Sanwo-Olu’s Wife, Women Pray Against Insecurity In Nigeria

L-R: Wife of the Vice Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mrs Arinola Ajose; General Secretary, Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Mrs Yewande Olorunrinu; Wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs Oluremi Hamzat; and COWLSO Ex-Officio, Mrs Rhoda Ayinde, at a special prayer by Lagos women for peace and security in Nigeria on June 18, 2021.

 

The First Lady of Lagos State, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, on Friday led women in the state to pray against insecurity in Nigeria.

In her address at a special prayer service held at the Lagos House, she stated the present situation required all hands to be on deck to seek God’s face to return peace and tranquillity to the nooks and crannies of the country.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs Oluremi Hamzat, explained that the prayer session became imperative in view of the challenges confronting the nation.

“As mothers in the land, we have come together under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF) to seek the face of God and pray for the peace and security in Nigeria,” she said.

The governor’s wife added, “Any situation in God’s control can never get out of control. This prayer session is part of the seven-day National Prayer Programme declared by governors’ wives across the country.”

Describing prayer as the master key and potent solution to all mysteries and challenges of life, she stressed that the country was going through difficult times judging by the increase in cases of kidnapping, banditry, domestic and sexual violence, among other social ills.

“In the absence of peace, there can be no development. We are truly and genuinely interested in the progress of this country.

“When women pray, speedy answers are granted from above, and this is why I am confident that as we lift our voices to God today, He will hear us and deal decisively with those troubling the peace of this country,” the first lady told the gathering.

She, however, reiterated the need for residents, especially women to be security conscious and be mindful of movements around them.

Sanwo-Olu asked them to swiftly alert their neighbours and promptly report strange or suspicious movements to the security agencies.

Prayers were offered by religious leaders in the state at the event attended by members of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), among other women groups.

Super Falcons Arrive In America For Super Series Tournament

A file photo of Super Falcons players posing for a photograph.

 

Nigeria’s Super Falcons have arrived in the United States of America for this year’s Summer Series – a 4-Nation Tournament involving hosts USA, Jamaica and Portugal’s senior women teams.

The team’s Head Coach, Randy Waldrum and a number of overseas – based players are expected to join up with the squad in Houston ahead of Nigeria’s first match of the series against Jamaica at the BBVA Stadium on Thursday.

Three days later, the Falcons, one of only seven teams to have featured in every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the competition was launched 30 years ago, will tackle Portugal at the same BBVA.

Their last match is against the USA squad, four-time winners of the FIFA World Cup and four-time winners of the Olympic football gold, at the Q2 Stadium on 16th June.

Matches will be played at the BBVA Stadium in Houston and at the brand-new, $240million Q2 Stadium in Austin built by the newest club in the Major League Soccer, Austin FC. Both cities are in the State of Texas and the clash between the Super Falcons and the US Women A team will be the first-ever football match at the state-of-the-art Q2.

The USA is the only one of the four teams in the Summer Series that will compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The match against Nigeria will mark the first time the USA has ever faced the Super Falcons outside of a world championship and it will be just the third-ever friendly against an African country for the Americans, with the previous two coming against South Africa.

Bill To Create Special Seats For Women In NASS, State Assemblies Scales Second Reading

A file photo of the sponsor of the bill, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, addressing a press conference in Abuja.

 

Members of the House of Representatives have stepped up efforts to ensure more women represent their constituents at legislative houses at both Federal and State levels.

This comes as a bill for an act to alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to create additional special seats for women in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly scaled the second reading.

It was read for the second time on Wednesday during plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The bill, which was sponsored by the Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, and 85 other lawmakers, seeks to address the issue of low representation of women in the legislature.

It proposes two additional members of the House of Representatives from each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and one additional senator from each state, who shall be women.

Three other bills, including a bill for an act to provide for compulsory teaching of vocational studies in the syllabuses of secondary schools in Nigeria, have also scaled the second reading in the House.

The others are a bill for an act to regulate the profession of forestry in Nigeria, and a bill for an act to establish the Public Service Institute of Nigeria.

The Public Service Institute is charged with the responsibility of organising training programmes and refresher courses for civil and public servants in the employment of the Federal Government.

During Wednesday’s plenary, two other bills, including a bill for an act to establish the Institute of Co-operative Professionals of Nigeria, were consolidated by the lawmakers.

The other is a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of the Chartered Institute of Cooperatives and Social Enterprise Management to regulate, control, and determine the standards of knowledge to be attained by persons seeking to become chartered co-operators and social entrepreneurs.

Women Can Perform Creditably If Given Opportunity – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during the registration and revalidation exercise of the All Progressives Congress on January 30, 2021.
File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has praised Nigerian women, saying they can perform creditably both locally and globally if given the opportunity.

Buhari in a statement issued on Monday by his media aide, Femi Adesina, described women as the bedrock of society.

“I am proud of our women who have shown by dint of hard work and capacity that they can perform creditably if given the opportunity at home and on the global stage,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

President Buhari pledged support towards female gender inclusiveness in all sectors of national life, stressing that women are key to a happy and stable family, society, and nation.

READ ALSO: SGF, Health Minister, Other PTF Members Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

With females forming about half of the country’s population, President Buhari stated that any “government which neglects such a crucial component of its demographic asset, stands the risk of stunted growth and likely failure.”

While noting that the theme of the 2021 celebration: Choose To Challenge, is quite apt, the President felicitated with the womenfolk and restated his administration’s commitment to addressing the multifarious challenges confronting them at various levels of society.

He also condemned all forms of gender-based discrimination, abuse, harassment, and violence targeted especially at the female folk at workplaces, schools, community and national levels.

The President wished all Nigerian women a joyous and memorable 2021 International Women’s Day celebration.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE: 

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

2021 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: PRESIDENT BUHARI SALUTES NIGERIAN WOMEN, CALLS THEM BEDROCK OF SOCIETY

On the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day, President Muhammadu Buhari felicitates most warmly with Nigerian women, describing them as the bedrock of society.

Noting that the theme of the 2021 celebration: Choose To Challenge, is quite apt, the President rejoices with the womenfolk and restates his administration’s commitment to addressing the multifarious challenges confronting them at various levels of society.

With seven female ministers, and two of them heading strategic Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning; and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, in addition to scores more in charge of key parastatals and agencies, as well as serving as presidential aides, President Buhari applauds their contributions to the successes recorded by the administration.

“I am proud of our women who have shown by dint of hard work and capacity that they can perform creditably if given the opportunity at home and on the global stage,” he says.

The President pledges further support towards female gender inclusiveness in all sectors of national life, stressing that women are key to a happy and stable family, society, and nation.

With females forming about half of the country’s population, President Buhari avers that any “government which neglects such a crucial component of its demographic asset, stands the risk of stunted growth and likely failure.”

He condemns all forms of gender-based discrimination, abuse, harassment, and violence targeted especially at the female folk at workplaces, schools, community and national levels.

President Buhari wishes all Nigerian women a joyous and memorable 2021 International Women’s Day celebration.

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

March 8, 2021

Women Launch Their Own #MeToo Movement In Kuwait

#MeToo

 

 

Women in Kuwait are defying conservative norms and a culture of “shame” to speak out against harassment for the first time, in a social media campaign sparked by a popular fashion blogger.

Dozens of testimonies about being stalked, harassed or assaulted have emerged online, focused on the Instagram account “Lan Asket”, Arabic for “I will not be silent”.

Kuwaiti fashion blogger Ascia Al Faraj, who has more than 2.5 million social media followers, said in an explosive video uploaded last week that there is a “problem” in the country.

“Every time I go out, there is someone who harasses me or harasses another woman in the street,” she said in the emotionally charged video uploaded after a vehicle sped up to “scare” her while she was walking to her car.

“Do you have no shame? We have a problem of harassment in this country, and I have had enough.”

Faraj’s video sparked a nationwide movement in a country where the #MeToo campaign that took off in the United States in 2017 did not make much of an impact.

Radio and TV shows have hosted activists, lawyers and academics to discuss the issue of harassment, and the US embassy in Kuwait also threw its weight behind the women.

“A campaign worth supporting. We can all do more to prevent harassment against women, whether in the US or in Kuwait. #Lan_asket,” it said in a tweet last week.

The embassy also tweeted a striking graphic that illustrates the campaign — images of three women, one unveiled, one with a headscarf, and another with her face covered — and bearing the slogan “Don’t harass her”.

Activists have also emphasised that foreign women who make up a large portion of the Kuwaiti population, many in menial roles, are among the most vulnerable to assault and abuse.

– ‘Silence not an option’ –
Shayma Shamo, a 27-year-old doctor who studied abroad and moved back to Kuwait last year, launched the “Lan Asket” platform after seeing Faraj’s video.

“As soon as I opened the account, the messages started to pour in… from women and girls that have experienced verbal, physical and sexual harassment,” she told AFP.

Faraj said in another video uploaded later that week that she had also received “intense stories” by Indian, Pakistani and Filipina women working in Kuwait.

“The expat community here is incredibly vulnerable and are sometimes harassed at a level that Kuwaiti women will never understand,” she said.

While there has been tremendous support online, the movement has also faced a backlash from conservative voices who say women should simply dress conservatively to avoid harassment.

“Silence is no longer an option. We must speak up, unite and defend each other because what is happening is unacceptable,” Shamo told AFP.

Rothna Begum, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said women were taking the fore in a society where, like many in the Middle East, police often do not take such abuses seriously, and the fear of bringing shame to families silences many.

“These accounts being published are incredibly important to give Kuwaitis a sense of what harassment actually looks like and the terrible harm it causes,” she told AFP.

– ‘Shame’ culture –
The Arabic word “ayb”, or shame in English, is a term that most girls growing up in the region learn at a very early age.

“Going to the police station is ‘ayb’ and talking about harassment is ‘ayb’,” said Shamo.

“As soon as a woman starts to speak about being harassed, the questions from family members start: What were you wearing? Who were you with? What time was it?”

But Kuwaiti women are pushing the boundaries of their society, considered one of the most open in the Gulf region, and where a law against harassment exists on the books, but where discussions about gender-based violence remain taboo.

Lulu Al-Aslawi, a Kuwait media personality whose Instagram feed features her in glossy fashion shoots, said she has been bullied online for the way she dresses.

“Girls don’t speak up over fears of being stigmatised, but we will not stop until we overcome this cancer in society,” she told AFP.

Women’s Rugby World Cup To Increase From 12 To 16 Teams From 2025

A photo of World Rugby

 

World Rugby has confirmed that the women’s edition of the Rugby World Cup will expand to 16 teams from 2025 onwards.

The landmark decision, taken by the Rugby World Cup Board earlier this year, confirms World Rugby’s commitment to accelerating the development of the women’s game globally through its transformational women’s strategic plan of 2017-25.

With women’s rugby interest and participation going from strength to strength, the decision supports a core pillar of the plan in increasing the global competitiveness of women’s international rugby, providing the opportunity for more teams to be more competitive on the biggest stages.

Women’s rugby has experienced record growth in recent years, with women and girls now accounting for 28% of the global playing population.

Interest in Rugby World Cup hosting continues to grow ahead of the formal process beginning in February 2021 and today’s announcement follows recent confirmation of key elements related to the evaluation, publication and voting process for the 2025 and 2029 editions, which will be awarded at the same time as the men’s in May 2022.

READ ALSO: Odusanya, Adeyinka Emerge Champions Of 52nd Asoju Oba Cup

Rugby World Cup continues to go from strength to strength and New Zealand 2021 is set to feature a host of exciting new format changes which prioritise player welfare and event promotion.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said “Women’s rugby is the single greatest opportunity to grow the sport globally. In 2017 we set out an ambitious eight-year plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby, with a core pillar focusing on high-performance competition and an ambition to improve and expand the number of teams competing in pinnacle events. We have seen in recent years that more teams are making a statement at international level and unions are continuing to develop their women’s high-performance programmes.

“This is a milestone moment for the women’s game, expansion of the Rugby World Cup opens additional aspirational and inspirational playing pathway opportunities for unions at the highest level of the game and creates an added incentive for unions worldwide to continue to invest and grow in their women’s programmes,” Beaumont concluded.

Queen’s Gambit Accepted: Hit Show Sparks Chess Frenzy

 

Hit miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit” has led to a surge of interest in chess, with one popular website registering millions of new players and academies reporting unprecedented demand. 

Netflix said the show, which follows the turbulent career of a fictional female child prodigy in the 1950s and 1960s, has become its most-watched ever and is currently the number-one ranked programme in 63 countries.

Gaming site Chess.com said the series had prompted a wave of interest — already piqued by the pandemic and top-flight chess players appearing on the Twitch gaming platform — with new daily registrations up 400 percent.

“Since the release of ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ we have seen roughly 2.5 million new members join,” the website’s Nick Barton told AFP.

“Nearly each day of November we’ve set a new company record for the most members joining.”

Worldwide, Google reported searches for “chess” are at their highest level in 14 years.

It is just the latest burst of popularity for a game that is believed to have originated in India in the seventh century and was played — and occasionally banned — by medieval European kings, before becoming more established in the late 1800s.

In modern times, chess had a resurgence during the Cold War.

That period forms the backdrop for “The Queen’s Gambit”, and the story of a youthful American taking on a wily Soviet grandmaster is inspiring another generation of players.

“There has been a massive surge in adults interested,” according to chess master and Sydney Academy of Chess director Brett Tindall, who called it “unprecedented”.

Tindall told AFP he has fielded calls from 40-50 adults looking for lessons in the last few weeks, and when carrying academy-branded kit he reports being stopped in the street and asked his opinion about the series.

 

 

– More women playing –
On school visits, normally ambivalent teachers have gone out of their way to approach him, and some students are tuning in too — even though the series features heavy alcohol and drug abuse.

“I was at a school this morning, and few kids were talking about it, and I was like: ‘guys, I don’t think you’re really meant to be watching this show’,” he said.

Chess.com’s Barton said the show’s focus on female lead Beth Harmon — played by Anya Taylor-Joy — had prompted more women to register than usual.

They were now also spending more time on the site than men.

“These shows really help to increase the curiosity value and newcomers are attracted to the game,” Vijay Deshpande, secretary of the All India Chess Federation, told AFP.

“We have a lot of good chess players in the country and the number has grown during the lockdown. Young people are hooked to technology and they were attracted to online chess.”

Grandmaster and former US champion Jennifer Shahade has said she “loved” the show and had been inundated with people asking her for lessons or tips.

“I’m honestly just blown away by all the positive attention chess is getting right now. People get us in a way they haven’t before,” she said on a recent podcast.

“Chess is something people need right now — the introspection, the delightful escape into a smaller world of 64 squares,” she said.

According to Tindall, the interest goes beyond just the game.

The series’ opulent settings, Cold War kitsch and period chess equipment seem to have captured people’s imagination.

“We sell lots of different types of (chess) clocks. I have a lot of older style clocks and recently people want to get the clocks from the show… I’m not joking,” said Tindall.

“A while ago, we were just trying to clear them out. They aren’t really used in competitions any more. We use digital ones.”

Most chess commentators have given the show high marks for authenticity — perhaps unsurprising, given Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov and US chess author Bruce Pandolfini were consultants.

“It’s the best thing I’ve seen about chess,” said French grandmaster Anthony Wirig during an online event about the show.

The “Queen’s Gambit” of the title refers to a popular opening that offers a white pawn as a barbed lure to black, which can accept or decline.

Australian grandmaster Ian Rogers said the lead character Beth Harmon resembles US prodigy Bobby Fischer, who also faced a formidable Soviet opponent.

Fischer’s politically tinged matches against the USSR’s Boris Spassky were watched on television by millions.

“However Harmon’s struggles with pills and alcohol are all her own,” Rogers told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Nowadays Harmon would be banned by WADA’s drug testers long before she reached the top.”

Buhari Seeks Int’l Community Support To End Violence Against Women

File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the international community to support the Human Rights Council in ending violence against women and girls in the country.

Buhari’s call was contained in a statement issued by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday to mark the November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

“I urge the international community to support the mandate and operations of the Human Rights Council in its quest to strengthen institutions in relation to gender equality and empowerment, as well as the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls,” President Buhari said.

“We have developed additional strategies to improve the quality of life for women and girls, redoubling our efforts to improve access to productive resources for women and girls as well as continue to ensure the protection of fundamental rights.

“We are very mindful of the necessity to empower women and girls for the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the African Union Agenda 2063; as well as the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.”

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ELIMINATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: NIGERIA’S RESPONSE AND COMMITMENTS TO GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN THE COVID-19 CONTEXT – BY PRESIDENT BUHARI

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and from tomorrow, the United Nations “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence” will begin and end on December 10, 2020.

READ ALSO: Libya’s Instability Affects All Of Us In Sahel Region – Buhari

To commemorate the occasion below is President Muhammadu Buhari’s goodwill message highlighting measures that governments at various levels are putting in place to curb sexual and gender-based violence which has increased due to the lockdown measures introduced to check the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

November 24, 2020.

Protocol: …

Background: The subject of Sexual and Gender-Based violence in all its forms has been recurrent especially considering the alarming statistics of violence against vulnerable persons recorded in Nigeria, particularly women and girls. I am indeed aware of the unfortunate situation from records and reports of incidences in the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic and attendant responses by our government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly lock-down measures similarly adopted by other countries worldwide, further exacerbated the already dire situation of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria. Nigeria has long been facing a gender-based violence crisis, with 30% of women and girls aged 15-49 have experienced sexual abuse.

The International Day of Eliminating Violence against Women, therefore, presents a unique opportunity to highlight actions taken by the government to address violence against women and girls.

To address these developments, governments at the Federal and State levels have made the following responses:

  1. Establishment of a National Tool for Gender-based Violence Data Management

Our Ministry of Women Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) under the Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and other critical stakeholders developed the National Tool for Gender-based Violence Data Management in Nigeria. The tool is expected to serve as a consolidated database to record and assess the occurrence of GBV during the COVID-19 period and beyond; it is also to document all forms of violence against women and girls in Nigeria using a single, harmonised data collection tool. Over time, the tool will undergo revisions to accommodate wider reporting indices beyond the COVID-19 period.

  1.        Committee on the eradication of sexual, gender-based violence

On 23 July 2020, we inaugurated an inter-ministerial committee on the eradication of sexual and gender-based violence in response to worsening cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the country arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures that were imposed to curb the spread of the virus. As part of its mandate, the Committee is expected to conduct a review of all the existing laws and policy instruments touching on offences of rape, child defilement, and gender-based violence and develop for adoption, national prevention of sexual abuse/violence strategy for the period of 2021- 2025, “that identifies and encapsulates measures to enhance response to rape and gender-based violence, set new targets for prevention, intervention, and treatment.”

  1. Development of Gender-Based Policy Guidelines in Emergency Response

Clear indications were made of an absence of gender-focused responses during emergencies such as the COVID-19. This gap has been addressed through the development of Policy Guidelines for Emergency Response, facilitated under the Joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative by the UN Women and Implementing Partners in the Spotlight States particularly the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sokoto and Ebonyi States. These policies when implemented, ensure that vulnerable persons, particularly women and children are not left behind in emergencies such as COVID-19.

  1. Improving the economic status of women

To mitigate the socio-economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has prioritized vulnerable groups, including women, in the provision of medical and social assistance. Our administration remains committed to eradicating poverty and enhancing growth and development for women and girls. In the last year, over one million Nigerians have been enrolled in the National Social Register of poor and vulnerable households to enable them to access needed social assistance. Under the National Social Investment Programme, we have commenced cash transfers and distribution of food items to individuals and families across all States in Nigeria as palliatives to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our administration remains committed to eradicating poverty and enhancing growth and development for women and girls. In order to address gender-based poverty, we have initiated programmes such as: Tradermoni, Marketmoni and Farmersmoni under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.

  1. Fundamental Human Rights and Freedom

Our administration believes that the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms are critical to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. It is for this reason that I urge the international community to support the mandate and operations of the Human Rights Council in its quest to strengthen institutions in relation to gender equality and empowerment, as well as the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. We have developed additional strategies to improve the quality of life for women and girls, redoubling our efforts to improve access to productive resources for women and girls as well as continue to ensure the protection of fundamental rights. We are very mindful of the necessity to empower women and girls for the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the African Union Agenda 2063; as well as the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.

I wish you successful commemoration and Days of Activism.

Pandemic Inflames Violence Against Women

A medical worker wearing protective equipment puts on her gloves on the balcony of the nursing house on November 16, 2020 in Prague.  (Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP)

 

No country has been spared by the coronavirus epidemic, nor the scourge of domestic violence, which has surged during lockdowns as the day marking such violence approaches on Wednesday.

From a spike in rapes in Nigeria and South Africa, increased numbers of women missing in Peru, higher rates of women being killed in Brazil and Mexico and overwhelmed associations in Europe: the pandemic has aggravated the plague of sexual violence.

According to UN data released in late September, lockdowns have led to increases in complaints or calls to report domestic abuse of 25 percent in Argentina, 30 percent in Cyprus and France and 33 percent in Singapore.

In essentially all countries, measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in woman and children being confined at home.

“The house is the most dangerous place for women,” Moroccan associations noted in April as they pressed authorities for “an emergency response”.

In India, Heena — not her real name — a 33-year-old cook who lives in Mumbai, said she felt “trapped in my house” with a husband who did not work, consumed drugs and was violent.

READ ALSO: World’s Top Surgical Glove Maker Shuts Factories Due To COVID-19

As she described what she had endured, she frequently broke down in tears.

After buying drugs, “he would spend the rest of his day either hooked to his phone playing PubG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) or beating me up and abusing me,” she told AFP by telephone.

– Insufficient measures –

On August 15, her husband beat Heena worse than before, in front of their seven-year-old son, and threw her out of the house at 3:00 am.

“I had nowhere to go,” she said. “I could barely move my body -– he beat me to pulp, my body was swollen.”

Instead of going to the police, she made it to a friend’s home and then to her parents.

She is now fighting for custody of her son, “but courts are not working in full capacity due to Covid”.

She has not seen her son in four months, though he manages to call her in secret from time to time.

It is not the just the courts that are hobbled by the virus. The closure of businesses and schools, as well as cultural and athletic activities, have deprived victims already weakened by economic insecurity of ways to escape violence.

Hanaa Edwar of the Iraqi Women’s Network, told AFP there had been “a dangerous deterioration in the socioeconomic situation for families following the lockdown, with more families going into poverty, which leads to violent reactions”.

In Brazil, 648 murders of women were recorded in the first half of the year, a small increase from the same period in 2019 according to the Brazilian Forum for Public Security.

While the government has launched a campaign to encourage women to file complaints, the forum says that measures designed to help victims remain insufficient.

– ‘Mask-19’ –

Worldwide, the United Nations says that only one country in eight has taken measures to lessen the pandemic’s impact on women and children.

In Spain, victims could discreetly ask for help in pharmacies by using the code “mask-19”, and some French associations established contact points in supermarkets.

“The women who came to us were in situations that had become unbearable, dangerous,” said Sophie Cartron, assistant director of an association that worked in a shopping mall near Paris.

“The lockdown established a wall of silence,” she said.

Mobilisation on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women remains uncertain owing to restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marches for women’s rights have nevertheless taken place recently in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Liberia, Namibia and Romania.

“We will not be able to demonstrate to express our anger, or march together,” said the Paris-based feminist group Family Planning.

“But we will make ourselves heard all the same, virtually and visually.”

Tamara Mathebula of the South African Commission for Gender Equality described a chronic “toxic masculinity” that was “everywhere you look”.

“There are gender pay gaps which are widening and continue to widen during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she told AFP.

“Gender-based violence worsened” as a result, she said, and the potential consequences were very serious.

In July, the UN estimated that six months of restrictions could result in 31 million additional cases of sexual violence in the world and seven million unwanted pregnancies.

The situation was also undermining the fight against female genital mutilation and forced marriages, the UN warned.

AFP

Belarus Police Detain Hundreds Of Women At Protest

A woman kneels in front of law enforcement officers during a rally to protest against the presidential election results in Minsk on September 13, 2020. Belarusians have been demonstrating against the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko for a month, with more than 100,000 people flooding the streets of Minsk for four straight weekends. TUT.BY / AFP

 

Riot police on Saturday detained hundreds of women, dragging many into vans, as opposition protesters marched through the Belarusian capital Minsk demanding an end to President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule.

The women were seized by riot police in black uniforms and balaclavas as well as officers in unmarked khaki uniforms and plain-clothed officers in face masks.

Police blocked the women and began pulling them into police vans as they stood with linked hands, swiftly detaining hundreds, an AFP journalist saw. Police lifted some women off their feet in order to remove them.

Around two thousand women took part in the “Sparkly March”, wearing shiny accessories and carrying red-and-white flags of the protest movement.

The march was the latest in a series of all-women protests calling for the strongman to leave following his disputed victory in elections last month.

His opposition rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also claimed the victory.

Alleged police violence and torture of detainees following the elections have prompted the European Parliament to call for sanctions against Lukashenko and other members of his regime.

– Protest With ‘Woman’s Face’ –

In a statement released ahead of the march, Tikhanovskaya, who has taken refuge in Lithuania, praised the “brave women of Belarus”.

“They are marching despite being constantly menaced and put under pressure,” she said.

The marchers chanted slogans such as “Get out, you and your riot police!” and “We believe we can win!”

One of the placards read: “Our protest has a woman’s face,” a reference to the title of a popular book by the Belarusian Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, who has backed the opposition cause.

Among those detained on Saturday was Nina Baginskaya, a 73-year-old activist who has become one of the best-known faces of the protest movement, known for her plucky antics and regularly celebrated with a chant of “Nina! Nina!”.

Police took away the flag and flowers she was carrying as they pushed her into a van but released her outside a police station shortly afterwards.

 

Riot police officers detain a woman during a rally to protest against the Belarus presidential election results in Minsk on September 19, 2020. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet state for 26 years, claimed to have defeated opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with 80 percent of the vote in the August 9, elections. TUT.BY / AFP

 

Police detained so many protesters that they ran out of room in vans, releasing around 10 women.

Some women managed to run away and took shelter in a nearby nail bar, Tut.by news site reported.

Ambulances were called after several women became unwell during the detentions. The Belarusian Association of Journalists said that a journalist had been detained and had his nose broken.

Viasna rights group released an online list of names of 217 women detained in Minsk, saying the list was being updated.

Police have not yet given a number of detained.

The protest came as the opposition is due to hold mass demonstrations on Sunday and Tikhanovskaya will meet European Union foreign ministers and the bloc’s diplomatic chief in Brussels on Monday.

The women’s protests began in Belarus after Lukashenko’s use of extreme violence against detained demonstrators.

Women began forming human chains and marching through Minsk and other cities wearing white clothes and carrying flowers in peaceful demonstrations that police initially allowed to go ahead.

Last weekend, police violently detained several dozen at a similar women’s protest.

Lukashenko last week warned of a possible “war” with some neighbouring countries and has turned to Russia for support after refusing to step down.

Jigawa Women Contribute N1,000 To Purchase Car For Pregnancy Emergency

This vehicle was purchased by women in a Jigawa community, who contributed N1,000 each.
This vehicle was purchased by women in a Jigawa community, who contributed N1,000 each.

 

Women in the Baddo community in Taura local government area of Jigawa state have contributed N1,000 each to purchase a vehicle to transport pregnant women to the hospital during delivery.

According to the women, they contributed the money out of the conditional cash transfer introduced by the federal government.

One of the women, Halima Adamu Boddo, told Channels Television that a vehicle that was donated to them for hospital trips had broken down three years ago, opening up the need for a new vehicle.

“It is with the cash transfer that we are receiving from the federal, that we sat down and thought of how we could help ourselves,” Halima said. “So, we decided to contribute N1,000 each and we bought this vehicle.

READ ALSO: UN Says Women Need Strong Voice At Afghan Peace Talks

Another contributor, Zayya Auwalu was one of the first sets of women to benefit from the initiative.

“We are very happy that we are receiving that money. I was taken to the hospital in the car we bought when I was about to give birth to this baby I’m backing “ Zayya said.

The Executive Director of Rural Initiative for Comprehensive development, Hadiza Abdulwahab believes the women in the community deserves commendation.

“For women to have thought of their fellow women is actually a sign of a great altruism, therefore, these women deserve commendation,” she said.

On his part, the chairman of the Jigawa state Civil Society Forum, Mr Musbahu Basirka says government needs to do more in providing health centres in hard to reach communities.

UN Says Women Need Strong Voice At Afghan Peace Talks

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The UN’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, on Thursday highlighted the importance of including women at upcoming peace talks in Doha with the Taliban.

“Human rights and women’s rights are never negotiable,” Lyons, who is Canadian, told the Security Council, adding that she expected a “rough road ahead” for the talks.

“This issue of women’s rights will be more central in the Afghan peace process than we have ever seen in any other peace negotiation in recent memory,” she said.

The government in Kabul said Thursday that it had freed 400 Taliban prisoners under an exchange deal with the militants and expected talks to begin soon in Qatar.

Lyons welcomed the “energetic outreach and substantive preparations” of the women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team.

“We are not yet aware of any women’s representation on the Taliban side, but we remain hopeful that they, too, will find a way of meaningfully including women,” she told the council.

For Lyons, having women at the negotiating table “offers the best opportunity to ensure that their own rights are upheld, and that their vision for elements of a peaceful Afghanistan is reflected in all aspects of the talks.”

Five Afghan women who endured the Taliban’s oppressive rule are on Kabul’s negotiating team.

Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, warned that “no current nor future Afghan government should count on international donor support” if the rights of women and girls are repressed in any way.

Intra-Afghan peace negotiations were initially supposed to begin in March as agreed in a deal between the Taliban and Washington in February, from which Kabul had been excluded.

But repeated squabbles over the prisoner exchange delayed the start of talks, aimed at bringing an end to nearly 19 years of war.

AFP