We’re excited to announce that we have a website up that we will be developing in the coming months!
Check it out:)
We’re excited to announce that we have a website up that we will be developing in the coming months!
Check it out:)
In support of Muslim Girls annual Muslim Women’s Day, on 27th March Intersectional Feminist Foreign Policy will be centering Muslim women’s voices through our twitter.
With movements such as #MeToo, #MosqueToo, #AidToo, #TimesUp, already women globally are speaking out. However, we also know that speaking out is not always possible or safe, and we are able to tweet and share women’s experiences anonymously if you DM us @IFFPUK or email us on: Intersectionalffp@gmail.com
Get involved, and center Muslim women’s voices in your networks on the 27th!
We’re excited to be looking for a volunteer to support our work as we move into the the first year of setting up.
Ideally seeking an intersectional feminist, whose values and understanding align with us and is able to support us with our social media presence, support the growth of this blog and content from our growing network of over 500 women globally, and explore new ideas to ensure our work is reaching the right people.
Please get in touch before the end of March by email. We don’t expect any formal application, just to know about you, your experience and your interest in why you are volunteering.
Shaista and Amna
This morning our co founder Shaista Aziz was invited onto Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 to discuss the recent allegation about Oxfam, as well as addressing the culture which has created the abuse taking place across the Aid sector.
First published in the Guardian 12/02/2018
A culture of bullying, harassment and racism is rife among agencies around the world. This is an industry in need of reform
When I read the revelations that Oxfam workers had paid for sex in Haiti, perhaps from underage girls, while the country was trying to recover from an earthquake, I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I surprised when it became clear that it had been covered up, and that further allegations of sexual abuse, bullying, harassment and intimidation in the aid sector soon followed. Don’t get me wrong – these stories are sickening – but most people in the industry will have at the very least heard rumours of this kind of behaviour.
I spent more than 15 years as an aid worker specialising in communications for a number of organisations, including Oxfam, where I worked for five years as an emergencies communications specialist and media coordinator. My work took me from Haiti, Syria and Lebanon to Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Jordan. I had the privilege of meeting incredible people and worked with some brilliant people, as well as some not so brilliant.
There was a culture where bullying was rife, women were frequently belittled and racism was casual. And it was not just at Oxfam. This happened in many organisations I worked for in the sector. Every time I clearly identified a problem, I was made into the problem.
When I went on record with HR in Oxfam and other places to tell them about my experiences, nothing was done. I learned over the years how similar the cultures in these organisations were. There is a revolving door between many of them, so men who have been marked out by women as “not nice” go from one agency to another. It’s not a coincidence that most of Britain’s biggest aid NGOs are dominated by white men and some white women at a senior level. Women have described it as “bro” culture.
And it’s not just me. Over the past year, I have been in touch with women working for aid institutions who have told me about their experiences of sexual harassment. I contacted women in the sector after co-founding Intersectional Feminist Foreign Policy – a platform seeking the creation of a foreign policy that does no further harm to women and girls around the world. This includes wrongdoing by UN peacekeepers and aid workers accused of sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable women and girls.
The culture of silence runs deep – the usual fears that prevent women and whistleblowers from speaking out apply here (for example, the UN whistleblowers in Haiti received anonymous threats). But there is an added stigma in the aid world. There is a fear that if we tell the truth, the reputational damage to the agencies will benefit the sections of the press and politicians who want to reform the sector.
To the CEOs running aid organisations and the board members put in place to hold them to account, the message is simple: don’t shoot the messengers. Take responsibility for what has gone on and continue to do so, and work towards reforming an industry that is in urgent need of change if it is to tackle the root causes of these endemic problems.
Thanks to brave whistleblowers and those who have confronted Oxfam, many of whom are women, the floodgates are now open. It will be impossible to hold back all the information emerging from other aid organisations on the opaque and damaging cultures that have allowed potential criminal activity, sexual exploitation, harassment and other abhorrent behaviour to thrive, and indeed be rewarded through the promotion of those accused of wrongdoing. We have seen at least one resignation – there may be more.
Since the Oxfam revelations last week, more women have contacted me. They are unleashing a silent and controlled rage. Almost every woman I speak to will not reveal their name for fear of career reprisals or fuelling the war against the aid sector, as calls increase to cut off funding to UK aid organisations. This is clearly not the answer, as the sector does so much important work. But it needs a properly funded independent organisation to investigate claims of sexual harassment and abuse. Aid agencies must not be left to carry out their own investigations. Women need to know they will be believed and not victim-blamed for problems caused by a privileged few.
I went to check my daily newsfeed on Facebook to find my newsfeed is all about Tunisia and the call by the Tunisian government to eradicate the current system of inheritance that discriminates against women and to allow Tunisian women to marry men who are not the same religion as them.
The news made me extremely happy, as both a Human Rights student and a feminist; in addition to being an Egyptian and Muslim woman, I understand just what a huge step forward this is for women.
So, I shared the news on my Facebook and expressed my happiness and enthusiasm. To my surprise my post was met with a flood of comments –
mainly from women and from family telling me how this change in the law is wrong and against our religion. Some people told me that the law change was a conspiracy against our religion and the Arab region. I was reminded that God had already given us women our rights and Islam is the only religion that granted women all their ‘needed’ rights.
The reaction to this huge change in Tunisia was also greeted with comments from Islamic scholars and institutions including Al Azhar, amongst the oldest and most respected Islamic institutions in the region. The announcement stated that Tunisia is prospering and Islam transcends everything.
Once again, there was no acknowledgment of patriarchy and how it impacts women’s lives daily and forces many Muslim women to live their lives without choice and control over their lives so they can not decide who they want to marry and denies women the right to have financial independence and follow their dream and goals.
These changes in the law are a great win for women since the revolution- it says women have rights and belong – rather than being second-class members of their communities.
It has created space, all be it a small amount of space for these issues to be discussed in the open and for taboos to be challenged. When it comes to religion, interpretation of religion and when it comes specifically to issues around inheritance and marriage – much more needs to be done to ensure women are heard and the law does not penalize them for being women.
I hope this is the start of real reform to change women’s lives and to give women their full rights as citizens and as equal citizens.
Reeem Elmeleegy is an Egyptian studying for her MA in Theory and Practice of Human Rights at the University of Essex.
This article has been edited for publication.
By Elizia Volkmann
August 1st, 2017 saw a landmark change in not just in Jordanian law but in how it regards women’s safety and value, it is a day for celebration but only for one day, tomorrow we carry on the fight.
The Kingdom of Jordan’s parliament voted to repeal Law 308 which allows a convicted rapist, even the rapist of a minor to evade jail time by marrying his victim for a minimum of three years. This follows Tunisia’s landmark law that is supposed to “end all violence” against women, including repealing the “marry your rapist” clause.
These law changes are only worth something if governments implement social care infrastructures, child protection measures, refuges and vitally reform and train their police and judiciary to respond and listen to women’s complaints, support the women, act on their behalf and make it easier to report and convict these crimes.
Calls from Tunisian activists to repeal the “marry your rapist” law followed a shocking edition of the popular chat show“I’ve got something to tell you” where it’s host, Ala Chebbi interviewed a 14 year old pregnant girl called Hajar. The girl appeared with her brother after police had failed to act on accusations that she had been repeatedly raped by three of her family members. Chebbi suggested that “whoever did it should marry her to close the case” and “contain the situation”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-37731871
The show was an obscene spectacle of victim blaming, the host bated the girl for not reporting her abusers and for being pregnant whilst un-married, saying in front of her father: ”Admit that you are at fault,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a54IMXZ9pP4
The Tunisian public was outraged and the story became a media sensation in the world press. A Facebook page called “He says “Marry your rapist”, we say “see you in court” documents much of the campaigning and backlash to Chebbi’s grotesque verbal abuse of Hajar. https://www.facebook.com/Epouse-ton-violeur-dit-il-On-se-voit-au-tribunal-lui-répondons-nous-160509147740953/
But still rape marriages carried on, in December 2016 another case hit the headlines, a 20 year old raped his 13 year old step-sister in the region of El Kef. The court spokesperson “Chokri Mejri, a spokesperson the court, claims the girl ‘was not raped’ and added: ‘We interviewed the girl and after verifying all the details, we considered her fit for marriage.”
Protests ensued with banners reading “‘How I met your mother? I raped her when she was 13”. It was this case that saw government swing into action. The wedding party was cancelled the Child Protection Agency, and finally sense was voiced Houda Abboudi, a representative, said: ‘When it’s a 13-year-old child, we can’t talk of sexual relations with consent. It’s rape.”
Hajar has now disappeared from public sight once more, she was a heroine for speaking out, but also she is a sacrificial lamb. Homeless, pregnant what happened to her? She was exposed to danger because her impoverished family needed her to quit school and work on the farm. She would have been safer in school, on the farm she was vulnerable and her male relatives took the opportunity to abuse her. For Hajar the change in the law are just pretty words, who is going to help her get an education? Who is going to fund her childcare? Will she spend the rest of her life burdened by shame, probably.
Human Rights Watch, Tunisia Director, Amna Guellali warned. “The government should now fund and support institutions to translate this law into genuine protection.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/27/tunisia-landmark-step-shield-women-violence
We can only celebrate for one day, because tomorrow the fight goes continues, there are still numerous countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Syria, as well as several countries in Latin America and Asia. Also consider that so called progressive western states such as Italy in 1981 and shockingly France in 1994 repealed their own “marry your rapist” law. The west may scoff at the muslim world but the USA effectively enables child-rapists and paedophiles to marry their victims. In May of this year, 11-year-old, Sherry Johnson from Florida found herself pregnant and pressurised by her church and mother into marrying her abuser.
In March of this year the Republican dominated house under President Trump killed a bill to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18, allowing communities, parents and churches to marry off their daughters to their abusers. http://www.concordmonitor.com/bill-on-whether-minors-can-marry-8581515
Today we can allow ourselves one day of celebration to fuel us for the battles yet to come.
Hello and welcome!
This page has been set up as a working project by Shaista Aziz and Amna Abdul on the back of us undertaking a one year political mentoring programme with the Fabian Women’s Network. We have spent many years working in different international contexts with marginalised women. We strongly feel from all our interaction with women around the world – their voices are mostly missing from the rooms, conference halls and tables where policy makers are holding discussions.
We know that women are a phenomenal force for change – this is why we have set up our project. We want to bring like minded women together who are seeking solutions to ensure that our foreign policy is ethical and creates no further harm to women. We also want to open up space in the NGO communities to esnure a more ethical and intersectional approach to working with marginalised women. The global NGO space remains very white, very male, very elite and where there are women present – we believe there is a lack of an intersectional approach to working with marginalised women.
We seek to influence the creation of intersectional feminist foreign policy. This page is a space for us to create real debate and discussions on these issues, to share articles and ideas and to build a solid network of women who are interested in supporting every one of us on this page to move things forward.