INTERNATIONAL: Reconciliation Council Fails to Include Women

“The first agenda item for the new council should be to re-think its composition and invite women with specific expertise in conflict resolution, peace building and women’s rights to take up 30-50 per cent of the seats at the table. These councillors need some sisters.”

PeaceWomen: INTERNATIONAL: Reconciliation Council Fails to Include Women (Lappin, via WIIS)


On Mansplaining

“Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about al-Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to al-Qaeda and no WMDs, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)” (From the article.)

Blog: Men Explain Things to Me: Facts Didn’t Get in Their Way (Solnit on

Reuters: U.S. Air Force staff sergeant gets 20 years for rape, sex assault

“Staff Sergeant Luis Walker, found guilty by a military jury on Friday of 28 charges, was ordered to be reduced to lowest rank in the Air Force, to forfeit all pay and allowances, and given a dishonorable discharge. He will also have to register as a sex offender.”

Sexual harassment and gender discrimination remain volatile issues in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is sobering that it is more likely for a woman in the military to be raped than killed by enemy fire in Iraq. From Feministe: “Also reported is the ugly truth that of 2,280 cases where victims provided full accounts and evidence, only 317 cases were referred for courts-martial and 247 were referred for nonjudicial punishment.”

It should not be remarkable that Walker was found guilty by a military jury. For more about sexual abuse in the Armed Forces, here is a link to a 2009 blog from Feministe about rape statistics in the military.

Article: U.S. Air Force staff sergeant gets 20 years for rape, sex assault (Reuters)

FP: Why Do They Hate Us? The real war on women is in the Middle East.

“How much does Saudi Arabia hate women? So much so that 15 girls died in a school fire in Mecca in 2002, after “morality police” barred them from fleeing the burning building — and kept firefighters from rescuing them — because the girls were not wearing headscarves and cloaks required in public. And nothing happened. No one was put on trial. Parents were silenced. The only concession to the horror was that girls’ education was quietly taken away by then-Crown Prince Abdullah from the Salafi zealots, who have nonetheless managed to retain their vise-like grip on the kingdom’s education system writ large.

This, however, is no mere Saudi phenomenon, no hateful curiosity in the rich, isolated desert. The Islamist hatred of women burns brightly across the region — now more than ever.”

Back in my undergraduate days, when I waffled about my future even more than I do now, I went through a brief phase of wanting to understand Islam. The immediate rush into Quran classes post-9/11 had faded; but Dr. Caesar Farah’s Introduction to Islam course was nevertheless packed with students from all walks of life. It was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult classes of my life.

I called home several times to whine about having to learn yet another difficult language in addition to my Chinese and Russian studies, as studying Islam required more than a smattering of Arabic, and Dr. Farah’s midterm and final exams were heavy in our new vocabulary. The words are still with me, though they have long since lost their meaning. And I suppose if I had attacked Chinese and Russian with the same desperation that had me pacing my shitty student apartment until three in the morning, flipping through index cards and reciting paragraphs of information relating to these foreign terms, I would be fluent by now.

I’m not sure why I was so impassioned to not only learn about Islam, but to excel in this course, when I am admittedly of the lazy intellectual variety of student — one who has never needed to know how to study, who was never given a challenge in high school, and coasted along until encountering … well. Dr. Caesar Farah.

And like just about everyone else who has ever studied Islam, I walked out of that class inspired by the precepts of egalitarianism in this reformist religion, depressed that those concepts failed to transition into modernity, and somewhat horrified by the orientalism so prevalent in Western media’s depiction of the Middle East, even when it’s in the throes of revolution. I wonder if there is a model that can effectively incorporate democracy, religious freedom, and egalitarianism for Middle Eastern states. And I wonder if religion should play a role in post-revolution political parties, and to what extent religion might affect women’s lives.

But this Foreign Policy article, despite its sensationalism and pictures of oppressed women in headscarves, is still an excellent introduction into the violence Middle Eastern women face today, and may still face even after the political revolutions are over.

Article: Why Do They Hate Us? The real war on women is in the Middle East. (Foreign Policy)


Welcome to my blog! This is my first post since making my blog public on 1 April, 2012. You can read more about me (and our comments policy) on our About page.

My interests are wide and varied, and I am always eager to learn. Though in my academic life I have focused on resource management and ethnic conflict (and the myriad interconnected issues relating therein) in Central Asia, I’ve dabbled in gender and agriculture in Central America, migrant workers’ rights, ethnicity and belonging in China, and security and democratization in South Korea.

I’m always eager to know more about technology, particularly as it relates to resource management and peacebuilding strategies, and I tend to have far too many foreign policy tabs open in my browser than is necessarily healthy or wise.

I hope you enjoy your stay here, and if you don’t like the article du jour, hang around a while. I promise I’ll have a new passion as soon as my news feed updates. Or email me if you think you can do any better as a contributor.