Women of Iraq ask for help

And let’s not forget that these women live on despite the depleted uranium radiating their lands.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

OWFI has spoken in a recent report over the CNN about the masses of Iraqi
women who are part of human trafficking currently inside and outside Iraq.
The report shows OWFI executives challenging the officials who choose to
look the other way.

OWFI has also challenged the rapists of 7 Iraqi female prisoners who are
still free and work in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.

OWFI has initiated a secular youth movement based on Poetry, Music and Art
under the name of “Freedom Space”. Hundreds of youth from the so called
“Sadre City” are enthusiastic members and some are leaders of this rapidly
growing movement.

OWFI is still sheltering women who are threatened by honor killing or
retaliation from militia members / after these militias kill the males of
the family.

As a result, the Iraqi government decided on September 4th to freeze the
funds of OWFI in the Iraqi banks so as to paralyze our movement and make our work impossible.

Dear Friends and supporters do not let the intimidation of the Iraqi
officials stop you from supporting one of the few freedom initiatives inside
Iraq.

We are writing you this letter so that you do not send us any funds or
donations into our official bank account in Iraq as the government has put
its hand on it.

As for our activities, do not worry. We will still voice the pains of Iraqi
women and keep on creating bigger “freedom spaces”, especially that we run
mostly on volunteer will-power.

The farce of “Democracy” in Iraq will not sway our determination to a free,
secular and egalitarian life for all in Iraq.

Freedom and equality for all

Yanar Mohammed

September 6, 2007

some of the recent CNN reports:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/08/15/iraq.prostitution/index.html
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/06/26/pysk.mohammed/index.html
and a previous one on NPR:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6286899


				

Male Military Vets Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

This is US data, but it makes one wonder how Canadian veterans fare in this regard.  Surely we are better placed to prevent such horrific statistics, by simply being a less militaristic culture than our southern neighbours. Mind you, with Harper and Hillier at the helm, we may be doomed to echo the patterns of the USians.  From AlterNet: War on Iraq:

Why Male Military Veterans Are Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

By Lucinda Marshall, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2007.

A recent DOJ report found that vets are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans.

A recent study by the Department of Justice found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than nonveterans. When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.

Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home. These include:

  • Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations
  • Domestic violence
  • Prostitution, pornography and trafficking
  • Honor killing

Read the rest of the article

Canadian-led campaign unites women’s organizations on six continents

On the first anniversary of P’n’P entering the Blogosphere comes a call to sign on to the Nairobi Declaration:

Drafted by representatives of women’s rights organizations from six continents and endorsed by leading international human rights advocates including Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Nairobi Declaration is founded on the experiences of women and girl survivors of sexual violence and the expertise of activists and jurists who are helping them rebuild their lives. At the Declaration’s core is the belief that justice for women and girl survivors of sexual violence will never be achieved if reparations programs are not informed and directed by those they are meant to serve. The Nairobi Declaration aims to correct the systemic flaws of national Truth and Reconciliation initiatives and existing reparation schemes and to inform those being developed by the International Criminal Court.The Nairobi Declaration asserts that reparation programs must go beyond mere compensation and restitution. According to the Declaration, adequate reparation and remedy must:

  • Empower women and girls, support their efforts to rebuild trust and relations and foster their participation in social reconstruction. Decision-making about reparations must include victims as full participants.
  • Address social inequalities and discrimination in existence prior to conflict, which lie at the root of violence against women and girls in times of conflict.
  • Promote social justice and encourage the transformation toward a fair and equal society.
  • Emphasize the importance of truth-telling in order to allow women and girls to move ahead and become true citizens. Abuses against women must be named and recognized in order to raise awareness about these crimes and violations, to positively influence a more holistic strategy for reparation and measures that support reparation, and to help build a shared memory and history.

Reparations should provide women and girls with the tools to rebuild their lives not as they were prior to war or conflict, but in ways that address and transform sociocultural injustices and structural inequalities that predate the conflict,” says Ariane Brunet, coordinator of the Coalition for Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situations. “Women and girls’ right to reparation is not only about restitution, compensation and access to judicial redress, it is about women playing an active role in repairing the social fabric and building afresh a just and equal society.”

The Nairobi Declaration is the first stage in a long-term international campaign on gender reparation. It is intended as a tool to be implemented by States, multilateral agencies, regional agencies and national entities, such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

Read the Nairobi Declaration

Sign the Nairobi Declaration

Dispatches: Iraq: The womans story.

If I knew what to do I would embed the video here, but alas and alack, I don’t so you’ll have to click the link to see Dispatches: IraqThe womans story at Google Video.

From the Standing Committee on the Status of Women

Here’s one little tidbit from The Impacts of Funding and Program Changes at Status of Women Canada

In a brief submitted to the Committee, members of the External Committee on the Policy Research Fund stated that the program had excellent value for money with only five staff members. They believed that the elimination of the Fund would increase “the risk of seeing new policies being based on ’yesterday’s ideas.’ In their briefs, many organizations, including the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), described the importance of the Policy Research Fund for research on women’s issues. The Alliance believed that eliminating the Fund would produce “a loss in terms of historical understanding of women’s equality movements, research and advocacy collaborations in our country.”

But the Harperites don’t care about that, do they?

The “New” Government of Canada is nothing but sexist old boys with old sexist ideas. They really need to be retired!

Unused Utes Unite

If BP says so, it must be true!

So, on Sunday be sure to celebrate

International Day of the Unused Uterus

To commemorate the International Day of the Unused Uterus, there will be candlelight vigils at maternity wards around the world. Demonstrators will symbolically shut their vaginas by applying an X made of duct tape to the crotch of their pants. (Heavy denim recommended.)

Please take part in the International Day of the Unused Uterus: she is counting on you to speak up for her!

Quebec Election: Disappointing for Women

Fewer women in the National Assembly will not be good for women from the new minority government in Quebec.  We know that the more women are represented over 30 percent in political institutions,  the better their issues are handled.  With that critical mass now gone, it will be interesting to see what happens for women in Quebec.  From the Inbox:

Last night’s Quebec election means there are fewer women in the National Assembly. Of Quebec’s 125 provincial seats, only 31 now are held by female MNA’s –or 24.8 per cent.

At dissolution, Quebec had been first in Canada, with 38 women of 123 occupied seats or 30.89 per cent.

Prince Edward Island’s legislature now is 25.92 per cent female: and Ontario’s 25.24 per cent female. An election coming Oct. 10, 2007 in Ontario is an opportunity to improve women’s poor record in politics in Canada.

Louise Paquet, of Le Collectif feminisme et democratie, forwarded the new Quebec number. She will issue a more detailed report later today.

Commentary: SK Budget

The Sask Indymedia Collective has a number of commentaries on the recent provincial budget posted at Act Up in Sask

Larry Hubich of the Sask Federation of Labour notes a couple of decent things, namely, the cap on drug costs for seniors and plans to get more workers to stay in SK.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says that the government is not doing enough to ensure that all of SK’s people benefit from the economic prosperity of the province.

The Sask Government and General Employees Union welcomes the extra money that will go into highways but says more is needed in the community service sector, particularly for the front-line workers at Community Resources, Child Welfare and the Social Assistance Plan.

That last one pretty much sums up why the NDP are poised to lose the next election in SK.  The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.  The NDP government in SK has done so little in the area of social programming and support that they are being spurned by their own.  But that’s what happens when those who were once progressives adopt a neoconservative economic agenda.

Fed Budget 07: Families fell under the radar

Commentary on the recent federal budget from the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is below.  Founded in 1893, NCWC is a non-sectarian, non-partisan federation of voluntary organizations, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for women, and society, through education and advocacy.

Ottawa, March 22, 2007
*                                                    MEDIA RELEASE*

*                                        NCWC Responds to March 19th
Federal Budget*

For all of Finance Minister Flaherty’s rhetoric about “hard-working families,” * lower income hard-working families once again fell under the Conservative radar* in a budget which is geared to the middle and upper-middle classes.

* A family who’s income is $30,000. or less does not qualify for any
tax relief for  children up to age 18. The non-refundable $320.
tax benefit translates into about $25.00 per month for those who
do qualify.

* The $100. per month for a child under 6 is considered taxable
income, further the Provinces are not impeded from clawing back
the amount as they did for the child tax credit in the past.

* These families *are not* in a position to contribute to an RESP
when they can barely manage to meet their living expenses!

* The government did not lower the income tax rate from 15.5%, which
would have helped lower-income families.

*This budget fails* those many Canadian families raising their children on less than $30,000 a year; worse than that, it gives them no hope.

*                                        No hope and no child care!*

The budget states: “Many older Canadians want to continue working and saving” Clearly the government does not understand that the word is “*need*” not “want.”  The majority of those “older” Canadians working minimum wage jobs are women who “need” to work because the pensions (OAS and CPP) are woefully inadequate.

This budget fails to provide funding for the type of specific Aboriginal initiatives that provide programs for Aboriginal women and children.  What good is job training if there are no jobs?

No change to eligibility rules for Employment Insurance means that the government continues to amass huge surpluses in their coffers, while:

* *1 in 3* unemployed women qualify to collect benefits, down from
70% in 1990.
* *4 in 10* unemployed workers qualify to collect EI benefits, down
from 80% in 1990.

The *dismantling* by this government *of Status of Women Canada* is of grave concern to women in this country.

* The *closure* of 12 out of 16 regional offices.

* The *removal* from the mandate of the Women’s Program of the words
*equality*“, “*research*” and “*advocacy*“.
While the government has allotted more money to the program – $20 million over the next two years — this includes the 5 million budget reduction that was later reallocated –  the money cannot be accessed for research or advocacy purposes, but *is now accessible to for-profit *corporations.

Qualifying projects appear to have been reduced to service delivery. How can we address systemic inequalities for women when no provisions are made for research to determine the root causes and for advocacy to make the changes that would eliminate the need for “service delivery programs”?
*Once again*, this government *fails to deliver to those who need help the most*: women, children, seniors and Aboriginals.    Predictably, it gives more to those who already have more.

_____________________________30_________________________________

For more information please contact *Karen Dempsey, NCWC Vice President Economics,* through our Head Office or at (902)422-8485.

The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) is a non-sectarian, non-partisan federation of voluntary organizations, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for women, and society, through education and advocacy.  NCWC was founded in 1893 and has played a leading role in many of the milestones reached in Canadian social history. Responding to a variety of interests embraced by its affiliates, NCWC has often been a leader in presenting developing issues to the government.  From women’s equality to children’s rights, public health reforms to inner-city playgrounds, consumer protection to citizenship work, the concerns of NCWC have been wide ranging and its influence far reaching. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca.  As an NGO, we hold Consultative Status (II) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF CANADA
205 — 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario   K2P 1X3
Tel: (613)232-5025

Fed Budget: Not a budget for women

FAFIA’s 2007 federal budget overview: Not a Budget for Women can be found on their website at http://www.fafia-afai.org.  This, from the report:

The report has been organized into four categories:

§ Poverty Measures

§ Tax Breaks

§ Social Programs

§ Values

Our starting point is that women in Canada are affected differently than men by tax and spending policies of governments as a result of their varying labour market opportunities, family and community responsibilities, as well as levels of economic security.

According to the Beverley Jacobs, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s, this
federal budget was « extremely disappointing ». There were absolutely no funding announced for
Aboriginal specific initiatives and organizations that provide vital support programs for Aboriginal
women and children. « What about those who are struggling to find jobs and who are living
below the poverty level? There’s no help for them. There’s no specific focus on Aboriginal women
and children. There’s no support for those who continue to struggle, » said Jacobs. 

While this year’s federal budget invests an additional $342 million per year for language
instruction and employment-related support, the federal government has backed away from its
commitment to establish a federal agency to assess and to recognize credentials at the federal
level. It has instead directed resources to providing immigrants with path-finding and referral
services to identify and connect with the appropriate assessment bodies. However, the difficult
question of how foreign credentials will be assessed has yet to be resolved.

Women in Canada have high levels of poverty, and their poverty causes their children to be poor.
But the only anti-poverty strategy in this budget is the working income tax benefit, a refundable
tax credit intended to help low income women and men move from social assistance to work by
lessening the “welfare wall.” It provides a maximum of $500 to singles and $1,000 to families.
This is a tiny amount, not sufficient or effective enough to move a woman by herself or a woman
and her children from the entirely inadequate rates of social assistance currently being provided
to affording a safe, decent place to live and to enough to eat. 

This budget proposes to eliminate all tax on scholarships for children who attend private
elementary and secondary schools. It offers as an example a young man who receives a
$30,000 scholarship to attend a private high school in Ontario, stating that the exemption will
save his family over $3,000 in federal income tax. We note that the exemption applies regardless
of the family’s income level. This is a tax subsidy for private education at a time when
governments claim they cannot find the resources to ensure that public education is properly
funded, a critical need to ensure equal opportunities for children from all socio-economic
backgrounds. It is also important to note that by the government’s own example, this tax subsidy
is worth more than three times what a low-income single parent or couple could receive from the
Working Income Tax Benefit.

But that’s what the Harperites are about, eh Canada?  Helping the rich get richer and to hell with the rest?  Democracy for whom?