14 Years: Another World is on Her Way…

Kavita RamdasBy Kavita N.Ramdas

I remain smitten by the phrase: women's rights are human rights. This mantra has been at the heart of my work and the lens through which I have viewed and engaged the world during my tenure at the Global Fund for Women. The result? Over $84 million in grants to thousands of women-led groups in more than 170 countries. Not too shabby!

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On Labor Day: Making Visible Women Workers’ Struggles

By Devi Leiper

With Labor Day fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about women’s work. At the Global Fund for Women, I am proud to live for the women’s human rights movement, but also work for the movement.

Labor marchIn the past few weeks, the struggles of Asian women workers have made news headlines. In Cambodia, at least nine women garment workers were injured in a clash between striking workers and police in riot gear over the suspension of a key union official. This suspension is part of a long history where union officials have been unjustly arrested, harassed, and assassinated. Yet our grantee partners in Cambodia continue to organize and assemble to ‘build solidarity’ and ‘raise women’s voices,’ which have yielded over the years important gains in higher wages and better work conditions.

In Bangladesh, some 80 workers, including women, were injured by rubber bullets and teargas fired by police. These textile workers were disappointed by the new minimum wage law that raised salaries to $43 a month from $24 a month, the lowest industry salary in the world. The raise wasn’t sufficient; workers say they need at least $72 a month for a decent quality of life, especially since most are still reeling from last year’s global food crisis.

In addition to demanding better pay, Bangladeshi workers are demanding decent working conditions at factories owned by companies like Marks & Spencer, JC Penney, Wal-Mart and H&M. Like Cambodia, the work environment for labor groups is extremely hostile. Government officials and their security forces use excessive force to quell demonstrators. The government has targeted groups working on women workers’ labor rights in Bangladesh – accusing them of inciting violence, stripping their license to operate as a non-government organization, and forcing leaders into hiding.

While the global garment industry has rapidly increased the number of women in the workplace in countries like Cambodia and Bangladesh, women’s economic and labor rights are still to be recognized and realized. On Labor Day, let’s remember the plight of women workers struggling for these basic human rights all around the world.

Devi Leiper is part of the Program Team at the Global Fund for Women

 

Global Fund Voices on Three Radio Shows on Pacifica Airwaves

Recently, three GFW staff members, Muadi Mukenge, Anasuya Sengupta and Christine Ahn shared their expertise on radio shows on KPFA 94.1 FM, a San Francisco Bay Area-based community radio station.

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Floods and Feminism: The Plight of Pakistan's Women

Guest Post By Rafia Zakaria

As Pakistan’s flood crisis continues into its fourth week, it is the women who are suffering the most. Millions displaced by the flood waters languish with few resources to alleviate their suffering. According to statistics compiled by the Reproductive Health in Crisis Consortium, nearly 85 percent of flood survivors in camps are women [PDF]. In some cases, this is because men stayed behind to guard the homes and livestock while women and children were evacuated; in others, it’s because families got separated while on the move. With nearly 20 million people displaced by the floods and perhaps 6 million made homeless, the havoc wreaked on Pakistani women is unimaginable.

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We Refuse to Be Enemies

By Preeti Mangala Shekar

Usually quiet on weekends, the Global Fund office was bustling last Saturday when we held a panel discussion on the India-Pakistan, “Indo-Pak,” peace processes. Nearly 50 people from throughout the bay area attended on the 64th anniversary of Pakistan and India’s independence from British rule.

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