1. Kabita Karki's Poster of Human-Induced Carbon Cycle
The June 2011 issue of the Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier is a report on youth action for climate change through art. It provides a wonderful gallery of art recently produced by young people in order to communicate the human predicament brought about by CO2 emissions and motivate people to do something about it. One example (to see others, click here) is this beautiful poster by Kabita Karki of Nepal. She writes:
"My poster was created using watercolours and shows a human in motion. It depicts the rapid, human-induced
carbon cycle: black carbon affects the climate dramatically. Continuing the current trajectory of global
warming, there is glacier melting, sea-level rise, with coastal regions at a high risk of inundation. People try to
escape the consequences, but do not realise that they themselves are responsible for creating
the problem. Industrialised nations enjoy the services achieved through environmental
degradation, while developing countries suffer the effects of a crime they never committed!"
The Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier is a publication of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), located in Kathmandu, Nepal, which serves eight countries of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas region: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. It is instructive to consider the introduction to the June 2011 issue:
Using Art to Communicate Climate Change
"Art in all its forms is a powerful means of communication. The arts help overcome barriers of language and culture,
and they provide a creative pathway for debating and exploring global problems. For young people concerned
with climate change, the arts offer a way to reach out and raise awareness among their friends, in their communities,
and in the world beyond.
"This issue of the Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier is devoted to artistic means of expression related to youth and
climate. It builds on the previous issue on youth and climate published in
November 2010, which focused on
youth views, understanding, and climate change activities. The contributions include posters, photo essays,
illustrations, and other art works. They are drawn from youth leaders and youth motivators affiliated to several
networks promoting youth engagement in sustainability, climate action, and the mountain agenda."
The reader is cordially invited to visit the ICIMOD web site for more information. Indeed, art is a very effective form of communication. Young people with artistic talent would do well to contribute to the noble cause of protecting and enhancing the human habitat.
2. Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media
Status of Women in the News Media
International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF)
Gender Links, 5 May 2011
Reprinted with Permission
IWMF launches the global glass ceiling report
A groundbreaking report on media houses in more than 500 countries has found that almost three quarters of top media jobs are held by men.
The Global Report on the Status Women in the News Media, produced by the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) looked at newsrooms in 60 countries, finding that men occupy the vast majority of media jobs internationally.
The IWMF commissioned the study to closely examine gender equity in the news media around the world. The full report was unveiled at the International Women Media Leader's Conference in Washington DC. A powerful gathering of nearly 75 women media executives from around the world analysed the report and voted on a plan of action to "level the playing field" for women in newsrooms in their home countries at the 25 March conference. The conference was hosted by the IWMF and George Washington University's Global Media Institute.
In this long-awaited extensive study, researchers found that 73% of the top management jobs are occupied by men. Among the ranks of reporters, men hold nearly two-thirds of the jobs, compared to 36% held by women. However, among senior professionals, women are nearing parity with 41% of news-gathering, editing and writing jobs. The new global study shows women in 26% of the governing and 27% of top management jobs.
"It is crucial to have top management involved in decisions on these policies (to improve the status of women in newsrooms)," said Kjersti Sortland, managing editor of Norway's Verdens Gang, which was named one of the model companies of its region in the global study. "We agreed on having 50/50 gender equality and a strict policy on how to get there," including evaluating managers on this."
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) General Manager and Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire recalled how an early producer of CBC's As It Happens (Karen Levine) decided the show "sounded too male....She started tracking voices on air" and shaped policies to change that. "Good intentions are not enough," said McGuire. The CBC was named a model company for working women by researchers in the global study.
"For the first time we have scientifically collected evidence that offers a true picture of the very real challenges faced by women working in the media industry," International Women's Media Foundation Executive Director Liza Gross said. "Women in every region of the world still face many barriers - whether it is lower salaries than their male counterparts or lack of access to decision making jobs in the newsroom."
The IWMF study covering 170 000 people in the global news media found a higher representation of women in both governance and top management within both Eastern Europe (33% and 43%, respectively) and Nordic Europe (36% and 37%, respectively), compared to other regions. In the Asia and Oceania region, women are barely 13% of those in senior management, but in some individual nations women exceed men at that level -- in South Africa women are 79.5% of those in senior management. In Lithuania women dominate the reporting ranks of junior and senior professional levels (78.5% and 70.6%, respectively), and their representation is nearing parity in the middle and top management ranks.
The global study identified glass ceilings for women in 20 of 59 nations studied. Most commonly these invisible barriers were found in middle and senior management levels. Slightly more than half of the companies surveyed have an established company-wide policy on gender equity. These ranged from 16% of companies surveyed in Eastern Europe to 69% in Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.
3. Advancing Toward the Equality of Women and Men
Establishing the equality of women and men in society is a matter of vital importance to human
advancement and one which has occupied the minds and driven the efforts of many people.
Undoubtedly great advances have been made over the years in promoting this principle through
the contributions of feminist thought and numerous individuals and groups acting in different
social spaces around the world. Yet, despite these efforts to accord women full equality with men,
numerous challenges still exist.
In this document the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity draws attention to a few of these
challenges and examines them in the light of certain principles and aims that can potentially
shape our responses to them. The thoughts offered here are a result of the endeavors of the Bahá’í
community, since its inception, to put into practice the principle of the equality of women and
men in its activities worldwide and the Institute’s decade-long efforts to generate learning and
gain insights about issues of global concern in collaboration with others.
The purpose of this working document is to invite dialogue and reflection on the challenges that
face everyone who is actively contributing to the cause of the equality of women and men, as a
means of advancing collective efforts toward the realization of this goal. The ideas conveyed here
presume that the equality of men and women is a fundamental truth about human reality and
not just a desired condition to be achieved for the good of society. The reality of the human being
is his or her soul; and the soul, we firmly believe, has no sex. Men and women exhibit physical
differences that undeniably influence some aspects of how they experience the world. Yet, in their
essence, in their qualities and potentialities, in those aspects that make human beings human,
men and women are without distinction. Neither can claim superiority over the other. "Women
and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God" (Bahá’u’lláh). It is therefore
imperative that the equality that already exists as a spiritual truth be expressed ...
To keep reading .... click
4. Rosa Parks - American Civil Rights Activist
This article about Rosa Parks is reprinted
from Wikipedia as of 14 June 2011.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913 – 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement".
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. While her action was not the first of its kind to impact the civil rights issue (see also Lizzie Jennings in 1854, Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, Claudette Colvin on the same bus system nine months before Parks), Parks' individual action of civil disobedience created further impact by sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.
At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia, and became involved in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast.
Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. Her death in 2005 was a major story in the United States' leading newspapers. She was granted the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.
To read the complete Wikipedia article on Rosa Parks, click here.
5. Dilma Rouseff - President of Brazil
"From the first day of the year, Brazil has started to go through a completely different experience: having a woman president for the first time. President Dilma Roussef starts the lineage of women presidents in Brazil....
Dilma Rouseff - President of Brazil
"It is no longer futurology, but the concrete and present reality. It was expected that the election would be defined in the first round. Dilma won in the run-off, but with a considerable margin over José Serra, an experienced and wise politician. After having defeated cancer at the beginning of the campaign and facing a harsh battle against all kinds of different attempts to discredit her, Roussef won the elections and became president. And as she was sworn in on 1 January 2011, she declared with a broken voice and tears in her eyes: “From this moment on, I am the President of every Brazilian”.
"Of all Brazilian men, but especially, of all Brazilian women, we could add. If Dilma Roussef sends a message of hope of a government that is oriented towards the poorest will continue on that path, there’s no doubt this hope means even more for women....
"Poor women in our country are the majority. They are twice poor: because they lack the means to survive and because they are women, they are despised and confined to a secondary place in society, with no prestige or resources with which to demand their rights, victims of everyday violence, quite often from the partner they chose to share their lives with...."
To read the entire article, click here ....
Excerpted from Brazil, president, feminine, singular, Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, Mirada Global, 17 May 2011.
Original in Spanish: Presidencia en femenino singular
6. Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security
Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security:|
Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs
Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Evelin Lindner, HumanDHS, 2010
The Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security book is being "highly recommended" by Choice as follows (in July 2010): "In this far-ranging, sometimes brilliant book, Lindner (Columbia Univ. and Oslo Univ.) studies the social and political ramifications of human violations and world crises related to humiliation, defined as the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that harms or removes the dignity, pride, and honor of the other.
A "transdisciplinary social scientist," the author charts how humiliation--and its antidote, love--are conditioned by large-scale, systemic social forces such as globalization. The force of this book resides in its construction of a compelling, compassionate alternative to the psychological effects of humiliation on gender and sexual relations, parenthood, and leadership. For Lindner, this alternative is not only love but also its psychological correlate, humility, both of which can become the basis of the social, political, and cultural change necessary to reform the harmful global tendency toward humiliation.
Lindner's philosophy is avowedly non-dualist and rooted in ancient Eastern wisdom. A powerful follow up to her Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict (CH, March 2007, 44-4114), this book appears in the "Contemporary Psychology" series; it will be indispensable for psychologists, humanists, and political scientists and invaluable to policy makers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. -- M. Uebel, University of Texas" (Choice is a publication of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association)
The launching of the World Dignity University initiative is scheduled for 24 June 2011. It will take place at the University of Oslo in Norway, 10.00-12.00, Klubben, 2nd floor, University Library Georg Sverdrups House, Blindern. You may also watch this event online as a guest. For more information, contact the World Dignity University.
7. Manal al-Sherif & Gender Inequality in Saudi Arabia
Manal was arrested for violating public order after she set up a Facebook group urging women to post videos of themselves driving and posted such a video herself.
When hearing of racial apartheid in the US, we think of it as a relic of a bygone era, not something that could be replicated in the modern world. Unfortunately, apartheid is still alive and kicking, especially in Saudi Arabia, where one woman is hoping to do for gender equality what Rosa Parks did for racial equality. Manal al-Sherif was arrested for violating public order after she set up a Facebook group urging women to post videos of themselves driving and posted such a video herself.
There are two things that need to be stressed about the de facto ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. First, the ban is not backed by Saudi law. Rather, it has crept in thanks to fatwas summoned by the all-powerful clergy. By enforcing these fatwas, the police are essentially telling the monarchy that the clergy has the power to veto their laws and enact new ones. This is not how a healthy society functions. Second, the ban on driving has no basis in religion. That is why just about every other Muslim country, no matter how repressive it may be towards women, still permits them to drive. Islam obviously has nothing to say about women and driving since cars were invented long after the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) but the Holy Prophet’s first wife, Bibi Khadija, was a successful businesswoman. Repressive rulers use Islam to give legitimacy to their tyranny but that doesn’t make their laws any more justified.
The ban on driving is hardly the most egregious violation of women’s rights in a country where women are routinely flogged for adultery. But it is a law that can be overturned if more women have al-Sherif’s courage and decide to defy the ban. If women decided they have had enough of being second-class citizens, even rulers as capable of brutality as the Saudis will be unable to fight back. And once the floodgates open, women may finally be treated as equal citizens.
Published in The Express Tribune, Pakistan, 2 June 2011.
Note: For more on the predicament of women in Saudi Arabia, see the following:
8. The Custom of Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan
Bride Kidnapping: A Tradition Or A Crime?
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
21 May 2011
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036, USA
Some 200 people took to the streets in a northern Kyrgyz province earlier this week to protest the longstanding practice of bride kidnapping.
The custom -- in which single young men kidnap their bride of choice and pressure them to agree to marriage -- is not uncommon in Kyrgyzstan.
But bride kidnapping has recently come under sharp criticism in the Central Asian country after two kidnapped brides committed suicide in a matter of months.
The site of this week's rally, the northern Issyk-Kul Province, is home to the two suicide victims -- Venera Kasymalieva and Nurzat Kalykova, both 20-year-old students.
The rally, dubbed "Spring without Them," was organized by local women's NGOs and other activists and held in the town of Karakol. During the protest participants called on authorities and community leaders to put an end to the old tradition.
Bride kidnapping is officially a criminal offence in Kyrgyzstan, where the criminal code stipulates a maximum three-year prison term for bride-kidnapping.
In reality, however, few cases reach the courtroom, and those who are tried for bride-kidnapping usually walk away after paying a small fine.
Although bride kidnapping is officially a crime in Kyrgyzstan, few cases reach the courtroom (illustrative photo from the Kyz Korgon Institute, an Kyrgyz NGO that campaigns to eliminate the practice).
Between 68 and 75 percent of marriages in Kyrgyzstan take place with bride kidnapping (photo courtesy of Jackie Matthews).
"Once bride-kidnapping was characteristic mostly to rural areas, but it has become widespread everywhere, including the capital, Bishkek," says Gazbubu Babayarova, founder of Kyz Korgon Institute, a nongovernmental organization that campaigns to eliminate the tradition of bride-kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan.
"Our researches indicate that between 68 and 75 percent of marriages in Kyrgyzstan take place with bride kidnapping."
Babayarova says economic hardship is one of many reasons behind the recent rise of bride kidnapping, as many families try to avoid paying dowries and wedding expenses. But it is by no means the only motivation.
"It is encouraged by parents of the boys," Babayarova says. "And sometimes, boys are afraid of asking the girls' permission. They think it's easier just to kidnap her, because they are afraid maybe she will refuse.
"Another reason is that even if there is a law, it's not being implemented. Since the kidnappers go unpunished, bride-kidnapping is happening again and again."
How It's Done
According to the tradition, when a Kyrgyz man, usually in his twenties, wants to get married for the first time, he picks a bride and starts to arrange her kidnapping.
The man and his friends seize the young woman in streets, sometimes using violence, and forcibly drive her to the captor's family home. The rest is left to female relatives of the man, who try to persuade the kidnapped woman to marry her captor.
The woman is put under enormous pressure, including physical violence, but in the majority of cases, the captor refrains from rape, Babayarova says.
If the woman finally agrees to marriage, the family of her potential husband puts a white kerchief on her head, and asks her to write a letter to her parents. They take the letter to the bride's family to ask their daughter's hand in marriage and arrange a quick wedding ceremony.
While the groom's relatives take part in "choosing" and arranging the kidnapping of their future daughter-in-law, the potential bride and her family do not usually know the captors or their intentions until after the kidnapping takes place.
Many brides follow tradition and simply accept their fate. But some of the marriages born from bride-kidnapping fall apart and for some -- like the two young students in Issyk-Kul -- this can bring a tragic end.
"She Wasn't Ready for Marriage So I Kidnapped Her"
Kalykova's acquaintance, Ulan, once asked her if she wanted to marry him. Kalykova and her parents refused the marriage proposal but they didn't predict Ulan would not take no for an answer.
Late one evening in November 2010, Kalykova 's parents came home from a dinner party to find their daughter had gone missing. Days later, they found out that Kalykova has been kidnapped by Ulan, who was now asking their permission to conduct a marriage ceremony.
The parents brought Kalykova back home. But under constant pressures from relatives, Kalykova and her parents eventually accepted the marriage proposal.
The marriage didn't last long -- Kalykova committed suicide just four months later.
Despite the outcome, Ulan sees nothing wrong in his approach to marriage.
"We were friends with Nurzat for three years before our marriage. I wanted to marry her, but she always postponed it. Perhaps she wasn't ready," Ulan told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.
Ulan doesn't hold himself responsible for his wife's suicide.
"We lived alright, we were friendly," he says. "To this point, I don't understand what possibly could have gone wrong."
Authorities say they have launched a probe into Kalykova's case but it is unclear whether Ulan will be charged with kidnapping.
Organizers of today's rally in Karakol called on authorities to enforce existing laws to punish men who opt for kidnapping as a means of finding a wife.
In a tearful address to participants, Venera Kasymalieva's father, Oken, said his daughter's kidnapping ruined his family's life.
I call on young men to refrain from kidnapping, he said. "I don't wish any young girl to commit suicide in the future. My wife died suddenly five years ago, and that's why my daughter [Venera] was like a mother to my younger kids."
Abaz Jyrgalbekov, a 20-year-old man who also joined the rally, says not all Kyrgyz men support the kidnapping tradition.
It's a way for insecure men to get girls, Jyrgalbekov says. "Who usually kidnaps a woman? Guys with no self-confidence; who are afraid that a girl doesn't like him."
"I want to marry in a normal way," he adds.
9. Yoani Sánchez and the "Generation Y" Blog
A Role Model:
Yoani Sánchez, Cuban Blogger
Note: This article about Yoani Sánchez is based on a review of her book, Havana Real: One woman fights to tell the truth about Cuba today; her blog, Generation Y; and The Voice of Cuba on the Internet, an article about her by fellow blogger Pedro Luis.
Welcome message in the Generation Y Blog
"Generation Y is a blog inspired by people like me, with names that start with or contain a "Y". Born in Cuba in the '70s and '80s, marked by schools in the countryside, Russian cartoons, illegal emigration, and frustration. So I invite, especially, Yanisleidi, Yoandri, Yusimí, Yuniesky and others who carry their "Y's" to read me and to write to me."
About Yoani Sánchez
From the back cover of her book: "Yoani Sánchez is an unusual dissident: no street protests, no attacks on big politicos, no calls for revolution. Rather, she produces a simple diary about what it means to live under the Castro regime: the chronic hunger and the difficulty of shopping; the art of repairing ancient appliances; and the struggles of living under a propaganda machine that pushes deep into public and private life. For these simple acts of truth-telling her life is one of constant threat. Shehas been kidnapped and beaten, lives under constant surveillance, and can only get online - in disguise - at tourist hotspots. But she continues on, refusing to be silenced—a living response to all who have ceased to believe in a future for Cuba."
Background - Cuba and the Cuban Revolution
The Cuban revolution started in the 1950s as a revolt against the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, and had strong popular support after the Batista government crumbled 1 January 1959. But the new leader, Fidel Castro, turned out to be another dictator and one willing to use violence against anyone who might oppose his absolute power. Now, after 50+ years of "revolutionary government," Cuba is a sad example of how extreme socialism is as bad as extreme capitalism, and for the same reason: "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Lord Acton). Any significant concentration of power without checks and balances - whether supported by economics or politics - inevitably leads to abuses of authority and utter disrespect for human rights. Many Cubans have resisted, and continue to resist, the Castro dictatorship. Thousands have died in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Cuba; and thousands have suffered, and continue to suffer, violent persecution and prison terms. Others continue the struggle, notably Yoani Sánchez and, just to mention another name, Oscar Elías Biscet, a human rights advocate who was recently released after several years in prison and is currently nominated for the 2011 Noble Peace Prize.
More about Yoani Sánchez (by her translator, M. J. Porter)
"Yoani Sánchez, a University of Havana graduate in philology, emigrated to Switzerland in 2002. Two years later, she decided to return to Cuba, but promised herself she would live there as a free person and started her blog, Generation Y, upon her return. In 2008, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World; it named Generation Y one of the "Best Blogs" in 2009. Spain honored her with its highest award for digital journalism, the Ortega y Gasset Prize.
"She has also been named one of the "100 Most Notable Hispanic Americans" by El País (Spain). In 2009 she became the first - and so far only - blogger to interview President Barack Obama, who commented that her blog "provides the world with a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba," and applauded her efforts to "empower fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology." In 2010 she received the World Press Freedom Hero award from the International Press Institute, and was named a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum. She lives with her husband, independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar and their son Teo in a high-rise apartment in Havana, overlooking Revolution Square.
What about gender equality in Cuba?
Here is Yoani's answer: "There are many ways of being ostracized. Along with racism, here [in Cuba] we have discrimination based on social origin, the stigma of ideological affiliation, and exclusion for not belonging to a family clan with power, influence, or relationships. Not to mention how you are patronized in a macho society if you have a pair of ovaries hidden in the middle of your belly." (Havana Real, pp.169-170). So much for gender equality under Cuban socialism!
The Generación Y blog is online in Spanish (here) and in English (here). A team of volunteers supports Yoani, and other Cuban bloggers, with translations from Spanish to twenty languages including English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Also worth visiting: Portal desde Cuba,
Voces Cubanas, Fotos desde Cuba, Revista Voces, Veritas, and CubaNet.