WITADA’s Weekly Top 10 – 7 March 2015

7 March 20157 March 2015


WITADA’s Weekly Top 10: News, stories and ideas to make the world a better place. 


On the eve of International Women’s Day, our Weekly Top 10 focuses on issues of gender and features stories of some amazing women.


1. The World Health Organisation has some interesting, and disturbing statistics about women’s inequality (in case you are in any doubt). For example, 35% of all women in the world have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence at some time in their lives; for many women their first sexual experience is a forced one – 17% of women in rural Tanzania, 24% in Peru and 30% in rural Bangladesh.


The Guardian looks at some of the key indicators of gender inequality in Australia, the recently released ABS six monthly Gender Indicators. Not surprisingly, the news is not that great.


In Australia the gender pay gap has risen slightly to 18.8% with women earning an average of $298.10 less per week.


Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund has recently spoken out about the economic oppression of women and advocated for a stronger role for women in the world economy. The IMF has suggested that increasing women in the labour force could boost economic growth in the US by 5%, in Japan by 9% and in Egypt by 34%.


And in an interesting study by Conrad Liveris reported in The Guardian, found that there are fewer women in chief executive or chair positions in ASX200 companies than there are men named Peter in these roles!


2. Graca Machel and Desmond Tutu from The Elders have shared an International Women’s Day message calling for attention to gender inequality and a commitment to empowering women. They are urging consideration of the complex issues facing the world today – “How is it that in 2015 girls can be kidnapped and murdered just for going to school? How can millions of girls still be subjected to the tortures of female genital mutilation? How does women’s pay still lag behind men’s in almost every society worldwide? How are women still systematically under-represented in senior positions in major professions from politics and law to journalism and business?”


3. Both the UK and Australia have seen the development of new sites designed to record the number of women killed by men each year. In the UK the Femicide Census has been launched at a conference in February this year. It is an initiative of Women’s Aid UK. In Australia ‘Destroy The Joint’ is keeping a record  of women killed by violence in Australia (17 so far in 2015; 84 in 2014). The use of this name “came from the on-air comments of 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones, who stated in an on-air discussion on Friday August 31, 2012, that “women are destroying the joint”.


4. The rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in India in December 2012 created an outpouring of grief and anger at the sexual assault of women all over the world. Now a new documentary featuring this story, India’s Daughter, is about to be released on IWD in a number of countries throughout the world (The Guardian reports that India has banned domestic broadcast of the film and is attempting to stop its broadcast worldwide and that the filmmaker has some cause for concern for her safety in India). Leslee Udwin charts the swell of support and the cry of ‘enough is enough’ that was heard throughout India as a result of Jyoti’s death. In an interview with Yvonne Roberts from The Guardian, Udwin talks abut her reasons for making the documentary: “Unprecedented numbers of ordinary men and women, day after day, faced a ferocious government crackdown that included teargas, baton charges and water cannon. They were protesting for my rights and the rights of all women. That gives me optimism. I can’t recall another country having done that in my lifetime.”


5. Rape as a tool of war is a topic that has received some much needed attention recently with the UNDP highlighting the rape of women in Guatemala in the conflict in the 1980s. In 2013 a trial was held for genocide and crimes against humanity and more recently a project funded by USAID is supporting reparations for victims.
And The Guardian has highlighted the use of rape as a weapon of war by Isis and other countries throughout the world.


6. Men’s involvement in feminism and women’s fight for equality can be a tricky topic. This was particularly topical after a recent Q and A episode that was criticised for its obvious gender inbalance.
In an interesting article by Owen Jones (The Guardian) he notes that men have to be careful about offering their opinions – “The national debate is shaped by men; issues are prioritised by men and the prism through which they are analysed is decided by men. What a farce it would be if men began to dominate the debate about men’s oppression of women.”


7. The topic of pornography has been a contested one in feminism for decades. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett takes on some of these complex issues, including what it means to be a feminist in 21st century where empowerment might be more personal than political.


8. In 2000 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1325 which stressed the importance of the inclusion of women in any efforts for peace throughout the world. Later this year the UN plans to hold a high-level review to look for additional ways that this resolution might be implemented around the world. Human Rights Watch has called on the Afghan government to ensure that women are involved on the negotiating team for future talks with the Taliban, clearly a contentious issue.


9. Medicins Sans Fronteires Australia has published a list of the urgent medical issues facing women and adolescent girls throughout the world. They include early pregnancy threat to mother and baby, family planning for adolescent women, family and sexual violence, and HIV and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.


10. And finally, we are featuring some of the amazing women in the world who are trying to make a difference to the lives of women, men and children. Some of the women we have selected to feature will be well known, others unheard of. We can all strive for a better world in our own way – and truly make a difference.


Firstly, SBS has collated a list of 20 inspiring black women who have changed Australia:
     Gladys Elphick
     Fanny Cochrane Smith
     Joyce Clague
     Kristie Parker
     Shirley Colleen Smith
     Evelyn Scott
     Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher
     Faith Thomas
     Rosalie Kunoth-Monks
     Nova Peris
     The Hon Linda Burney
     Patricia June ‘Pat’ O’Shane
     Eleanor Harding
     Essie Coffee
     Faith Bandler
     Pearl Gibbs
     Rachel Perkins
     Megan Davis
     Dr Anita Heiss


Khalid Brohi, founder of the Sugar Empowerment Society, works to educate others about honour killings in Pakistan.


Helen Clark, Chief Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, has stressed the obligation of all world leaders to improve the lives of women and girls.


Ann Cotton, founder of The Campaign for Female Education, “has supported 3 million children in five countries to stay in school and will support another million over the next five years”.


Isabel Allende, author and activist, tells the stories of women living passionate lives.


Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwil Ambassador, is challenging everyone to think about how they advancing the cause of gender equality on this International Women’s Day.


And finally, in this TED talk Laura Boushnak (October 2014), an Arab photographer, talks about her project ‘I Read I Write – where she ‘explored and documented stories of other women who changed their lives through education’.  This is a beautiful and moving talk that features stories of some amazing women.


Happy IWD everyone!


Tomorrow, on International Women’s Day we will post a new blog on our WITADA web page looking at some of the thorny and persistent issues around feminism.


Look forward to seeing you all next week for our regular Weekly Top 10!