Wow! Who lost track of time?
Here is our round-up, one day late!
A collection of extracts on what’s being said about gender equality in our world.
Hundreds march for gender equality in Tunis
The New Arab, 11 March 2018.
Hundreds of women protested in Tunis on Saturday to demand equal inheritance rights as men, which is not the norm across the Arab region.
The demonstrators – mostly women but also some men – carried signs reading “in a civil state I take exactly what you take,” a nod to scrapping Islamic inheritance laws that typically give men double the amount.
Compared to other Arab countries, Tunisia grants women more rights.
In August, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essbsi established a committee to advance women’s rights.
Last year, Muslim women were permitted to marry non-Muslim men for the first time in Tunisia. Legislators also passed a comprehensive violence against women law that included measures such as criminalising sexual haraassment.
However, men and women are not entitled to equal inheritance in Tunisia, an issue that protesters demanded on Saturday be changed.
“It is true that Tunisian women have more rights compared to other Arab women but we want to be compared with European women,” Kaouther Boulila, an activist, told Reuters.
“We just want our rights.”
The majority-Muslim North African country is typically praised as the only “success” story of the 2011 Arab uprisings, which saw strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali removed from power in 2011.
But terrorism has plagued Tunisia and economic growth has been sluggish since the revolution.
Women on Wheels trains 3,500 women across Punjab
The Express Tribune, March 11, w018
The Women on Wheels (WOW), the initiative of Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU), the government of Punjab has trained around 3,500 women free-of-charge in five districts of Punjab since it was introduced in 2015, SRU Director General Salman Sufi.
The initiative was taken in order to ensure gender equality, reclaiming public spaces for women and to provide freedom of mobility to 49% women in the province, he said while speaking to the participants of the 7th edition of the City Dialogue ‘Why Women on Wheel’ held by Urban Unit on Saturday.
Introduced in 2015, the WOW intends to train 40,000 more women in the coming months. The second phase is all set to introduce subsidised motorcycle scheme exclusively for women in Punjab.
Sufi said that the SRU has introduced 30 such reforms since progressive societies depend on women’s development and initiatives to groom them. “Women are the face of progressive Pakistan and it was time they start recognising the fact that they own the country as much the men do,” he said. He said it was also imperative for Pakistan as a society to portray its peace-loving image instead of negative propaganda against the country by certain sectors.
A large number of students from various universities, researchers and transport engineers attended the event.
The City Dialogue is a regular feature of city activities now held every Saturday at 11am at the Quaid e Azam Library. The Urban Unit holds it weekly with an aim to ensure citizens’ inclusion in planning and implementation of the public interest projects and initiatives in the cities.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2018.
Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Andrew Vann takes pledge for gender equality
Daily Liberal (Australian), March 11, 2018
Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Andrew Vann has vowed to champion gender equality, becoming an ambassador for pay equity with the federal Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
In 2017, there was a 14.6 per cent gap between what the genders were paid and Professor Vann said the university was working hard to correct.
“In 2017, the gender pay gap at CSU was 14.6 per cent. While this is a significant improvement on the previous year, it is still far too high,” Professor Vann said.
“We are a values-driven institution that is committed to inclusiveness and the benefits that brings to our students, staff and communities.
“I am proud to lead an organisation which supports women and recognises their capacity to make significant contributions at all levels.”
During 2016-17, CSU’s overall gender composition was made up of 64.9 per cent females and 35.1 per cent males.
CSU’s management team consisted of 122 (54.2 per cent) women and 103 (45.8 per cent) men, while 60.6 per cent of all those awarded promotions during the period were female.
The university’s current chancellor and three deputy chancellors are female.
Professor Vann said work had begun on a CSU Gender Equity Strategy, that would be finalised later in 2018.
The strategy would outline the strategic direction of the university in gender equity, to ensure CSU remains insightful, inclusive, impactful and inspiring, he said.
“Charles Sturt University is committed to providing a safe and equitable work environment that recognises the contributions of all staff,” Professor Vann said.
Why the Arab world needs to close the gender gap
Hafed Al-Ghwell, Arab News, Saturday 17 March 2018
A new study suggests that at the present rate of progress the Arab region’s 39 percent gender gap compared with other regions of the world will take 356 years to close.
Not much of surprise there, given that the Arab world ranks as the lowest region in the world on gender equality. Indeed, none of the Arab countries has achieved full equality when it comes to the sexes, despite advancement in some. That’s the assessment of almost all academic studies on the matter.
The question is, why? And how can this be remedied so the region can reap the benefits from overcoming this inequality?
First, some countries, such as the UAE, Tunisia and Lebanon, have achieved much higher levels of gender equality in some areas. But the region as a whole faces serious barriers to equality, most stemming from conservative cultural norms that in many cases are rooted in religious interpretations, which actually affects all religious minorities in the region: Christians and Jews as well.
Other reasons have more to do with conflicts in the region, the lack of economic opportunities for women and the absence of their political voices because of cultural traditions.
These factors affect some countries more than others. While some rank among the lowest in the world in one dimension such as labor participation, others have done much better. While the UAE, for example, still shares many of the cultural values of other Arab countries, it’s one of the best when it comes to offering economic, even political, opportunities. It’s among the best countries in the region in the number and levels of female participation in politics.
However, with many women in ministerial and senior positions, Lebanon, which enjoys a more liberal culture, has only four parliamentary seats occupied by women, with only 3 percent of ministerial positions and about 5 percent of seats in municipal councils.
These restrictive and conservative cultural values have naturally been reflected in the legal codes of many Arab countries. In many countries, women still suffer serious inequalities in the legal framework.
For example, in countries such as Morocco and Egypt, even when the laws of divorce are reformed to better the situation, women end up losing many of their financial rights or suffer from a lack of information regarding their newly achieved legal rights.
In countries that have eliminated inequality in their constitutions, for example, no longer restricting some political positions to men, such as Tunisia, cultural values still prevent their rise to senior positions in government, such as the presidency, even though many other Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have had female prime ministers, proving the fallacy of religious restrictions on women as leaders.
Kazakhstan announces conference on Afghan gender equality
Ambassador-at-large of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Stanislav Vassilenko proposed during a March 8 United Nations Security Council meeting on Afghanistan a three-pronged approach to bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan and announced plans to hold a conference devoted to women empowerment.
The approach includes a) a security-development nexus, meaning that programmes for sustainable development would help achieve peace and security in the country, b) a regional approach to cross-border challenges and threats instead of the widely practiced narrow, country-specific focus and c) greater coordination between United Nations offices and programmes to improve efficiency and reduce fragmentation.
Vassilenko said he believes the situation in Afghanistan has entered a crucial phase on several lines, including the ceasefire agreement, transitional confidence-building measures, upcoming elections, revising the nation’s constitution, possible release of Taliban members from prisons and their withdrawal from the sanction’s list.
In this vein, “sustained support from the countries of the region, the international community, the UN and the Security Council, international, regional and sub-regional organisations is required,” he said.
He also noted that a decision by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political group and offer it the opportunity to open an office in Kabul with no preconditions deserves “our most serious attention.” If the Taliban is to accept the deal, its members will have a right to legitimately reside in the country, with potential exclusion from the council’s sanctions list.
In that same council meeting, its 15 members adopted Resolution 2405 (2018) on extending the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) through March 17, 2019.
President of the Security Council for the month of March and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands Sigrid Kaag said, “Peace in Afghanistan can only be built through comprehensive negotiations and under the leadership of the Afghan people themselves.” The support of the international community, including partners and donors to the Afghan people, is indispensable, Kaag continued.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Tadamichi Yamamoto also briefed participants on the latest developments in Afghanistan, including the launch of construction on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Officials hope the pipeline will spur regional cooperation and the self-reliant economic development of Afghanistan.
Parliamentary and local elections in 2018 and presidential one next year have also called UNAMA into action to activate women’s participation as voters and candidates, said Yamamoto. Yet, the relationship gridlock between President Ghani and one of the country’s political parties, Jamiat-e Islami (Islamic society), over sacking its representative from the leadership of Balkh province of Afghanistan is a new concern, said Yamamoto.
Yamamoto stressed that UNAMA is cooperating with international partners and national defense forces to pressure, prior to the elections season, terrorist groups that impede peace and stability in the country. The visit of the council members to Kabul on January 13-15, organised during Kazakhstan’s presidency, has been noted as a positive sign of high-level support among international partners for the Afghan government and an illustration of regional partnership between Afghanistan and Central Asia in security and development.
Gender equality stalls in the U.S., Stanford report finds
While the country made progress on eliminating gender inequality in the latter half of the 20th century, progress has since slowed or stalled entirely, according to a report released by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
Stephanie Garlow, Stanford News, March 16, 2018
For many measures of gender inequality, women rapidly made up ground in the latter half of the 20th century, but progress has since slowed or stalled entirely, according to a report released March 16 by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
The State of the Union report addresses key questions about gender inequality in the United States, such as whether occupational segregation is declining, why there is still so much sexual harassment and discrimination, and when gender gaps in earnings, employment and related labor market outcomes might finally close.
By examining different types of gender inequality at once, it becomes possible to fashion a systematic and coordinated policy response, said David Grusky, director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. “Otherwise, it’s all too easy to default to piecemeal policies, each oriented to a single narrow-gauge problem.”
This comprehensive approach reveals that for many outcomes women are not making up ground nearly as rapidly as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Following World War II, women entered the workforce in record numbers, but the increase in labor force participation for women has now stagnated, and women remain less likely than men to participate in the formal labor force. Similarly, the wage gap declined rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, but the rate of decline has since slowed.
The report also identifies some disparities that favor women rather than men. For example, on average women live five years longer than men, though life expectancy rates have converged in recent years. “Gender inequality is not a unidimensional problem in which all gaps favor men or all gaps are changing in the same way,” said Marybeth Mattingly, a research consultant at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality and an author of two of the chapters in the report.
Although the pattern of trends is complicated, the stalling-out of previously strong trends shows up repeatedly in the report. This stalling-out is especially prominent when measuring whether women and men are segregated into different types of roles in the family, workplace, and community.
For example, women streamed into formerly male-dominated occupations in the 1970s and 1980s, but the rate of occupational integration slowed after 1990. Even today, relatively few women are a bus driver, carpenter or computer scientist. If rates of integration since 2000 are extrapolated, it would take a full 330 years before the workplace becomes completely integrated. We’re in a new world of “snail’s pace change,” said Kim Weeden, one of the authors of the chapter on occupational segregation.
Why has it proven so difficult for women to enter into historically male-dominated professions? “Stereotypes and unconscious biases are getting in the way of faster social change,” according to Shelley Correll, head of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and an author of one of the chapters in the report. “We still cling to the view that men and women are fundamentally different in interests and skills,” Correll said. This contributes to segregation both because “employers discriminate on the basis of these beliefs and workers sort themselves into gender-conforming roles,” Correll said.
In the report’s concluding chapter, Correll and Stanford sociologist Marianne Cooper examine the most promising science-based policies for reducing gender inequality. Although “Congress remains gridlocked on gender and family issues,” they note that there have been “many promising developments at the state and local levels and in private industry, including the passage of paid leave policies and interventions within organizations to block unconscious biases from undervaluing women’s accomplishments.”
It’s also important to bear in mind, Grusky points out, that policy is not the only road to change. Even in a world in which standard gender policy has been sidelined, there’s still an important role for “bottom-up change” led by parents, millennials and many others. “It’s becoming more common to encourage girls to take math classes or attend coding camps, to call out gender discrimination when it happens, to divide domestic chores somewhat more evenly and to otherwise challenge conventional gender roles,” Grusky said.
These bottom-up efforts by early adopters may ultimately trigger a quick cascade of change, Grusky said. “A bottom-up revolution – a #MeToo movement writ large – has the potential to bring about a dramatic reduction in gender inequality.”
INFOGRAPHIC: How companies can unlock gender equality in the workplace
MANILA, Philippines – How can companies create a more equitable working environment?
Strategy and consulting firm Accenture identified 40 workplace factors – 14 of which are critical in helping foster gender equality – in its annual study titled “Getting to Equal 2018: Creating a culture where everyone thrives.”
“While there are a number of social and economic barriers to equality in the workplace, including educational disparities, childcare and domestic responsibilities, and cultural biases, an organization’s culture can hold women back, too,” the study states.
Creating a culture that values gender equality can accelerate the advancement of women in the workplace and help close the gender pay gap, according to the study.
While a company’s culture may be difficult to concretely define and change, the study cites a number of key factors that, if present, can highly affect gender equality in the workplace.
“Workplace culture cannot be quantified, but it is possible – and essential – to measure the factors that can contribute to a more diverse and equitable work environment,” it said.
Out of 40 key factors defined in the study, these 14 factors are what Accenture cites as the most common and important in achieving gender equality: