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Posts Tagged ‘Women’s Rights’

“You cannot hide a dead elephant with a lotus leaf, ” according to Mu Sochua, Cambodian parliament member and human rights advocate.  This local Cambodian proverb best describes the disconnect she finds between the positive image presented to the international community by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the daily troubles faced by the average person in the country.  Mu Sochua spoke last Thursday about her view of the current political situation in Cambodia.  Discussing the difficulties women have in receiving the most basic human rights, education and health care, she argued that women must be given healthy bodies and minds in order for them to reach a power-equality. Sochua urged the audience to work with her to fight government corruption, raise the status of women, and support NGOs by writing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom she recently met in Washington DC, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

For more on Sochua’s trip to Washington and her presentation to the Human Rights Commission, read this post from the blog of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, which awarded Sochua the Vital Voices Human Rights Global Leadership Award in 2005 for her work to end human trafficking.

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Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn is now in print. Kristoff will be joining the Council and the International Museum of Women on October 14 to discuss the book and the imperative for global action on the empowerment of women, exploring the connections between economic progress and unleashing women’s potential.

If you would like to hear more, Amazon.com has a podcast with the two authors. Listen to it here.

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Today marks the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the landmark case, Roe vs Wade.  Thousands of protesters marched in Washington DC today, hoping to bring attention to the issue and to influence President Obama’s firm pro-choice stance, according to a Washington Post article this afternoon.  The organizers of the “March for Life” invited President Obama to speak at the event, but he instead issued a statement reaffirming his support for a woman’s right to choose. The Roe decision, he said, “not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.”  He urged people on both sides of the issue to try to find common ground on preventive issues, such as contraception, family planning, and support programs, in the hope of making abortion one day unnecessary.

The protests also come in the wake of news that President Obama may soon overturn the global gag rule – a decision that would dramatically impact the work of humanitarian and development organizations around the world.

Watch Jan Egeland, former U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs & Emergency Relief Coordinator, discuss the challenges and successes of these organizations, and the impact of policies like the global gag rule on their work, at a talk he gave at the Council last year.

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The Huffington Post on Tuesday published a letter written by V-Day Founder Eve Ensler, Global Fund for Women President Kavita Ramdas, and Women for Women International Founder Zainab Salbi, among others. They’ve written an open letter to President-Elect Obama calling on him to lead by example in promoting equal women’s involvement in government, and everywhere else. They argue that “the major economic, security, governance and environmental challenges of our times cannot be solved without the equal participation of women at all levels of society.” And that we must stop thinking about these topics as “women’s” issues, for they affect all of us – from the individual, to the nation.

Eve Ensler will join us for a GPF/Council event next month with Dr. Mukwege to discuss their work to end violence against women in the DRC, and around the world.

And Zainab Salbi joined us in April for our GPF conference – she speaks here about the role of women in conflict, of the need for a ‘backline’ discussion of war – the side of war that only women seem to see. “It has everything to do with how you send your kids to school, how you provide food for your family, how you fall in love, and how you manage fear.” Despite the horrific experience of women in conflict, Zainab and other panelists agreed that their sense of hope comes from the survivors themselves – if they can stand up on their own two feet after atrocity, then who are we not to hope?

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