Sunday, July 31, 2011

11 Momentous Female Firsts in Academia

An email received by Wave to post this important article chronicling women's achievements in academia ( We hope our readers will comment about Indian women's achievements in academia as well!

I’m a writer for and we just published an article “11 Momentous Female Firsts in Academia” I think you’d like, since your blog often covers the same subject matter. Feel free to share the article with your readers if you have a place for it in upcoming post schedule.
Jasmine Hall

In Kenya, gov't pays for schoolgirls sanitary pads to dissuade absenteeism, can't we do this in India?

Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting at Work
By Miriam Gathigah

NAIROBI, Jul 25, 2011 (IPS) - For the first time ever, the finance minister has allocated almost four million dollars from the current national budget to provide free sanitary pads to schoolgirls.

This comes after persistent pressure from women parliamentarians who took the issue of girls’ absenteeism from school, due to lack of sanitary pads, to parliament. It was a campaign that left their male counterparts speechless, for such matters are rarely spoken about in public, let alone in parliament, in Kenya’s conservative society.

In their persistent lobbying, the women parliamentarians brought to the fore a problem that could have continued to hinder the education of young girls. Thirteen-year-old Dorothy Akinyi, a standard seven pupil from Kibera, which is arguably the largest slum in Africa, stays at home every time she menstruates.

"Without sanitary pads life at school is difficult. We are subjected to very embarrassing and humiliating incidences, especially from the boys. Tying a pullover around your waist to hide the soiled patch behind your uniform in case the tissue leaks is a dead giveaway. We choose to stay at home," explains Akinyi. But the situation is bound to change for Akinyi and other girls like her. But only if the money allocated for the sanitary wear is spent efficiently.

"This is gender responsive budgeting at work. Being sensitive to the distinctive needs of men and women, while allocating and spending public funds," explains Jacinta Nyachae, executive director of Kenya Aids Law Project and an advocate of human rights.

Her comments come just as Rwanda prepares to host a global high level meeting on increasing accountability and developing effectiveness through gender responsive budgeting in Kigali from 26 to 28 Jul. The meeting is held in conjunction with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the European Union.

But girls are not the only ones to have benefitted from a gender sensitive strategy. In a move that has seen women break socio-political economic barriers, the planning and budgeting for the establishment of the ministry of gender and children affairs remains government’s strongest show of its commitment to address gender inequality.

"But gender planning and budgeting is not enough, the rampant corruption across various government ministries is a clear indication that there’s need for tracking and monitoring how these funds are used," explains a source from the G-10 alliance, which is a coalition of women organisations fighting for women’s rights.

The source adds: "The Women Enterprise Fund suffered allegations (that) needy women (could not) accessing the fund. The same can be said of education bursaries and money channelled through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), various audits into the CDF kitty have revealed massive corruption."

Corruption is an issue that Kenya is struggling to deal with. At the moment, 31 civil society activists have been remanded in a Nairobi cell after being arrested in Jul. 18 during a long-drawn vigilance to have the minister of education resign over massive corruption allegations.

Although the issue of transparency and accountability is yet to be mainstreamed alongside the gender mainstreaming process, various attempts to lift the plight of women have been partially successful. While the Women Enterprise Fund has been accused of not reaching all the women who need the money, it has made a difference to the lives of many.

"The establishment of the Women Enterprise Fund to enable women to access macro finance has seen women in the informal sector become economically empowered," explains Dr. Wilfred Subbo, a university lecturer in Gender and Development in Nairobi.

"This is important because poverty is gendered. Men and women experience poverty in very different ways. Research has shown that there are more women living in poverty than men because more women are illiterate, thus limiting their chances of exploiting employment opportunities that can afford them (a) decent living," he adds.

He says structures were needed to audit the money as it was being spent, and not after, in order to immediately deal with any financial inconsistencies.

"How do we know for sure that the four million dollars currently allocated to the Women Enterprise Fund will reach the economically marginalised women it is intended for?" he asks.

The national budget is an opportunity for the government to show its commitment in raising and spending resources.

"Gender budgeting response doesn’t mean that the treasury develops two budgets; one for women, and the other for men. It means that the government shows an awareness of the fact that some problems are (particular) to men and others to women," Nyachae expounds.

She further adds: "Women face serious reproductive health problems that can incapacitate them. The budget should reflect these challenges as it did by allocating some funds to deal with these challenges."

She was referring to the current national budget allocation of about two million dollars for the improvement of testing for and treating cervical and breast cancer. It was also the first time the ministry of finance had made such an allocation.

"Cervical cancer continues to be a leading killer disease even though it is the most preventable and treatable form of cancer. Statistics from Kenyatta Hospital show that at least 2,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed every year with a similar number dying from the disease annually," explains Dr. Brigid Monda, a gynaecologist and lecturer in Nairobi.

Gender responsive budgeting is a reflection of gender sensitive planning and practical solutions towards ensuring that gender inequalities in all facets of society are addressed.

"Integration of all into the mainstream development process is in itself a realisation of the objective to achieve sustainable development. It is also a means to bridge the development gap between men and women. It can also create transparency and accountability because women have been found to be efficient and effective implementers of public funds and resources," Subbo says. (END)


Statement of Indian Women's Rights Activists in Solidarity with Women in Sri Lanka

It's been more than two years since the supposed end of the war in Sri Lanka. The issues of concern are many, particularly with regard to the period after the end of direct combat. The Sri Lankan government has been abysmal in acknowledging the range of human rights violations that have been committed by the armed forces, which has been documented without a kernel of doubt by the United nations report ( as well as the Channel 4 documentary ( This documentation has been made in spite of circumstances where any neutral observation of the last stages of the conflict was made impossible by the Sri Lankan government and its army.

Among the myriad communities who have been affected by the prolonged conflict in terms of destruction of property, lives and support structures through death, injury and displacement, are women from different communities. This includes women from both Tamil and Muslim communities in the northern and eastern provinces. Most of the concerns are shared, along with particularities to specific communities such as the Muslims for instance.

In the event of the Sri Lankan Government appearing before the CEDAW committee, we would like to bring to your notice the extensive report put together by the Coalition of Muslims and Tamils for Peace and Co-existence ( We stand by all aspects of the report put together by activists, yet again, in severely adverse circumstances. Through rigorous, grassroot-level work in a sustained manner, this report has been put together in a situation where the government is actively impeding any work by humanitarian agencies and civil society organisations across the country, especially in the north and east.

We address you from our vantage point as women's rights organisations and feminists based in India who are deeply concerned about the role of the Indian and Sri Lankan governments in Sri Lanka today, especially concerns affecting women who often bear the brunt of oppressions caused due to war meted out to them by state and non-state actors. We would like to completely support our colleagues in Sri Lanka who are often silenced by real dangers of harm to their person on a daily basis and activists working on Sri Lanka based elsewhere. We strongly urge both governments to act upon the following demands:

1. The right to return and speedy, sustained and holistic resettlement of women and their families in their chosen places of return. This includes simplifying processes of registration and resettlement and setting up transparent and democratic systems for the same. This should include, among other things, a realistic compensation package to rebuild lives that have been shattered repeatedly for three decades if not more. Specifically, we demand that this should apply to all plans, including the large-scale housing project that is being done by the Indian Government through contracts with private companies.

2. Dismantling of high security zones which have caused a serious loss of land to many families, such as in Sampur in Trincomalee district, Mullikulam and Silawathurai in Mannar district.

3. Canceling of industrial projects in various parts of the country, including those in high security zones. Here we would like to particularly stress on industrial projects such as the Sampur power plant that is being set up in collaboration with NTPCL and the Indian Government. We strongly urge the Indian government to desist from actively participating in industrial and developmental projects in Sri Lanka wherever they result in the permanent loss of the land and livelihoods or ethnic cleansing of war-displaced minorities.

4. The increased militarization in the country as a whole, particularly in the north and east, needs to be brought to an end immediately. This includes, but is not restricted to, ending the immense power accorded to the state under emergency regulations, the unchecked power of the Presidential Task Force, and the unchecked power and impunity given under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It is imperative that military and ex-military personnel be immediately removed from positions of governance and be replaced by civilian administrators and a civil police force, as should be the case during peacetime.

5. The specific concerns of women such as problems of title on land in women-headed households and among widows and so on be taken cognizance of and addressed at the earliest. Further, cases of sexual assault and rape meted out by security forces and other state actors need to be taken cognizance of. The accused must be tried in the locality where the rapes and assaults took place rather than in a distant Sinhala-speaking locality, the perpetrators must be punished and the victims compensated.

6. Government to take active measures to find missing persons, and either prosecute or release prisoners who have been kept in prison without any prosecution for many years.

7. The trafficking of women and girls, not just for forced sex work but also for work in Free Trade Zones, often in faraway places without being allowed any contact with their families or other community members, is a horrifying index of the complete vulnerability and helplessness with which they survive, due to ongoing displacement, militarization and draconian legislation. We are aware of an overwhelming practice of sexual force, abuse and deception of minors and women from the northern and eastern regions to push them into violent situations of work. We demand an immediate rigorous enquiry and halt to this heinous practice, adequate compensation to the victims, and punishment of all those who have engaged in trafficking them. Situations of coercive work due to social, economic and conflict-related reasons are complex and it is incumbent upon the state to halt any practice of taking advantage of these already vulnerable communities. We demand that the state provides adequate mechanisms and resources to rebuild their work and lives in ways they choose.

We no longer believe the empty promises of the Sri Lankan Government to bring peace and reconciliation, and strongly demand immediate action that will convince us of the seriousness of this intent. We strongly condemn the Indian Government's silence and active participation in many of the human rights violations meted out by the Sri Lankan Government. We demand that the Indian government take positive steps for justice and the basic welfare of all those people adversely affected by the prolonged conflict in Sri Lanka. As women's groups and feminists in India, we will no longer silently stand witness to such violations and will continue to raise a voice against our own government as well as the Sri Lankan government and will stand in eternal solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Sri Lanka.


Dr. Uma Chakravarty, Historian, New Delhi.
Dr. Ilina Sen, Professor, Wardha, Maharashtra
Dr. Rohini Hensman, Mumbai
Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development, Delhi
Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
Saheli, Delhi
Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action, Mumbai
Jeny Dolly, Chennai
Karuna, Chennai
Kabi Sherman, Mumbai
Pramada Menon, Delhi
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Advocate, Mumbai
Shipra Nigam, Delhi
Amrita Shodan, London
Saumya Uma, Women's Research and Action Group, Mumbai
Vimochana, Bangalore
Dr. Mary. E. JOhn, Director, Centre for Women's Development Studies, Delhi.
Meena Saraswati Seshu, Sangli, Maharashtra
Kaveri Indira, Bangalore.
Programme on Women's Economic Social and Cultural Rights, PWESCR, New Delhi.
Lakshmi Lingam, Professor, Women's Studies, Mumbai.
Sonal Shukla, Mumbai
Dr. Leena Ganesh, Mumbai
Laxmi Murthy, Consulting Editor, Himal Southasian
Jayashree Subramanian, Eklavya, Madhya Pradesh
Ponni Arasu, Researcher, Chennai.
Sapna Shahani, Founder - Wave India, Goa.

The Hindu Succession Act needs to be amended to be more fair to deceased women's relatives

Let us amend the law, it is only fair to women
Dr. Justice AR. Lakshmanan

Section 15 should be amended, so that in case a female Hindu dies intestate leaving her self-acquired property with no heirs, as mentioned in Clause ‘a' of Section 15, the property should devolve on her husband's heirs and also on the heirs of her paternal side.

This refers to the article “A law that thwarts justice” (The Hindu, June 27, 2011) by Ms. Prabha Sridevan, former Judge of the Madras High Court. I have analysed it and am in agreement with the views expressed by the author for my own reasons.

As Chairman of the Law Commission of India, I took up for consideration the necessity of amending Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 which deals with the general rules of Succession in the case of female Hindus dying intestate — not having made a will before one dies — in view of the vast societal changes that have taken place.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is part of the Hindu Code which includes the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956.

The Hindu Succession Act made a revolutionary change in the law for female Hindus. For the first time, a Hindu female could become an absolute owner of property. She could inherit equally with a male counterpart and a widow was also given importance regarding the succession of her husband's property as also to her father's property. The Act was amended in 2005 to provide that the daughter of a co-parcener in a joint Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara Law shall, by birth, become a co-parcener in her own right in the same manner as the son, having the same rights and liabilities in respect of the said property as that of a son.

Scheme of succession

Section 15 of the Hindu Succession Act propounds a definite and uniform scheme of succession to the property of a female Hindu who dies intestate. There are also rules set out in Section 16 of the Act which provides for the order of succession and the manner of distribution among heirs of a female Hindu.

Source of acquisition

The group of heirs of the female Hindu dying intestate is described in 5 categories as ‘a' to ‘e' of Section 15 (1) which is illustrated as under:

In a case where she dies intestate leaving property, her property will firstly devolve upon her sons and daughters so also the husband. The children of any pre-deceased son or daughter are also included in the first category of heirs of a female Hindu;

In case she does not have any heir as referred to above, i.e., sons, daughters and husband including children of any pre-deceased sons or daughters (as per clause ‘a') living at the time of her death, then the next heirs will be the heirs of the husband;

Thirdly, if there are no heirs of the husband, the property would devolve upon the mother and father;

Fourthly, if the mother and father are not alive, then the property would devolve upon the heirs of the father which means brother, sister, etc;

The last and the fifth category is the heirs of the mother upon whom the property of the female Hindu will devolve if in the absence of any heirs falling in the four preceding categories.

This is the general rule of succession, but the Section also provides for two exceptions which are stated in Sub-Section (2). Accordingly, if a female dies without leaving any issue, then the property inherited by her from her father or mother will not devolve according to the rules laid down in the five entries as stated earlier, but upon the heirs of father. And secondly, in respect of the property inherited by her from her husband or father-in-law, the same will devolve not according to the general rule, but upon the heirs of the husband.

The Hindu Succession Bill, 1954, as originally introduced in the Rajya Sabha, did not contain any clause corresponding to Sub-Section (2) of Section 15. It came to be incorporated on the recommendations of the Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament. The intent of the legislature is clear that the property, if it originally belonged to the parents of the deceased female, should go to the legal heirs of the father.

So also under Clause (b) of Sub Section (2) of Section 15, the property inherited by a female Hindu from her husband or her father-in-law shall also under similar circumstances, devolve upon the heirs of the husband. It is the source from which the property was inherited by the female, which is more important for the purpose of devolution of her property. The fact that a female Hindu originally had a limited right and after acquiring the full right, would not, in any way, alter the rules of succession given in Sub Section (2) of Section 15.

The 174{+t}{+h} Report of the Law Commission also examined the subject of “Property Rights of Women; Proposed Reforms under the Hindu Law” and had noted that the rules of devolution of the property of a female who dies intestate reflects patriarchal assumptions.

The basis of inheritance of a female Hindu's property who dies intestate would thus be the SOURCE from which such female Hindu came into the possession of the property and the manner of inheritance which would decide the manner of devolution.

The term ‘property' though not specified in this Section means property of the deceased heritable under the Act. It includes both movable and immovable property owned and acquired by her by inheritance or by devise or at a partition or by gift or by her skill or exertion or by purchase or prescription. This Section does not differentiate between the property inherited and self-acquired property of a Hindu female; it only prescribes that if a property is inherited from husband or father-in-law, it would go to her husband's heirs and if the property is inherited from her father or mother, in that case, the property would not go to her husband's, but to the heirs of the father and mother.

This is very aptly illustrated by the following illustration:- A married Hindu female dies intestate leaving the property which is her self-acquired property. She has no issue and was a widow at the time of her death. As per the present position of law, her property would devolve in the second category, i.e., to her husband's heirs. Thus, in a case where the mother of her husband is alive, her whole property would devolve on her mother-in-law. If the mother-in-law is also not alive, it would devolve as per the rules laid down in case of a male Hindu dying intestate, i.e., if the father of her deceased husband is alive, the next to inherit will be her father-in-law and if in the third category, the father-in-law is also not alive, then her property would devolve on the brother and sister of the deceased husband.

Thus, in the case of the self-acquired property of a Hindu married female dying intestate, her property devolves on her husband's heirs. Her paternal and material heirs do not inherit, but the distant relations of her husband would inherit as per the husband's heirs.

The case for change

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was enacted when, in the structure of the Hindu society, women hardly went out to work. There has been a vast change in the social scene in the past few years and women have made progress in all spheres. The consequence is that women are owning property earned by their own skill. These situations were not foreseen by the legislators.

If that is so, what is the impact of these socio-economic changes? Do they warrant any change in the law of succession in relation to the property of a female Hindu dying intestate? What is the fallout of a gradual disintegration of the joint Hindu family and the emergence of nuclear families as a unit of society over the years in the context of law of succession governing the issue at hand?

A fundamental tenet of the law of succession has been the proximity of relation in which a Successor stands to the person who originally held the property that may be the subject matter of inheritance in a given case. The fact that women have been given the right to inherit from her parental side also assumes relevance in the present context. These developments and changes lead to competing arguments and approaches that may be taken in re-defining the law of succession in case of a female Hindu dying intestate. Thus, three alternative options emerge for consideration, namely:

1. Self-acquired property of a female Hindu dying intestate should devolve first upon her heirs from the natal family.

2. Self-acquired property of a female Hindu dying intestate should devolve equally upon the heirs of her husband and the heirs from her natal family.

3. Self-acquired property of a female Hindu dying intestate should devolve first upon the heirs of her husband.

The third option may be taken first as this can be disposed of summarily. The option essentially means continuation of the status quo. We have seen earlier that socio-economic changes warrant corresponding changes in the law as well.

We may now take up the first option. The protagonists of this approach contend that the general order of succession reflects a gender bias. It will be relevant to refer to a passage in Pradhan Saxena – Succession Laws and Gender Justice in Re-defining Family Law in India by Archana Parasar, Amit Dhanda, New Delhi.

The supporters of the said approach contend that the joint family system has slowly eroded and that an increasing number of nuclear and semi-nuclear families have replaced the traditional Mitakshara Hindu joint family system. Women are also becoming more economically independent. With the growth of the nuclear family, a married woman's dependency on her natal family and continued closeness to it is much greater today even if it was not so earlier. Most married women would prefer that their parents should be the more preferred heirs to inherit her property if her children and husband are not alive. She would also prefer that her sister and brother have a better right to inherit her property than her brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Accordingly, it is urged that Section 15(1) should be modified to ensure that the general order of succession does not place a woman's husband's heirs above those who belong to her natal family like her father and mother and thereafter, her brother and sister. It is contended that when a man dies intestate, his wife's relatives do not even figure in the order of succession despite the manner in which he may have acquired the property. In view of this, parity is sought in the case of a female by applying the same rules as applicable to male's property.

Accordingly, it is suggested that it would be better to amend Section 15(1) to specify the general rules of devolution, which will apply not only to self-acquired property by a woman, but also to other property acquired through her family, gifts, etc. The only proviso which would then be needed would be the property that a woman acquires from her husband's family.

The second option in this regard is that the property of a female Hindu dying intestate devolves upon the heirs depending upon the source from which, the said property was acquired by her, the self-acquired property of such female be simultaneously inherited by her heirs both from the husband family as well as the natal family in equal share. The fact remains that in spite of her closeness to and dependence on her natal family, her relations with her husband's family are not separated and uprooted in entirety. She continues to be a member of her husband's family, getting support from it in all walks of life. One cannot afford to ignore the ground realities in this regard. The social ethos and the mores of our patriarchal system demand that the existing system should not be totally reversed as claimed by the protagonists of the first option. Lest, there may be social and family tensions which may not be in the overall interest of the family as a whole and as such, ought to be avoided. In any case, it is open to the female Hindu to bequeath her property the way she likes by executing a Will.


In the present scenario, when amendments are made to the effect that women have been entitled to inherit property from her parental side as well as from husband's side, it will be quite justified if equal right is given to her parental heirs along with her husband's heirs to inherit her property.

It is, therefore, proposed that in order to bring about a balance, Section 15 should be amended, so that in case a female Hindu dies intestate leaving her self-acquired property with no heirs, as mentioned in Clause ‘a' of Section 15, the property should devolve on her husband's heirs and also on the heirs of her paternal side.

If this amendment is brought about, the effect will be as under:

A married Hindu female dies intestate leaving self-acquired property at the time of her death, the only surviving relatives being her mother-in-law (L) and her mother (M).


As per the present law, her property would devolve entirely on ‘L' and ‘M' will not get anything from her property.

Post Amendment

By the proposed amendment, her mother-in-law and mother should equally inherit her self-acquired property.

A married Hindu female dies intestate leaving self-acquired property and she has no heirs as per Clause ‘a' of the Schedule, the only surviving relatives are her husband's brother and sister (BL & SL) and her own brother and sister (B&S).


As per the present law, her property would normally devolve upon ‘BL' and ‘SL'. ‘B' and ‘S' do not inherit anything from her in this property.

Post Amendment

By the proposed amendment, her own brother and sister should equally inherit along with her brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

The above amendment, suggested by me as Chairman of 18{+t}{+h} Law Commission as early as in June 2008 in the public interest, is still pending with the Union Law Ministry.

(The writer is a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Law Commission of India. His email id is jusarlakshmanan@


Friday, July 15, 2011

Great development - Lady of the house now head of the family in India

On Monday, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, cleared a version of the food security Bill that accepts several provisions recommended by the Sonia Gandhi headed-National Advisory Council (NAC) and rejects some others. Predictably, public attention has concentrated on the latter.

Unnoticed among the NAC recommendations that have been accepted by the government, therefore, lies a radical new proposal that has the potential to re-arrange the power play in the family and in society: the ration card will be issued in the name of the adult woman in the household.

Under the chapter titled “Women’s Empowerment” in the Bill passed by the EGoM, that is slimmer and more cryptic than the NAC document, the eldest woman in the family, not less than 18 years of age, shall be deemed to be the head of the household for the purpose of distribution of ration cards in every household, ‘priority’ as well as ‘general’, under the Bill. Additionally, according to the Bill, in case of a household that does not have an adult woman, but has female members below the age of 18, such members will become the head of the household on turning 18. Only in case of a household with no female member, will an adult male be treated as head of the family.

According to NAC sources, there was complete unanimity among members and strong support from Sonia Gandhi for the proposal to bring the woman centrestage because, after all, the woman is “the natural custodian of food and nutritional security in the family”.

While there are other “pro-women” features in the Bill — such as preference in licensing and management of fair price ration shops to women and women’s collectives and nutritional support to pregnant and lactating mothers as a legal entitlement — the proposed legal recognition to the woman as head of the household is likely to be the most spectacular and unprecedented step of all. Even in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, seen to be the sterling achievement of the NAC in its first avtar, in as much as the law provided a statutory guarantee of wage employment to vulnerable groups within a rights-based framework, the woman was seen essentially as a member of the male-dominated family.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Send the UN your input about harmful cultural practices such as genital mutilation, early and forced marriage by Aug 31

Via Gender, Livelihoods and Resources Forum (GLRF), is a regional forum based in Jharkhand (India). Advocates for Tribal Women's Land based Resource Rights (including training and services) from all stakeholders - Community, Private and State, for creating a gender-just environment.


Joint CEDAW-CRC General Recommendation / Comment on Harmful Practices

Re: Call for papers on harmful practices


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child both contain legally binding obligations in relation to the elimination of harmful practices affecting girls under eighteen that are based on gender stereotypes and prejudices grounded in patriarchy. By virtue of this shared mandate, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) have decided to elaborate a joint General Recommendation/Comment on harmful practices. General comments of the CRC and general recommendations of CEDAW are elaborated by these Committees with a view to clarifying the normative contents of specific rights provided for under the treaties that they respectively monitor or particular themes of relevance to the treaties, as well as offer guidance about practical measures of implementation.

The present General Recommendation/Comment will also aim at clarifying the obligations of States Parties to CRC with respect to harmful practices that affect the enjoyment of the rights of boys in a discriminatory manner, and of States Parties to CEDAW with respect to the elimination of harmful practices (as defined in the General Recommendation/Comment) that affect the rights of adult women, either directly or as effects of practices to which they were subjected when they were children.

The harmful practices covered by this General Recommendation/Comment include traditional or emerging practices, prescribed by social norms, which are often embedded in culture. As female genital mutilation, early marriage and forced marriage are practices that often come before the Committees, are well studied and have been gradually reduced with certain legislative and programmatic approaches, this General Recommendation/General Comment will use them as key illustrative examples. However, the General Recommendation/Comment will provide a conceptual framework and recommendations for State Party action that are applicable to all harmful practices that fall within its scope.

The CEDAW and CRC Committees welcome inputs on harmful practices affecting girls under eighteen years of age, in English, French or Spanish, particularly from interested organizations and individuals who have extensive experience or information on harmful practices affecting girls under eighteen. The submissions should be as concise as possible and sent to the following email address in Word format by no later than 31 August 2011: While the Committees generally seek inputs of no more than 12 pages, lengthy submissions will also be accepted but should include a table of contents and an executive summary. All submissions should be accompanied by a brief presentation (1 paragraph is sufficient) on the experience of the submitting individual or organization in the subject matter. The submissions received will subsequently be posted on a webpage dedicated to the joint General Recommendation/Comment. Please note that the United Nations does not offer remuneration of any kind for inputs into General Comments or Recommendations.

Allow us to express our appreciation in advance for your active support of the work of our Committees..


Silvia Pimentel
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Jean Zermatten
Committee on the Rights of the Child

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Google has an award for Indian women students in engineering!

Keep watching that website if you know someone who'd like to win the cash prize of one lakh...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nice to see an article about the role of the press in addressing increased violence against women!

Opinion » Readers' Editor
July 4, 2011
Arresting crime against women: key role for press
S. Viswanathan

When the Mumbai police finally cracked the daylight murder of
investigative journalist Jyotirmoy Dey and arrested seven persons
contracted by the long-absconding underworld gangster, Chotta Rajan,
thousands of readers were still restless over the delay in discovering
the motive behind the ghastly crime. Many readers of this newspaper,
who expressed solidarity through their mails, attributed the
breakthrough to the relentless pressure from journalists and the
spontaneous support of the public, who were outraged at the brutality
involved. While one reader wrote that the police must go beyond
arresting the alleged assailants and wipe out „the entire crime
syndicate responsible for the murder,‰ another reader expressed the
view that „the dismantling of the underworld is equally important.‰
Yet another feared that „the main killers may never be apprehended‰
and advised the journalists and whistle-blowers to exercise the utmost
vigil, especially when they deal with „the underworld and political

One could only hope that investigation and prosecution reach a speedy
and successful conclusion. Even as this process proceeds, the State
government would do well to honour its own word and put in place
effective protection for journalists against their adversaries.

Rising trend in crime against women

Meanwhile, several incidents of violence targeting mostly the deprived
sections of the people in different parts of the country are
disturbing and disheartening. Growing violence against women is a
cause for great concern.

Five recent incidents of violence have been reported in Uttar Pradesh
within a couple of days in mid-June. In Kanauj district, a minor Dalit
girl was assaulted by two young men in an attempt to molest her; when
she resisted, the girl was stabbed repeatedly in her eyes. Doctors
said later that the cornea of her left eye had been totally damaged
and the chances of restoring her vision were ruled out. In another
incident in Basti district, a Dalit girl was reportedly raped. A day
later, a 35-year-old woman with two children was raped, allegedly by a
gang of three in Etah district. The same day, in Gonda district, the
body of a Dalit girl was found in a field. Three persons were said to
be involved in the crime and the police did not rule out rape. In
another incident in Firozabad district, a girl aged 15 was reportedly

In Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, a minor girl was reported to
have been sexually assaulted and burnt on June 29 by a pastor. The
girl died of severe burns at a hospital. The pastor was taken into

In Tamil Nadu, P. Krishnaveni, president of the Thalayuthu village
panchayat in Tirunelveli district, was brutally attacked by a gang a
few weeks ago. Admitted in hospital with nine stab injuries, the Dalit
panchayat chief is recovering. A fact-finding body that visited the
victim and the village under her control said that the panchayat
president faced discrimination from the day she took charge nearly
five years ago. She was not even allowed to sit in the chair allotted
to her in her office. Repeated complaints to authorities from the
panchayat chief, the fact-finding body said, were of no avail.

Poor conviction rate

These crimes against women happened in three States and were reported
by the news media in a short span of about two weeks. It is not as
though most other States are free from such violence against women.
About two lakh cases of violence have been registered by the National
Crime Records Bureau, according to its recent data.

It is well known that discriminatory and oppressive social attitudes,
not to mention plain greed and corruption, infect the attitude of the
authorities, and especially the police, in many cases when serious
complaints go uninvestigated or are poorly investigated. Only when
investigation is free, fair, and speedy and only when the conviction
rate improves in cases where women are the targets of various forms of
violence can crimes against women be brought down. The press has a key
role to play in working against any cover-up in this area.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Useful - please circulate - Anyone can email UN Women about human rights violations against women anywhere!

Confidential communications procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women:
This year's deadline for submissions under the communications procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women is 1 August 2011 and the e-mail address for submissions is now the following:

More info at: