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                    In Afghanistan, a mother bravely campaigns for president

                  

The mother with an important but dangerous job sat down to write a goodbye letter to her two young daughters. Just in case, she thought, the Taliban could get lucky this time and finally kill her. Fawzia Koofi, who is campaigning for the presidency of Afghanistan, began by writing this to her 10- and 12-year-old. "Today I am going on political business to Faizabad and Darwaz. I hope I will come back soon and see you again, but I have to say that perhaps I will not." If she didn't come home, she wrote little Shuhra and Shaharzad, they should take their mother's advice on how to get on without her. "First," she wrote, "don't forget me." Finish school, live independently, stay with your aunt, study abroad. All the money their mother has in the bank, it's all theirs. Spend it wisely, on school. "A girl needs an education if she is to excel in this man's world." Explore the world. Be brave. Make your country a better place. "All of us human beings will die one day," Koofi wrote. "Maybe today is the day I will die. But if I do, please know that it was for a purpose." This is Koofi, someone who believes without question, even since childhood, that purpose has always guided her. Luck was just something that always showed up when she needed it. She had come from a place where nothing was expected of a woman to being the first female elected to Afghanistan's Parliament, a body reformed after the war. Every outing was a risk. The close call with death is one of many detailed in her new memoir, ""The Favored Daughter" released as buzz began building about her campaign to become President Hamid Karzai's successor. The country's presidential election is slated for 2014. Under the latest timetable, all U.S. troops are supposed to be gone from the country then.

                                            

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                    Women in Graft Cases Suggests Power, Not Gender, Is Key Factor

       

Given the historic paucity of women in positions of power in Indonesia, voices encouraging women to replace men are growing louder, based on the premise that male leadership has failed. For years, women’s rights activists and feminists have been trying to explain why a high proportion of women in parliament correlates with low national levels of corruption. But recent arrests by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) show that power tends to corrupt — for both men and women. The year began with the arrest of National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker Wa Ode Nurhayati, on suspicion of accepting a Rp 6 billion ($636,000) payoff from businessman Haris Surrahman in exchange for securing legislative approval of infrastructure projects in Aceh Besar, Pidie Jaya and Bener Meriah districts in Aceh. In April, the KPK arrested Angelina Sondakh, a former beauty queen turned Democratic Party lawmaker, for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for rigging the contract for the construction of the Southeast Asian Games athletes’ village last year. The KPK is also probing her alleged involvement in another bribery case linked to construction projects at several universities. The latest arrest involving a female corruption suspect came last week, when the KPK arrested Neneng Sri Wahyuni, a businesswoman who was on the run from the law for eight months before coming back to Indonesia and nearly slipping past security. The number of female corruptors the KPK has arrested is still far fewer than their male counterparts, but the future could see that gap closing as an increasing number of women take up senior posts at public institutions and in the legislature. Currently, the law mandates that at least 30 percent of seats in the House of Representatives are reserved for women, with many arguing there should be an equal number of men and women in the legislature.

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                  Indigenous Woman Becomes Governor in Guatemala

 

Teresa de Jesús Chocoyo definitely stood out in the crowd when she was sworn in recently as one of 22 departmental governors in Guatemala, where non-indigenous men dominate politics. A petite indigenous woman in colorful, traditional Mayan dress, her long black hair pulled back in a braid, she was the only indigenous woman governor, one of only three women and three indigenous governors. Known to her supporters as “Sacatepéquez’s Woman of Change” – she is the chief executive of the Department of Sacatepéquez in the central part of the country – she is challenging the political status quo. She is also trying to take a proactive, hands-on approach to governing. After taking office, she met with civil society representatives to identify the most pressing concerns of her constituents, one of which was security. In turn, she met with police and military leaders to design a coordinated approach for addressing crimes such as armed robbery and carjacking. She tells of receiving a late night call about a crime and immediately rushing to the scene while still in her pajamas. For Chocoyo, “many times it is not what we do, but our presence” that makes the largest impact". Chocoyo hopes to mentor other women and encourage them to participate in local politics. She believes that “countries where women are in power tend to have better economic, cultural and social development.” She knows, however, that recruiting more women will be no small feat, as “most women think first about their family and how money [earned from work] can help at home.” To overcome this and other barriers, she underscores the importance of women political leader networks, whose members can serve as role models for other women. Now she hopes to be an example herself and help change the political landscape in Guatemala.                                         

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                    At long last, Suu Kyi delivers Nobel speech

 

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared that the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland. Suu Kyi received two standing ovations inside Oslo’s city hall as she gave her long-delayed acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in front of Norway’s King Harald, Queen Sonja and about 600 dignitaries. The 66-year-old champion of political freedom praised the power of her 1991 Nobel honour both for saving her from the depths of personal despair and shining an enduring spotlight on injustices in distant Myanmar. “What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings, outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. We were not going to be forgotten,” she said during her 40-minute oration. Suu Kyi, who since winning freedom in 2010 has led her National League for Democracy party into opposition in Myanmar’s parliament, offered cautious support for the first tentative steps toward democratic reform in her country. “If I advocate cautious optimism, it is not because I do not have faith in the future, but because I do not want to encourage blind faith. Without faith in the future, without the conviction that democratic values and fundamental human rights are not only necessary but possible for our society, our movement could not have been sustained throughout the destroying years,” she said, referring to the past two decades since Myanmar’s military leaders rejected her party’s overwhelming triumph in 1990 elections, one year after Suu Kyi’s own imprisonment.

 

Video Links:

Aung San Suu Kyi's Acceptance Speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize | June 16, 2012 (P1)  http://youtu.be/3ZEJD19ko2k

 

Aung San Suu Kyi's Acceptance Speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize | June 16, 2012 (P2)

http://youtu.be/DYoUHdb1NAA

 

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                  Egypt elections: 'Women need a champion'

 

The one thing that Egyptians know for certain is that their next president is not a woman. That is because there are no female candidates contesting the presidential elections. Throughout the official 21 days of presidential propaganda, we the public have learned that all the candidates "value" women and believe that women are half of the Egyptian society and therefore should be respected and honored. A near century of Egyptian feminism and our candidates can only offer a cloyingly condescending stance on the rights of the voters who will enable one of them to become a president. Women are ignored as political agents and as citizens in all presidential programs. Women living in poverty are being promised cash transfers, medical insurance and access to finance and services. Yet these women need not wait for a new president as they are already entitled to all these benefits. It is women who attend rallies, who accept trivial bribes of sugar and rice and who stand in the very long queues to vote. Egypt segregates its polling stations, so the remarkable length of women-only queues is evident for all to see. Women in Egypt need a vocal champion who will not interfere with their choice of clothes, career or spouse, but who will guarantee that they have access to jobs, to legal protection, and to freedom and equality within marriage and outside it. What they need is a commitment, not a handout. But a commitment to justice. Women need not fear a president who "uses" religion to please the masses and get their votes -- nor be disappointed when the veneer of secularism cracks to reveal an ambivalent chauvinist. Women in Egypt should not hold their breath or wait for a savior but rather continue to organize and struggle for social, political and economic rights and freedoms.

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Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

Nepal’s Female Farmers Fear Climate Change

 

When Arati Chaudhary’s husband left for India to find work as a migrant labourer, the job of managing farm and family fell on her slender shoulders. “My family (of four children) will starve if I don’t work harder on the farms this year. I just hope that it rains well in the monsoon season (June-September),” Arati tells IPS in her village of Lamahi in the remote Dang district, 500 km west of Kathmandu. Agricultural experts believe that failing agriculture in the western hills is exacerbating an existing trend of male migration to neighbouring India – a country that allows Nepali nationals free access and the right to work there. “The quality of soil has gone down, there is extreme water shortage and frequent disasters like landslides, pests and crop diseases have reduced cultivable acreage,” Krishna Raj Aryal from Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal, told. With over 80 percent of Nepal’s 27 million people dependent on farming, the export of male labour means that the burden of dealing with climate change falls squarely on the women. Arati understands that rain has been erratic over Nepal over the last few years but, being illiterate, she is not quite sure what the constant talk of global climate change is all about. “The weather has always been hard to predict, though the monsoon rains have become noticeably scantier and more erratic,” she said. Arati’s situation of being left to her own devices to cope with the vagaries of the weather  is no different from that of thousands of female-headed farming households in the western region. NGO leaders like Aryal worry that, in spite of the talk in the cities about climate change, little is being done to educate rural women on how to adapt to changing weather patterns or provide tangible support. Adaptation programmes need careful planning and we are seriously working on minimising the impacts of climate change.

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Will the World Listen to Women?

 

 

What does birth control have anything to do with reducing global emissions? Everything, women around the world would say,  because they know how closely linked reproductive health is to issues ranging from poverty and food security to climate change and beyond. This message was precisely what female leaders brought to the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, but not many were listening, least of all the Vatican. "The only way to respond to increasing human numbers and dwindling resources is through the empowerment of women,” said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former director-general of the World Health Organisation. Female leaders have long been trying to tell the world that sustainable development is not just about deforestation, climate change and carbon emissions. Equally as important to sustainable development are gender equality and human rights, which include sexual and reproductive rights. The declaration has many weaknesses, but there are key passages on women as central partners in decision-making….All of that is better than what we had in Rio twenty years ago. The United States, Norway and several women’s rights organisations have fought to keep the text’s language strong, but the Holy See (the Vatican) led the opposition to remove references that ensured women’s reproductive rights. The result is that the final text has no reference to reproductive rights and commits to promotion rather than ensuring equal access of women to health care, education, basic services and economic opportunities. Cate Owren, executive director of Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO), criticised the removal of references to reproductive rights from the Rio outcome document. “Political compromises for the sake of an agreement should not have cost us our rights – nor our planet,” she said.

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Climate Refugees – Today’s New Reality

 

The continued exodus of Somalis to Kenya and Ethiopia has fuelled the debate on a new issue of global concern: climate refugees, driven from their homes and across borders by extreme weather events. Massive displacement of people, mostly women and children, in some parts of Africa, especially the eastern part of the continent, is caused by lengthy periods of drought, famine and armed conflict. One illustration of this is the flood of people leaving Somalia since late 2010. The issue has caused deep concern in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which launched the report “Climate Change, Vulnerability and Human Mobility” at the Rio+20 climate conference on Thursday Jun. 21. Social organisations are highly disappointed by the outcome document of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, which has drawn heads of state from around 130 countries to Rio de Janeiro and ends Friday. The UNHCR report, presented in the Riocentro, the conference venue, is based on the personal testimonies of 150 refugees and internally displaced people in Ethiopia and Uganda, and assesses global trends of forced displacement and their relation with climate change and natural disasters. The growing number of climate refugees gives new urgency to the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in areas far away from the parts of the world that are most affected by the phenomenon, such as Africa. UNHCR spokesman in Brazil Luiz Fernando Godinho told that although there is still no clear definition of what constitutes a “climate refugee”, what is important to understand is that climate-related phenomena are driving more and more people from their homes and countries.

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                    Farmers Bet on Climate-Proof Crops

 


 

With floods, droughts and other calamities battering deltaic Bangladesh regularly, farmers need little prompting in switching to climate-resistant varieties of rice, wheat, pulses and other staples. The crop diversification, actively supported by the government’s research institutions, is already benefitting the 145 million people of this densely populated, predominantly agricultural South Asian country. Mosammet Sabera Begum, 38, a farmer in Purbadebu village, Rangpur district, about 370 km from the capital, earned Bangladeshi taka 14,000 (177 dollars) last summer selling paddy cultivated on two acres of land leased from a local landlord. "I’d planted ‘paijam’ (an early maturing rice breed) which is ready for harvest about 30 days earlier than traditional varieties that take 150 days. It is superior in quality, has higher yield and fetches better pric," said Sabera, mother of two teenage girls. The rice variety that Sabera resorted to, developed last year by the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA,) withstands floods, drought and pest attacks and gives 4.5 - 5.5 tonnes per hectare compared to regular varieties which yield a maximum of three tonnes per hectare. Far in the southwest, 43-year-old Nargis Ara Begum dries harvested paddy in an open courtyard that she and her husband, Mukul Miah, had cultivated on highly saline soil. "We never expected to get such a good harvest in salty soil," said Nargis who owns the small granary next to her home in the Chaukani village of Satkhira district, located some 320 km southwest of Dhaka. Nargis and her husband had cultivated a rice variety developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) named, ‘BRRI -47’, which survives highly saline and water-logged conditions.

 

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Arhab District returnees lack water for crops

 

 

Abdullah al-Marrani, his wife and nine children left the caves they were sheltering in in mid-February and returned home, but life is not much better in their village of Shaab in Arhab District, some 30km northeast of the Yemeni capital Sana’a. They live in a single room - the only roof left in their two-storey house which was severely damaged during clashes between Republican Guards (led by Brig Ahmad Ali, son of ex-president Ali Saleh) and opposition gunmen. Al-Marrani decided to bring his family back home when fighting died down in the wake of the November 2011 power transfer deal. The family’s main source of income, `khat’, dried up after they were unable to farm because of the violence. “The food aid we receive from relief agencies doesn’t suffice for all of us. We can skip meals and tolerate hunger, but our younger children cannot,” he said. Displacement for nearly seven months has severely disrupted the district’s agricultural production, including grapes, oranges and cereals. Most of the 1,500 families who fled the district and sheltered in nearby caves or in Amran Governorate relied on pumped water to irrigate their `khat’ farms, according Abdualim al-Hamdi, head of local NGO Arhab Social Charitable Society (ASCS). “We hardly find enough water for domestic use. How can we water the plants if we cultivate our farms?” said Qannaf al-Edhari, a `khat’ grower in the district’s Beit al-Edhari village. “We hardly find enough water for domestic use. How can we water the plants if we cultivate our farms?” said Qannaf al-Edhari, a `khat’ grower in the district’s Beit al-Edhari village.  A January 2012 assessment by Vision Hope International (VHI), showed that 70 percent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Arhab District had returned home but lacked water.
 

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Campaigns


4th Global Congress of

Women in Politics

and  Governance

Theme:

‘Maternal and Infant Mortality

a Gender Issue’

 

for women and men involve in Maternal and Child Health programs/policies;

parliamentarians, legislators (national / local) interested/involve

in Maternal and Child Health policies/programs;

political parties, local governments (city/municipality)

and the government bureaucracy involve in Maternal and Child Health;

 training institutes involve in Maternal and Child Health;

international and local Maternal and Child Health agencies/organizations;

health and healthcare professionals and providers;

human rights and other civil society groups;

humanitarian organizations involve in Maternal and Child Health.

 

Training Venue: Asian Institute of Management

Makati City, Philippines

 

 

Training Schedule

 

(November 2012)

 

SECRETARIAT

Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP)

4227-4229 Tomas Claudio Street, Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines,

Tele Fax: (632) 8522112  Fax: (632) 8514954  Mobile Phon (63) 917 8403711

Email:  capwip@capwip.org; capwipcongress2012@capwip.org

Web: www.capwip.org; www.onlinewomeninpolitics.org

 

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The Countdown to 2015 in Maternal, Newborn &       Child Survival

 

Countdown to 2015 Initiative

·        

Tracking progress of countries towards the achievement of MDGs 4 and 5 is critical to the work done by The Partnership and its members. Key to this undertaking is an initiative coordinated by The Partnership which focuses on 68 priority countries which represent 97% of all global maternal and child deaths.

The Countdown to 2015 Initiative measures coverage of basic health services proven to reduce maternal and child mortality and assesses domestic and donor resources, the strength of health systems, the status of policies related to maternal, newborn and child health and how equitably health services are distributed. The Countdown also works to create accountability amongst governments and development partners and identifies knowledge gaps and proposes new actions to reach Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

Link to the Countdown to 2015 MNCH website

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Other News

 

Amina, “I was very young when I got married and my life was very bad”

                       

                

Tribal elders in the northern Afghan province of Badakshan tend to have the final say over if and when a woman may divorce her husband. In the province’s remote rural areas traditional `jirgas’ (councils of elders), which are known to favour keeping families together, resolve disputes, and sometimes violate women’s rights in the process. Amina*, now aged 20 and with three children, who over the past seven years has made numerous attempts to get a divorce from her drug-addict husband, told her story: “My father married another woman and then opened a shop in Jurm District. While we were there, in Badakhshan, they made me marry a guy from Jurm District. I didn’t know him. My Dad did not know him either, but his step-brother was a close friend of my Dad’s. The guy was in Iran. He was using drugs there but we did not know this. When he came back from Iran, we got married. He stopped using drugs for around two months. I was very young when I got married and my life was very bad. I would live with my husband, and then go and stay with my Dad. For around 6-7 months I was living in my brother-in-law’s house. My husband was beating me but I was tolerating it. Then I went back to my Dad’s house and then again I went back to my husband’s house and back to stay with my Dad again.  My husband went through lots of treatment. He went to Kabul and Mazar-i-Sherif for treatment but he was not cured. So finally the tribal elders and his step-brother, upon my request, said that because I was so young and they did not want to keep me like this I could go ahead and ask for a divorce. My husband sold every single thing in my house. He sold the doors, the windows and the carpets in the house. Nothing remains. And he mortgaged the house to someone… The children are with my Dad.

 

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World in balance requires gender equality, says UN Women

 

The Rio+20 Conference comes twenty years after the Rio Earth Summit, where there was unanimous agreement that sustainable development cannot be realized without gender equality. However, 20 years later, women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence and to call for equality and justice. Today women make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce in developing countries, yet they continue to be denied equal access to land, credit and other resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that providing women with the same access as men to fertilizers, seeds and tools, would raise national agricultural output by up to 4 per cent and reduce the number of hungry people by 100 to 150 million. Advancing equal rights and opportunities is critical for a sustainable future. Addressing climate change and other challenges requires women’s full participation and the world’s collective wisdom and intelligence available today. Women are key actors for sustainable development, and sustainable development solutions can greatly improve women’s lives by reducing poverty, freeing up women’s time and protecting them from violence and other adverse health and environmental impacts. For example, of the 2 million people who die each year from smoke from traditional cook stoves, more than 85 per cent are women and children. Outlining the need for the Rio+20 Outcome Document to guarantee women’s full participation in sustainable development, Ms. Bachelet reaffirmed the vital role women play as contributors as well as benefactors of sustainable development. “The world can no longer afford to leave women out. Sustainable development cannot happen without half of the world’s population,” she said.

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Call for more coordinated approach to child protection

 

 

A new report on child migration in West Africa says thousands of children are being sold, exchanged or transported out of their communities each year in violation of internationally-recognized rights of the child, and calls on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to persuade governments to better protect these children. Children may leave their communities because of conflict within the family, or the desire for education, apprenticeships or job opportunities to help their families. Some parents force their children to leave, but often departure is voluntary and motivated by the quest for a better life. Zelmet Fatimah and Zeydata Amina from Niger, two girls who beg along the Teteh Quarshie Interchange, a busy highway in the Ghanaian capital Accra, say they left home because of hunger. “There is no food there,” said Zeydata, “I come here every day with my sisters and my parents to beg for money. I beg because we don’t have money and I am hungry.” However, push factors are many and varied: “The children’s motivations are rooted in the current changing world… It is misleading to believe that a state, civil society and development partners have the capacity and sufficient legitimacy to end, simply, this many-sided practice of child mobility,” said the report. The migration of children is not always a negative phenomenon: migrant children send money home. Those from the same community might collectively fund a project. Harouna said this had been the case in some villages in the Niger region of Makalondi, near the border with Burkina Faso, where migrant children had jointly paid to build a school for their community.

 

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Stepping Naturally Away from Plastic

 

 

Maya Stella, a restaurant manager in the capital of Cameroon, no longer uses plastic to wrap the corn-fufu that she sells to her customers. She now uses banana or plantain leaves because these are "natural and it is an African culture to use leaves in wrapping food. "The food really has a nice flavour when it is wrapped in banana leaves," says Professor Agatha Tanya, a nutritionist at the University of Yaoundé 1. The secretary general at the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Patrick Akwa, has lauded the gradual return to the use of leaves as an important step towards environmental protection. "Used plastics very easily degrade the environment if not properly disposed of, but used banana leaves can be thrown away to decay naturally," he says. The immediate reason why Stella has gone back to these "traditional wrapping papers" is because of a news report on state radio that using plastic to wrap food is dangerous to human health.  The warning note came from Maurice Dikonta, a chemistry lecturer and researcher at the University of Yaoundé 1. He has been making research on plastics and polymers for the past 15 years. Initially driven by academic interest, Dikonta now believes what he has found out could help save lives: "When you want to make those plastics have a nice, smooth form, you add plasticisers. These plasticisers will not stay in the plastic once you put them in a microwave oven or if you use them to wrap hot food. The plasticisers will evaporate under such conditions and enter your food. Each time you eat food wrapped in plastic, you are actually consuming those plasticisers, which are toxic."

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Mutilated for venturing outdoors

 

Opposition by the Taliban to girls` education, propaganda against it through illegal FM radio channels, threats and the declaring of girls` education a “vulgarity” and un-Islamic, were preventing parents from sending their daughters to schools.  Zuleikha Bibi told IRIN from her village near the town of Wana that she had heard of women being mutilated by militants, for “offences” such as venturing outdoors without a male escort. "You who live outside the tribal areas cannot imagine what fear we women live in,” she said. “Here, in South Waziristan, there have been cases of Taliban bursting into homes to `check’ on women's morality. My teenage cousin had her hair chopped off because her head was not properly covered, just a few months back.” Maryum Bibi, chief executive of the Peshawar-based NGO Khwendo Kor (Sister's Home), said: "Despite the official stance that the Taliban have been defeated, they remain present in remote areas. Women live in terror and have told me their stories of exploitation, harassment or other forms of terrible violence by militants.” She said accounts contained in a recent study by her organization, which spoke of militants slicing off the breasts of a mother feeding her baby inside her home, had been verified by field workers. "I have met displaced women who were asked by security staff at camps for sexual favours in exchange for food. Women also lived in terror in settled areas with Taliban domination, such as Tank District in Khyber Paktoonkhwa Province. The plight of these women is terrible. It will change only if male mindsets can be altered," she added.

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             click archives to go to collection of articles

 

                           Updated: June 28, 2012                               This website is best viewed using Internet Explorer.

  

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