Restrictions on Women’s Rights around the World

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The World Economic Forum just published its annual 2013 Gender Gap Report highlighting the many ways in which gender equality is still an issue across the globe. A recent article in the Washington Post picks up on this theme and discusses several restrictions on legal rights for women globally. For example:

1. India (some parts): Road safety rules don’t apply to women. In some states of India, women are excepted from safety rules that mandate motorcycle passengers wear helmets — an exemption that kills or injures thousands each year. Women’s rights advocates have argued the exemption springs from a culture-wide devaluation of women’s lives. Supporters of the ban say they’re just trying to preserve women’s carefully styled hair and make-up — which isn’t exactly a feminist response.

2. Yemen: A woman is considered only half a witness. That’s the policy on legal testimony in Yemen, where a woman is not, to quote a 2005 Freedom House report, “recognized as a full person before the court.” In general, a single woman’s testimony isn’t taken seriously unless it’s backed by a man’s testimony or concerns a place or situation where a man would not be. And women can’t testify at all in cases of adultery, libel, theft or sodomy.

3. Saudi Arabia and Vatican City: Women can’t vote… still. This is amazingly the case in Saudi Arabia, though a royal decree, issued in 2011, will let women vote in Saudi elections in 2015. Vatican City is the only other country that allows men, but not women, to vote.

Read more.

Transforming the idea of fatherhood – California’s experience with paid parental leave

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Photo Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

While federal paid parental leave or paid paternity leave is still elusive in the United States, states such as California have moved ahead and are now offering mothers as well as fathers the ability to stay at home with their newborn children – while not having to sacrifice their paycheck. Yet this welcomed policy change in California cannot hide the fact that the United States continues to be a laggard in the area of parental leave and is now the only industrialized country which does not offer such benefits (Spurlock 2013). Continue reading

Rwanda continues to lead the world when it comes to women in parliament

Last month’s election in Rwanda brought a record-setting 64% of women into Rwanda’s parliament. This is even more astounding considering the fact that only 21.4% of parliamentarians worldwide are women  with the average for Sub-Saharan Africa being 21.9% (IPU 2013). It is both true that Rwanda has a reserved seats quota of 30% for women and that electoral quotas, and especially reserved seats, do increase the number of women in parliament overall; but rarely do we see countries outperforming their quotas so significantly as Rwanda has done in the past. Thus, we must applaud Rwanda for its continuous commitment to gender equality in politics and as a continuous example of a country not afraid to trust women in politics. Continue reading