The Human Impact

Celebrating women’s rights around the world

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), we have gathered contributions from the likes of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) who writes that “there is still not one country in which women and girls are equal to men in political or economic power,” and that ” for far too many women and girls, the ability to live a healthy and productive life free from violence remains an aspiration.”

In another post, journalists at the Milan-based newspaper Corriere della Sera reflect on the status of women’s rights in Italy, three years after creating  “La 27ora”, a popular blog about women’s issues. It’s “time to smash female stereotypes in Italy,” they say, pointing to the long way Italians still have to go to achieve gender equality in a country where patriarchal attitudes are still deeply entrenched in society.

For more contributions, photo blogs and articles on women’s rights, visit our special International Women’s Day coverage page here.

 

Photo: Monowara holds her 22-day-old grandson Arafat, as she walks through a mustard field on the outskirts of Dhaka January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

 

 

Gender violence in EU lowest in Poland – should we rejoice?

Poland is the country with the lowest rate of violence against women in the European Union (EU), according to a report published on Wednesday.

Are women really safer in Poland compared to, say, Denmark which came last in the survey with a staggering 52 percent of its female population having experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives?  In Poland that percentage is “just” 19.

So is “scoring” lowest a reason to celebrate or is it rather a wake-up call? After all 19 percent still means that almost one if five women in Poland experienced violence.

“Tiny number of men” tackle gender violence – male activist

You are out with a group of friends at a bar and you see a male friend groping a woman.

How should you respond? Turn a blind eye, say something, physically intervene, call the police for help?

It’s one of several scenarios that activist Jackson Katz has put before thousands of high school and university students, professional athletes and soldiers in the United States as part of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) he co-founded in 1993 to tackle violence against women.

The pain is far worse than childbirth – FGM survivor

Britain has announced new measures to tackle the hidden crime of female genital mutilation making it compulsory for doctors and nurses to record FGM cases. London community worker Sarian Karim Kamara, who underwent FGM as a child in Sierra Leone, told me how it has affected her life and why midwives are on the frontline in efforts to end the brutal practice.

“I’ll never forget what happened to me. I was only 11 years old and I’m 36 now. I’ve had five children and the pain I went through on that day cannot begin to compare to any of my labour pains. It’s indescribable.

Some people might think that FGM is just a cultural practice, that it is normal or acceptable for some communities. But it is not acceptable because it causes so much physical and psychological harm and has no benefit at all.

Italian men seek help to stop battering wives and partners


Alberto, a metalworker in his mid-thirties from a town in northern Italy, would sometimes get so furious arguing with his wife in the car that he would drive into a tree “just to shut her up”.

“When we argued I felt cornered, like I was about to lose everything,” he said in emailed comments to Thomson Reuters Foundation.

From the beginning of his 13-year-old relationship with his wife, Alberto, who did not want to give his full name, struggled to contain feelings of rage, usually ignited by a cross word or critical tone.

“Widespread misogyny” root of online abuse–victim

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – After weeks of online harassment, rape threats and insults, Caroline Criado-Perez struggled to eat, sleep or work, she told a London conference on cyber stalking and harassment this week.

British journalist and women’s rights advocate Criado-Perez spearheaded a campaign earlier this summer to put women on new UK bank notes after the Bank of England unveiled an all-male lineup of prominent candidates.

The campaign – which succeeded with the choice of Jane Austen as the face on the new £10 note – received a lot of media attention. As a result, Criado-Perez said, she became the target of numerous online threats, many of them involving rape and physical violence.

Italy acid attack victim fights back to regain her smile

Lucia remembers a hooded man running away. “He looked at me for an instant, I saw he was holding a can…”

The man runs down the stairs and his footsteps echo in Lucia’s memory. “I told myself a million times that maybe I could have escaped, maybe I could have shielded myself a little better.”

The man is now far away, Lucia sees herself again standing in the doorway of her home as she recounts those terrible moments to Corriere della Sera’s reporter Giusi Fasano.

Saudi Arabia launches first campaign to stop violence against women

 Saudi Arabia has launched its first visual campaign against the abuse of women, designed to encourage female victims to come out of hiding and to have a global impact at a time of change in the kingdom.

The advertisement shows a woman wearing a full veil or niqab, her made-up eyes staring out from the heavy cloth with one of them blackened and bruised.

Underneath, a caption reads: “Some things can’t be covered – fighting women’s abuse together.”

Fiery activist persuades Gambia to ban FGM

Gambian rights activist Isatou Touray has dedicated her life to ridding her country of female genital mutilation (FGM). In return she has received death threats, been imprisoned and suffered repeated harassment.

But Touray has good news. This year, the tiny West African country is finally set to pass a law banning the brutal ritual, which causes horrific pain and long-term health and psychological problems.

Around 78 percent of women and girls in Gambia are thought to have undergone FGM, which is practised by seven ethnic groups in the predominantly Muslim country.

Divorce may be legal in Morocco, but it’s still controversial

By Maria Caspani

A veiled woman hails a cab late at night on a deserted road in Casablanca, Morocco. As the taxi takes off, the driver asks her what on earth she is doing out alone at such a late hour.

“I was working,” the woman responds as the disconcerted driver asks her whether her husband approves. “I’m divorced,” she says.

For a woman in Morocco, there are few situations that are worse than that of Khadija, the protagonist of “Camera/Woman”, a documentary about a divorced woman working as a camera operator who faces strong discrimination in her community and, ultimately, becomes estranged from her family.

    •