Come Sunday, Brazilians will turn out for an election in which the top two candidates are women. That President Dilma Rousseff and former Environmental Minister Marina Silva are competing to lead Latin America’s largest economy now comes as little surprise in a region that accounts for a third of the world’s women presidents.
The women’s rights movement in Pakistan suffered a blow (Australian) when a religious extremist recently shot and killed cabinet minister Zilla Huma Usman as she prepared to address a public meeting without a veil covering her face. A prominent rights activist, Usman had previously drawn the ire of conservative Muslims when she helped organize a mixed-gender marathon. Her assassination came within days of Pakistan’s Women’s Rights Day, as well as the proposal of the new Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill, which outlaws forced marriages (Daily Times) and strengthens women's right to inheritance.
Cânân Arin casually shrugs when describing the occupational hazards of being a leading women's rights advocate in Turkey. A few years ago, Arin recalls, a doctor in Istanbul survived a beating from her husband that left her spine broken in three places. When Arin helped the doctor initiate divorce proceedings, the abuser came after her as well.
"He threatened me, he tried to bribe me, he tried everything against me because there was no way to break me," says Arin, a lawyer who has pioneered the movement to provide shelter and legal services for domestic violence victims in Turkey. An unfaltering, powerful woman of 63, Arin knew she was the last line of defense for the woman; her family had turned her away and her abuser had evaded jail by paying a $2 fine.
When the Taliban was in power, most of the women who filmed Afghanistan Unveiled could barely leave their homes, let alone study or work. But in 2002, the young documentarians - some still teenagers - traveled across mountains, rivers, and deserts to make the first film by and about Afghan women.