Ms. Global: Muslim Leaders Make Women’s Rights Plea to Taliban; Pakistan Reckons with Femicide and #JusticeForNoor

The U.S. ranks as the 19th most dangerous country for women, 11th in maternal mortality, 30th in closing the gender pay gap, 75th in women’s political representation, and painfully lacks paid family leave and equal access to health care. But Ms. has always understood: Feminist movements around the world hold answers to some of the U.S.’s most intractable problems. Ms. Global is taking note of feminists worldwide.


International

+ The World Bank repeatedly dismissed young employees’ sexual harassment claims against Rodrigo Chaves, a high-ranking official who is now a presidential candidate in Costa Rica, according to a report released by the World Bank labour tribunal. Despite a documented pattern of harassment over the course of four years, the only consequence he faced was a demotion, leaving the bank to become Costa Rica’s finance minister.

The World Bank has since apologized to the women affected for the mishandling of their cases.

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World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C. A recent report found the institution repeatedly dismissed young employees’ sexual harassment claims, despite a documented pattern of harassment that lasted at least four years and involved at least six women. (Simone D. McCourte / World Bank)

“The Bank’s initial response to the allegations shows a deeply flawed understanding of how to address sexual harassment in an institution tasked with fostering gender inclusion and human development in the poorest corners of the world,” the employee union said in a statement.

+ Women change their behavior to reduce their impact on the environment more often than men, such as recycling, buying local and reducing water and meat consumption, according to a survey conducted by the Women’s Forum.

The report also found the highest-ranking officials in ministries dealing with climate change in Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. were disproportionately male—though ongoing gender inequality was an important element to respondents, with 84 percent of them saying that closing the gender gap and having an inclusive economy in the wake of COVID should be top priorities.

Israel

A former senior diplomat in Israel, Colette Avital, has come forward with allegations that the late-President Shimon Peres sexually assaulted her in the 1980s. In an interview this month, she described the incidents and her shock at his behavior, as she had admired his political work and thought he was a model statesman (he went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize).

On her silence in the past, she said, “They would have laughed at me. … those were the norms.” Avital also revealed that other officials at the Foreign Ministry harassed her during her time there. “Sexual harassment is one of the ways to trip us up as women, through intimidation and minimization,” she stated in relation to women in politics. 

Morocco

Earlier this month, Morocco inaugurated a new parliament under King Mohammed VI. Seven out of 24 ministers were women—the most in the history of the Moroccan Parliament.

Recently-elected Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui has also become the first female finance minister in the country. Alaoui is also among the founders and managers of a number of women’s organizations, such as the Club des Femmes Administrateurs au Maroc, the Women Directors Club in Morocco, and a member of the international network Women Corporate Directors.

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Nadia Fettah Alaoui in February. (Twitter)

Iraq

In the Kurdish city of Halabja in northeastern Iraq, women represent top levels of local government, like such as mayor, university dean and health spokesperson—a radically different reality from the other regions of the country. In the face of restrictive social norms, many women have to face routine discrimination and resist confinement to the home to be able to rise in the ranks of society.

On October 10, Iraq held its parliamentary election where more than 90 women from all over the country were elected, exceeding the 83-seat quota for women. The majority continues to be male, who hold the other 200+ seats. A number of Iraqis contend the appointments are largely superficial since issues like forced marriage and female genital mutilation continue to go unaddressed. 

Venezuela & Australia

Soccer players in Venezuela and Australia have joined the global #MeToo movement, coming forward their stories of harassment and sexual abuse in the sport. 24 of Venezuela’s top soccer players identified their former coach Kenneth Zseremeta as the perpetrator of abuse from 2013 to 2017—ending in Zseremeta getting fired because of the squad’s “poor performance,” something he claimed was caused by malnutrition. After a statement posted on social media by a Venezuelan top player Deyna Castellanos, Venezuela’s attorney general announced that an investigation is underway. 

A top international player from Australia, Lisa de Vanna, recently came out with her own experiences of having been groomed, bullied and abused by senior players at the start of her career. In response, soccer authorities have urged players to make formal complaints, saying in a statement that “Australian football takes a zero-tolerance approach to any conduct that breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game”. 

Pakistan

Pakistan is struggling to come to terms with a gruesome femicide that occurred in July, where a woman, Noor Mukadam, was brutally murdered by a socialite’s son. According to a study by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, there were 363 recordings of honor killings of female victims in 2020

With the hashtag #JusticeForNoor trending across the globe, an anti-elitist sentiment is growing parallel to the case in reaction to the ultra-rich’s ability to avoid being held accountable by the courts. Feminist social media influencers continue to keep tabs on the court proceedings of Noor’s case, shining a light on the neglect of Pakistani women by the justice system and political parties

Afghanistan

Ministers from Muslim-majority countries are banding together to persuade the Taliban government ruling Afghanistan to repeal the ban on women’s and girl’s secondary education in the country. These attempts are supported by Western diplomats, but led by the Turkish and Indonesian foreign ministers.

“The Holy prophet of Islam said very clearly an individual who educates his daughters will go to paradise (Jannah),” said Karim Khan, the international criminal court chief prosecutor and a fellow Muslim. “This is the religion of Islam that is completely against people who say that women should not be educated, who target or persecute women for no other reason than their gender.”

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A classroom of Afghan girls in Kabul in 2010. Last month, the Taliban called only for boys to return to secondary schools. Millions of girls across the country have not returned to their classes, losing access to their basic rights to education. (NATO / Flickr)

Haiti

This month, 17 people associated with an American missionary group were kidnapped by gangs in Haiti during a visit to an orphanage. Five of the 17 hostages are children, and all remain in captivity as the gang leader calls for a $17 million ransom to be paid.

According to UNICEF, there has been an uptick in kidnappings this year since the government fell apart after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July. The Biden administration is in touch with the highest levels of the Haitian government and addressing the situation with urgency, according to senior officials.

France

In France, a number of women are running to become France’s first female president. On October 14, it was announced that Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will be running as the Socialist Party candidate, aiming to revive support and success for the party. Hidalgo is joined by another head of the Paris region, Valérie Pécresse, a center-right independent candidate who created her own movement called Libres!. In an interview, Pécresse vowed to travel the country and meet with the French people: “I want to put the country back in order. In 2022, France must start anew.”

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About

Leela de Paula is an editorial fellow at Ms. and a junior at Smith College studying government and gender studies. Her academic interests include global feminism, international politics and feminist legal theory. She calls many continents home.