World

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack suddenly this month, enabling Vice President Joyce Banda to succeed the helm. This will almost certainly change – and perhaps save – the lives of millions of Malawian women. Banda, the country’s first female Vice President and leader of the opposition party, had been embroiled in a political struggle for months as Bingu had tried to remove her. Bingu’s move to edge her out was part of his tightening grip overall, foreshadowing what could have been another stubborn and potentially bloody transfer of power after 2014 elections, and almost certainly not to Banda.
Foreign Policy Magazine has put out. Put out the Sex issue--which means that suddenly there's lots of stories about women. Women all over the world who, like do important stuff. They run countries, treasuries, International Criminal Courts, but why we don't hear about them, is another matter.

The uprisings around the Arab World have been massive groups of people asserting themselves in public. Now in Bahrain, one lone young woman has taken a stand far from the crowds. On more than one occasion she has protested by herself and now faces trial.

Nigerian Finance Minister and former World Bank Managing Director, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (NOI) was the only African and woman who wanted to succeed the current World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down at the end of his term on 30 June, 2012. She lost to Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician who was elected on 16 April. Netizens have received the news of Dr. Jim's selection with mixed views. Some bloggers and tweeps are of the view that this was the best time to change the tradition of producing American World Bank presidents since its foundation.

On April 15, Swedish Culture Minister, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, attended a exhibition preview at Museum of Modern Art of Stockholm to celebrate ‘World Art Day'. The highlight of the show seems to have been the tasting of the ‘Painful Cake' representing the body of an African woman. According to ‘The Local‘, an online news portal, a video of the cake being cut and eaten caused outrage among Swedish citizens, including that of Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association who pleaded for the resignation of the Minister.

When Rima Dali was arrested on April 8 for holding a banner reading “Stop the killing. We want to build a country for all Syrians”, Safana Baqleh was the first person who rushed to defend her and try to stop the security forces from taking her with them. For this attempt she too was arrested, together with other activists attending a peaceful protest in front of the Syrian parliament. Rima Dali was released on April 10, but Safana remains in detention, as do activists Hussam Dahna, Ali Zain and Assem Hamsho.

Against the backdrop of the electoral process happening in Mexico to choose the next president, the movement named Our Mexico of the Future kicked off April 9, with its release of a video titled "Uncomfortable Children Call on the Candidates)." During its 4 minutes and 2 seconds, the video portrays daily scenes of sadness for Mexicans (robbery, kidnapping, poverty, violence, public corruption, chaotic traffic and environmental pollution) acted out by children, with a final forceful message for the presidential candidates.

People often ask me whether natural selection continues to operate on modern humans in industrialised societies, even though technology has liberated so many from hunger and early death. My answer is always an unambiguous “Yes!”. A recently published paper illustrates a dramatic episode of selection that happened in China a mere 50 years ago, the effects of which continue to reverberate through Chinese society. It’s an example that further illustrates how selection in the sex ratio is always happening, even in the most privileged modern societies.

In our first few years at school, we learn that slavery in Brazil was abolished with the signing of the Golden Law by the princess Isabel on 13th May 1888. In theory, it became illegal on that day to exercise ownership over another human being in Brazil: in practice, however, the exploitation of slave labour persists on Brazilian territory, albeit in a new guise. Meanwhile, the fight against slave labour is being led on various fronts, though degrading practice from the country is essential.
"Israeli lawmakers have banned underweight models from catwalks and commercials, a measure they hope will reduce eating disorders and promote a healthy body image," Reuters reports. The new law makes it illegal to hire a model with a BMI of less than 18.5, "also bans the use of a person who 'appears underweight' and says advertisers must explicitly state if graphic manipulation was done to make a model look thinner in a photo."
The performance of the new Egyptian parliament continues to stir debate on social media sites. The new parliament was seen as a move towards to democracy. However, the parliament continues to discuss matters that seem irrelevant to the country’s most pressing needs - such as a request to ban pornographic websites. There has been another controversy over an MP who claimed that English classes are a plot to westernize Egyptians. The most recent fiasco was about an MP’s request to strip women of their right to file for a divorce.

Mobile phone video footage that shows an Ethiopian domestic worker being beaten and dragged by force into a car under the gaze of bystanders outside the Ethiopian consulate in Beirut, Lebanon has caused angry reactions amongst Ethiopian netizens. The video shows her laying on her back on the side of the road surrounded by the perpetrators who are speaking in Arabic. One of them is seen dragging her by the arms and hair. She was resisting while saying in Amharic “I will not go. I will not go.”

Starting next year, Singapore employers will have to give foreign domestic workers one day off per week, or pay them extra to work on that day. The new regulation was announced by Minister of State for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin in Parliament on 8 March 2012, and instantly attracted many responses from people on both sides of the argument. The campaign for a weekly day off for domestic workers – many of whom come from less developed or poorer countries such as Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia – was started in 2008 by migrant worker non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as TWC2, HOME and Unifem Singapore.
"Fifty-eight famous women from Turkey joined forces for a photo exhibition that will go on display Thursday -- International Women’s Day -- in three Turkish cities," reports Today's Zaman. "Titled 'Her Ses Bir Nefes' (Each Voice is One Breath), the project aims to draw public attention to women’s issues in Turkey." The famous women include actresses, models, and musicians from Turkey. The subjects were photographed by Serhat Hayri and Tayfun Çetinkaya.
Today is International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements and acknowledging their contributions to society. In 2012, we have much to celebrate. Women’s health and rights have made great strides in the past century. Yet there are some in positions of power who would like to take us back in time. Let’s urge lawmakers to protect access and funding for family planning services for all women. Politics should not stand in the way of women’s access to family planning.

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