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Attention Academics
October 21, 2011 - 3:00pm

Women in the media. The latest news for the academic audience

News about women always represents a big part of the daily media bombardment that an academic should not avoid. I will not try to address (yet) the question why, when browsing the media, it is most likely that you will find so much yellow journalism and why such situations are so frequent. For somebody interested in the ways in which daily information reflects on short, medium and long-term societal changes, observing the mainstream media is very important for an academic, although time consuming and stealing important time from the library.

Today, I wanted to have a different lecture about the news, looking for positive news about women. Thus, I searched “women in politics” through Google news. 

My results were:

  • An interesting feature report about Busha Gohar1, a Pakistani MP, a secular woman educated in the US representing the Taliban-dominated area of Khyber-Pakhtun Khwa. Despite the high risks – including to her personal life – she is fighting for women’s right to education, equal rights and dignity.
  • In the male-driven political life of Russia, for the first time in history a woman – Valentina Matviyenko – was elected speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament2. An active politician from an early age, enjoying an important political support from both prime minister Vladimir Putin – for the position of governor of St. Petersburg – and the president Dmitry Medvedev – for the speaker competition – she could mark a change in the daily politics from Moscow, by supporting other well-educated and skilled women to play a wider role in Russian life.
  • In Cameroon3, the United Nations Development Programme is encouraging women to play a more active role in the ongoing electoral process. Women need to take a bigger involvement in winning their rights, given the high level of violence against women, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and the frequency of cases when 12-year old girls are forced to get married4.
  • The Western media continue to air the much praised announcement made September 25, 2011 by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that the women will be allow to vote, after a new law and specific policies will be drafted5. On the other hand, women still can’t work or leave the country without the approval of a male relative and can’t drive to exert their right to vote.
  • In Israel, a couple of days before the New Year, the former journalist Shelly Yachimovich6, was elected the president of the Labor Party, the first chairwoman of this political party since the legendary Golda Meir, in a country used to the active presence of women in politics. For the first time in the history of Israel, two major political parties are led by woman, Yachimovich main competitor being Kadima’s Tzipi Livni.

 

 

In almost half an hour, I’ve read a couple of interesting news stories from all over the world. In some cases, women are far away from full political recognition, in others they simply should define their roles and create their own leadership. Everywhere, there is always something more to be done, not necessarily in opposition to something or somebody, but as an effort to send a clear identity message.

The academic relevance of such information? Why not try to involve the intellectuals more actively in relevant and serious debates about these issues, in a time when eyes are focused on hot geopolitical potatoes. Long-term involvement of women in higher education in challenging the current political trends should be a long term commitment. 

1 http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan_politicas_as_unusual_for_a_woman_a...,
retrieved October 4, 2011
2 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/russianow/politics/8803595/Valentin...,
retrieved October 4, 2011
3 http://www.crtv.cm/cont/nouvelles/nouvelles_sola_fr.php?idField=10151&ta...,
retrieved October 4, 2011

4 http://www.afrol.com/Categories/Women/profiles/cameroon_women.htm, retrieved October 4, 2011

5 http://www.afrol.com/Categories/Women/profiles/cameroon_women.htm, retrieved October 4, 2011

6 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4126036,00.html, retrieved October 4, 2011

 

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