MAINTAINING THE RECOMMENDED 35% GENDER REPRESENTATION ON THE FEDERAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund has raised alarm over the sudden depletion of women in the corridors of power owing to President Goodluck Jonathan‘s removal of 9 ministers earlier this week.

Below is the full text of a press release circulated by the CEO of the NGO, Ayisha Osori.

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President Goodluck Jonathan has received many personal awards and commendations for having a Federal Executive Council (FEC) that meets the recommendation of the National Gender Policy (2006) to have at least 35% representation of women in government agencies. It is something that has deservedly made the President a champion of fair gender representation for millions of Nigerians.

However, the removal of 9 ministers on September 11, 2013 has, in one stroke reduced the current representation of females on the FEC from 33% to 19.5% – highlighting the danger of using appointive positions as a yardstick of women’s inclusion in decision-making. While there are many considerations which would have informed the President’s decision, including ‘re-tooling his government to achieve service delivery’ as pointed out by the Minister of Information, it is important that the number of women represented as ministers on the FEC is maintained or increased.

This is particularly vital in the run up to the 2015 general elections and the implications of power, influence and relevance which are usually taken into consideration with such appointments – women cannot be seen to be wanting, because they are not.

We urge the President in his considerations for the selection of the 9 new ministers, to ensure that at least 5 or more of them are selected from the pool of strong capable women, which Nigeria has in abundance. They should be selected and placed where their expertise and strengths best lie.

It will serve as a strong message to the entire polity that women are not easily replaceable and serve as a motivation to millions of Nigerians to continue to support more gender balanced representation at all levels.

Signed & endorsed by:

Ayisha Osori

Chief Executive Officer

Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund

http://www.nigerianwomentrustfund.org

Iheoma Obibi

Executive Director

Alliances for Africa

http://www.alliancesforafrica.org

Malala Yousafzai delivers defiant riposte to Taliban militants with speech to the UN General Assembly

OMG! Shot twice (in the head and neck) for daring to speak in favor of Western Education and still alive to make more outrageous demands!!!? Well, hey lets get the suicide bombers to go give her a hug shall we? Let’s see her live through that!

In case you missed it, Malala is a 16 year old girl who, as an 11 year old started a blog about her life under Taliban rule and started advocating for girl child education (western education) in order to be properly equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Shortly afterward, she was featured in a BBC documentary where she spoke with great aplomb about the need for girls. and indeed all children, to be educated.

That triggered off the death threats.

Which made no impact whatsoever as the poor thing just would not shut up. She just was not afraid enough I guess. Oh and having her father firmly in her corner can’t have hurt either.

Anywho, to cut a long story short, the Taliban in their infinite wisdom, sent gunmen to carry out their threats and to their credit, those gunmen did such a good job, not only Malala was shot but also another girl who happened to be sitting close to her on the school bus.

But I guess God was not quite done with her yet. She did NOT die. Only slipped into a coma from which she fully recovered after receiving treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Malala has now gained far more international recognition and praise than any other child her age. She stands nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize, as well as the National Malala Peace Prize. Indeed she is being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize as well. Certainly not what the Talibans had hoped for.

The Pakistanis have refused to let this slide as the Muslim community in that country have condemned the  actions of those who attempted the killing. This has not deterred the Taliban though.

Perhaps their plan is to make her a Martyr and the symbol of feminist movements across the globe.

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Some of history’s greatest statesmen have spoken there. Today, the Assembly listened  spellbound to a 16-year-old schoolgirl. These are Malala’s words. 

Honourable UN Secretary General Mr Ban  Ki-moon, respected president of the General Assembly  Vuk Jeremic,  honourable UN envoy for global education  Mr Gordon Brown, respected elders and my dear brothers and sisters: Assalamu alaikum.

Today it is an honour for me to  be speaking again after a long time. Being here with such honourable people is a great moment in my life and it is an honour for me that today I am wearing a shawl of the late Benazir Bhutto.

I don’t know where to begin my speech.

I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say, but first of all thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me. I have received thousands of good-wish cards and gifts from all over the world. Thank you to all of them. Thank you to the children whose innocent words encouraged me. Thank you to my elders whose prayers strengthened me. I would like to thank my nurses, doctors and the staff of the hospitals in Pakistan and the UK and the UAE government who have helped me to get better and recover my strength.

I fully support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his Global Education First Initiative and the work of UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and the respectful president of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. I thank them for the leadership they continue to give. They continue to inspire all of us to action. Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing: Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.

There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand, one girl among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.

Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.

Malala’s father beams with approval and pride as his daughter gives her speech

 

I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same. Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group.

I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me.

Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learned from my father and from my mother. This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.

Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.

The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It is true.

The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.

The power of the voice of women frightens them. This is why they killed 14 innocent students in the recent attack in Quetta. And that is why they kill female teachers. That is why they are blasting schools every day because they were and they are afraid of change and equality that we will bring to our society.

And I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist: “Why are the Taliban against education?” He answered very simply by pointing to his book, he said: “A Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.”

They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would point guns at people’s heads just for going to school. These terrorists are misusing the name of Islam for their own personal benefit.

Pakistan is a peace-loving, democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. It is the duty and responsibility to get education for each child, that is what it says. Peace is a necessity for education.

In many parts of the world, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorism, war and conflicts stop children from going to schools. We are really tired of these wars. Women and children are suffering in many ways in many parts of the world.

In India, innocent and poor children are victims of child labour. Many schools have been destroyed in Nigeria. People in Afghanistan have been affected by extremism. Young girls have to do domestic child labour and are forced to get married at an early age. Poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems, faced by both men and women.

Today, I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most.

There was a time when women activists asked men to stand up for their rights.

But this time we will do it by ourselves.

I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights, but I am focusing on women to be independent and fight for themselves. So dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up.

So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity. We call upon the world leaders that all of these deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable.

We call upon all governments to ensure free, compulsory education all over the world for every child. We call upon all the governments to fight against terrorism and violence. To protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of education opportunities for girls in the developing world. We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, colour, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish.

We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave, to embrace the strength within themselves and realise their full potential.

Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education. No one can stop us. We will speak up for our rights and we will bring change to our voice. We believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the whole world because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must not forget that millions of people are suffering from poverty and injustice and ignorance. We must not forget that millions of children are out of their schools. We must not forget that our sisters and brothers are waiting for a bright, peaceful future.

So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first. Thank you.

Culled from the independent.co.uk

When Men Are on the Receiving End of Domestic Violence

Now we must acknowledge the fact that there are women out there who are real bullies. Thye weather the man down and beat him into submission with a vibrantly wicked tongue. Others resort to violence and will take their frustrations out on alleged (by them) mistresses, co workers, female relations and houshelps! Their terrorism knows no bounds. Men who find themselves in such a situation might not be many but they certainly exist. The story posted here is one man’s account of his own desperate situation.

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He Probably Had It Coming

“When I went into the community looking for some support services, I couldn’t find any. There were a lot for women, and the only programs for men were for anger management,” Mr. Silverman told the Post shortly before his death. “As a victim, I was re-victimized by having these services telling me that I wasn’t a victim, but I was a perpetrator.”

The man who ran Canada’s only shelter for male victims of domestic abuse has apparently killed himself. A sad ending to what was, allegedly, a difficult and frustrating attempt to draw attention and provide safe haven for men who have been damaged by their spouses. It’s a dilemma that I have run into for years, often misunderstood and actually mocked and derided by society. Apparently men should not complain if their spouse hits them, they should be above such abuse while at the same time never lifting a finger to strike back or even protect themselves. I have heard the story many times, and on one occasion a husband was charged (and convicted) for restraining his wife who was in the process of hitting him with a cast iron frying pan for the third time.

Let’s face it – for many men just admitting that they are victims of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse (yes I said sexual) is tantamount to admitting that you aren’t really a man. This only exacerbates the problem. Not only is it embarrassing and painful to tell others but you can be fairly certain that others with probably accept your story with a hint of sarcasm or non-belief. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say of men who have been hit or abused, “He probably had it coming.”

Violence is wrong no matter who the victim is. No one should be allowed to attack another, no matter what their gender is. It’s also pathetic that there is no funding available for these victims. Maddening.

 Story culled from http://scott-williams.ca/2013/04/30/he-probably-had-it-coming/

Angelina Jolie Speaks Against US Male Soldiers Raping Female Soldiers

Who would have thought it?

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Last Thursday at the London G8 Summit, Angelina Jolie spoke out about ending wartime rape and sexual violence, urging foreign leaders to hold offenders accountable. Thankfully, the forum agreed to fund a $35.5 million initiative to improve prevention and response.

“Hundreds of thousands of women and children have been sexually assaulted, tortured or forced into sexual slavery in the wars of our generation,” Jolie said, flanked by eight ministers in suits and Zainab Hawa Bangura, United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflicts.

“Today I believe their voices have been heard and that we finally have some hope to offer them. I welcome the long overdue stand that the G8 has taken,” Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

Sadly, wartime rape is not only directed by the attackers onto the attacked. Rape occurs within the very ranks of the military as well, which has been heartbreakingly exposed by this SBS documentary, The Invisible War.

Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of multiple rape victims, The Invisible War is a moving indictment of the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, chronicling the women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. It also features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long-hidden history, and what can be done to bring about much-needed change.

And while rape victims in the civilian world can normally turn to an impartial police force and justice system for help, rape victims in the military must turn to their command—a move that is all too often met with foot-dragging at best, and reprisals at worst. Many rape victims find themselves forced to choosebetween speaking up and keeping their careers. Little wonder that only eight percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted.

While women have fought long and hard to pave the way for themselves in positions once dominated by men, they remain faced with deep-seated prejudice and are too often tools used to define and bolster male dominance and masculinity itself. For centuries, women have been systematically excluded from most professional positions, reduced to being sex workers or filling roles that were not considered powerful or ambitious. While women have clearly come a very long way, that history of portraying women as submissive and sexually available lingers today. We see images upon images, day in and day out, portraying women as both sexy and disposable, a kind of currency enjoyed by rich or powerful men who can afford their company. Women’s nude bodies are shown in nearly every mainstream movie rated AA or above, and it’s been historically considered normal and acceptable for powerful men to have several mistresses –some ‘men just can’t help it’ rhetoric. While most men today are fully respectful of women and consider themselves progressive, these kinds of portrayals and images remain constant and are not entirely innocent. Like advertising, seeing the same repetitive messages day by day affects both how young men learn to think about women and, more importantly, how women learn to think about themselves. A new Dove research project was just released, concluding that only 4% of women think they are beautiful. This represents a continual kind of emotional oppression that often results in women staying in abusive relationships or not reporting rape or sexual violence when it happens.

Recently, 6 men were charged in a gang-rape of a Swiss woman in India, causing international uproar. In Western nations, we have often looked to the Middle East and to India and denounced the way that women are treated in many of these places. However, instead of pointing fingers overseas and saying that mistreating women is their problem, all this should tell us is that rape is a global issue; misogyny is a global issue. If we are going to fund efforts to end violence for wartime rape, let us also end the violence occurring at home, in our own militaries and other professions –both sexual, emotional and psychological.

Story culled from http://utopiandreaming.com