AfriWomen | Positive Participation All things feminist. All things African

Religious groups and civil society organisations are putting continued pressure on President Joyce Banda to reconsider the Gender Equity Bill she passed in March. Certain groups have threatened to take the issue to court if parliament does not review the bill.
The President recently assented to the draft law, which seeks to empower women to participate in decision-making and development activities, ensures equal access to education, sexual reproductive health rights and prohibits sexual harassment and violence against women.
However many religious leaders and organisations are condemning the bill for sections they deem immoral. A petition against the Gender Equality Bill addressed to the President, drawn-up by Umunthu Pressure Group also claims that the draft law does not reflect the interests, aspirations and understanding of Malawians. It further asserts that Malawians were not educated and consulted on certain sections.
The primary contention lies in Section 19, which ensures the right to adequate sexual and reproductive health services as well as enshrining the right to choose whether to have children. However, some groups see this as an indirect form of legalising abortion and feel that criminalising medical practitioners for refusing to conduct family planning methods contravenes their right to freedom of religion and belief.
Emma Kaliya, a renowned Malawian gender activist differs with the group arguing, “Most notable clauses in the law are not new because they are taken from regional and international human rights treaties to which Malawi either ratifies or is a signatory.”
The sections within the bill are no different from those found in the United Nations (UN) International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), of which Malawi is a signatory. The section is also in line with the SADC Gender and Development Protocol, which demonstrates Malawi’s commitment to reaching gender equality by 2015.
CEDAW’s Article 16 states: “Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family planning relations and in particular shall ensure, on the basis of equality of men and women, the same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights.”
Many Malawian cultural and religious beliefs discriminate against women since many married women seldom have any say on the number of children they bear. Some faith groups also prohibit women from practicing any family planning methods.
The 2012 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer states that Malawi has the lowest contraceptive usage and the highest abortion rate in Southern Africa. Most abortions are unsafe and contribute to the ever-increasing maternal and infant mortality rates. Although Malawi has reduced the maternal mortality, the rate is still high with 675 women dying per 100 000 live births. Abortion complications account for 17% of these deaths.
Furthermore, having no say in sexual reproduction obstructs participation in social and economic activities, leaving many rural women economically dependent on their male counterparts. Gender activists argue that this dependency contributes to violence against women and worsens women’s overall vulnerability.
The Gender Equity Bill is therefore essential for protecting the rights of women and ensuring gender equality in the country. It further cements the existing legislation that guarantees equality, prohibits discrimination based on sex or gender, protects women from domestic violence and sexual harassment.
Thus it is difficult to see how this law does not reflect the interests, aspirations and understanding of all Malawians, especially that of women. One wonders whether those opposing the bill are falling trap to patriarchal tendencies by perceiving women’s equality as a threat to male privilege.
On the upside, local and international gender and human rights activists have hailed the country for this progressive law. In a statement signed by the National Coordinator of Coalition for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion, Chrispin Sibande assured citizens that “people who believe in real human rights and activists will respond accordingly to any attempts to fight gender equality and the Gender Law.”
Calling on the President to withdraw her signature is unspeakable. Such attempts to stifle gender equality and the advancement of women’s rights are not only retrogressive and but threaten the spirit of gender activism in the country.
I urge all gender and human rights activists to reinvigorate that spirit and start strategising on how to implement the law to ensure it benefits all women and girls especially those living in rural areas. I urge those opposing the bill to remember that there can never be human rights if women are not allowed to make their own choices.
Daud Kayisi is gender activist and freelance journalist in Malawi. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that provides fresh views on everyday news.

Continue reading

Feministing | Young Feminists Blogging, Organizing, Kicking Ass

Feministing’s Community blog exists to provide a platform for feminist and pro-feminist writing, to connect feminists online and off, and to encourage activism. We hope that the Community blog will be a forum for a variety of feminist voices and organizations.
The Community blog is open to anyone who would like to join. However, in order to maintain a progressive and safe discourse on the site, anti-feminist Community posts are not permitted; the Feministing editors believe that racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and hate speech constitute anti-feminism and have no place on the site. Additionally, posts that contain no feminist lens or analysis, or that are “spammy” in nature may also be held for moderation.

Continue reading

Feminist Frequency | a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives.

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. Anita earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at California State University Northridge and her Master’s degree in Social and Political Thought at York University.

Continue reading

Women's Law Project | Women's Law Project, Equality, Sex Discrimination, Reproductive Rights

Victory for Domestic Abuse Survivors: Women’s Law Project Scores Win in Superior Court
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has affirmed that the General Assembly meant what it clearly stated when it adopted a law in 2006 requiring insurers to pay claims to innocent victims whose homes and automobiles are damaged by the intentional acts of their abusive spouses. See Opinion and more.
Co-founder of WE ADVANCE, Maria Bello, to receive Bradwell Award

Continue reading

Feminist Library | is a large archive collection of Women’s Liberation Movement literature,

The Feminist Library
is a large archive collection of Women’s Liberation Movement literature, particularly second-wave materials dating from the late 1960s to the 1990s. We support research, activist and community projects in this field.
We are based at 5 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7XW. We are open every Monday 2-5pm, Tuesday 11am-6pm and Thursday 6.30-9.30pm andThursday 6.30-9.30pm. Additionally, we are open on the 1st Saturday of the month 1.30-5pm for theWriters’ Space. The Feminist Library is closed for bank holidays.

Continue reading

Zainab Salbi | IF YOU KNEW ME YOU WOULD CARE

Special thanks to Angelina Jolie for her review and support of refugees worldwide and to Meryl Streep, Annie Lennox, Ashley Judd and Geena Davis for their forwards and for their constant support and echoing of marginalized women’s voices.Friends, I am happy to announce the launch of my new book If You Knew Me You Would Care in collaboration with photographer
Rennio Maifredi. I am grateful for all the women who shared their stories in it.
I hope you find the inspiration I found in their truth.
The book is being launched in celebration of women’s month on March 5th.
Please contact press@zainabsalbi.com for any press or book events.

Continue reading

WOMENSNETWORKINGHUB | connecting women to create change…

    @Apollo Solaris I AM God’s Divine LOVE in Action I AM God’s Divine WILL and POWER in Action. I AM God’s Divine WISDOM and INTELLIGENCE in ACTION. and I intend to bring PEACE, Love and Light to BALANCE the powers in the world – NOW! I AM APOLLO SOLARIS APOLLOSOLARIS.COM

Continue reading

Young Women Rock! says street harassment is NOT OKAY

ABOUT US
The Women Worldwide Initiative is a sponsored organization of Subud International Cultural Association with the mission to connect, inspire andeducate women and girls on a global scale throughmentorship programs, social change projects, and awareness campaigns that strengthen women’s capacity as decision-makers and promote gender equity, leadership and poverty eradication.

Continue reading