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What will it take to finish the women's revolution?

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 28 Feb 2012 17:04 GMT
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LONDON (TrustLaw) - "We Taliban warn you to stop working, otherwise we will take your life away," the letter to Fatima K., a woman in Afghanistan, read.

"We will kill you in such a harsh way that no woman has so far been killed in that manner. This will be a good lesson for those women like you who are working," it went on.

Little wonder that Fatima took extended leave from her job and has not returned to work - proof, it seems, of the limited space for women to work or take part in public life in Afghanistan.

The colossal struggle of Afghan women to assert their rights is just one of the topics tackled in "The Unfinished Revolution: Voices from the Global Fight for Women's Rights".

Published next week to coincide with International Women's Day, the anthology includes essays by more than 30 writers, activists, policymakers and human rights experts - including Nobel laureates Shirin Abadi and Jody Williams.

Graca Machel, a global advocate for women's and children's rights and the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson, a former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and Hawa Abdi, Somalia's first female gynaecologist are also contributors.

Grouped under eight categories, the essays examine everything from sexual violence in Congo, fistula in Africa, abortion in Latin America to trafficking, violence against immigrant women in the United States and the role of technology in transforming the daily lives of women throughout the world.

"Around the world today, enormous strides for women's rights have been made on many fronts: domestic violence legislation, girls' education, recognition of the value of women's work, and the dynamic growth of the women's rights movement," writes Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, in the book's introduction.

"Yet women and girls are still being married as children, trafficked into forced labour and sex slavery, trapped in conflict zones where rape is a weapon of war, prevented from attending school, and prevented from making even deeply personal choices in their private lives," she says.

There's a heavy focus on the Middle East where the Arab Spring has raised hopes women's rights will blossom. But it has become increasingly clear that political revolutions, alone, are not enough to change entrenched inequalities.

"It is a time of change in the world, with dictators toppling and new opportunities arising, but any revolution that doesn't create equality for women will be incomplete," says veteran war correspondent Christiane Amanpour in the foreword. "The time has come to realise the full potential of half the world's population."

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