As countries across South Asia continue to battle the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, causing serious public health and economic crisis, this region, which is home to almost 2 billion people, is also grappling with the erosion of democratic norms, growing authoritarianism, the crackdown on freedom of press, speech and dissent.
For the first time in decades, Jordan’s economy contracted in 2020. COVID-19 took a heavy toll on the economy, and it was concerning for the country, particularly because Jordan had managed to grow at an average rate of 2%, despite regional and international shocks to its economy amounting to 44% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the past decade.
Last year, as the world grappled to survive the Covid-19 Pandemic, Megan Fernandas an accountant living in Toronto, was trying to face her biggest fear, not the COVID-19 virus, but missing her doctor's appointment after surviving a rigorous fight against stage 2 breast cancer.
Wagma Saad, is an Internationally Trained Medical Doctor (ITMD) from Kabul Medical University, Afghanistan, currently living in Canada with her family. Saad graduated in 2016, an education that didn’t come easily to her. With numerous restrictions, blocks and challenges placed at every step, fighting numerous social and political battles, she chased her passion for science and medicine, and after seven years at medical school, she finally got to call herself a doctor.
With elections right round the corner in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said that a re-elected Liberal government would spend billions in the coming years to hire family doctors. This report
says, Justin Trudeau promised that the Liberals would spend $3 billion over four years starting in 2022 to hire 7500 family doctors and nurses as well as tax and student loan incentives for health professionals who set up shop in rural or remote communities and also pledges an extra $6 billion to wrestle with wait lists.
“Sexual harassment is not about sexual attraction, it is about power. If an individual uses power plays to subjugate other people, when we have such dynamics going on in the workplace, what we need is a system that fights back against it, which unfortunately a lot of workplaces, they allow it to persist,”, says Adrienne Lawrence, anchor and legal analyst in an interview given to me here
Earlier in January, Indian journalist Nidhi Razdan found out she was a victim of one of the most sophisticated and elaborate cyber attacks. Razdan wrote in a piece
that it was all an attempt to access her bank account details, personal data, emails, medical records, passport and access to all her devices, including computer and phone.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most hostile and dangerous regions for journalists. A complex conflict, deeply rooted in the country’s past, allows very little freedom, both movement and the press.
Ongoing online sexual harassment of Muslim women through ‘Sulli Deals’, an auctioning app hosted by GitHub, has been reported to the authorities – but not before it called untold trauma to the targeted women.
When Turkish- Norwegian writer and filmmaker Nefise Ozkal Lorentzen heard about Seyran Ates’ mixed gender mosque in Berlin, Germany, she immediately decided to make a film on Seyran’s life. It took three years to produce the film, ‘Seyran Ates: Sex Revolution and Islam’ a portrait of a female Imam and her struggles in activating revolution within Islam.
In 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans for tougher laws to tackle what he called, “Islamist Separatism”
, and a crackdown on “radical Islamists” in France, which he said were materializing through repeated deviations from the Republic’s values. To counter this, President Macron announced his plans to create a “French Islam
”, a practise of the faith which would be regulated by the state.
The June 5th attack on the Muslim family in London, Ontaria, has left many in Canada in a state of shock. A driver intentionally struck the Afzaal family while they were out for a stroll, killing four, because of their Islamic faith. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
called the killing, “a terrorist attack and a brazen act of violence.”
In 2015, When Rabina Khan was running as an independent candidate in the Tower Hamlets’ mayoral elections in London, a male voter asked her what colour her hair was under her veil. Rabina replied and said, it was pink. This small interaction is what got Rabina inspired to write her book, My Hair is Pink Under This Veil.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read the words, women and power? The accepted wisdom is that women can be powerful, but not without the constant reference to their gender - which is often based on a set of unconscious biases towards them. Is she competent enough, effective, articulate without being too assertive or too aggressive. Is she a straightjacket, is she too emotional, will her family life impact her work or vice versa. Is she smart enough to camouflage her intelligence, is she ready for a key position, is it worth making her powerful?
Four women, two motorbikes, 64 districts and a journey of a lifetime, this is the story of Dr. Sakia Haque from Bangladesh. In November 2016, Dr Haque co-founded “Travelettes of Bangladesh - Bhromon Konya,” a women's only group, with the motto of “empowering women through travelling.” This platform is not just an ordinary online travel group, but it is a platform of connection, sisterhood and networking of almost 60,000 girls and women in Bangladesh that empowers them by teaching them to raise their voices and encourages them to step out of their comfort zones and to “go see the world”.
In 2016, when Bosnian-American professional basketball player, Indira Kaljo got in touch with Asma Elbadawi because she had been forced to give up playing basketball after she started wearing the hijab, they decided to take it up with the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA), the sports governing body to change its rules on headgear.
Somalia is one of the most complex regions of the world, with threats and political instability, extreme weather conditions, movement of internally displaced people (IDPs), decades of conflict, poverty-related deprivation, poor health and communicable diseases that are killing people. There is a constant risk of gender violence making women, children and members of minority groups particularly vulnerable, and more so during displacement or while seeking work. Three decades of civil war and instability have weakened Somalia’s health system and contributed to it having some of the lowest health indicators
in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another strain on its tremendously fragile infrastructure presenting unexpected challenges and dilemmas.
The Coronavirus infections and deaths in India recorded a daily high on Monday, 10 May, with 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths as reported by the Indian health ministry, taking India's total tally to 22.66 million with 246,116 deaths. Experts have raised a flag stating India's actual figures could be far higher than what is currently being reported.
Every time a woman journalist receives threats of physical and sexual violence, cyber attacks and surveillence, doxxing, public humiliation, damage to her professional & personal credibility, the driving forces behind these intents are deeply rooted misogyny, sexism and abuse of power.
On 12 January this year, somewhere in the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, 24 year old Dalit activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested by the Haryana police for protesting outside a factory. During the lockdown in 2020, Nodeep joined a local workers’ rights organization called Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS) in the Kundli Industrial Area in Haryana. In January Nodeep was accused of allegedly manhandling management and staff of an industrial area during a protest and also assaulting the police team.
Power is an intriguing concept and it means different things to different people. In simple words, power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get what you want. Power distribution is usually visible in most societies when there is a clear and obvious division between the roles of the men and expectations from women. One can’t talk about power without talking about patriarchy - in which men always hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. Women are almost always taught power and ambition are two dirty words, and should not be linked to their personalities.