Security Council Resolutions on sexual violence are for all of us

Joining the Reclaim the Night march in London last weekend, Vanessa Alexander asks how can we advocate for the adoption of UN resolutions for peace and security for women in war time, when women world wide do not yet experience peace and security in peace time?

Violence against women in the UK: a map of gaps

The shift of funding from central to local authorities has led to the loss of essential services and misinterpretation of Equality legislation is further discriminating against women fleeing violence.

Why do Americans love Sarah Palin?

Why does America take Palin seriously? The answer lies in gender politics, and in the history of right-wing populism. That populism is at its strongest at a time of social anxiety.

Fotokids – Out of the Dump

How an organisation that attempts to bring young people in Guatemala out of poverty by providing training in the visual arts began life, and why it is still spreading into the most dangerous areas.

Ugandan gays and Muslim women:a common struggle to redefine family

What have gay rights activists in Christian-majority Uganda and Muslim women fighting for family law reform in Asia got in common? You’d be surprised…

No pressure, then: religious freedom in Islam

The Quranic statement: “There is no compulsion in religion” – erupted into controversy again in 2006 when the Pope selected the most illiberal view of the text available. But when the thirty-eight Muslim scholars responded that he was wrong, they were necessarily misrepresenting history. To understand why they might wish to do this, we have to go back to 720-750 AD.

Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism

War and mismanagement have produced a breakdown of trust, decency and reciprocity in Afghan society. Gender activism needs to be understood in that context, and not be tempted by crude cultural determinism.

Could the Conservatives detoxify immigration politics?

Ayesha Saran reflects on her experience at the recent party conferences

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A Powerful Women's Agency: will the UN deliver?

As the UN moves to create a strong women's agency led by an Under Secretary General, Charlotte Bunch argues that leadership and funding will determine the real success of the new unit and how powerful it will be.

Liberia: Women Peacekeepers and Human Security

In her second report from Liberia Kristen Cordell looks at the impact of the all female Indian police unit working in Monrovia.

The deployment of female peacekeepers has recently become recognized as not simply "desirable, but an operational imperative." In the words of Rachel Mayanja UN Assistant Secretary-General, "without women's participation in peace efforts there can be no peace and security."

One highly visible step to including women in peacekeeping operations has been the all- women police unit serving as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). 130 Indian policewomen currently make up the Formed Police Unit (FPU) in Liberia, the third such unit to be installed post conflict. The primary function of the group is to provide security within the city during public events with high profile leadership. I spent time with the group during my recent work with the UN in Liberia. I found the experience nothing short of inspirational.

No Help for Sex

Kristen Cordell reflects on the countrywide effort in Liberia to stop sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers.

Last month the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1888, reaffirming the UNs commitment to ending rape as a tool of war. The UN Mission in Liberia is leading efforts in six countries in Africa to check its own staff on a highly visible and challenging part of the problem: sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers. 

Balancing on Wheels of Hope

Balancing on Wheels of Hope

Alice Welbourn is an
international activist and campaigner on women's rights and HIV/Aids, and former
chair of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/Aids.
Previous articles
include HIV/Aids: a war on women  and
World Aids Day: a message  

“Deal with your demons, and you will be free”

A disease of homosexuals, junkies, minorities; the myths surrounding HIV are parasitic, feeding off the vulnerability of those who have already been consigned to the margins of society. They are woven into a fictitious world where the sick and healthy are discrete and identifiable categories, and where membership in each is determined arbitrarily by race, sexual orientation, and gender.

They are the myths that the Sophia Forum is seeking to dismantle. Initiated in 2005, the Forum is a voluntary women's network based in UK exploring how HIV affects women at home and abroad. In its panel discussion on October 1st entitled "In Sickness and In Health: Women and HIV in 2009", the Sophia Forum drew attention to the acute need for gender specificity in understanding a condition that effects not merely homosexuals or the "socially marginal", but an estimated 30,000 women in the UK every year.

A disease of homosexuals, junkies, minorities; the myths surrounding HIV are parasitic, feeding off the vulnerability of those who have already been consigned to the margins of society. They are woven into a fictitious world where the sick and healthy are discrete and identifiable categories, and where membership in each is determined arbitrarily by race, sexual orientation, and gender.

They are the myths that the Sophia Forum is seeking to dismantle. Initiated in 2 5, the Forum is a voluntary women's network based in UK exploring how HIV affects women at home and abroad. In its panel discussion on October 1st entitled "In Sickness and In Health: Women and HIV in 2 9", the Sophia Forum drew attention to the acute need for gender specificity in understanding a condition that effects not merely homosexuals or the "socially marginal", but an estimated 3 , women in the UK every year.

Attention: Global Moles at Work

 

In an article entitled 'Feminism Co-opted' Nancy Fraser has recently suggested that among the deeper effects of Neo-Liberal hegemony may be counted a tacit alliance between marketolatry and the women's movement (New Left Review, March-April 2009). The former could not help undermining inherited customary attitudes many of which bore a strongly patriarchal component. Such instinctive assumptions tend to stick together and support one another. This is a lot of what a 'culture' means. But may not what sticks together, perish together as well?

What the ensuing General Financial Crisis has accomplished may be partly the ruin of custom, in just that sense. An unquestioned 'macho' strain in global finance capital piled one risk upon another: for Lords of that age, failure was unthinkable. The 'cash-nexus' took over, and increasingly escaped control until it did fail. And in the wake of collapse, we find the Washington Post's Foreign Policy taking up Fraser's refrain. Its 2009 July-August edition declares 'The Era of Male Dominance is Coming to an End. Seriously' (Reihan Salam of the New America Foundation, p.66). Valerie Hudson of Brigham Young University backs him up with 'Good Riddance' (p.71): 'It used to be said that behind every great man is a great woman. Maybe the scoundrels, hooligans, Genghis Khans, derivatives traders and debt-securitizers could use a few great women too, for the sake of the rest of us, if nothing else'.

No such intention crossed the minds of the cash-nexus prophets. 'Moles' must have been at work: the famous unobserved tunnellers of Shakespeare's Hamlet (I, iv, 24). Karl Marx returned to the point in the 19th century: people consciously make history, but not in conditions of their own choosing. In early-modern folklore moles were sometimes identified with the Devil. And from 1848 to the present, the furry creatures have consistently grown in scale. To bring about the major landscape shifts evoked by Salam and Hudson, globalization's equivalents must be more like small bulldozers. Normally credited with the lowering of nation-state borders, they are now reported at work on the gender frontier.

When an earth-movement gets registered both in New Left Review's atelier and on the Foreign Policy front lawn, something must be up. For all the indignation her article aroused among left-wing feminists, Nancy Fraser may have been even righter than she knew. The 'cunning of history' is another conventional way of imagining mole-workers. Cultures are rarely smart enough to perceive a process that has to be 'made' collaterally, as well as through policies and will-power. There were few women among the derivatives traders and columnar foghorns. That didn't mean they had abandoned the economy. On the contrary, within Marx's 'relations of production' they have become more important then ever.

However, as Hudson puts it, they have remained 'less confident than men because they usually live with men who are over-confident'. but as macho vanity collapses realism should come into its own, with the recognition that 'better decisions might be made if men and women were making them together'. 'And wouldn't you know it' she ironizes in conclusion, '...research has shown that mixed decision-making groups are less risk-acceptant than all-male groups, and that non-zero-sum outcomes are more likely'.

For social-democrats, surely, here is one real advance on head-counting. It's true that evolution is involved. And so it should be. As Salam writes: 'As women start to gain more of the social, economic and political power they have long been denied, it will be nothing less than a full-scale revolution the likes of which human civilization has never experienced'. The Neo-liberal cock may have crowed far too loudly and too long on the other hand, as Perry Anderson has pointed out, at least nobody could ignore him, and the whole new globalising farmyard has been awakened for good from the torpor of tradition and 'I told you so!' Yet no culture of collective Socialism waits to take over: the even bigger earth-shifts in the East made that clear as well. So new management looks like the only alternative.

No openDemocracy reader is alike – A tribute to Joan Burchardt

The 90 year life of a remarkable Englishwoman is recalled by her niece.

Banksy in Bristol

The enigmatic urban artist Banksy has created an exhibition of his work in the main gallery-museum of his home city of Bristol in western England. This is much more than "graffiti art", says Tina Beattie: its mix of wit, anger, imagination and humanity makes it a triumph of dissenting liberality over authoritarianism.

(This article was first published on 24 June 2009)

Women choosing to be

Have women's lives in Gaza been constrained by a patriarchal ideology under the rule of Hamas? One Gazan resident says no: quite the reverse.

India's rape victims lost in political row

A war of words over compensation for rape victims has overshadowed the real issue, of violence against poor women

Those of us with a voice to speak

On 30 June 2009, Mairead Maguire was taken into custody by the Israeli military along with twenty others, including former U.S. Congress member Cynthia McKinney.

Checkpoints and counter spaces

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian talked to Jane Gabriel about her latest book ‘Militarization and Violence against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East'. A Palestinian case-study. In which she analyses Palestinian women's agency and the many different ways in which they create counter spaces to the militarization of their daily lives.

War-related rape: shortchanged at the peace table

Pablo Castillo Diaz looks at the issues surrounding a recent meeting organised by the United Nations to address conflict-related sexual violence.

Changing lives in the West Bank villages

The increasing economic poverty in villages outside Ramallah in the West Bank is leading to unexpected changes in gender roles and is challenging the tradition of early marriage. Jane Gabriel has been listening to those involved in making changes on the ground.

We are visible

Katana Gégé Bukuru spoke to Isabel Hilton at the Nobel Women's Initiative gathering in Antigua about her work for women's human rights and the search for durable peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Journalist Zhila Bani Yaghoub arrested

Iranian journalist Zhila Bani Yaghoub and her husband Bahman Ahmadi Amooyi were arrested in Iran over the weekend after government forces reportedly raided their home.  Yaghoub is a veteran journalist who has worked to promote women's rights in Iran. She spoke recently at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference on 'Redefining Democracy' held in Guatemala.

The Nobel Women's Initiative issued a statement saying:

Violence targets the weakest

We have found that the primary cause of all the violence and submission which women undergo is discrimination, and it is this which makes us more vulnerable than the others. Lucie Minzigama spoke to Isabel Hilton at the Nobel Women's initiative gathering in Guatemala about her work in Burundi working for women and children's human rights

Iranian Elections 2009: A New Spring?

From the stone carving adorning the War Museum in Tehran, two women, chadors wrapped tightly around them, stare grimly ahead. Their lips are contorted into determined frowns. One wields a rifle.

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