pelicanweblogo2010

Mother Pelican
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development

Vol. 7, No. 8, August 2011
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Status of Gender Equality in Society


SUMMARY & OUTLINE

This supplement is a digest of recent events and significant contributions to fostering gender equality - and human development - in various secular cultures and institutions. It is acknowledged that the distinction between the secular and religious dimensions is an artificial one, often blurred in real life situations. In those cases, if the material is predominantly secular it is included here; else it is included in Supplement 6. The selected items are the editor's choice. Suggestions by readers are welcomed. Reporting on good role models is a high priority. The following sections are included this month:

1. Men, Women, and Cross-Gender Solidarity
2. Aung San Suu Kyi - "The Lady" of Burma
3. Yingluck Shinawatra - Prime Minister of Thailand
4. Dilma Rouseff - President of Brazil
5. The boys in Brazil's favelas who shun violence
6. Research on Men, Masculinities and Spirituality
7. Engendering the Green Climate Fund
8. Yoani Sánchez and the "Generation Y" in Cuba
9. UN Women Progress Report 2011-2012

The promotion of gender equality in society is a slow and painful process, and it is barely beginning to unfold worldwide. But it is a dynamic process, one in which progress begets progress. It is important to stay tuned to relevant news coming from all world regions and all world cultures. The Google News box displayed to the right may be helpful. Readers can enhance their web sites with their own version of this box - which is continuously refreshed as significant events are reported - by going to Google News, clicking on "Add a section," and follow simple instructions under "Create a custom section." This is a free service, but you must register in order to use the customization tool.

If you know about recent developments that should be mentioned in this page, please write to the Editor.

1. Men, Women, and Cross-Gender Solidarity

WomenPowerAndTheBiologyOfPeace
Source: AFWW
From time to time, bright ideas emerge that open new horizons of hope for better human relations. The work of Judith Hand on male-female biology, as it pertains to preventing violence and sustaining peace, may be one of those. She has lectured and written extensively on the criticality of cross-gender solidarity between men and women for peace and human development. The main focus of her work has thus far been on the need for male-female gender balance in social institutions, but it would seem to be applicable to fostering human solidarity across the entire gender continuum in both social and religious institutions.

A Future Without War is Judith Hand's website, where most of her writings can be readily accessed. The following are some links to material that should be of interest to readers of this journal:

Violence (war in particular) is the greatest obstacle to sustainable human development. Judith Hand a making a significant contribution to peace by pointing the way to a culture of global solidarity and nonviolence. The reader is cordially invited to visit A Future Without War for more information on this important piece of work.


Another good resource: Developing Gender Awareness for Empowerment, Catherine of Siena Virtual College, 2011.



2. Aung San Suu Kyi - "The Lady" of Burma


Thank You For Your Support - Aung Saan Suu Kyi
Source: YouTube
The following is adapted from Wikipedia:

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% (392 of 485) of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her release on 13 November 2010.

Aung San Suu Kyi received the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 1992 she was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by the Government of India and the International Simón Bolívar Prize from the government of Venezuela. In 2007, the Government of Canada made her an honorary citizen of that country, one of only five people ever to receive the honor. Aung San Suu Kyi is the third child and only daughter of Aung San, considered to be the father of modern-day Burma.

To keep reading the Wikipedia article, click here:

To learn more about this woman, who is struggling to liberate her country from a repressive military dictatorship, explore the following links:

3. Yingluck Shinawatra - Prime Minister of Thailand

Yingluck_Shinawatra_Thailand
Yingluck Shinawatra
Prime Minister of Thailand
The following is adapted from Wikipedia:

Yingluck Shinawatra (born 21 June 1967) is a Thai politician, front-runner of the Pheu Thai Party, and Prime Minister-designate of Thailand following the 2011 general election. Born in Chiang Mai province, Yingluck Shinawatra earned bachelor's degree from Chiang Mai University and master's degree from Kentucky State University, both in public administration. She became an executive in the businesses founded by her elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, and later became the president of property developer SC Asset and managing director of Advanced Info Service. Meanwhile, her brother Thaksin became Prime Minister, was overthrown in a military coup, and went into self-imposed exile after a tribunal convicted him of abuse of power. In May 2011, the Pheu Thai Party, which maintained close ties to Thaksin, nominated Yingluck as their candidate for Prime Minister in the 2011 general election. Preliminary election result indicated that Pheu Thai won a landslide victory 265 out of 500-seat House of Representatives of Thailand, making it only the second time in Thai political history that a single party won a parliamentary majority. Yingluck is set to become Thailand's first female Prime Minister.

To keep reading the Wikipedia article, click here:

For some recent news about Yingluck Shinawatra: It is too soon to assess the caliber of this woman, but her election bodes well for the future of women in politics. To paraphrase Amantya Sen, "the future of sustainable development is endangered unless governments worldwide become engendered."

4. Dilma Rouseff - President of Brazil

DilmaRousseffJanuary2011"
Dilma Rouseff
President of Brazil
Courtesy of Wikipedia
"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....

"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

5. The boys in Brazil's favelas who shun violence

GaryBakerICRW
Gary Baker - Instituto Promundo
Photo courtesy of International Centre for Research on Women
This article was originally published in the The New Internationalist Magazine, Issue 413, July-August 2011. It is reprinted here by kind permission of New Internationalist. Copyright New Internationalist.

Gender activist Gary Barker sees a generation of young men wanting to break out of cycles of violence – and support the women in their lives.

Gary Barker pioneered ground-breaking work with young people, in particular disaffected young men, to promote gender equality and prevent violence. Instituto Promundo in Brazil, which he co-founded in 1997, has brought about remarkable changes in young people’s attitudes through workshops, social media, music, videos and toolkits. Promundo’s ideas are now being used all over the world. He is interviewed by Nikki van der Gaag.

How did it all start?

My father was a social worker, which is largely a woman’s profession. I never questioned that care work was men’s work. As a child, violence was part of a boy’s life, in school and in the neighbourhood. I witnessed an incident where a young man was shot right in front of me in the high school cafeteria. The school dealt with it very badly: they barely even talked about it. And I remember thinking, ‘Wait a minute, there is something not right about this. How come we don’t even have a space to talk about this?’

Then early in my career I worked on adolescent reproductive health and rights, which is mostly a woman’s field. There was a lot about ‘Aren’t men horrible?’ and about the things men do that leave young women vulnerable. So I started thinking: ‘I am a man too! There have got to be other men who are thinking, can we do something to transform these ways of thinking about what it is to be a man.’ That was the beginning of my quest.

What are the most effective ways of reaching men – and women – with this work?

While the international women’s rights movement and United Nations conventions were very important to bring momentum to this work, the most valuable and useful insights come from how couples themselves are negotiating equality in their daily lives. There are men in the most gender rigid places, who are willing to question and to speak out loud about how things should be different. Personal stories are more powerful than any manual or campaign.

PromundoYouth-JonSpaull"
A group of Promundo's youth promoters planning community activities.
Photo courtesy of Jon Spaull

I can think of one young man in particular. I shall call him João. Most of his family had some kind of drug trafficking connection. At the end of the day he would go home from washing and watching cars in the middle-class neighbourhood where I lived. He knew that if people at night saw a young black man dressed in rather ragged work clothes they would think: ‘He is a thief.’ So he would call out: ‘Don’t worry, I’m a nice guy!’ He had a real sense of humour. He also had a fantastic grandmother who was the anchor of the whole family.

Anyway, his girlfriend got pregnant. Her family didn’t think he was up and coming and therefore they didn’t want him live with her or to have much contact with the child. He made all these efforts to understand their point of view, to let them know that he was there to stay, that he loved their daughter and their granddaughter. I thought: ‘Wow! He has a cousin who was killed by drug traffickers, his brothers are all involved, his father died early from alcohol abuse, and yet he was able to say: “I am not going to be boxed into a corner. I will not be the violent, alcohol-abusing, gang-involved guy that the world expects me to be.”’

There are lots of young men like João who want to do things differently. We have helped many to get out of gangs. They are all very connected fathers. Many are now referred to us by some of the first young people we worked with. That is some accomplishment.

Is violence the major issue here?

For the most part, the world doesn’t make gender equitable men – it spends a lot of time making men who are angry and disconnected and violent. But the use of violence is not something men are happy about. In fact, it suggests how troubled many men are, and their own experience of violence growing up. We need to say: ‘You can’t do this’ and to end the impunity but also to say to men: ‘We understand that the violence you are using is coming from the violence you experienced or witnessed when you were growing up and we would like to offer you some alternative.’ It is when we reach out with two hands, one that serves as a kind of social control and the other that is supportive, that we are most likely to be successful.

Do you feel there is increasing interest in work with men on gender equality?

There is a generational shift happening. There is a generation of young men who grew up with women’s rights as daily reality, and a group of young women who expect nothing less than respect from men. I think that reality is driving our work in many parts of the world. There are more and more women who are women’s rights advocates who say: ‘Of course you (as men) should be here. You don’t have to come and do your introductory remarks on why men should be part of gender. We get that.’ But there is still – and in some cases it is quite healthy – a bit of mistrust: ‘We want to see that your credentials are truly in favour of gender equality and that you are not part of the men’s backlash group.’ These backlash groups are not that big in most parts of the world but they are very distasteful.

What needs to happen next?

We can show you men – and women – who say their lives have changed because of this work, but how to make that leap from stories of individual change into public policy? We need to recognize that this work is not yet part of the mainstream. There is no question that men are going to have to give up privileges if they really want gender equality. Perhaps the hardest part to give up is the work that women and girls so often do for them.

But we haven’t done a good enough job of finding the sugar to go along with the medicine: helping men to understand that there are positive things that come with gender equality – better sex, happier partners, happier children, happier lives for men themselves because their children and their partners are happier. There are win-wins in this and we need to make them better known.

For more information, visit the Instituto Promundo web site.

6. Research on Men, Masculinities and Spirituality

man-woman-whitebg
Gender equality is about the dignity and wellbeing of all people, both men and women, heterosexual and homosexual as well as other special cases. In addition to being a matter of human rights, another incentive to foster gender equality is that the transition from consumerism to sustainability will require 100% participation and cooperation by everyone.

There are human rights, and there are human duties. Human institutions, as well as every human person, have the duty to collaborate in attaining full equality of human development possibilities and opportunities. Given that male-dominated cultures have traditionally marginalized women from roles of secular and religious authority, it is reasonable at the moment to give top priority to leveling the playing feel between men and women. Indeed, the emancipation of women - a process that after centuries of gestation became visible in the late 1800s or early 1900s, and has yet to run its course - is a "sign of the times."

Just as men benefit significantly from female human development, women also have a right to benefit from male human development, and both men and women have the duty to help each other in attaining their full human potential. Unilateral domination by either gender - or by any gender majority over any gender minority - is no longer a tenable proposition. It is not a matter of becoming uniformly genderless. It is a matter of restoring that "unity in diversity" that somehow was lost before the inception of recorded history, and must now be recovered.

Let men be fully men, and let women be fully women. Modern psychology has taught us that there is woman in man, and there is man in woman (the "anima" and "animus" in Carl Jung's terminology). Men cannot attain full manhood, and women cannot attain full womanhood, unles they become aware of, and can relate to, their invisible inner partner of the opposite sex.

A better understanding of human psychology and spirituality across genders is urgently needed, as most of what is known about human psychology, and practically all that is known about human spirituality, has been made known to us by males for whom male superiority over women was taken for granted. Some of the few exceptions (in the Christian tradition) include Jesus of Nazareth (see Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34), Mary of Nazareth (see Luke 1: 39, John 19:25), Teresa of Avila (see this), John of the Cross (see this, in particular stanzas 5 to 8), and Judith Stein (see this, paragraph 53).

Some good people are already doing serious scientific research on masculine psychology and spirituality, and advances in this area will hopefully lead to liberating men from their propensity to aggression and domination. Worthy of consideration is the work of John Gerfel and others as reported in the Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality. The description of this journal is as follows:

Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality (JMMS) is an online, scholarly, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal. JMMS is published twice a year with provision for other special editions. JMMS seeks to be as inclusive as possible in its area of inquiry. Papers address the full spectrum of masculinities and sexualities, particularly those which are seldom heard.

Similarly, JMMS addresses not only monotheistic religions and spiritualities but also Eastern, indigenous, new religious movements and other spiritualities which resist categorization. JMMS papers address historical and contemporary phenomena as well as speculative essays about future spiritualities. The academic interests of the editorial board reflect these diverse positions.

JMMS content is available freely on an open access basis as well as being aggregated by EBSCO, Gale-Cengage and Informit. JMMS content is also indexed by Scopus. The Best of Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality is now also in print and available from Gorgias Press.

Additional resources:

  • Patriarchies of the Past; Masculinities for the Future, Catherine of Siena Virtual College, 2011.
  • The Other Side of the Gender Equation: Gender Issues for Men in the Europe and Eurasia Region, Susan D. Somach, KDID Social Transitions, July 2011.
  • 7. Engendering the Green Climate Fund

    Engendering the Green Climate Fund:
    An Opportunity for Best Practice

    Liane Schalatek, Associate Director
    Heinrich Böll Foundation North America
    20 July 2011

    Gender considerations are currently not systematically addressed in existing climate financing instruments; where gender appears, it is in bits and pieces.  Probably the main reason for that is that gender was not integrated into the design and the operationalization of these financing mechanisms from the very outset – as is the case for the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) as well as for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) or the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) administered by the Global Environment Facility, and even the Adaptation Fund, which only started project funding last year.  This is where the Green Climate Fund, currently designed by the 40 members of the Transitional Committee, has a chance to do better:  It has an opportunity to be truly transformative and distinguish itself from existing funds by being the first to integrate a gender perspective from the outset. Gender as a cross-cutting issue must guide the discussions about the scope, the governance and operational guidelines of the Green Climate Fund in the Transitional Committee.

    Gender awareness and some gender guidelines are not completely absent from some of the climate financing instruments, nor should they. For example, the World Bank and the regional multilateral development banks implementing the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) have gender policies on the book for their development financing operations. The World Bank, for example, has a gender mainstreaming mandate. The development banks also have accumulated evidence from
    COP17DURBANBANNER2
    Courtesy of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
    development practice over the years that gender equality increases the effectiveness of their development funding. A recent report of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group has made that point. But gender is not integrated into any of the operations of the Clean Technology Fund, which finances large-scale mitigation objects in emerging market economies and accounts for  roughly 70 percent of the total CIFs funding portfolio of US$ 6.5 billion pledged. In the World Bank’s Pilot Program on Climate Resilience (PPCR), the vehicle funding programmatic adaptation portfolios in a few select developing countries, gender is not part of the PPCR’s operational principles, although some pilot countries phase I proposals have included some gender dimensions in their plans. In the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program in Low-Income Countries (SREP), the newest of the CIFs, the suggested structure of the investment plans requests information about “environmental, social and gender co-benefits” and asks for social co-benefits to include “greater involvement and empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups.”

    At the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund, project proposals unevenly include some gender analysis; but it is not yet mandatory or a strong consideration for the project approval and subsumed under a vulnerability focus. Hopefully, this will change with the current review and further elaboration of the AF’s operational guidelines. For the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) lastly, which is supposed to fund and implement National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs), gender is so far not an obligatory decision criteria for project review and approval. Acting on the prodding the GEF received during its latest replenishment cycle by some Northern contributor countries to mainstream gender into its operations, the GEF is working to improve and implement its own social safeguards and gender mainstreaming policy.  This is bitterly necessary: so far, only roughly a third of the NAPAs include gender analysis or gender indicators. Women’s participation in their development has been likewise uneven, despite clear guidance by the UNFCCC. And most of the handful of NAPA implementation projects funded under the LDCF lack the gender component entirely.

    However, it is possible to include gender systematically and effectively in a global financing mechanism devoted to developing country actions for a global public good, such as climate stabilization undoubtedly is. Some “better practice” examples do exist. Both, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) have had either a gender action plan or a detailed gender policy on the book since 2008. In addition, they have a “gender infrastructure” on both funds: a Gender Working Group in the case of GAVI, which includes representatives from all Secretariat teams; in the case of the Global Fund, there are several full time gender advisors as well gender experts on the monitoring, evaluation, legal advisory and civil society outreach teams.

    But a formal gender policy or a gender action plan for a climate financing instrument in itself is not enough. Equally important is the systematic integration of gender equality in a fund’s governance structure as well in its public participation mechanisms. For example, while of the existing multilateral climate funds the AF is the most representative in terms of countries’ inclusion (with a majority of seats for developing countries and a dedicated board seat each for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing Countries), none of the multilateral climate funds seeks a gender-balance on the board. Also, most don’t allow for an active participation of members of civil society in the respective fund’s board either. Although even there, “best practice” precedent exists: the statutes of the Amazon Fund, the Congo Basin Forest Fund and the UN-REDD Programme allow for representatives of relevant stakeholder groups to be voting members of the fund’s decision-making body. While not going this far, on some climate funds, for example the CIFs, civil society representatives as active observers at least have the right to take the floor, add agenda items and recommend outside experts for consideration by a fund board. At the CIFs, special representation is accorded in the CIFs to Indigenous Peoples with a separate seat that is not counted toward the overall civil society quota.  Women deserve no less.

    Gender advocates are therefore putting forward some key recommendations to the Transitional Committee to ensure that gender is adequately considered in the ongoing deliberations on the design of the future Green Climate Fund. Gender is relevant for all of the four working groups of the TC. It truly has to be a cross-cutting issue and one of the guiding principles informing all of the TC’s work, which is currently moving from scoping input to drafting options for adaption by COP17 in Durban later this fall.  Among the most important gender equality considerations for the new Fund:

    • Gender-responsive funding guidelines and criteria should be developed for each of the proposed thematic funding windows
    • Explicit gender criteria must be included in ex ante performance objectives and criteria to evaluate funding options under the GCF.  Criteria should include a mandatory gender analysis of the proposed project or program, a gender budget and some clear indicators which measure how funded projects and programs contribute to gender equality objectives
    • Funding Windows: The GCF Board, by retaining the flexibility and capacity to add new funding windows, sub-windows or focal areas, should consider gender equality as focal area or a special women’s sub-fund.
    • Gender-balance in all decision-making bodies should be guaranteed, including the GCF Board and possible sub-boards for individual funding windows. In addition to gender balance, the GCF board must include gender experts. Members of civil society, including representatives of gender equality organizations and women groups, should be given opportunities for active participation in the work of the GCF Board and all of its sub-Boards, ideally as voting members.  Active CSO observers should include gender experts and/or women’s organizations.
    • The GCF Secretariat must include gender expertise. This is important to ensure that gender equality principles are considered in program and project review and the monitoring, reporting, verification and evaluation of the funding portfolio, which are among the suggested functions for the GCF Secretariat.
    • The input and participation of women as stakeholders and beneficiaries must be guaranteed at each level and step (decision-making, program/project implementation) ex ante, ongoing and ex post.
    • The GCF must include a regular gender-audit of its funding allocation in its overview and reporting in order to ensure a balanced (between mitigation and adaptation) and gender-responsive delivery. 

    At the second TC meeting in Tokyo just a few days ago, it was encouraging to note that the level of gender awareness among TC members seems to be rising – albeit from a previously pretty low level. Heading into the next meeting in just a few weeks in early September, it is important to keep the gender momentum going.

    8. Yoani Sánchez and the "Generation Y" in Cuba

    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.
    Click on the book cover:
    YoaniSanchez-HavanaReal
    Courtesy of Generation Y
    yoani_sanchez_collage
    Yoani Sánchez
    Courtesy of Fotos desde Cuba
    UPDATE
    There is a new book on racial and gender relations in Cuba: ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-making in Cuba,
    Jafari S. Allen,
    Duke Univ Press, July 2011.
    JafariAllenVenceremos.jpg
    ¡Venceremos?
    Courtesy of Duke Univ Press

    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.

    9. UN Women Progress Report 2011-2012

    UNWomenProgressReport20112012
    Courtesy of UN Women
    UN Women Progress Report 2011-2012
    United Nations, July 2011

    This is an important report. The United Nations has credibility in promoting gender equality. Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and the current Executive Director of UN Women, is well known for her commitment to gender justice worldwide. The document is 164 pages long and provides a wealth of information including a compilation of relevant statistics. Some progress is reported. Much remains to be done. Here we include just two excerpts: the "Foreword from Michelle Bachelet" and the "Ten Recommendations to Make Justice Systems Work for Women."

    Foreword from Michelle Bachelet,
    Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director,
    UN Women


    As the first major UN Women report, this edition of Progress of the World's Women reminds us of the remarkable advances that have been made over the past century in the quest for gender equality and women's empowerment. Even within one generation we have witnessed a transformation in women's legal rights, which means that today, 125 countries have outlawed domestic violence, 115 guarantee equal property rights and women's voice in decision-making is stronger than ever before. Today, 28 countries have reached or surpassed the 30 percent mark for women's representation in parliament, putting women in the driving seat to forge further change.

    Progress of the World's Women 2011–2012: In Pursuit of Justice shows that where laws and justice systems work well, they can provide an essential mechanism for women to realize their human rights. However, it also underscores the fact that, despite widespread guarantees of equality, the reality for many millions of women is that justice remains out of reach. The report highlights the practical barriers that women – particularly the poorest and most excluded – face in negotiating justice systems and the innovative approaches that governments and civil society are pioneering to overcome them. It explores the ways in which women are reconciling guarantees of their rights with the realities of living within plural legal systems. And it highlights the severe challenges that women face in accessing justice in the aftermath of conflict, as well as the enormous opportunities for change that can emerge in these most difficult times.

    I am privileged to be the first Executive Director of UN Women, an agency that was created because of the growing recognition that women are central to development, peace and security goals and that equality for woman and girls lies at the heart of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. For UN Women to meet the expectations that spurred its creation it must inspire all of our partners – including governments, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations – with concrete and replicable examples of how change happens to expand women's access to justice.

    This edition of Progress of the World's Women builds on the work of colleagues across the United Nations system in highlighting women's part in strengthening the rule of law and outlines a vision for the future in which women and men, worldwide, can work side-by-side to make gender equality and women's empowerment a reality.

    Michelle Bachelet

    Ten Recommendations to Make Justice Systems Work for Women

    1. Support women's legal organizations
    2. Support one-stop shops and specialized services to reduce attrition in the justice chain
    3. Implement gender-sensitive law reform
    4. Use quotas to boost the number of women legislators
    5. Put women on the front line of law enforcement
    6. Train judges and monitor decisions
    7. Increase women's access to courts and truth commissions during and after conflict
    8. Implement gender-responsive reparations programmes
    9. Invest in women's access to justice
    10. Put gender equality at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals

    This report deserves careful study. To download the report, click here.


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