Combating Gender Stereotypes in Work/Family Reconciliation Policy
One of the most globally pervasive harmful cultural practices is the stereotyping of women exclusively as caregivers in a way that limits their opportunity to participate in public life. The assumption that women are the primary or sole caregivers of children is often used to exclude women from the public sphere, especially with regard to political life, promotions and high profile employment opportunities.
Women leaders across the world have identified their dual responsibilities in the public sphere and the family life as being one of the major impediments to their advancement in public life. It is thus important to create new policies that ensure that both men and women choose care-giving responsibilities and both receive similar treatment.
8:30 a.m. Delegates arrive at Clapp Library
9:00 -10:30 a.m. Professor Rosanna Hertz, Classes of 1919-1950 Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College and Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis in conversation
Questions for Discussions:
How can workplace policies be drafted to recognize the role that both parents play in child rearing and care giving? How do we honor the value of care-giving, cooperation, and responsibility? How can we celebrate the responsibility of both sexes to fill caretaking and nurturing roles? Discuss mandatory and non transferable parental leave as a way to transform gender roles; quality child care services are also incentives for women to reach their full potential in public service.
The patriarchal construct of the male head of household is often carried over and replicated in politics and public service. How do we address women’s disenfranchisement as heads of household? When women are denied agency and full citizenship and decision making powers in the home how can they achieve leadership in the public sphere?
10:30 – 12: Noon: Group Discussions
Refer Materials Session 8
Amplifying Women’s Voice in Public Service: Developing a National Action Plan for Advancing Women in Public Service
Participants will break into groups and develop a national action plan to advance women in public service including in areas where women are disproportionately underrepresented. Each group must take into consideration ways in which to transcend barriers and broaden opportunities for women in public service.
These opportunities can include advancing educational opportunities on public policy, economic empowerment, public and private partnerships; training for women and men in public service, gender sensitivity training for public servants, temporary special measure for women in public service, incentives to join the public service; incentives to public agencies to hire women, creating gender neutral work/family reconciliation policies; public policies that value caregiving for both sexes; policies that break down stereotypes in employment; Child Care Policies; Equal Retirement Benefits and pensions; gender segregation and employment policies that provide incentives for women to return to and advance in public service after childbirth and policies that encourage fathers to give care after child birth; raising awareness about the social, economic, and political impact of women leading public service.
The Action Plan should be geared toward results so that countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women in public service can make institutions more representative and advance social, cultural, political and economic development outcomes for all.
12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch- Brackett Reading Room (Library)
See Materials for Session 8
Panel of five representatives: Present a National Action Plan to Advance Women in Public Service including amplifying women’s voices in non- traditional areas of public service such as Constitutional Reform; Security, Defense, Energy and Finance.
Moderated by two Delegates
1:30 – 5:00 p.m. Afternoon Session
Transformative Strategies for Women Leading Change
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Family Law Reform and Progressive Interpretation of Religious Texts
Dr. Siti Musdah Mulia - Indonesia, Former Advisor to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Indonesia who led a struggle to draft a Counter Legal Draft (CLD) or an Alternative Legal Code on Family Law Reform will discuss a progressive interpretation of the Koran in compliance with international human rights norms to advance women’s rights. The CLD has become a touchstone for family law reform in South East Asia.
Transformative Strategies: Women’s opportunities for leadership in religious and secular political landscape:
Dr. Fatima Sbaity Kassem: Women in the Arab awakening with a focus on women’s opportunities for leadership via political parties of varying religiosities. Dr. Kassem is former Director, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia (ESCWA) ESCWA comprises of 14 Arab Countries in Western Asia.
Moderator: Professor Lidwien Kapteijns, Elizabeth Kimball Kendall and Elisabeth Hodder Professor of History Wellesley College
Dr. Siti Musdah Mulia of Indonesia and Dr.Kassem will share narratives of a new generation of leaders who are championing transformation in their societies. What are the opportunities and entry points for transformation in Muslim communities? What are the emerging new developments? How are women resisting fundamentalism?
The panel will discuss how activists are working within the tenets of Islam to create economic, political, and educational opportunities for women and how these efforts are critical to bridging the conflict between those championing reform and those seeking to oppress women in the name of religious tradition
Introduction: Women’s Activism in the MENA Region
Women leaders are at the forefront of reform across the Muslim world and are mining the egalitarian core of Islamic jurisprudence. These leaders are working within the tenets of Islam to make changes for women and to broaden the frontiers of economic, political, and educational participation for women.
Internal discourse and cross-cultural dialogue are critical to addressing conflicts within Islam as well as to building on the congruence of Islam and human rights. This session aims to explore the reasons why women are underrepresented in leadership positions and identify strategies for change in some of the most urgent areas of challenge: family law reform through a progressive interpretation of the Koran
A Dynamic and Contextual Interpretation of Islam
Despite some ideological differences between Islamic feminists and secular feminists in Islamic countries, both groups agree on the need to reclaim Islam from chauvinist interpretations.
Although secular feminists urge a reinterpretation of women’s rights in their countries in line with international human rights norms and Islamic feminists want to bring their laws in harmony with a progressive interpretation of the Shariah, most often both schools agree on the need for a gender friendly interpretation of the Shariah law that embodies the spirit of the international human rights framework.
Women activists seek to strike a balance between religious culture and international law norms. In essence, their work is a call for a heightened internal cultural discourse as well as a cross-cultural dialogue aimed at broadening and deepening international consensus. They all recognize the need for a more dynamic interpretation of the Koran in order to advance women’s rights. Ijtihad opens the door for the reinterpretation of traditional rules of Islamic jurisprudence in light of modern conditions. These women are at the forefront of a clarion call for gender sensitive political action and institutional change.
3:00 – 5:30 p.m. Panel of Women Delegates will Discuss Opportunities and Challenges for Emerging Reform in their Communities and Countries
Refer to materials in session 9
New and Emerging Urgent Legislative Action
Delegates will decide which area they would like to focus on. Discussions would have taken place the previous day and panelists will make presentations before the plenary
Women decision makers must address gender bias and discrimination in all laws not just election laws so as to dismantle legal and institutional barriers to economic resources such as property ownership, workplace and political participation. Who gets to draft the laws? Do laws and policies capture the experiences of women? Experience has shown that if women are not at the drafting table rarely will laws reflect women’s concerns.
Each group will discuss some new and emerging development in law, policy or institutional reform in their communities and countries. Each group we will reflect on ways these new developments can enhance women’s equality, empowerment and leadership. We will look at strengths and weaknesses of laws, policies and practices and make suggestions for reform.
We will address strategies to strengthen the implementation of existing laws. We will also look at how more women at the negotiating table can lead to more effective laws, policies and practices for men, women and children.
Group one will focus on Constitutional Reform in the different countries and provisions relating to equality under law and other provisions that impact women’s leadership. You will also discuss the challenges to the implementation of laws and other barriers that impede the actualization of these reforms
|Some examples: Morocco: The Arab Spring has been a lightning rod for some important reforms on behalf of women. In March 2011, the Moroccan King promised to “promote the participation of women in the management of regional affairs in particular, and the exercise of political rights in general and to ensure equal access by women and men to elected office.”
On July 1st, Morocco voted to approve a referendum on Constitutional reform. The Preamble to the Constitution calls for national laws to be aligned with international conventions ratified by Morocco. Article 19 of the Constitution calls for the Creation of an Authority for equality and the Fight Against All Forms of Discrimination that will work towards achieving parity between men and women. Article 30 requires equal access of women and men to elected office.
Tunisia: Tunisia’s High Commission for the Realisation of Revolutionary Goals, Political Reforms and Democratic Transition has placed the principle of gender parity at the heart of all on going political reforms and thus become a beacon of innovation for the region and beyond. Tunisia’s parity principle calls for an equal number of men and women as candidates in upcoming elections in October.
Egypt: In Egypt, the likely outcome of talks may result in the State being defined as civil rather than a theocratic state. However, Article 75 of the draft Egyptian Constitution presumes the Egyptian president is male. The language should be changed so as to be gender-neutral, specifically the phrase “[Egypt’s president] cannot be married to a non-Egyptian woman.” Women were excluded from Constitution making in Egypt. Safeguards should be set in place to ensure that women are integral to all forms of decision making.
Women and Citizenship
This group will focus on new, emerging or needed reforms on citizenship. Citizenship goes to the very heart of gender equality and unequal citizenship laws undermine equality at the foundational level. Your discussion and role play could focus on a presentation to parliament; a discussion on challenging unequal citizenship laws; an argument before a transitional justice commission ( such as a constitutional Commission).
|Some examples: Egypt: In Egypt, there is some support for granting the children of Egyptian mothers and Palestinian fathers citizenship.
Lebanon: In Lebanon, the right of Lebanese women to give citizenship rights to their children is on the parliamentary agenda and is still waiting to be approved.
Jordan: Efforts are underway to revise citizenship law in Jordan that denies the right of women to pass on citizenship to their children. Many countries in the MENA region are demanding equal rights of women to pass on citizenship to their children.
Violence against Women
Violence against women is one of the most heinous threats against women’s security. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) established that violence against women caused more death and disabilities among women aged fifteen to forty-four than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. Women who participate in politics often face real or threatened harm from family members as well as by hostile members of the public. Sexual abuse and sexual harassment of women in politics and public service is also common in many countries.
Discuss ways to address violence against women through laws, policies and practice. Your discussion could focus on lawmaking on the implementation and enforcement of an existing law; it could be a presentation to raise awareness, a discussion with interagency
collaborators, it could be a discussion of a woman in public service has with law enforcement officials; a discussion with community service providers
Women and Family Law Reform
The Working Group will focus on a particular provision of family reform (Marriage, Divorce, Guardianship or inheritance, property ownership) and will focus on the need for further reform or the weak implementation of an existing reform. You will analyze different strategies to address this barrier defacto and dejure equality.
Family Law Reform
Family law is a litmus test for gender equality and has the most intimate and powerful impact on women’s lives. In almost all countries women face gender-based discrimination in the family codes. Family laws in these countries declare that the husband is the head of the family, require the wife to obey her husband, and give the husband power over his wife’s right to work and travel, among other rights.
Gender differences are historically and culturally constructed and reproduced through the family. Family relationships are powerful political tools. In Arab – Islamic countries, politics are often linked to the centrality of the patriarchal family. For women, these continuities among family, civil society, and State mean that they confront patriarchy in every sphere. Patriarchy is thus reproduced in multiple sites in many MENA region countries. This is certainly not unique to Arab Islamic countries. The control of these communities over women’s lives has been reinforced in many MENA states. Women’s rights are experienced as emerging more from being part of the familial and kinship communities than from being citizens of a state
Among the countries with the most liberal family codes are Tunisia, which has had a relatively liberal family code for many years, and Morocco, which enacted a family code that substantially expanded women’s rights in 2004. Egypt and Turkey have also made recent changes in the civil code to give women expanded divorce rights. However, while progressive steps have been taken, women are still treated unequally even under the more liberal family codes.
Reform of the family code has been a high-priority objective of women’s rights advocates, as well as liberal-minded lawyers, judges, and Islamic scholars. The 2004, Morocco reform has had an important regional impact, as it has strengthened the argument of those who say that equal status within marriage is compatible with Shari’a law. The reforms adopted in Morocco are important victories for civil society movements in their ongoing struggle against patriarchal and extremist forces.
The Turkish Civil Code of 2001 takes a new approach to the family. Rather than assigning women a legislatively subordinate position, Article 41 of the Constitution reads, “The family is the foundation of Turkish society and is based on equality between spouses.” This is reflected in other civil code changes including equal rights for spouses over the family home and property acquired during marriage, equal representative powers, and the abolition of the concept of “illegitimate children.” However, the legal code is still deficient in many ways, including in distinguishing between married, unmarried and divorced women when it comes to protection from violence.
In Lebanon, Law n° 179, dated August 29th, 2011, amended article 9 of the Decree Law n°146/1959 (relating to the inheritance duties on all rights and movable or immovable properties). Law n° 179/2011 aims to establish equality between women and men heirs to benefit from additional reductions when calculating the inheritance duties owed by them.
In 2006, women’s groups in Iran worked to collect 1,000,000 signatures to end discriminatory laws. The success of the campaign in Morocco was an impetus for Iranian women’s activists who are campaigning for a million signatures to revise the family code including the right of a woman to pass citizenship to her child.
In 1979 the once progressive laws of the Iranian Family Protection Act were overturned in favor of a family law governed by shari’a. Though parts of the act have since been reintroduced, largely due to the efforts of women, there are still many legislative changes necessary to ensure women’s equality under the law.
Women and Equality under Law
This group will discuss laws, policies or projects to advance gender equality under law. These discussions could take place in parliament, at a community fora, as a press briefing. It could be a negotiation, a discussion or a presentation. Please make the role play interactive so that many voices are heard.
Lebanon: Lebanese Parliamentary committees have recently passed a number of legal amendments ensuring greater gender equality under the law. If passed in the next legislative session, these changes would increase maternity pay to 100 percent of a women’s income from only two thirds, and standardize tax laws which currently accord men an allowance for their wives and children while requiring women to pay taxes on all of their income.
6:00 p.m. Dinner – College Club
Dinner Movie: Saving Face, winner of the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary
Moderator: Honorable Farahnaz Ispahani
Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and a spokesperson for the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari. She is a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs, and the Human Rights Committee. She worked with MSNBC, CNN and Voice of America for more than two decades. Honorable Farahnaz Ispahani helped to pass the Acid Control and Burn Crimes Control Law in Pakistan
Response by Diane Rosenfeld, Lecturer on Law, Director, Gender Violence Program, Harvard Law School