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.
On February 1st, 2021 the military of Myanmar overthrew the country’s democratic government in a coup d’etat followed by arresting more than 40 government officials including Aung San Suu Kyi
. The military declared a year-long state of emergency under the rule of it’s Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Troops took over the streets, a night-time curfew has been put into force. Tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets across Myanmar, in what is seen as the biggest street protests in more than a decade. The anti-coup demonstrators are undeterred by police attacks and increasing violence from the security forces
The armed conflict in Yemen which has lasted six years, has killed and injured over thousands of civilians
, displaced more than one million people
and given rise to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages and threats of famine. By the end of 2019, it is estimated that over 233,000
Yemenies have been killed as a result of fighting and the humanitarian crisis. With nearly two-thirds of its population requiring food assistance, Yemen is also experiencing the world's worst food security crisis
. The United Nations
has called the humanitarian crisis in Yemen “the worst in the world”.
Over the years, Turkey has survived three Coup d'état in which its military forces took power, in 1960, 1971 and 1980. The coup in 1997, was carried out in a “post-modern way
”, where generals sat down with the then prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan and forced him to resign. However the turning point in Turkey has been the failed coup attempt in July 2016, which has till date been one of the bloodiest coup attempts in its political history
, leaving 241 people killed, and 2,194 others injured.
A decade has passed since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war between the government and the LTTE, where at least 100,000 people were killed
in the over three-decade long conflict. Families of victims of enforced disappearances continue to seek justice, the government is yet to end impunity and put accountability for crimes under international law and human rights violation and abuses in its transitional justice process.
Ten years ago on this day, January 25, one of the biggest revolutions in the world took place in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, as protestors poured into the streets chanting slogans of “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice”, demanding one of the region's longest-serving and autocratic President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Three weeks later, on February 11th, Mubarak stepped down as president, leaving the Egyptian military in control of the country.
As a Muslim woman born and brought up in Denmark, Nadia Helmy Ahmed broke many stereotypes when she started boxing at the age of 15. “Back then it was not common for girls to take up elite boxing, let alone common for Muslim girls, I used to be the only girl in my gym, along with ten others boys,” said Nadia to IPS News.
In October 2020, Bangladeshi citizens took to the streets, outraged by the reports of gruesome gang rapes and sexual violence that were taking place in the country. According to Ain O Salish Kendra
, a Bangladeshi human rights organization, 975 women were raped in the first nine months of 2020, 43 women were killed after being raped and 204 women were attempted to be raped by men in Bangladesh.
Ten years ago a young street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself afire in the central Tunisian provincial town of Sidi Bouzid to protest against police harassment. Bouazizi’s sacrificial act served as a catalyst and inspired the Tunisian people to take over the streets that led to the Jasmine Revolution in the country. On January 4, 2011 Mohamed Bouazizi died, and ten days later the country's authoritarian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s rule ended when he fled to Saudi Arabia.
Decades of aggressive efforts to create equal opportunities for women, shatter the glass ceiling and build a more inclusive society only ends up in failure, when the key stake holders refuse to acknowledge discriminatory laws, socio-cultural and religious set ups that continue to threaten progress made by the female work force.