News Round-up

// 4 September 2008

Starting more locally – the Welsh Assembly have confirmed girls will be offered the HPV vaccine.

Here is the page hosting the Scottish TV advert, this is meant to have the English advert but it isn’t working at the moment….

Over here are reflections by Egyptian women on sexual harassment. In Pakistan the bodies of two women buried alive for wanting to choose their own husbands have been exhumed – this story has received coverage because Senate members defended the murders as “cultural tradition”. Israrullah Zehri, parliamentary member said he would “continue to defend” such acts and only thos who behave immorally have to be concerned. An inquiry has been ordered which has prompted the exhumations.

Closer to home the Children’s Commissioner has described the treatment of children and babies in detension centres as inhumane.

And the Equalities and Human Rights Commission have published evidence that there are now fewer women in the top jobs than last year.

Women hold just 11 per cent of FTSE 100 directorships and only 19.3 per cent of the positions in Parliament. This year, there are fewer women holding top posts in 12 of the 25 categories for which figures are available. In another five categories, the number of women

remains unchanged since 2007’s index.Women’s representation has increased in just eight areas.


At the current rate of change it will take 27 years to achieve equality in the Civil Service and 200 years to achieve equality in Members of Parliament. The 12 categories with fewer women this year are Westminster MPs, Cabinet members,Members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh

Assembly, editors of national newspapers, people in public appointments, senior police officers and judges, health service chief executives, local authority chief executives, trade union general secretaries and heads of professional bodies. But before those in the private sector get happy – those areas all had no change.

So, five years on from the first Sex and Power report, does it matter if women still aren’t in top posts? If it does, then why?…It matters because it means Britain is failing to get talented women into these positions – and losing out on what they would contribute. In 2008, 14.3million women are in the workforce alongside 16.9million men, and we are moving to a position where women could eventually make up more than half the workforce…They are essential to our country’s economic success and in many families share the responsibility for bringing in enough money to make ends meet. Against this backdrop,we might expect to find women taking on more responsibility and rising through the ranks. So what is happening? In some workplaces discrimination still occurs and stereotypes hold women back. In other cases, young women are pointed towards traditionally female occupations at the expense of opening up a variety of opportunities. But a fair portion of the blame must also be attributed to our rigid, inflexible approach to work.”From EHRC

But remember the EHRC spokesperson, Nicola Brewer, was the person who claimed that maternity leave was holding women back.

Comments From You

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 4 September 2008 at 12:16 pm

Muslimah Media Watch has a very good discussion of the BBC article about sexual harassment in Egypt, and a LA Times article on the same topic.

spiralsheep // Posted 4 September 2008 at 12:46 pm

Here’s a non-Western source for the story about Pakistan.

And this is Muslimah Media Watch’s commentary on the international news coverage.

Stephanie // Posted 4 September 2008 at 3:05 pm

I visited Egypt while in June and was horrified how oppressive it felt when walking around on the street. I’m a feminist and consider myself a strong woman, in England I feel able to stand up for myself when men harass me but in Egypt I’m sad to say I felt I had to hide behind my fiance, keep quiet and keep my head down – I really felt unsafe, even the male staff on the boat we were on were a threat. I’m mixed race so that added to male curiosity and my harassment. I can’t imagine what it must be like for Egyptian women on a day to day basis.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 5 September 2008 at 11:09 am

Ref: western media coverage of five Pakistani women deliberately murdered because they dared to challenge patriarchy. Muslimahmedia’s article makes a very pertinent point and that is constantly women who are murdered because they supposedly ‘flouted male honour rules’ are always portrayed as passive victims. So wrong, because in daring to challenge men’s powers this demonstrates such women are not ‘passive victims.’ Similar stances are taken when the media portrays western women who because of their sex have been murdered by men. Challenging patriarchal rights is never a passive act and yet the media deliberately erases women’s courage and strengths. My article on ‘vulnerability’ subsequently published in the Fword was an attempt to challenge the same male-mindeset wherein women are supposedly always passive victims and never fierce resisters.

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