Spotlight Newsletter, Autumn 2014

Welcome to Spotlight Issue 1

On a quarterly basis, we update readers on what we've been doing and highlight developments in women’s rights in Asia and around the globe.
In this newsletter, we highlight the latest news from India on issues including dowry violence, early marriage and domestic violence. The news on Indonesia highlights one of the country’s greatest challenges – the tension between local by-laws and national law. Our featured blog – “A global market failure” – spotlights the fact that while women’s and girls rights appear at the top of the development community’s agenda, the rhetoric isn't matched by funding.

These developments make our job all the more urgent and our mission all the stronger, a fact underlined by our busy agenda for Autumn. We return to India at the end of October to meet with partners in Bangalore and discuss the first pilot of our Criminal Justice Monitoring Model, as well as our Mobilise 3X and Connect initiatives. Later in November, we head back to Indonesia to meet partners in Yogyakarta. Meanwhile, in the UK, we’re meeting national police leads to discuss UK policing approaches to violence against women and measures the police are taking to address the recent critical report by HMIC on UK police force responses to domestic violence.

News on women's rights

Child marriage worse than rape, says Delhi court

DNA, 7 September 2014
Child marriage "is an evil worse than rape" and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl's parents for getting her married at a young age. Metropolitan magistrate Chauhan issued the direction while hearing a case of dowry harassment. Read article.

India: Domestic violence cases rise, conviction rate goes downhill in Gujarat

DNA, 7 July 2014
The number of domestic violence cases in Gujarat rose by 1154 to 7812 in 2013 with the conviction rate of just 2.30% which is far below the national average in this category, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Read article.

India is home to one in every three child brides in world: UN

DNA, 22 July 2014
India has the sixth highest prevalence of child marriage in the world with one in every three child brides living in India, a United Nations report said. Read article.

India: NCW’s outgoing chief calls for more funds, strengthened role of the Commission

DNA, 2 August 2014
National Commission of Women chair, Mamata Sharma, called for a strengthening of the commission, welcoming the amendments proposed to the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 and the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961. Read article.

Indonesia: Aceh’s New Islamic Laws Violate Rights, 2 October 2014
Indonesia’s central government and the Aceh provincial government should take steps to repeal two Islamic by-laws in Aceh province that violate rights and carry cruel punishments, Human Rights Watch said today. Read article.

Myanmar: Activists demand law to ban violence against women

Thomson Reuters Foundation, 30 September 2014
Male-dominated and socially conservative, Myanmar lived under military rule for almost half a century until a quasi-civilian government took over in 2011. Women's groups say existing laws, which date back to the British occupation in the 19th century, are outdated, unclear and poorly enforced. They demand the swift submission and approval of the Anti Violence Against Women Law that is now being drafted. Read article.

Women are better off today, but still far from being equal with men, 29 September 2014
This contradiction is widespread – although more women are working, they are often still worse paid than men, in part-time jobs or in the huge informal employment sector with little protection and few rights. In many places, the increase in women working is simply driven by the necessity of having two wages to make ends meet. Read article.

Blogs on women & development

A Global Market Failure

Sisters For Change blog, 1 October 2014
"Women’s rights organisations across the world are chronically underfunded. It is what might be termed a massive, global market failure. While calls and targets to increase women’s rights, participation and equality resound, the global community - from multilateral agencies to governments and corporations - are neither increasing funding nor effectively allocating resources and funding to the organisations who are actually doing the work on the ground." Read blog.

Time to Close the Circle: Development Needs Justice

Open Society Foundation Voices: James Goldston, 23 September 2014
“For all that they have achieved, the MDGs left a gaping hole: they failed to mention justice and the rule of law. As recent experience in countries like Brazil, Tunisia and Turkey has shown, rising incomes—though important—don’t forestall popular discontent with corrupt or ineffective government. Conflict-affected states, where the rule of law is weak, account for disproportionately high percentages of the world’s infant deaths and poor and uneducated populations. Even in advanced economies, where inequality is soaring, those denied access to justice suffer discrimination in education and other public services. In short, “governance free” targets are insufficient. Read blog.

If society doesn’t treat women as equal – they won’t be

DFID blog: Paul Healey, Head of Profession Social Development, 19 September 2014
We tend to think of inequality in terms of poverty, access to health care and schooling and such things. These are all important but are often the result of women simply having less power and influence – often so little as to not even be able to live without fear of violence in the home. Read blog.

UN Week — Style Over Substance

Author: Denise Dunning PhD, 1 October 2014
‘Fashion week’ just ended for the global development community, when thousands of international leaders convened in New York for the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Presidents, ministers, donors, UN leaders, and CEOs celebrated the newest designs in global development: stylish poverty reduction plans, glamorous partnerships to end world hunger, and beautiful spokespeople for the latest hot issues like climate change and child trafficking. Read blog.

Activists amplify call to action from World’s girls

ICRW: Erin Kelly, 25 September, 2014
Recognizing we have an unprecedented opportunity to improve the lives of girls from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Let Girls Lead, the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, and Advocates for Youth joined together on Monday, September 22, the first day of United Nations General Assembly meetings, to call on world leaders, donors, and the global community to ensure that adolescent girls—and their needs—are central to efforts to end poverty. Read blog.

New Delhi launched all-female anti-pervert police squad

Vocativ: Elizabeth Kulze, 1 October 2014
There are few things perverts love more than a metro car crowded with female straphangers. And nowhere is this more relevant than in Delhi, India’s capital city and the site of the notorious gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in 2012. According to past surveys, 80 percent of Delhi women report being harassed on public transport, while 90 percent feel that the system is unsafe. Read blog.

Acid Crimes: A Growing Crisis in Pakistan

Asia Foundation News: Ameena Ilahi, 1 October 2014
Acid crimes have long been recognized as one of the most horrendous manifestations of gender-based violence, directed largely at women, who account for an overwhelming 80 percent of all cases globally. In a country like Pakistan, where conservative ideals and deeply rooted patriarchal structures have shaped its psyche and social fabric, acid crimes continue to have a predominantly female face. Read blog.

A Glimmer of Hope: Women Leading Change in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry

Asia Foundation Notes from the Field: Sanchita Saxena, 24 September, 2014
While changes taking place in the industry are slow and incremental, these changes have been initiated and sustained by labor groups, many of them led by women. Garment federations in Bangladesh, made up of not only registered unions, but also women’s organizations, NGOs, and development organizations, have women workers not only as members, but in leadership roles. Read blog.


The Challenge of Scaling Digitally

Stanford Social Innovation Review blog: Maria A. May 18 April 2014
“Like many community-based organizations in Bangladesh, BRAC is deeply skeptical about emerging technologies: They seem to lack the critical human dimension of grassroots interaction that has proven instrumental for decades. If we move to dispersing loans and stipends via mobile money, will staff and clients still have the same quality of rapport that weekly home visits foster? Could data-driven decisions replace field smarts? At our second-annual Frugal Innovation Forum last month in Savar, Bangladesh, we tackled this issue head on…” Read article.

The data revolution is coming and it will unlock the corridors of power Global Development blog: Claire Melamed, 1 October 2014
A high level group has been appointed by the UN Secretary General to come up with ideas for how to bring together the old and the new worlds of data – the government statisticians with the Silicon Valley developers; the citizen movements mapping their unmapped cities with the custodians of global numbers in UN agencies. These data revolutionaries met for the first time in New York last week and their aim is to find ways to increase the quantity, quality & usability of data and put it to work to improve lives. Read article.

How SMS Text Messages Improve the Reading Outcomes in Papua New Guinea

ISIF Asia, 29 April 2014
The aim of this research project was to determine if daily mobile phone text message stories and lesson plans would improve children’s reading in Papua New Guinea (PNG) elementary schools. The research was a controlled trial in which half of the teachers received text messages for twenty weeks and half did not. Read article.

Research Publications

Making Rights Real: The Challenge of Implementing Human Rights Decisions

Open Society Foundations, Justice initiative, 12 June 2013 “What good is international law if states don’t follow it? Should we care about international courts if governments don’t do what they say? One often hears such questions when it comes to human rights, notoriously the most difficult body of law to enforce. As courts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to UN treaty bodies, to the ICC struggle to ensure that states comply with a key rule of law principle—that their decisions be respected and followed—these questions are more urgent now than ever.” Read report.

Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity

World Bank, Published 14 May 2014
Some 65% of women with primary education or less globally are married as children, lack control over household resources, and condone wife-beating, compared with 5% of women who finish high school, so finds Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity. The report distills vast data and hundreds of studies to shed new light on constraints facing women and girls worldwide, from epidemic levels of gender-based violence to biased laws and norms that prevent them from owning property, working, and making decisions about their own lives. Read report.

Mapping Digital Media: Global Findings

Open Society Foundations, September 2014
Is a world where there are almost as many mobile phones as people, more than half the globe can access digital TV signals, and almost 3 billion people are online a better place for journalism? The Global Findings of the Mapping Digital Media project assess these and other forces affecting digital media and independent journalism worldwide. Researched and written by a team of local experts, the 56 country reports, from which these Global Findings are drawn, examine the communication and media environments in 15 of the world’s 20 most populous countries, covering more than 4.5 billion of the world’s population, and in 16 of the world’s 20 largest economies. Read report.


Building Networks and Movements for Social Change

Stanford Social Innovation Review, 4 September 2014
"In 2010, the San Francisco-based Levi Strauss Foundation launched a program called Pioneers in Justice, offering support to a cohort of Bay Area Gen X leaders who had recently become executive directors of legacy social justice organisations. Over the past few years, the program has helped these nonprofits build social media skills, transform their ageing organisations, and mobilise larger networks and movements to drive greater social change." Read commentary.


Abortion rights around the world – interactive

The Guardian online
"Continent-wide summaries and country-by-country breakdowns of abortion rights, including where the procedure is permitted and for what reasons - to save a woman’s life, to preserve her health, after rape or incest, for economic or social reasons or on request. Plus, discover the 6 countries that do not permit abortion under any circumstances." Use tool.

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