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Gender and Sexual Norms

United Arab Emirates: Gender equality is more than financial

June 6, 2012

The UAE has consistently taken steps to empower women. Female workers can be seen across all sectors of the economy, from media and law to engineering and science. But while the UAE is ahead of other countries in the region in guaranteeing gender rights and equality, women's empowerment is still a work in progress.

United Kingdom: Pressures and Resistance to Polygamy

May 31, 2012

When Dr Zabina Shahian married Pervez Choudhry she thought he would be the man with whom she would settle down for the rest of her life and start a family.

But she did not know the former Conservative party leader on Slough Borough Council was still married.

Choudhry, 54, who claimed he did not realise the marriage in Pakistan was legally valid in the UK, was given a community order after admitting bigamy.

Afghanistan: First female village chief defies gender roles and strengthens community

May 29, 2012

In a male-dominated society that has for years been controlled by the ultra-conservative Taliban, the emergence of the first female village chief took everyone by surprise.

After being ridiculed by male villagers for wanting to occupy political office, Zarifa Qazizadah, the mother of 15 children, managed to become the mayor of Naw Abad, a village in the northern Balkh province.

Qazizadah’s political ambition started in 2004 when she told her mocking fellow villagers that she wanted to represent them and promised to supply Naw Abad with electricity.

Why the obsession with Muslims and sex?

May 22, 2012

Muslims today are young, sexually and politically frustrated. This isn't the strapline of a new reality show, but the conclusions of stereotype-laden analysis from the Daily Beast. Data from Google Trends showed that six of the ten countries most frequently searching for the word "sex" on the search engine have a Muslim majority.

Saudi Arabia: Manal al-Sharif - 'They just messed with the wrong woman'

May 23, 2012

She is the Saudi woman who became a symbol of female emancipation when she was filmed behind the wheel of a car. In a rare interview, she tells Guy Adams of the persecution she has endured in her fight for equality – and why she will not be silenced.

Indonesia: Women's rights activists push back against threats to gender equality

May 11, 2012

JAKARTA: New legislation being proposed in Indonesia has created a stir of antagonism, especially from conservative Islamist groups in the country, who demand that Islamic law, or Sharia, is implemented and followed in the country.

But women’s groups are lashing out against the push by the Islamic organizations to curtail the bill’s progression in government, saying that “all women and men in Indonesia deserve equal access under the law.”

Afghanistan: Women push for rights behind the wheel

May 15, 2012

(Reuters) - The morning after the Taliban fell Shakila Naderi shed her head-to-toe burqa, sat behind the wheel of a car for the first time and asked her husband to teach her how to drive.

Now Kabul's only female driving instructor, she teaches women a rare skill that confronts harsh opposition in ultra-conservative, Muslim Afghanistan.

Kuwait: Bill proposed to prohibit female judges

May 14, 2012

KUWAIT: Five lawmakers proposed amendments to the current law that governs judiciary work in Kuwait, which if implemented, will disqualify female citizens from being appointed as judges or prosecutors.

The draft law presented by MPs Khalid Al-Sultan, Ammar Al-Ajmi, Abdullatif Al-Omair, Nayef Al-Merdas, and Dr Mohammad Al-Kandari, includes an amendment to Article 19 of Law Number 23/1990. This is to change item (A) which states that a member must be ‘a Kuwaiti Muslim,’ and add the term ‘male’ to the statement.

Pakistan: Helping Women with Career Building and Empowerment

May 14, 2012

Saima Anwar lives in the Swat area of northern Pakistan. Her family was poor and couldn't pay for her education, so she worked a part-time job to get through school. But when she wanted to become a lawyer -- a profession she's "crazy about" -- she had to find a different way.

Activism Under the Radar: Volunteer Health Workers in Iran

May, 2009

Few would disagree that the 1979 Iranian revolution, despite the massive participation of women, rapidly became a catastrophe for women’s legal status and social position. Under the Shah, Iran had a mildly forward-looking family law limiting men’s rights to polygamy and unilateral divorce, and, at least theoretically, basing child custody on the best interests of the child. Within two weeks of the revolution, this legislation was annulled, on the grounds that it was against the shari‘a. The new Islamic Republic introduced retrograde laws that, among other things, valued a woman’s life at half of a man’s, and considered two women witnesses to be the equal of one man. The age of marriage as well as maturity for women was reduced to nine. At the same time, the regime promoted motherhood as the only viable life option for women and dismantled the family planning unit the Shah’s regime had founded. In 1989, concerned about the burgeoning population, the Islamic Republic made a volte face and introduced one of the most successful family planning programs in the developing world. In the process of transmitting health messages, however, these volunteers continuously found ways to redefine their mandate and expand their position in other areas of the public sphere.

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