Dear Feminist News Subscriber,
Feminist.org has been down for two days because of an aggressive cyber attack. Our site went back up last night. We wanted you to know what happened to the newswire in case you searched for it earlier this week and saw nothing. So we are sending the past two days' worth of news directly to you!
Yesterday, we were inspired by our sisters in Iran who, while celebrating International Women's Day, marched and risked their lives to seek the release of women's rights lawyer, journalist, and activist Nasrin Soutadeh from prison. Women, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, lit up Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet paying tribute to the brave women around the world who have also risked their lives in recent protests, demanding equal rights for all.
March 8, 2011
Iranian women's rights activists marched and risked their lives today on the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day for the release of Iranian women's and human rights lawyer Nasrin Soutadeh, who has spent over six months in prison for allegedly acting against state security, assembling, and collusion with intent to disrupt national security. She was also charged for working with the Center for Human Rights Defenders, which was founded by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Soutedeh's arrest is one in a systematic attack on feminist human rights lawyers and activists in Iran, many of whom have been arrested, prohibited from traveling, and have had their organizations closed.
Sotoudeh was arrested in September and received an 11 year prison sentence at her trial November 15. In addition to the 11 year prison sentence, the court has prohibited Sotoudeh from practicing law or leaving Iran for the next 20 years. Before her arrest, Sotoudeh was a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign working to end the legalazed discrimination against women and on the board of directors of the Society for Defense of Children's Rights.
Sotoudeh, who has been in Evin Prison since September 4, went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of her illegal arrest. After ending her hunger strike for a few days, she started a dry hunger strike, protesting her deprivation of her legal rights, such as the right to telephone calls and visits from her family members and her two young children along with the gross mishandling of her case. She broke her dry hunger strike on November 11 and ended her hunger strike, which lasted a total of 50 days, following the trial.
One Million Signature Campaign Website 3/8/11; Washington Post 1/10/11; Women in Prison Committee 3/7/11; BBC 1/10/11; International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran 1/9/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/10/11 11/16/10
March 8, 2011
A survey by Independent on Sunday revealed that women are winning a growing number of seats in parliaments throughout the world, although they still hold far fewer legislative and key cabinet positions than men.
Anne-Marie Goetz, a governance specialist at UN Women, clarified, "In most countries there has been stubborn resistance to fair competition by women for prominent positions in public decision-making. The only known means to overcome that has been the use of quotas." Twenty-one of the 25 countries in which women make up over 30 percent of the parliament have used a positive quota system of inclusion. Although Goetz noted that quotas are controversial, she stated that the resulting increases in women's parliamentary presence have "become self-sustaining."
Yifat Susskind, executive director of Madre, an international human and women's rights group, pointed out that women parliamentarians expand the scope of issues debated. For example, in Afghanistan, women members of parliament helped to bring the potential closure of women's shelters to international attention. Women's influence is also needed in peace talks, Goetz noted, where they "contribute to the sustainability of the peace."
In both Iceland and South Africa, women control almost the same number of parliamentary seats as men. In the Rwandan parliament, women are the majority, holding 56 percent of Rwanda's lower house and 35 percent in the upper house. By contrast, the United States ranks 72 of 188 nations for gender parity in government. In the United Kingdom, tied with Uzbekistan for 53rd, less than one in four members are women.
The Independent 3/6/11
March 8, 2011
After postponing the vote from today, the Maryland House is expected to vote tomorrow on the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would grant marriage rights to same-sex couples in Maryland. Seventy-one votes are needed for the bill to pass into law The Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee passed the bill, by a vote of 12-10 late last week. House Majority Leader Kumar Barve (D-17) explained, "To me, this legislation is all about family, liberty and respect. I respect the civil liberties of same-sex couples who wish to solemnize their relations and families in the eyes of the law."
Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, stated, "We applaud the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary Committee for ending attempts to hold our families hostage to political maneuvering. Maryland is at the forefront in the fight for equality and will go down on the right side of history."
The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (SB 116) passed the state Senate on February 24 by a vote of 25 to 21. The bill awaits a vote in the Maryland House of Delegates. If the bill is passed by the state legislature, Governor Martin O'Malley (D-MD) has publicly declared that he would sign the bill into law.
Currently, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington DC allow marriage of same-sex couples. Six states, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii allow same-sex couples to form civil unions or domestic partnerships, which carry some of the benefits of marriage.
Freedom to Marry Statement 3/4/11; Equality Maryland 3/4/11; Human Rights Campaign Statement 3/4/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/25/11
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