An Aspire look at some of the positive changes in women’s lives around the world.
In protests over the last few months, women on college campuses across India have voiced their demands: freedom from oppressive rules and equality with the male students. Recent protests were inspired by a Delhi-based women’s collective, Pinjra Tod [Break the Cage], which campaigns against arbitrary curfews and rules imposed on female residents at colleges and universities — part of a broader battle by women’s rights activists to take back public spaces and challenge the threat of sexual violence. Gains, so far have included: later curfews; less restrictions on leaving campus and ending local guardianship requirements.
The Supreme Court judges have upheld their decision – ignoring the petition to review the acquittal by Islamist lawyers – in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who has spent eight years on death row for allegedly insulting Islam. Hardline religious parties demonstrated in the streets after her acquittal. Bibi is hoping to join her daughters in Canada where they have received political asylum. So far however, citing security concerns, she has not been allowed to leave the country. Bibi’s case has brought international attention to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death sentence for a conviction of insulting Islam.
In a win for the growing #MeToo Movement in South Korea, a former presidential contender, An Hee-jung , was found guilty of sexual abuse charges overturning an acquittal by a lower court. The one time political star was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison on charges of repeatedly raping his former secretary. In a tearful interview on national TV, Kim Ji-eun, publicly accused her boss of sexual assault. Like the #MeToo movement around the world, the interview was met with both other women offering support and sharing their stories and social media skeptics questioning her credibility.
Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her 2018 bid to become the country’s first black female governor, gave the rebuttal to President Trump’s State of the Union Address. By selecting Abrams, who won more votes than any Democrat who has run for statewide office, in part by building a powerful grass-roots get-out-the-vote operation, leading Democrats were sending a clear message: We are taking black women seriously as voters and candidates. Her speech was widely regarded for its upbeat and unifying message. The drumbeat on her viability as a 2020 candidate continues to surge.
A 37-year-old mother from east London became the first person in the UK to be found guilty of female genital mutilation [FGM]. She was convicted of the August 2017 genital cutting of her then 3-year-old daughter. The girl’s father, was acquitted. The mother, originally from Uganda, where the practice is also illegal, claimed her daughter’s injuries were caused when she fell from a kitchen counter onto an open metal lined cupboard door. The prosecution said that none of the medical experts who testified supported that assessment.
Solar panels are providing women in Yemen access to energy and a way to escape famine conditions brought on by the nearly four-year war in Yemen. The United Nations Development Program [UNDP] is teaching women to run their own small businesses by generating energy with solar panels. The program provides women access to materials and training to start micro-businesses that can sell energy to power community services such as water and health systems. The earned income is enough to buy food and other household necessities, while also providing economic independence that women in Yemen often don’t experience. UNDP has focused programming on empowering women, who do not traditionally work outside the home in Yemen but are now often the breadwinners for their families after several years of war.
Africa has its first all women armed anti-poaching team. The groundbreaking team are protecting the animals of Phundundu Wildlife Park in Zimbabwe, watching over 115 square miles of habitat which had been prime trophy hunting ground, home to over 11,000 elephants. This new development is a win-win as it both provides the local women a job and the park more employees to hire in their conservation efforts.
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