The Day That Lost Rights for Women

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I find it interesting that March 8th is now “International Women’s Day” – not “International Women’s Rights Day”. This could be a real step forward, to the day when we don’t have “women’s” anything any more. The day when we see that we don’t need it, and that singling out one gender when we only have two is self-defeating and obvious. Imagine you had two children, a girl and a boy, would you only celebrate your daughter’s birthday?

The name may have lost its specific focus on rights now, but it does afford the opportunity to raise awareness about women who are great role models. Not all of them faced a struggle to earn their rights, yet they deserve that accolade, and many have interesting stories to share. I have no problem with them doing that all year round.

High (female) achievers aside, the fact remains that for millions of women, fighting for their rights is a daily battle. I love and respect these women every day.  Here are the posters I made to celebrate just a few of them, finding my inspiration in the original meaning of March 8th as their day to get recognition, and our day to give it.

 

And here are some closing thoughts as we bid farewell to that one day of the year dedicated to my gender

I think we can only have equality if there is also one day of every year devoted to equal rights for men – if men being denied their rights are a minority group, that only strengthens my conviction.

I wish we lived in a world where such events were not deemed necessary – I would especially not miss the ghastly rhetoric and those patronising videos featuring “songs by international artists”.

Today, as in previous years, I have read too many well-intentioned posts praising women for their physical or personal charms, as if this was a day set aside for chauvinists to thank women for submitting to being objectified by them throughout the year.

I believe, if mothers raise their children as equals,
and if teachers educate students as equals,
and never yield, relent or make excuses,
and stop cheering for every right “won” as if it was not a right at all, but a gift,
then eventually, gender equality would become a mundane reality.

1 Jan 2013 Updates

New Year's stampede in Abidjan  (Reuters)
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Libya says it will put Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdallahal- Senussi on trial “within a month”

Western Sahara: Right to self-determination affirmed by UN, international consultations in 2013 to unlock conflict. The Western Sahara issue witnessed a rebound during 2012, particularly with publication of the UN Secretary General’s hard-hitting report, criticizing barriers imposed on the MINURSO mission by Moroccan authorities and by Morocco’s withdrawal of confidence in Christopher Ross, later changing position due to strong international pressure.

Al Jazeera has a new television reporter in Mauritania, our very own Baba Hourma (@bHourma). He does an excellent job in this clip about immigration

1 Jan 2012 Mauritania bans plastic bagsI hope Baba will do an item soon on the ban on plastic bags which came into force in Mauritania today, an attempt to eradicate the extreme pollution caused by an influx of almost 1 billion bags annually. The campaign includes activities to raise awareness, including flyers,  distribution of paper bags, an explanatory video and media coverage. Penalties include up to a year in prison, and fines of up to 1 million Ouguiya (Euro 2,500) for manufacturers, 500,000 for importers, and up to 10,000 for users of the illegal plastic bags or “Zazo” as they are called. This is an ambitious enterprise for a country which has failed to eradicate descendant slavery despite repeatedly criminalising it, and which recently approved a new law prohibiting coups d’etat, which are almost a national sport in Mauritania.

Kinross Gold’s drilling subcontractor, Capital Drilling Mauritania, is accused of breaking labour laws to discriminate against CGTM union members. Capital Drilling gave itself an award for ‘Commitment and Excellence in Safety’ in August 2012 for having completed 500 days without any “lost time incidents” (LTI).

Meanwhile, reports that Mauritania’s Central Bank is restricting access to significant values of both local and foreign currency raised many questions and concerns. What happened to the bumper reserves boasted of in the middle of 2012, and praised by the IMF? Is this the result of massive capital flight following the “shooting incident of October 13? These and other questions are still looking for answers.

Despite the endless reinforcement in press statements that US and European troops will be involved in any future conflict as trainers and advisers only, Mali FM told JeuneAfrique journalist @Babahmed1: “Our soldiers are already trained”. He also added that elections are unacceptable while rebels still occupy the north, and is anticipating a donor conference this month. Interim president Traoré said more or less the same thin in a New Year’s Day speech. What is the point of the UN Resolution if they have no intention of abiding by the provisions attached to it?

Stone-throwing Palestinian protesters carry an injured protester during clashes with Israeli security officers in the West Bank village of Tamoun, near the West Bank city of Jenin January 1, 2013. Clashes broke out after an Israeli military operation in the village on Tuesday. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Stone-throwing Palestinian protesters carry an injured protester during clashes with Israeli security officers in the West Bank village of Tamoun, near the West Bank city of Jenin January 1, 2013. Clashes broke out after an Israeli military operation in the village on Tuesday. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli soldiers disguised as vegetable vendors raided the Palestinian village of Tammoun, north of Nablus city. The village has been repeatedly raided, leading to many arrests over several years.
Today’s clandestine operation and the subsequent arrest of Murad Bani Odeh, a member of Islamic Jihad, led to clashes with residents who threw stones. Soldiers replied with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas. One man was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister and taken to hospital for treatment, and over 100 people suffered inhalation effects of tear gas. A state of siege is now being reported.

More than 60 people were killed in a stampede at a New Year’s Eve celebration in Ivory Coast‘s capital, Abidjan

New Year's stampede in Abidjan  (Reuters)

New Year’s stampede in Abidjan (Reuters)

Details of Tunisia‘s new government line up were published by Al Jazeera. Now they need new policies & attitudes.

Last but not least, today is a special day for the internet.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Internet and TCP/IP!

 

Palestinians celebrate UN victory

Image: BBC
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The news of the UN General Assembly’s decision to upgrade the Palestinians status was the cue for wild celebrations across the West Bank and Gaza.

In Ramallah, thousands hit the streets for a frenzy of flag-waving and fireworks.

Many in the crowd expressed their delight at the UN’s decision and their pride in President Mahmoud Abbas following his speech to the UN.

“I’m so proud, like a Palestinian, I’m so proud, this President represents me, he reflected our dreams in such a tremendous way,” one woman said.

Adnan Al-damiri, a major general in the Palestinian security service said, “There is a struggle between the Palestinians and the Israeli government. And today we have won a point in this struggle. We will continue to win the points until we get independence.”

In the city of Bethlehem, the bells of the Church of the Nativity rang out in honour of the vote.

Thousands had gathered next to the Israeli separation barrier to watch the live broadcast of President Abbas give his speech.

“Today, thanks to God’s will, we celebrate the victory of Palestine. It is now on the world map. A country like any other country,” one man said.

There was also jubilation on the streets of Gaza.

Image: BBC

Image: BBC

In a rare show of unity, Abbas’ Islamist rivals Hamas, who control the territory, let the President’s Fatah movement hold a victory rally.

”It is a historical moment,” said one man.

“It should be written in history that the Palestinian state was recognised. The 29th November is an historic date. We are so proud of it,” said another man.

During his address to the UN, President Abbas described the vote as a last chance to save the so- called two state solution.

How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter

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Social media has been often touted for the role it played in the popular uprisings that have spread across the Arab world since December 2010. Despite the buzz, you may be surprised that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.

Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter is most popular in Kuwait, where 8.6% of the population is active users, defined as those who tweet at least once per month. Facebook’s more popular throughout the region. In its most popular country, the U.A.E., some 36.18% of the population is on Facebook.

Khaled ElAhmad (who goes by the Internet alias Shusmo) created these two infographics, exploring Facebook and Twitter trends in the Arab world, using Visual.ly. His data comes from a Dubai School of Government report on Arab Social Media.

Take a look through the two infographics, which also show growth of the social networks by country and overall membership stats. Did you expect more people to be active social media users? How do you think your country’s habits compare? You can also check out infographics on how China and India do social networking.

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via How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter [INFOGRAPHICS].

Remains of 91 Martyrs Returned to #Palestine from #Israel

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Al Jazeera video [ar] showing the return of the remains of 91 martyrs from Israel, where they had been in a Jordan Valley cemetery  for years. Families can now pay proper respects to their loved ones.  The ceremony was conducted by the Palestinian Authority. 12 of the coffins were received in Gaza by ‘representatives of all factions’ according to the description.