This week's editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Hope's song: my companion in life's journey

On my way from Zimbabwe to Amsterdam I shared a seat with a man called Musi. He was curious about how I became a feminist and wondered if I was not borrowing western ideology...

"There’s nothing left" - women’s future under the Conservatives in the UK

With a Conservative victory in the UK election, even deeper cuts are looming for women already in poverty and at risk, and the suffering will become entrenched.

Libya: "Rejoicing at our bloody democracy"

For sustainable peace, the UN must refuse to sanction militarism as the default response to unwanted migration and invest in grassroots women and youth human rights defenders.

The masculinisation of complexity

You would think a peace movement would be the least patriarchal of all social movements but you can masculinise anything. Feminist understanding challenges what it really takes to make peace.

World disarmament? Start by disarming masculinity

Massive world military spending is driven by the profit motive of the arms industry and politicians’ weaponized notion of ‘security’. But women peace activists also hold militarized masculinity to account.

There are more of us who want peace than want the killing to continue

The ‘utopian’ slur against peacemakers is defeatist propaganda for pro-war, pro-militarisation and securitisation interests and the military-industrial complex. Marion Bowman reports from WILPF's Centenary Conference in the Hague.

A new narrative on human rights, security and prosperity

It’s up to us to ‘reframe the narrative’ of development, to move beyond the historic thrust of capital and war and to say no impunity for the murder of Indigenous women. Jennifer Allsopp reports from WILPF's Centenary Conference in the Hague.

The pacifist dilemma: women peacemakers’ responses to Islamic State

Can non-violent strategies defeat the new fascism of Islamic State and its allies? Women peace makers’ hopes and doubts recall the rift in the peace movement when Nazism threatened Europe.

Women's power to stop war: rereading Virginia Woolf

Three Guineas was published in 1938 but it remains startlingly relevant. War will not end while women are kept out of power and while power is governed on the historic terms that men established.

Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security

It feels as if the entire world has been given over to the most perverse notions of 'safety'  that are really about death and destruction, cruelty and conflict, grandiosity and greed. Marion Bowman reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Iraq's female citizens: prisoners of war

Iraqi woman human rights defender Yanar Mohammed spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference about grass-roots responses to the atrocities women are facing under ISIS.

Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”

Sabeen Mahmud alleviated intellectual poverty until the day she was murdered, 24 April 2015. In an interview with Karima Bennoune in 2010 Mahmud explained why she founded a politico-cultural space in Karachi.

Women human rights defenders: reigniting the embers

The profile of today’s front line activist is different to that of the freedom fighter of old. We need to see her in her wholeness. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Mairead Maguire: breaking the silence on Palestine

Palestinian women human rights defenders and peace makers, in resisting the injustices being perpetrated upon their people, deserve our support and we must each do what we can to break the silence.

A tribute to Joan Kagezi: the murder of a human rights defender

Joan Kagezi was a lead prosecutor in high profile cases in Uganda, including against a former LRA commander and those accused of terrorism. She was shot dead in front of her children last month.

Creating peace: a manifesto for the 21st century

How does an international women’s organisation with a hundred year history put Mahatma Gandhi’s famous call to action into practice in 2015? Marion Bowman reports from the centenary congress of WILPF

Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge

Women human rights defenders are under attack. The Nobel Women's Initiative conference convenes today to deepen the understanding of the risks, and to develop strategies to strengthen efforts to defend the defenders.

Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice

In 1915 a thousand women met in the Hague to demand an end to war. A thousand women are doing so again this week. It is time the women were heard and their vision shared.

At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders

Every small act that stands up to patriarchy or to inequality, whether it is asking to go to school, or refusing to marry the man her father chooses, is an act of women's human rights defense.

Women human rights defenders: protecting each other

With the continued failure of the UN to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders twenty years after it was passed, women human rights defenders are still their own best support and protection network.   

The distance travelled: Beijing, Hillary, and women's rights

Hillary Rodham Clinton will need to listen to listen to the voices of women working at grassroots on the frontline, and be prepared to use her power, should she win, to defend the human rights defenders.

When austerity in the UK makes the poorest even poorer

Cuts to welfare reform in Northern Ireland, rolled out two years later than in the rest of the United Kingdom, look set to further impoverish women in an entirely predictable way.

"It starts with us": Breaking one of Canada's best kept secrets

A coalition of women human rights defenders in Canada is demanding an end to state complicity, and a culture of impunity in the genocidal violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people.

Shelters without walls: women building protective infrastructures against rape

Women from Colombia, Syria, Nicaragua and Iraq are implementing multi-layered prevention strategies in their communities against rape being used as a weapon of war, offering immediate protection and countering stigma.

Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras

We're living in an undeclared war, staring into the eyes of death daily. People who don’t know the kind of insecurity women human rights defenders confront every day can’t imagine how hope helps us to survive.

Hidden women human rights defenders in the UK

Without recognising the work of women who seek to protect human rights domestically, the UK government risks seeing the activist’s role as a stage of international development rather than as a core function of democracy. 

Violence compared: rape in Turkey and India

There are striking similarities in the responses to rape and murder cases of women in India and Turkey: a predilection for punitive measures without addressing the root causes of violence.

Ending the humiliation of women in Northern Ireland

Women demanding democratic participation in Northern Ireland's peace process are using human rights principles to confront the hostility and exclusion they face from those in control of decison-making structures.

Men in charge? Rethinking authority in Muslim legal tradition

The new book Men in Charge? shows that the assumption that God gave men authority over women is a theological fiction that became a legal fiction, whose main function now is to sustain gender inequality. 

Global life stories: capturing Muslim women's lived realities

The striking disconnect between the juristic and legal constructions of gender roles in Muslim legal tradition and the lived realities of many Muslim women is revealed in Musawah's Global Life Stories project.

Harper’s Bizarre: anti-terror legislation targets Indigenous women

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his anti-terror legislation will protect Canadians from terrorism, but it will also put the country’s Indigenous women at greater risk than ever before.

When scarred female bodies demarcate the Indian subcontinent's polity

The Lightning Testimonies, an acclaimed feminist exhibition, comes to Assam, and its powerful images speak to the region's own legacies and women's often-sidelined stories.

The gender wars in Turkey: a litmus test of democracy?

The pent up fury and grief released by Özgecan Aslan’s attempted rape and gruesome murder reveal deep fault lines and simmering sources of disaffection in Turkish society.

Farkhunda paid for Afghanistan's culture of impunity

How can we interpret the lynching of Farkhunda by an angry mob in the heart of Kabul city? What are its implications for the future of Afghanistan?

Building "a new Turkey": gender politics and the future of democracy

Can Turkey's government eschew gender equality, demonise the country's dynamic women's movement, and still prevent gender-based violence? Can a party that rejects gender equality be a force for democratisation?

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