“No means no” is a new battle cry for Brazilian women mobilizing against assault at carnival, a raucous party whose free-wheeling atmosphere leaves women particularly vulnerable to unwanted sexual contact. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein episode that triggered the #MeToo campaign against harassment in the United States, Brazilian women are out in full force with some, even sporting temporary tattoos with the message emblazoned across their shoulders, arms and chests. Rio’s carnival, the world’s largest, falls during the city’s pre-Lenten blowout which draws millions of near-naked revelers dancing as the alcohol flows, and flows. The feast of excess is also often the backdrop for a slew of sexual assaults, particularly against women. Luka Borges therefore is tirelessly distributing the temporary “No Means No” tattoos as part of a street parade known as a “bloco”(bloco is a street party. organized by a suburb or carnival association)set to samba tunes in Rio’s cent. There is a lot of machismo in Brazil so doing this for carnival is really pressing,” the 28-year-old project manager said “We women spend much more time out in the streets, wearing less clothing then this is their pretext for aggression.”   Borges created with four friends “No Means No” tattoos, and began distributing them to women last year during some of the city’s blocos, after one of them was harassed.Thanks to social media and a crowd funding campaign, some 27,000 tattoos have been produced for the 2018 carnival, in Rio as well as cities including Salvador, Sao Paulo and Olinda.“A lot of the time, at past carnivals, we were harassed and did not even realize it,” said Anna Studard, a 27-year-old theater producer. “We thought it was normal! But I think in the past couple of years we’ve started to realize that ‘no means no.’”   

Carnival, with its totally uninhibited and ultra-sexy atmosphere is widely seen as a moment partiers can kiss and touch strangers without concern.Yet far from taking a puritanical turn, the women behind this campaign simply say they’re simply trying to bolster the “my body, my rules” concept already familiar to many in Brazil. “If we continue to cover ourselves, to hide, the youngest girls will have to continue to protect themselves,” said Borges. “I think it’s a political act to walk around with bare breasts, for example.” For some Brazilians, the “No Means No” temporary tattoo sends a message beyond feminism.“My fiancé is traveling. And this tattoo will prevent anyone from spoiling my party; I feel safer,” said Caroline Fachetti, 19, who sports a striped swimsuit top and blue short shorts.Beside her, six English tourists drink beers and take in the scene. “It’s totally appropriate,” said James Allan, 28, of the campaign. “Brazil is years behind Europe.”  The situation for women in Brazil is not only precarious during carnival.One in three women over the age of 16 has reported being physically, verbally or emotionally abused, according to a Datafolha survey(polling institute)published in March 2017, looking at data from the previous year.That’s why Borges refuses the tattoos to men, despite welcoming their moral support. “It is our struggle,” she said. “It is on our body that ‘no’ must be written.” Brazilians dancing away troubles of 2017 at Carnival parties

Amid a lackluster economy, a massive corruption investigation and increasing political polarization, Brazilians let off steam on Feb.10 during the first full day of Carnival, a holiday long considered a safety valve for social and political tensions. Known for elaborate or skimpy costumes and intense samba competitions, Carnival celebrations also frequently take on serious subjects. This year, for instance, women’s groups are highlighting the sexual harassment and unwelcome touching that many face during the celebrations and throughout the year on Brazil’s streets. Others have called attention to housing shortages or are criticizing politicians who have been accused of corruption. But many see Carnival as a time to take a break from those weighty issues.  “Carnival transcends politics it’s (a celebration) of the Brazilian people,” said Hector Batelli, a 30-year-old lawyer, who on Saturday was enjoying a Sao Paulo Carnival street party, known as a bloco, as quoted by The Associated Press.“So we put aside politics to have a party, to celebrate.”


Under the patronage of HH Sayyida Aliya bint Thuwaini al Said, Ooredoo announced the graduation of 16 trainees from its Incubator Programme during the ‘Omani Night for My Country’ festivities. Organized in collaboration with the Omani Women’s Association in Manah, the vocational course taught women to develop essential skills in sewing and cooking. By contributing much-needed access to resources, tools, training, and funds, Ooredoo was able to empower women to start their own businesses.  Raed Mohammed Dawood, director of Government Relations and Corporate Affairs at Ooredoo, said, “Omani women make up half of the workforce in the sultanate and play a vital role in the progress of our country. At Ooredoo we do our best to help women progress by enhancing their skill sets to achieve their full potential, so they can become a part of Oman’s sustainable development.      

“As part of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s vision on gender equality, we will continue to provide training programmes and opportunities as a way for women to advance within their community and achieve their aspirations.” Dalalbint Ali al Mahrooqi said, “I would like to thank Ooredoo and the Omani Women’s Association for giving us this opportunity to develop our sewing skills through the Incubator Program. The training we received was very informative and productive and it has given me the confidence to kick-start my business idea. I am very excited to put my new skills into action and become part of the entrepreneurial community in Oman.”

Ooredoo pioneered its incubators in line with its corporate social responsibility programme, helping a large number of women across the sultanate discover new ways to generate income.



Ensuring that women become financially empowered and independent has been described as one way of boosting their confidence and thus enabling them to compete with their male counterparts for leadership positions. The sentiments were shared by the Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botswana, Ms. Botlogile Tshireletso on February 9 at a roundtable on empowering women and local institutions to lead. The roundtable was hosted by the embassy of the United States of America.

Ms. Tshireletso said the Department of Gender Affairs was one vehicle through which empowerment and financial independence of women could be achieved as the department had sanctioned programmes dedicated to uplifting the lives of women by encouraging women to take the lead in various sectors including business ownership and sustainability. The assistant minister, who is also MP for Mahalapye East – Botswana, said one other achievement aimed at empowering women was the development of the National Policy on Gender and Development, explaining that the policy addressed various forms of existing gender inequalities thereby allowing women equal chances of assuming leadership positions as men.

The low numbers of women representation in Parliament and in bogosi, Ms. Tshireletso said was proof that there was an urgent need for thorough gender mainstreaming with the aim to advance women and girls, and in the process reverse the deeply and long-entrenched inequalities emanating from patriarchal systems and discriminatory cultural practices that did not recognize women leaders.

Furthermore, she observes that a strong emphasis on local institutions and direct community involvement was just as important as women empowerment to encourage people to take the lead on decisions that directly affected their lives. “It is also a known reality that a significant proportion of the population live in the rural areas where poverty is severe. Thus, one of the goals of rural development is to address the problem of poverty in the rural areas by promoting participation of people through local structures and engagement of other participating organizations,” she said. On a positive note, Ms. Tshireletso applauded the strong partnership with the United States government through United States Agency for International Development (USAID), saying the collaboration had resulted in significant achievements at a community level through the provision of health, psycho-social support as well as education to empower communities. Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness Mr. Dikgang Makgalemele said there were many structures at the community level which could be tapped into in order to realize Botswana’s development agenda. He said structures such as Village Development Committees, Parent-Teacher Associations needed not be taken for granted as they played a critical role in communities.

Mr. Makgalemele, who is Shoshong MP, however, decried the support for NGOs which he said had dwindled over the years. He thus said it was important to devise new ways through which NGOs could be assisted so they could continue to play the important role that they had been playing. Speaking on behalf of the US ambassador, an embassy official Mr. Timothy Smith also spoke highly of the collaboration between the Botswana and US governments, attributing achievements in many sectors to the cordial relationship. He said the partnership spanning decades, in particular through USAID, had helped Botswana to achieve many of her development goals. On Botswana’ success rate on efforts to empower women to assume leadership positions, he said the country had made significant progress over the years as it was presently leading in the SADC region with 43 percent of executive government positions being held by women. Mr. Timothy also spoke of the key role that community leaders played, saying they were well-poised to address the challenges unique to their neighborhoods and communities. He also highlighted the importance of community engagement, describing it as a hallmark of the effort between USAID and local institutions in Botswana to deliver sustainable and effective development solutions.

KgosiMosadiSeboko of Balete, who also participated at the meeting, spoke of the need to address the gender inequalities currently existing in local communities. Such, she pointed out, could only be achieved through close collaboration by all stakeholders. Underlining the need to address the gender inequalities, KgosiMosadi said it was also critical that gender is mainstreamed into the customary court system, this being in appreciation of the all-encompassing role of traditional leaders, especially with regard to their responsibility to promote and protect the welfare of their communities. In the end, the participants observed that in order for the efforts to empower women to take up leadership positions there was a need for among others, people-centered solutions, change of mindset, effective monitoring of initiatives as well as the need to strengthen the family unit.

Source: DailyNewsbw

That was made apparent to me on a recent visit to Tokyo, where gray-haired individuals far outnumbered children in the streets. But the hustle and bustle also revealed that Japan does not accept that its aging population means its economic prospects must diminish. On the contrary, Japan is harnessing two of its assets — one long underutilized and the other a long-standing source of strength — to support continued economic expansion. Japan certainly faces demographic challenges. It is already the oldest country in the world, as measured by both the median age of the population (46.3 years) and the share of the population aged 65 years or more (26 percent). That compares to just 40.4 years and 17 percent, respectively, among all high-income countries. And Japan’s birthrate and inward immigration rate are low—as a result, the population is not only aging but shrinking. Japan’s working-age population peaked more than 20 years ago, in 1995.

And yet, Japan’s economy is chugging along. It is by no means the fastest-growing major economy in the world, but it nonetheless continues to expand. In fact, Japan’s GDP per capita growth averaged 1.42 percent annually over the last five years — slightly ahead of the OECD average of 1.36 percent. As any economist will tell you, the two keys to sustained economic growth and higher living standards are increases in the size of a country’s labor force and rises in those workers’ productivity. Economies cannot grow in the long run without at least one of the two forces in play. In spite of its demographics, both forces are now propelling the Japanese economy forward. How has Japan’s economy remained resilient in the face of its demographic challenges? Feb 11, 2018 offers the answer: It’s the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Both aspects of what the world is celebrating today — women and science — are at play in Japan’s economic resilience.

First, the Japanese government has actively sought to increase the size of its labor force by encouraging more women to work. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s launched his “Womenomics” program in 2013, which has increased the rate of replacement pay for those on parental leave and expanded the capacity of daycare facilities. In addition, the government now requires companies with more than 300 employees to disclose gender diversity targets and associated action plans for achieving them. In part due to those efforts, female participation in the labor force has risen from 65 percent in 2013 to 68.1 percent in 2016 — far ahead of the OECD average of 63.6 percent. That built on gains in previous years thanks to labor market reforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These policies recognize the imperative to grow the country’s workforce by harnessing the economic potential of women — a long-underutilized segment of Japan’s working-age population.

Second, Japan is leveraging science — more accurately, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), for which science is used as the shorthand in the name of Sunday’s holiday — to boost its productivity. The country has long been a leader in technological innovation, but now its technological edge is helping the economy overcome so-called demographic destiny in two fields.  Automation and robotics are being utilized to enable greater levels of output with fewer workers. That is particularly apparent in the manufacturing and construction sectors. For instance, electronic parts maker Nidec is developing automating robots and an accompanying system of an internet of Things devices to improve efficiency and more easily adjust factory output to demand levels. And in construction, Taisei Corporation and the Chiba Institute of Technology recently introduced a robot that automates rebar binding — a process that normally accounts for 20 percent of the man-hours associated with constructing building frameworks.

Technology is also enabling Japan to better care for its expanding elderly population. Toyota is among the companies that have launched robots to help Japan’s elderly people walk independently, while Panasonic has developed a bed that can split apart into a wheelchair.  Many companies have also developed companionship robots designed for the elderly, including Paro, a baby harp seal that nuzzles people who pet it, and Chapit, a mouse that chit chats with bed-bound patients. Such developments not only solvesthe problem of a shortage of workers in health care and elder care, but also enables younger family members to continue working rather than taking time off to care for their aging relatives. As we celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, it is worth keeping in mind the example of Japan. Demography is by no means destiny if a country has smart government policies and an innovative spirit. Other countries struggling with demographic or productivity challenges would do well to emulate Japan’s winning formula.

Source: CNBC

Camp administrators are working to combat abuse, violence, and exploitation of women in Rohingya refugee camp. Dressed in a safari vest, cargo pants, and combat boots, Mr. ShamimulHuqPavel looks more the part of a military instructor than refugee camp administrator.  He is fed up with seeing Rohingya refugee women single-handedly carrying their babies while hauling heavy food rations home. So he has issued a warning to the men among the 70,000 refugees he oversees:  “If any woman is seen carrying a big sack and she has a competent male person at her home, that male person would have to answer to me.”  It has been over five months since nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled an army crackdown in Myanmar to Bangladesh, bearing horrific memories of arson, murder, torture and abuse.

The hills in southern Cox’s Bazar have been stripped of foliage and packed instead with thousands of bamboo-framed, tarpaulin-lined huts. Aid agencies, working together with the Bangladeshi government, have met the most pressing needs of food, shelter and immediate medical attention of women.As the world’s largest refugee settlement takes shape, the authorities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh are grappling with the implications of the Rohingyas’ conservative social order.

Mr. Pavel, a senior assistant secretary with the Ministry of Land, has been administering a section of Kutupalong camp for over three months. “I have given all the males a very strong message,” he tells The Sunday Times. “If anything happens unjustly with any girl, any child, any mother, or sister, things might get worse for them.”The number of refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh from Aug 25, after fleeing an army crackdown in Myanmar including Rohingya refugee girl at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh has finally found hope. Nearly 700,000 people have fled to Bangladesh since last August.  MR SHAMIMUL HUQ PAVEL, refugee camp administrator has taken the responsibility to speak up for the women of Roshingya.

Source: AseaNews

On this International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the United Nations is calling for the eradication of the traditional practice, which causes extreme physical and psychological harm to millions of women and girls worldwide.

The United Nations says more than 200 million girls and women in 30 countries are currently living with the harmful and dangerous consequences of female genital mutilation. Young girls between infancy and 15 years of age are subjected to the practice, which mainly occurs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The World Health Organization reports FGM confers no benefits, only serious problems, including severe bleeding, infections, complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

Irrefutable evidence exists regarding the many serious life-long health consequences that arise from the procedure. Nevertheless, the WHO reports the practice persists because of myths and misconceptions.

WHO spokeswoman FadelaChaib said one dangerous myth is that only girls who undergo the procedure can enter womanhood and be considered respectable.

She said people often believe there is little risk of harm for girls and women if female genital mutilation is performed by a doctor or other healthcare professional.

“This is not the truth.WHO is completely against any health worker helping to do this practice. FGM is a harmful practice and may lead to physical, mental and sexual health complications regardless of who performs it,” said Chaib.

FGM is far from being eradicated. But, Chaib told VOA slow progress is being made in communities around the world. She cites the case of Sudan, a country that has a high level of FGM.

With the help of several U.N. agencies and financing from Britain and Ireland, she said, the practice is becoming rarer in communities across the country.

Source: VOA

It is likely that taxis driven by Saudi women could be seen zooming past on the Kingdom’s roads from June 2018, when women in Saudi will be officially allowed to drive cars. The Public Transport Authority (PTA) is busy making regulations that could also allow women to work as taxicab drivers.

Rumaih Al-Rumaih, chairman of the PTA said that currently rules and regulations are underway to enable Saudi women to drive taxis that will transport only female passengers, according to Saudi Gazette.

Al-Rumaih added the car rental offices will be completely localized and that the authority is working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development to complete the nationalization of jobs in public transport sector.

Moreover, the same regulations governing the licensing of men who work in transportation will be applicable to women taxi drivers, said PTA spokesman Abdullah Al-Mutairi.

Though the official announcement is still pending, Uber and Careem have already planned to hire women drivers in Saudi. Careem has received thousands of applications from Saudi women who want to become drivers. “We may hire over 10,000 female captains (drivers) by June 2018. Female captains will help us provide a better service to many women who want to travel but refuse to take cabs driven by men,” Abdullah Elyas, co-founder and chief privacy officer at Careem was quoted as saying by CNN.

While, Uber’s general manager in Saudi Arabia, Zeid Hreish said, “We will partner with necessary stakeholders to facilitate the paperwork, training access, and access to vehicles, including access to driving schools run by third party partners.”

Not only this, Uber will also initiate ‘listening sessions’ for women in Riyadh to help the company in shaping priorities and upcoming plans for women in the Kingdom, besides addressing social and legal problems that women could face when driving.

Source: Sunnews