Gender & Human Rights

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How Men Can Pay a High Price for Taking a Part-Time Job

 

For unemployed men, taking a part-time job may be nearly as damaging to their future career prospects as simply staying home.

David Pedulla, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, sent out thousands of fake resumes to test how gender and work history affected callbacks by potential employers looking to interview the simulated job candidates. He found that women in part-time jobs were more than twice as likely to get a callback as were men in part-time jobs. In fact, part-time male workers fared only a little better than unemployed men.

When it comes to part-time work, there appear to be “penalties for men that are as strong as the penalty for unemployment, while for women we see no penalty,” Mr. Pedulla said.

An estimated one in six U.S. workers lost a job during the recession years of 2007, 2008 and 2009, and unemployment remained stubbornly high even years into the economic recovery. A growing body of research indicates that the financial and psychological damage from a period of joblessness can be significant and long-lasting, especially for people who remain out of work for an extended period.

The health of the U.S. labor market has improved in recent years. But there are more variables involved in finding a job than just the unemployment rate.

Mr. Pedulla’s research, published this spring in the American Sociological Review, involved a field experiment: 2,420 applications submitted to 1,210 job openings in five U.S. cities between November 2012 and June 2013. The resumes described male and female job candidates who had graduated from large public universities in the Midwest and had similar work histories until 12 months earlier. At that point, they were assigned one of five different experiences: a full-time job, a part-time job, a job through a temporary employment agency, a job below their skill level (a sales associate at a retail store), or unemployment.

Among both men and women with a full-time job, 10.4% got a callback from a potential employer. Workers in the low-skill job saw much lower callback rates: 4.7% for men and 5.2% for women.

“For both male and female workers, taking a job below their skill level really results in severe penalties in terms of the job opportunities that are available to them,” Mr. Pedulla said.

Temp work, on the other hand, generated a 7.1% callback rate for men –the highest in the study outside of a full-time job — and an 8.3% callback rate for women.

Employers didn’t seem to see a part-time job as a barrier to hiring women, with a callback rate of 10.9%. But for men, a part-time job translated into a 4.8% callback rate – little better than the 4.2% callback rate for unemployed men. (Unemployed women had a callback rate of 7.5%.)

Why the gender gap? Mr. Pedulla said in an interview that it’s difficult to disentangle underlying causes. Based on a separate survey of hiring managers, he said, “it appears that men are penalized for part-time work in part because of employers’ perception of their commitment.” A part-time job, on the other hand, didn’t seem to raise questions about the commitment of female job applicants.

“While there are certainly good reasons that people take any job they can find — specifically in cases where economic hardship is imminent—the experimental data presented here raise questions about whether all types of jobs actually open up new labor market opportunities for workers,” Mr. Pedulla wrote in the paper. “Indeed, certain types of employment positions appear to send negative signals to future employers about workers’ competence and commitment, penalizing them in similar ways to remaining unemployed.”

Some of his findings echoed research released last year by Princeton University economist Henry Farber, Arizona State University economist Dan Silverman and University of California, Los Angeles economist Till von Wachter. The economists, like Mr. Pedulla, sent out resumes to track callbacks from potential employers, though their fake job candidates were all unemployed women. They, too, found that taking a “low-level interim job,” such as retail cashier, greatly reduced the likelihood of a callback for a job interview.

“It appears that an unemployed worker is better off remaining unemployed and searching for work rather than being employed in a low-level job while searching,” the researchers wrote in their working paper. “Alternatively, if an applicant has taken a low-level interim job, they may be better off not listing this job on their resume.”

Messrs. Farber, Silverman and von Wachter also found that workers age 50 and older were less likely to receive a callback than younger applicants. They did find no relationship between callbacks and how long someone was unemployed, a finding that they noted was at odds with other recent research that has found indications of discrimination against the long-term unemployed.

 

By            :               Ben Leubsdorf

Date         :               May 31, 2016

Source     :               The Wall Street Journal

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/05/31/how-men-can-pay-a-high-price-for-taking-a-part-time-job/

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Professor Ruth Rubio Marin has a vision of a gender equal Europe

 

Europe today is struggling with the social implications brought on by the protracted economic crisis. It is also dealing with a rising tide of intolerance and discrimination that has accompanied the increasing numbers of refugees arriving in Europe. All these challenges could detract attention from Europe´s commitment to gender equality”states Professor Ruth Rubio Marin from the European University Institute.

Professor Rubio Marin gave the keynote speech at this year’s State of the Union conference, with “Women in Europe and the World” as the central theme. Over three days, gender equality was front and centre of discussions, showing that it is still an unresolved and important matter for Europe.

To address the current challenges, Professor Rubio Marin puts forward a new emancipatory framework for Europe, one that brings together gender equality, democracy and social justice.

“This new model for development would challenge gender stereotypes and predefined gender roles. It would also involve the equal representation of women in every site of decision making. It would mean bringing a gender perspective to macro-economic policy and gender budgeting. Work/life balance policies would be seen as good for everyone, not just women”.

She has a very clear vision of the changes needed for this to happen.

“This vision for gender equality would require affordable quality childcare, after school care and care for other dependents, including the elderly and the differently abled persons. It would require flexible working arrangements, such as job-sharing, working from home, flexitime and innovative measures to promote equal sharing of work and care”.

With this scenario, Europe can aspire to close the current gender gaps. As it stands today, the EU’s average score for gender equality as measured by EIGE’s Gender Equality Index is 52.9 out of 100, proving that Europe still has a long way to go before it achieves full gender equality.

 

Date         :               May 31, 2016

Source     :               European Institute For Gender Equality

http://eige.europa.eu/news-and-events/news/professor-ruth-rubio-marin-has-vision-gender-equal-europe

 

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Book Review: Religion, Gender and Citizenship: Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism

 

Authors                 :              Line Nyhagen and B. Halsaa

Date                       :              2016

Publisher              :               Palgrave Macmillan UK

Reviewed by         :                Haje Keli

 

While many books about religion and faith discuss theology or focus on the opinions of those who are viewed as spokespersons for their respective faiths, in Religion, Gender and Citizenship: Women of Faith, Gender Equality and Feminism the authors Line Nyhagen and Beatrice Halsaa have chosen to speak to women who identify as Christian (Catholic, Lutheran and Pentecostal) and Muslim (Sunni and Shi’a). This approach is both necessary and rare for a variety of reasons. The spokespersons representing faiths are most often men, and they tend to rely heavily on written sources that say little about religious peoples’ everyday lives.

In contrast, Religion, Gender and Citizenship brings women, both Muslim and Christian, to the forefront of discussions on faith and citizenship, which is highly necessary in times of heightened xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe. Some might claim that religious women are closed off and retreat into their own communities, but in this book we see that women of faith eagerly engage with the researchers and open up about their daily lives and engagements with religion. Nyhagen and Halsaa perceive the lack of representation for women of faith and seek to tackle this by interviewing 61 women of Muslim and Christian faith from the UK (Leicester), Spain (Madrid) and Norway (Oslo).

This book not only allows women to share their own narratives in their own words, but also helpfully focuses on women’s lived religion through enquiring about their multi-layered identities and how they view citizenship within their contexts (see Chapter Four). Since the book goes ‘to the source’ by speaking to religious women directly, the reader is presented with new meanings of citizenship and of what it means to be a religious citizen in the respective countries. The book complements these empirical findings in Chapters One and Two, which describe the histories of Christianity and Islam in the UK, Spain and Norway in relation to immigration and citizenship.

Throughout the book there is a critique of mainstream feminist writing, as the authors feel this has failed to engage with religious women; they affirm that women of faith need to be included in dialogues about women’s position in society. The book advises against accusing religious women of ‘false consciousness’ (223) and shows that, for the women interviewed, religion also serves as a helpful factor in their lives. In Chapter Three, ‘Religious Identities and Meaning Making’, the authors recount how the participants feel that their faith has given them direction at difficult times and has offered them guidance and lucidity in their busy lives (105).

Chapter Six gives an indication of how much of a gap there can be between religious women and secular women, as only one of the participants identified as a feminist (201). The authors present what they refer to as the dominant discourse among the participants, a discourse of ‘anti-feminism’, as the women characterised feminism to be extreme, excessive and immoderate. The participants feel that feminism is ‘man-hating’ and is driven by the aims of promoting gay rights, abortion, divorce and domination over men (202). This particular chapter could be beneficial for feminist scholars as it is telling of how ‘feminist messages’ can be misinterpreted; perhaps a continued dialogue across secular and religious lines could remedy these misunderstandings. However, while the women did not self-identify as feminist, many supported women’s rights and women’s struggles against inequality (204).

Apart from the critique of current feminist scholarship, the book carries another important thread – the marginalisation and experienced ‘otherness’ of the Muslim participants. The authors note that Muslim women, when interviewed, often felt the need to ‘explain’ Islam and were ready to correct or defend any potential misconceptions (27-28). On the other hand, the Christian women often took for granted that the researchers had pre-existing knowledge of their faith and doctrines, and treated the researchers like insiders. The authors discuss the insider-outsider position as they recognise that the research process is informed by the researchers’ own positionalities. The authors state that all the researchers were from Christian backgrounds and were more familiar with Christian practices rather than Islamic ones. Five of the six researchers were from a white non-migrant background, while the sixth was a black woman from a migrant background. Methodologically, this openness is crucial as it informs readers of how the researchers read the field and how the participants were reading them.

The Muslim women’s experiences of exclusion are juxtaposed with the responses of Christian women, who happen to be predominantly white European. The Christian women do not bring up their ethnicity or nationality as important markers of identity. This is highly interesting and relevant as, like the authors state, it indicates that questions of identity and belonging have not been ‘pushed on’ these women as has occurred with Muslim women of migrant backgrounds (78-79). This theme flows throughout the book as a reminder that citizenship and identity for women is fluid, situational and can be contingent on one’s religion and ethnicity.

It is somewhat disappointing that the book did not utilise an intersectional analysis of the material to a greater extent. It is not sufficient to merely write that one is going to make use of intersectionality as a tool: there has to actually be a thorough analysis using an intersectional lens to view women’s privileges and disadvantages. The authors could have written more about the social categories that lie at the base of intersectional analysis, and discussed at what times certain categories come to the forefront while others are pushed back. Each social category could have been further elucidated to explain the intersections of subjugation and privilege. There could have, for instance, been separate paragraphs about gender, class, social status, ethnicity and language proficiency, and a further analysis of how these different categories intersect and to what degree. There could also have been more engagement with the variances and consistencies between the two groups of women, as the authors tend to discuss the Christian women separately from the Muslim women. Ideally, a more holistic view of all the religious women’s views could have been presented. Indeed, when the book does engage with both Muslim and Christian women’s standpoints and looks at their lives comparatively, it adds interesting nuance to the material.

In summary, Religion, Gender and Citizenship is an important intervention in the topic of religious women and their everyday lives. It does not rely on religious texts or rituals to reach conclusions, but rather takes an honest look at religious woman from three European countries and how they identify with faith, how they utilise it and how they position themselves with regards to feminism and gender equality. The book does an excellent job of demonstrating how women negotiate citizenship, belonging, faith and the issue of how to relate to both women of different faiths and secular women. The book begins by clarifying how women identify themselves, and ends with how religious and non-religious women can find common ground through constructive dialogue, all the while being conscious of the imbalance between the status of Muslim women from migrant backgrounds and Christian women from white non-migrant backgrounds.

 

Haje Keli is a PhD candidate at SOAS, University of London. Her topics of interest are feminist theory, gender theory and religious studies. Her research is on gender-based violence in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a focus on female genital cutting and other forms of violence against women due to familial, social and state involvement.

 

Source    :       LSE Review of Books

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/book-review-religion-gender-and-citizenship-women-of-faith-gender-equality-and-feminism/

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Tinder Has an In-House Sociologist and Her Job Is to Figure Out What You Want

 

Jessica Carbino studies the vexing question of what factors into that left or right swipe 

“Kismet” is the word Jessica Carbino likes to use. She joined Tinder in October 2013, about a year after it launched in Los Angeles. Carbino was 27 and “looking.” She was also a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UCLA, writing her thesis on online dating. An undergraduate student had tipped her off about the free app, explaining how it pulls up an endless scroll of photos of people around you, displaying minimal, if any, biographical details about them. If you “like” someone, she was told, you swipe right; if you don’t, go left. A chat box appears only when both parties are into each other.

Her interest piqued, Carbino gave the app a spin. One of the photos she swiped right on was of a twentysomething with short dark hair and a stare intense enough to knock down walls. He swiped right on her, too. The guy, it turned out, was the company CEO, Sean Rad. Instead of a date, Carbino landed a job as the start-up’s in-house sociologist.

Close to three years later she’s leading me through Tinder’s headquarters several stories above the Sunset Strip. Tinder moved here last October, and the space still has a just-out-of-the-box vibe. The building belongs to Barry Diller’s IAC, a media conglomerate that owns four dozen dating sites, including OkCupid, Match.com, and PlentyOfFish as well as a controlling stake in Tinder. Yet those holdings constitute only a tiny fraction of the nearly 4,000 sites that make up the $2.2 billion online dating market. You can bet more will be emerging. Because as much as computers and smartphones have changed the dating game, what hasn’t changed is the central challenge everyone contends with: how to lock in a better match.

To a large degree the sector has staked its success on algorithms—proprietary math formulas that use a combination of profile information and online behaviors—to come up with the answers. For end users, though, providing the data to feed those algorithms can feel like a drag, what with the tedious profiles, the Psych 101 personality tests, and the interminable questionnaires (eHarmony’s has more than 150 questions). The payoff isn’t always there, either. “Chemistry [needs to] kick in, and that’s the toughest area—how to know someone’s going to have a good pheromones effect,” says Mark Brooks, president of New York-based Courtland Brooks, a consulting firm that has worked with many dating sites.

With Tinder, Rad has seemingly bypassed all that stuff and focused on one underlying premise: Attraction, at least with that initial spark, might really only be skin deep. Four years and 10 billion right swipes later, more than three-quarters of the app’s users are between 18 and 34 years old, a traditionally elusive demographic for the dating industry. Now Tinder is pushing for growth and revenue by adding extra features. It launched a tiered subscription service early last year, charging those over 30 a $20 monthly fee (and those younger, $10) for the privilege of undoing an accidental left swipe and the ability to search for prospects in other cities. In November the app started allowing users to include their employment and education information to provide a slightly more complete, as in more right-swipable, snapshot of themselves.

That’s where Carbino’s work comes in: to find out what users want and what they don’t know they want. “I think Tinder is far more complex than simply physical attractiveness,” she says. “With photos, people are not simply looking at whether someone has a nice smile or a nice face per se. They are looking at other factors related to that individual’s attributes—like socioenomic status, whether they think they are kind, nice, or mean.” We’re standing at her workstation by the marketing department, which at 10:30 a.m. (early by tech standards) has yet to clock in. Her portion of the cubicle consists of a chair, a desk, and a PC. That’s all the hardware Carbino, a petite and fast-talking 30-year-old brunet, needs to do her job, which entails running focus groups, creating surveys for Tinder and non-Tinder users, and filtering loads of data through the lens of social behaviors.

One project she spent seven months on involved poring over 12,000 images of Tinder users in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, cataloging in minute detail the visual qualities users deem “attractive” and taking the definition beyond hot or not. The analysis draws on a long-established concept in psychology called “thin slicing,” which has to do with the vast amount of nonverbal cues first impressions can give us about a stranger. For instance, men with a softer jawline are generally perceived by women as kinder than, say, a guy with a Christian Bale thing going on. Carbino has also found that the selfie is the most common type of photo on the app, that women with makeup tend to get swiped right more by men, that a group shot should never be someone’s first photo, and that men in L.A. are more clean-shaven than those in other cities. There’s also this: About 80 percent of Tinder users are seeking long-term relationships, according to Carbino’s research.

All of her findings make their way into marketing pitches and tip sheets for users, but they are being used as well to refine the “product,” including its algorithm. Yes, even Tinder uses one. Called “Elo,” a chess reference, the formula assigns an undisclosed rating to each profile based on the frequency of right swipes. It’s one variable the app uses to determine which profiles someone sees (not that people at Tinder will say anything else about it).

The challenge Tinder faces is how to retain its photocentric simplicity while adapting to an ever-evolving marketplace. Pleasing those on the hunt for one-night stands is easy (like Grindr, the gay hookup app, Tinder gets flak for encouraging promiscuity—despite the fact that Carbino’s research shows otherwise). But it’s considerably harder to sell users who are interested in something longer term on looks alone. One competitor, the League, follows the tried-and-true route of exclusivity by focusing on ambitious professionals. (“You’ll never have to wonder if that Harvard hottie is too good to be true on The League” is one of its pitch lines.) With another app, the Bumble, women have to make the first move to connect.

“Photos are very important but very limited,” says Brooks, the dating industry consultant. “Character is not being communicated there. I think Tinder will prompt us to think differently about how to match-make behind the scenes. And that’s important because that’s the evolution required for the industry to really reach its potential.”

Brooks’s expertise is tech-based dating, but what he’s pointing to are the limitations that Katie Chen capitalizes on. “Everyone online looks kind of similar, especially in the L.A. metro area. Everyone’s going to dress nice, they all work out, they all hike, they all love dining, love having good friends and traveling,” says Chen, who cofounded the Pico-Robertson-based Catch Matchmaking, which offers what Tinder doesn’t: personalized service. “You would think that online dating and matchmaking would grow in different directions, almost like if online dating is popular, matchmaking would go away,” she says. But the opposite is true. Too many choices can overwhelm a shopper. Catch’s clients are “busy professionals” in their late twenties through seventies, who are willing to shell out for a more tailor-made experience that includes pointers on how to dress and how to take a better photo. Sometimes they even get an honest talking-to about attitude and expectation. “They really are sick of online dating and app dating,” says Chen. “They’re like, ‘I’ll just hire you because if one more girl shows up and she doesn’t look like her photo…’ or ‘I’m not good at writing my profile’ or ‘I am not good at texting.’ They’d rather outsource it.”

Of course a matchmaker can cost thousands, which is partly why online dating cropped up in the first place. About 15 percent of American adults have used a dating site or app, according to a Pew study conducted earlier this year. The scholarly view of online dating is that it emerged because of socioeconomic forces: As people move around for jobs and school, they leave behind the network of family and friends that has traditionally helped them meet their other half. With those connections far away, the Internet became the most viable option.

It’s a phenomenon ripe for examination. Carbino certainly isn’t the first academic to be lured by the dating industry. Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who works for Match, famously created a personality test for Chemistry.com, another IAC property. And the now-defunct Perfectmatch.com was built on an algorithm developed by sociologist Pepper Schwartz. But every generation needs its interpreters. “I am a young sociologist, and it’s a young company,” Carbino says. “I think that’s my unique standpoint in the field.”

She became intrigued by online dating after starting her graduate program at UCLA, where she knew “not a soul.” Carbino figured that joining JDate, the Jewish singles site, was her best bet for meeting someone. “I went on one good date and saw the person on and off for a while,” she says. “I also went on many bad dates.” She quickly moved on to Ok-Cupid, Match.com, Jswipe, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel. The more she browsed, the more curious she became. “The thing that was interesting to me is how people presented themselves. No one was studying that at the time,” she says.

As for her personal relationship with online dating, she called it quits long ago. A month after she started at Tinder the company, she met her boyfriend on Tinder the app. The couple have lived together for nearly two years with a pair of Maltipoos they rescued as puppies. Their names are Bonnie and Clyde.

 

By            :               Fiona Ng

Date         :               May 25, 2016

Source     :               LA Magazine

http://www.lamag.com/longform/tinder-sociologist/

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Khadija Ismayilova’s victory for human rights

 

AFTER SPENDING 537 days in jail, persecuted unjustly in Azerbaijan for exposing corruption in the family of its president, journalist Khadija Ismayilova stepped into the sunshine and made an astonishing declaration. “I’m going to continue my investigations,” she said. “I’m so eager to start working on the Panama Papers. It’s the job I like.”

In so doing, Ms. Ismayilova reaffirms the resilience and power of liberty. Authoritarian rulers can deny their people freedom, but they never really take it away. Television and radio stations can go silent, newspapers can be shuttered, the Internet switched off, journalists imprisoned and fear loosed on the streets, but what can’t be extinguished is the courage and determination of one individual. Ms. Ismayilova is a beacon of hope to all who share this conviction.

After her release, Ms. Ismayilova said that the Azerbaijani government had clearly hoped to frighten reporters and others from investigating high-level corruption and cronyism, but “this didn’t happen.” Instead of fewer reports, there were more. The Panama Papers, a trove of thousands of documents on hidden financial dealings revealed by a coalition of journalists and activists, confirmed the truth of her earlier published account of offshore companies used by the family of President Ilham Aliyev to hold their interest in a gold mine.

From the start, Ms. Ismayilova understood the stakes and never wavered. “I am a journalist and my only ‘crime’ was to investigate high-level corruption within the government and family of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev,” she wrote to us in March, after Mr. Aliyev released some other political prisoners but not her. “I am free even now, in jail, and my freedom is not for sale.”

She demanded that President Obama ask Mr. Aliyev “to stop muzzling the independent media and civil society. Ask him to explain the billions of petrodollars wasted on white-elephant projects for the benefit of a few. Ask him when he is going to hold free and fair elections. Ask him when he is going to let all the political prisoners go free. Ask him when fundamental freedoms can become a right, in practice — not a gift that he can give or take away. I asked these questions, and I ended up in jail. These are important questions. They must not go unanswered.”

Now Ms. Ismayilova is out, and the answers are still needed. While Azerbaijan released her, and some others, the regime remains intolerant of dissent and criticism. Ms. Ismayilova called on Azerbaijan to allow U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, where she worked, to reopen its bureau in Baku, which was raided and shuttered by the Azeri authorities in December 2014.

Why Mr. Aliyev is releasing some prisoners now is not clear, but international pressure may have played a role. Ms. Ismayilova observed correctly that such pressure is most effective when brought to bear in the light of day. Tyrants don’t like sunshine. “The fight for human rights must be open and transparent,” she said. “We should not talk about it behind closed doors.”

 

Date         :               May 31, 2016

Source     :               The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/khadija-ismayilovas-victory-for-human-rights/2016/05/31/99a69b50-244a-11e6-aa84-42391ba52c91_story.html

 

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China Pressures Europe to Stay Silent on Human Rights

 

China’s attempts to export its censorship and authoritarianism raise serious questions for all European countries.

China’s belligerent diplomacy in Europe has been in the spotlight this week after a German lawmaker who chairs the Bundestag’s Human Rights Committee was refused access to China after he criticized rights violations in Tibet. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said he was “not welcome” because of his support for “Tibetan independence.”

German Christian Democrat politician Michael Brand, who had intended to travel with the Parliamentary Committee to Tibet in late May, was robust in his response to the visa ban when he said: “We can’t just accept it when authoritarian regimes like China, Russia or Turkey carry out censorship and oppression, certainly not if they want to export these methods — and to Germany too. When it comes to human rights, pussyfooting around doesn’t pay off. Human rights are not an internal affair of the state of China.”

China’s attempts to export its methods of censorship and authoritarianism raise serious questions for all European countries about whether their approach has contributed to Beijing’s aggressive diplomacy.

When governments adopt a softer approach on human rights and Tibet, their country’s potential for negotiation on important strategic issues becomes more constricted. Going to great lengths to accommodate the Chinese leadership’s sensitivities at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is presiding over the most eviscerating crackdown on civil society in a generation weakens a country’s leverage instead of strengthening it.

Demands from China to Western democracies, which have included telling prime ministers not to meet the Dalai Lama, or to withdraw criticism, as with this example, are aimed at reducing their negotiating strength, and asserting Beijing’s own agenda for greater gains.

Some countries in Europe, such as the United Kingdom, have acceded to such demands and kowtowed to such a significant degree that they have faced a major public backlash for doing so. In the UK, even those involved in doing business with China expressed concern about the British government’s overly accommodating approach to Xi’s state visit last year. James McGregor, a business consultant with operations in China, said: “If you act like a panting puppy, the object of your attention is going to think they have got you on a leash.”

Sometimes the accommodating approach arises from short-term considerations of political expediency, rather than from an informed position. There is no credible evidence of significant economic loss when governments do risk Chinese wrath and take a position on, for instance, whom they can and cannot meet, whether it is the Dalai Lama or anyone else. For instance, when Norway did not apologize for the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, there was no evidence of any serious economic consequences – indeed, bilateral trade significantly increased, according to an analysis in The Diplomat.

Experienced China hands understand that the Beijing leadership will seek to frame the debate in its own terms, amplifying issues that are less important in order to compel concessions elsewhere. In the case of the row with the Bundestag Committee Chair, the official statement from the Foreign Ministry deliberately blamed his support for “Tibet independence” – although the issue of the status of Tibet has never entered the equation. Virtually all Western governments acknowledge that Tibet is a part of the PRC, and the Dalai Lama’s position is that he is seeking a genuine autonomy for Tibet under the auspices of the PRC.

And yet even so, Chinese diplomats have had some success in pushing governments to adopt specific language on the “Tibet independence” question, perhaps with a view to closing down future possible support for the Tibetan people. The UK, France and Denmark have all caved in this respect, giving the unnecessary addition to their official position that they “do not support Tibetan independence.”

It is nothing new that China attempts to use economic and commercial interests to enforce submission to its agenda, but it is new that in recent years too many European democracies seem willing to cooperate with this process, sometimes even engaging in pre-emptive capitulation and self-censorship before any demands are even made.

 

Kai Mueller is Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet in Germany and gives regular briefings to UN Committees and Parliamentary Committees in Germany on Tibet and human rights. 

Date:      May 15, 2016

Source: The Diplomat

http://thediplomat.com/2016/05/china-pressures-europe-to-stay-silent-on-human-rights/

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UAE: Free Two Jailed for Criticizing Egypt

 

Academic, Journalist Held for Social Media Comments

UAE authorities should immediately drop all charges against an Emirati academic and a Jordanian journalist that relate to peaceful criticism of Emirati and Egyptian authorities.

The Emirati academic, Nasser bin Ghaith, faces charges that include “engaging in hostility against Egypt,” following online comments made before his arrest in August 2014. The UAE-based Jordanian journalist, Tayseer al-Najjar, informed his family that his detention since December 2015, relates to his online criticism of Israeli military actions in Gaza and the Egyptian security forces’ destruction of tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai region of Egypt.

“UAE authorities seem to believe they have the right to detain anyone who ever expressed any views, anywhere, that they disagree with,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “There is no justification for throwing a journalist, or anyone else, into prison for expressing a peaceful opinion.”

Bin Ghaith and al-Najjar both spent time in incommunicado detention after their arrests. Local sources who asked not to be named for their protection told Human Rights Watch it is likely that they were held at a state security facility in Abu Dhabi that has been the subject of numerous credible allegations of torture.

Bin Ghaith’s whereabouts remain unknown, although he appeared at the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi for court sessions on April 4 and May 2, 2016. Media reports about the May 2 session indicate that he is accused of violating various provisions of the penal code, a 2012 cybercrime law, and a 2014 counterterrorism law. Some of these charges, according to local media reports, relate to “six tweets and images ridiculing the Egyptian president and government.” UAE authorities should immediately investigate the allegations of torture that local sources said bin Ghaith made to the judge at the May 2, 2016 hearing, Human Rights Watch said. Bin Ghaith is scheduled to appear in court again on May 23.

Majida Hourani, al-Najjar’s wife, told Human Rights Watch that she has been able to speak to her husband by telephone since his transfer to Al Wathba prison in early March. She said that her husband told her he has not been formally charged. She said he had posted the social media comments that UAE authorities had questioned him about in July 2014, nearly a year before he moved to the UAE to take up employment there.

UAE authorities do not allow Human Rights Watch access to the country. UAE residents known to have spoken with rights groups are at serious risk of arbitrary detention and imprisonment. The UAE’s 2014 counterterrorism law provides for the death penalty for people whose activities are found to “undermine national unity or social peace,” neither of which are defined in the law.

“What the UAE characterizes as hostility against foreign governments is what most people consider criticism or analysis,” Stork said. “This is a prime example of the UAE practice of invoking national security to persecute peaceful critics.”

 

Date:      May 13, 2016

Source: Human Rights Watch

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/15/uae-free-two-jailed-criticizing-egypt

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Somalia: sexual violence must be subject to criminal justice, says UN expert

 

A United Nations human rights expert today called on the Government of Somalia to enhance the capacity of the judiciary and police force in handling cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and to prohibit the handling of such cases by traditional clan elders.

“I call on the Government to prioritize the creation and implementation of a twin strategy: to enhance the capacity of the judiciary and the Somali Police force, and to prohibit clan and traditional elders from resolving or adjudicating such cases,” said the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Bahame Tom Nyanduga, in a press release.

“There is also a crucial need to create human rights awareness among clan elders and religious leaders about women’s rights, as one way of facilitating change within communities,” he added.

Mr. Nyanduga began his visit to Somalia on 16 April. During his mission, he visited Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa, and met the Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Federal Government authorities in Mogadishu, representatives of Jubbaland state, and the South West state.

On Saturday, at the end of his third mission to the country, Mr. Nyanduga noted that the Xeer Somali traditional dispute resolution system continues to play a key role in the country, given that rule of law institutions are still being established. He was concerned to learn that traditional elders adjudicate sexual and gender-based violence cases, such as rape, due to the absence of a fully functioning criminal justice system in many parts of Somalia.

He called for the adoption of the Sexual Offences Bill during the forthcoming session of Parliament to further guarantee the protection of women’s rights and also urged the Government to implement the recommendations arising from Somalia’s 2016 Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council, including the adoption of a moratorium on the death penalty.

Mr. Nyanduga commended the Federal and regional authorities and Parliament for committing themselves to holding elections later this year, widening the electoral base and ensuring that a 30 per cent women representation is met. However, he expressed concern that representation of youth, minorities and persons with disabilities, is not similarly guaranteed.

The Independent Expert also reiterated the need to address the human rights challenges that journalists and media in Somalia face. He warned that the Media Law must not be used as a tool to harass journalists, but rather to ensure respect for the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

He noted with satisfaction the Government’s commitment to adopt the National Human Rights Commission Bill, establishing an independent National Human Rights Institution before the end of its tenure, and urged that this commitment be met.

“However, another bill, the Counter Terrorism Bill, could potentially negatively affect the enjoyment of human rights,” Mr. Nyanduga said. “I urge the authorities to ensure that this bill conforms to international human rights guarantees in accordance with Somalia’s international human rights obligations and the revised Federal Constitution. To be effective in fighting terrorism, the law must be firmly entrenched in human rights.”

AMISOM’s role in Somalia

The Independent Expert commended the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for the role it continues to play in the country. He noted its commitment to comply with human rights and international humanitarian law, including ensuring accountability for violations committed by its forces. Regarding the incident on the killing of the four civilians by AMISOM forces in Bullo Mareer, Lower Shabelle, the expert urged the Mission to conduct thorough, independent investigations and make the findings of its inquiries public.

In this regard, he welcomed the plan by the UN and AMISOM to hold the first UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy implementation review workshop on 26 and 27 April, urging that stronger collaboration on the ground will foster compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law, which is a shared objective for both the United Nations and the African Union.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Date:                      April 15, 2016

Source:                  UN News Centre

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Just 1 of 13 gender crimes reported in Delhi

 

Worries about getting stuck in prolonged investigation and litigation and fear of retaliation deter women from going to the police in cases of crimes against them. Not surprisingly, only one of every 13 incidents of gender crimes reaches the police stations in Delhi, while it is only slight better in Mumbai, where one of nine cases is reported to the police, says a study carried out by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

The situation is as dismal when overall crime is considered, with the study, titled Crime Victimisation and Safety Perception, finding that only half of all offences are ever reported, and of these only half are eventually registered as FIRs.

In terms of sexual harassment cases, none of the six reported in Delhi and only two of the five cases in Mumbai led to an FIR being filed.

In Delhi, 1 in 11 cases of all criminal events involved sexual harassment, compared with 1 in 25 in Mumbai. Of the sexual harassment cases, 94% in Delhi comprised staring or passing of lewd comments. It was worse in Mumbai, however, with almost a quarter of the cases involving indecent touching or groping or being followed by men.

Among the seven overall crime categories studied by CHRI, theft was at the top in Delhi, while sexual harassment placed second at just over 9% of all crimes.

Physical assaults, logging just under 9%, constituted the third most common offence in Delhi.

Two-thirds of the cases of physical violence in the capital and four-fifths of those in Mumbai involved grabbing, shoving, slapping or beating. Attacks with dangerous objects, including guns and knives, accounted for over 11% of the cases in Delhi and just under 10% in Mumbai.

As seems to be the case in many countries, CHRI’s survey corroborates the fact that most criminal events go unreported. Overall, 53.2% of crime cases identified by the survey in Delhi and 58.2% in Mumbai were not reported. The primary reason for people not reporting these incidents is due to fear of being caught in bureaucratic police and court systems.
While these trends are consistent among all kinds of crime, some reasons for not reporting are more emphasised in certain classes of criminal activity. For example, of the 80 households in Delhi that experienced sexual harassment, 74 of them did not go to the police for help. Of these, 52 said they did not want to get stuck in prolonged police and court matters. In Mumbai, there were 45 cases of sexual harassment, 40 of them unreported. In 26 cases, the victims avoided police intervention for fear of retaliation by the perpetrators.
Overall, in both Delhi and Mumbai, seven in 10 households visited a police station to report a crime. In both cities, for two of the most common offences — theft, including break-ins, and assault — over two-thirds of households that experienced these crimes approached the police. Overall, nearly half of those who reported crime in Delhi used a helpline, including police helpline 100. By comparison, just under a quarter of those in Mumbai took recourse to phone assistance.

Taking all crimes together, in both cities less than half of the cases reported to the police by the respondents ended up with the registration of an FIR. Given that only half of all crimes experienced were reported in the first place, this means only a quarter of the criminal incidents were registered.

 

By:                         Raj Shekar

Date:                      April 26, 2016

Source:                  The Times of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Just-1-of-13-gender-crimes-reported-in-city/articleshow/51985745.cms

 

 

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Fowzia Adde: Overcoming barriers for refugee women

 

Fowzia Adde is at work in her office in the Townsite Center in Moorhead. Every minute, it seems, a bingfrom her computer indicates the arrival of another email—from businesses seeking funds from her organization, groups inviting her to conferences on gender equality and female empowerment, an elderly relative asking for help coming to America.

Adde is the executive director of the Immigrant Development Center, a nonprofit organization committed to helping immigrants and refugees find economic prosperity in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Symbols of her accomplishments can be found on every surface of the spacious room: framed certificates sit on her bookshelves, blueprints of the IDC’s latest project, the International Marketplace, hang on the beige walls next to photographs of her eight children, and a glass trophy bearing the words “YWCA Woman of the Year” pokes out from beneath the clutter of papers and coffee cups that cover her desk. A ray of sun shines through the window and falls on the award, catching Adde’s eye.

“It didn’t happen magically,” she says, taking the trophy in her hands. “It was a lifetime of changes that brought me here.”

Since 1997, Adde has learned to maneuver a new life as a minority among minorities: a refugee woman in a country that has for so long catered to white, English-speaking men.

Adde’s experience, while remarkable, is not singular. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, women and girls comprise about half of the tens of thousands of refugees who come to America in search of sanctuary every year. It is not possible for native United States citizens to fully comprehend the hardships that any refugee, regardless of gender, must endure; this experience becomes even more complicated when the refugee is a woman.   As a result of gender roles and their position in society, they are at an increased risk for discrimination and sexual and gender-based violence.

“The huge sound of weapons, like thunder”

Thirteen-year-old Adde was in her form one classroom in Mogadishu, Somalia, when the war began. The year was 1990, and rebel groups, hoping to overthrow the regime of President Siad Barre, had entered the capital city. Adde and her classmates, just teenagers, sat terrified in their seats as the sounds of screams and gunfire echoed outside.

“If you didn’t come from a country that’s war-torn, it’s hard to realize,” she said.  “It’s the huge sound of weapons, like thunder.”

The sounds grew closer and closer to the school as parents began to arrive. Adde watched as her friends were taken in the arms of their crying parents, not knowing whether she would see them again. Her own mother finally came to bring her home, to what they thought was safety.  Once home, Adde and her six younger siblings were ushered into the basement. Her father, who was working for the government at the time, had already fled. “He was the first target,” she said.

The house shook and dust began to fall from the ceiling, and Adde’s mother knew that they could not remain hidden in that basement. They began making plans. All of the banks had been closed, so the residents of Mogadishu had to find other ways to get the money they needed. Luckily, her mother had a fair amount of gold jewelry saved. “She wanted to buy the new styles,” Adde said. “She didn’t know that this would be something that would save us in the future.”

Every day her mother would take those treasured pieces—necklaces, bracelets, rings— out from their boxes and drawers and sell them in the market for less than a quarter of what she had originally paid.  Three months later, with enough money saved, Adde’s mother gathered the children and told them to pack only what they could carry on their small backs.  Together they fled by foot and bus to the port town of Barawa, more than 200 km away.

Barawa, while farther from the violence, presented Adde’s family with its own challenges. Compared to Mogadishu, Barawa was a small, impoverished town.

“That was the worst thing that happened to us,” Adde said. “Nobody wanted to buy [gold] from her. Nobody had money.”

They stayed in Barawa for three months. During this time, Adde took on the role of daughter, sister, and mother. She would walk miles to fetch enough water to give each of the kids a bath. She entertained and comforted them while they waited for their mother to return with food. When she did return, she came bearing only the head of an animal and less than half a pound of rice— all to feed seven hungry children.

Prior to the war, meals had been a time for Adde and her family to gather around large, communal plates of hot meats and rice. The children would scoop up their own servings, always filling their stomachs. In Barawa, with food so limited, they let their mother divide their portions for them. Nobody wanted to share. “When life is like that, you lose your choices,” she said. “You just want to get out of that problem, and you want to look for a way out.”

A fishing boat to Kenya

Their way out was a small fishing boat traveling from Barawa to Kenya. Adde’s family survived the trip, but many others did not. She recalls watching whole boats go down in front of their own. But the coast of Kenya was no safer for them than the water; they were illegal refugees, some of the first to arrive in Kenya, and they came with no paperwork. For four days they sat in that crowded boat as the Kenyan government blocked them from setting foot on solid ground.

“We thought, ‘what now? Now we reached a safe place, and nobody wants us,’” she said.

Finally, the United Nations and the Kenyan government reached a deal to take in refugees. Legs shaking from hunger and seasickness, Adde and her family stepped off the boat and began the journey to the refugee camp.

The camp was located on the outskirts of Mombasa, a very damp, muddy part of Kenya, where malaria ran rampant and the tents provided by the UN collapsed when the rain came. There were no sources of clean water, no private bathrooms. Adde’s immune system, accustomed to the mild weather in Mogadishu, was not prepared for such conditions. She contracted malaria in the first months.

“But I was one of the fortunate,” she said. “I made it through.”

Adde’s mother, desperate to provide a better life for her family, refused to stay in that camp for more than a year. She sold her belongings in downtown Mombasa and found an apartment in the city. Adde finished her high school education and learned medicine in Mombasa. Eventually, she was hired by the UN to become a nurse in the camps. She made a monthly salary of $50, but she never saw that check. Her mother would pick up Adde’s salary every month, and along with the money she continued to make in the markets, pay the rent on the apartment. The family lived in that apartment for six years.

“After that, I knew life will be better,” Adde says. “We just paid a lot for a price, you know?”

On June 16, 1997, Adde left her family and her war-torn home behind and fled to America; however, like many women, her struggle did not cease when she stepped off of that plane in Washington, D.C.

Refugee women face barriers and isolation

Hank Tkachuk, a professor of communication studies at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, has spent the last 30 years working with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Lutheran Social Services to help resettle refugees. He has also created curriculum which allows students in his Intercultural Communication class to act as mentors for local refugees every semester. For three decades he has worked with refugees, many of them women, attempting to break down the barriers that prevent them from beginning anew in America.

“Women were less likely to be educated, they were less likely to have linguistic skills, they were less likely to have worked outside of the home,” Tkachuk said. “Add those all up, it makes it much harder to be a refugee woman than be a man.”

Darci Ashe, who has collaborated with Tkachuk for much of her career, has worked with Adde and other refugee women for more than 20 years. She is a foster parent for unaccompanied minors, a former longtime employee at Lutheran Social Services, and the current Director of Development at the New American Consortium for Wellness and Empowerment, or WE Center, in Fargo. Asche and her coworkers at the WE Center are committed to educating the community and helping New Americans grow accustomed to their new home. They offer resources like cultural competency training, new business training, behavioral health guidance, and a language exchange program.  In all of these roles, Ashe has been exposed to the challenges that these women face. The greatest obstacle she sees in the lives of the female refugees she works with is a sense of isolation. Many of them come from villages where family and friends lived side by side, offering companionship and sharing the burden of childbearing. When they come to America, they leave this community behind.

“If they have small children, it doesn’t really make sense for them to have a job and then try to figure out how to pay childcare,” she said. “So a lot of times the husband will have more than one job and the women will stay home with the children. That just completely puts a halt to any kind of integration because they’re stuck at home.”

Jonix Owino is not a refugee, but she is familiar with the experience of transitioning to American life as an African woman. She has also seen this kind of isolation at work. After completing her undergraduate work in her hometown of Nairobi, Kenya, Owino moved to Fargo to obtain her master’s of sociology degree at North Dakota State University. One day after moving to Fargo, she had a conversation with a refugee woman who had been in America for more than 10 years.

“I asked her, ‘Who are your friends? What are your networks?’” Owino said. “She told me that she had nobody outside of her immediate family.”

Owino was inspired by this one woman’s experience to complete her master’s thesis on the isolation of refugee women in America. She designed a study to see if such isolation was a common theme among all refugee women in the area and interviewed ten refugee women, all 40 years or older and from different countries. She found that all of them, to some extent, were experiencing the same isolation.

While compiling her research, Owino found that some of the most common causes of this isolation were cultural differences, language barriers, and a lack of opportunities to connect with local people. Many of these women are escaping war and violence in countries that placed a very strong emphasis on community and family. “Moving into a very individualistic society can make it harder for them to recover from their very distressing lives,” she said.

For this reason, Owino and Ashe agree that women like Adde, who come to America without a spouse or children, are at an advantage. Without a husband to rely on they are forced to integrate; to receive government benefits they are required to go out, learn English, and get a job.

Adde: Help from strangers

Adde was a registered nurse in Kenya, trained to help treat refugees like herself who suffered from disease and injury. In America, she considered herself lucky when she found her first job: working as a housekeeper at the Savoy Hotel. But the back-breaking work cleaning rooms could barely pay for her first month’s rent, so she took on a second job as a cashier at 7/11.

At this convenience store in Southeast Washington, one of the district’s most dangerous neighborhoods, Adde had her first encounter with the danger and discrimination so notoriously faced by refugee women.

“There was a supervisor there who was a very bad man,” she said. “He knew I was young and he knew I was innocent, I was new. He took advantage of me. I worked 40 hours, I would only get paid for 25. I don’t know what he did with my other hours…To this day, I curse him. He used me. I needed that money, you know? And he took advantage of me.”

At the time, Adde did not fight back. “I wish I knew how to complain… I didn’t pick up my voice. I didn’t want to lose my job.”

Despite the injustice she faced during those long two-shift days,  Adde’s bright smile and trusting heart helped her find company in the least likely places.  First, there were her neighbors: a family of Vietnamese refugees, who made her dinner on her first night in America. Then there was the middle-aged Spanish woman who trained her at the Savoy and whose resilience and work ethic inspired her to keep going. There was the bus driver who drove her home after all of her two-shift days, calling out “Fowzia! It’s 16th Avenue. Go home,” on the nights when she fell asleep in her seat. Finally, there were the customers she met at the 7/11. There was a school for the deaf in the neighborhood, and students would often stop by the store between classes. She spoke to them in hand gestures, her own improvised version of American Sign Language.

“You know what I liked about the deaf university?” she asks. “I could understand them because my language is already deaf in this country.”

The challenge of culture shock
Even when refugee women are able to find work and some sense of community, culture shock can still prevent them from growing accustomed to their new life.

“For a lot of the women, where they’re coming from, there’s already a kind of oppression,” Ashe explains. “And so when they come to the U.S., often times women are struggling to kind of figure out how to maneuver in that more progressive atmosphere.”

In many ways, this new, progressive society can bring with it new forms of oppression. Many of the traditions and customs that these women have known their whole lives are no longer acceptable when they come to America, and they are forced to choose between carrying on a tradition that is considered  inappropriate or to give up a piece of themselves.

One drastic difference that refugee women must adapt to is a new kind of childrearing. “Childrearing customs and habits vary widely, and they’re not always acceptable here,” Tkachuk said. “Most of the places where these refugee women come from use more corporal punishment… so it’s harder, even, because they don’t have parenting strategies that are okay here.”
Clothing is another point of contention for many refugee women, specifically those escaping violence and turmoil in a primarily Muslim nation. Tkachuk has experienced this struggle secondhand in his time resettling refugees.

“Men are easy, because men will wear Western clothing,” he said. “We can get used or thrift store pants, shirts, and a suit coat for men,  and they’re happy as clams…. The women do not wear Western clothing.”

Adde, who wears long, flowing dresses in her office rather than Western slacks or a suit, agrees. “If you are a Muslim woman, you carry the tradition,” she said. “You cover your hair, you wear a long dress, and automatically you are a target of some fools who are racist. I think that people who are racist are very sick… There is no space in me for racism. I feel a human being is a human being. Woman carries tradition, so she is the number one target.”

After six months of working two jobs, sleeping only on the bus rides between shifts, and being harassed by her boss only to barely make enough money to pay her rent and put food on her table, Adde decided to leave Washington, D.C. Several of her friends from the refugee camp in Kenya had been resettled in Fargo, where they told her the rent was cheaper, the people were kinder,  and the jobs were easier to find.

“Good stuff” happened in Fargo

In December of 1997, in the middle of one of the city’s snowiest winters, Adde arrived in Fargo by bus. “Then, a lot of good stuff happened.” She found an apartment that cost $420 a month— half of the rent on her apartment in D.C. She got a full-time job working on a production line at Sheyenne Dakota, Inc. She began taking English classes in the evening. She got married and gave birth to her first child in 1998.

This life, while more pleasant and prosperous than the brief one she led in Washington,  still bore its own disappointments.

“I lost my hope of being a nurse anymore,” Adde said. “I told my caseworker that I used to be a nurse, and I gave her all of my certificates. She tried to find me a job working somewhere close, a clinic or the family health center or something, she applied me to three jobs and I couldn’t get any jobs. It was fine with me, I said ‘to hell of it,’ you know?”

Adde took the CNA test without going to a single class.

She scored 100%.

Even after this feat, Adde was unable to find a job in the medical field. However, she knew that she was meant to do more than turn down sheets in hotel rooms, work night shifts at convenience stores, and assemble wires on a production line.  She took an over-the-phone interpreting job through Network Omni, a translation service company out of Oakland, California. She worked out of her apartment in Fargo, and spent her days bridging the language gap between non-English speakers and their employers, caseworkers, doctors.

“I was like that movie, ‘Bruce Almighty,’” she said.  “I will hear everybody’s stories because I am interpreting. I would interpret somebody whose water was cut, and another one electricity cut, somebody broke their hip I am there, there is an accident or somebody’s getting a ticket I will be there. Somebody who is very sick in the hospital, somebody who’s kid ran away, everything.”

It became increasingly difficult for Adde to walk in the shoes of the disenfranchised for eight hours a day without becoming emotionally involved with her clients.

“When I see something wrong happening, I will interrupt,” she said. “I almost got in trouble a couple of times because they would say ‘Your job is to interpret, not to advocate. Stop caring for these people or you will lose your job.’ I said ‘Alright, I want to lose my job.’”

Adde left Network Omni without any idea what her next step would be. Without a job she had no money, but she still had to pay her rent. She was also sending money back to her mother and siblings in Africa every month.

Motivated by the stories she heard from her clients at Network Omni and her own experiences as a female refugee, Adde committed her time to volunteering with several groups in the Fargo-Moorhead area. She became a voice for the racially, sexually, and financially oppressed.

Adde picked up the trophy on her desk. “When I got this, I didn’t know I was a ‘Young Leader of Today,’” she said. “The women around me decided that. I was just volunteering. I would do everything.”

In 2003, the same year that she received the award from the YWCA, Adde’s volunteer work culminated in the creation of the Immigrant Development Center. Today, Adde and the IDC assist new Americans by providing funding and entrepreneurial training for those who wish to start businesses in the area. Some of the businesses that they have helped create include restaurants, ethnic grocery stores, and clothing stores.

“It came together because I have seen a lot of stuff that’s missing from the programs that are giving to the refugee community,” she said. “There is a need for an increase in programs. There is a need of making sure they have a chance. It’s not people who want to destroy this country…it’s people who decided to come to a land of opportunity, and want to make it better for their family, you know? They are hard workers. They are looking for chances to be given, and this is that chance. It’s for the believers.”

Programs to help women aren’t accessible

Asche explains that the lack of assistance available to refugee women in the Fargo-Moorhead area is not due to a lack of trying. “There are programs that are out there and there are programs that are available,” she says. “It’s just that they’re not accessible, either for financial reasons or just sheer need.” The Adult Learning Center, which offers English language classes to New Americans, fills to capacity. Southeast Human Services and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center work with victims of sexual violence, a common occurrence with refugee women, but their resources are limited. Asche hopes to form a women’s group through the Consortium, where refugee women can talk about their experiences in a comfortable communal atmosphere. Again, money is her greatest obstacle.

“You know, there’s nobody throwing around $400,000 to form a women’s program,” she says.

Ashe says that Adde’s success and her contributions to the F-M are just one example of the things refugee women can accomplish, if only they are given support and assistance.

“I think the number one top word for working with refugee women is ‘resilience’,” she said. “Just seeing how resilient they are, considering what they’ve been through. I still can’t imagine it. Sometimes I think I suffer secondhand just from hearing their story. I’m dumbfounded by how they can just come to a new place, not speak the language, sometimes not have a formal education, and then just achieve these really amazing accomplishments.”

Adde believes that this resilience is at the core of the human spirit, and if one can find it, they can get through anything. Refugee women, and any other oppressed group, can fight through the hardship if only they believe in their own strength.

“I have seen what poor means,” she said. “What refugee means. What it means to be a low-income family in America. What it means to be a middle-income American. I am part of the American Dream. I put together a project that’s over a million and a half projects and I am achieving that for me. I was like, ‘you got it Fowzia. The rest is history, you know?”

This piece was completed for the Investigating and Narrating the News course where all students reported  on refugee issues and stories in Fargo-Moorhead.

By:                         Katie Beedy

Date:                      April 21, 2016

Source:                  The Concordian

http://theconcordian.org/2016/04/21/fowzia-adde-overcoming-barriers-for-refugee-women

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