By Matthews and Soguel
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Indigenous women from the mountainous Oaxaca region in Southern Mexico are mobilizing for their right to political representation and participation. The Mexican constitution grants equal rights to women and men, but in about one-fourth of indigenous villages, customary laws prevail and women are barred from voting or running for office. Eufrosina Cruz won a mayoral race in her village, Santa Maria Quiegolani, in November but the vote was nullified by elders. She is contesting the results in court, the Associated Press reported Jan. 27.
After national elections that put few women in power, Guatemala's indigenous groups are demanding a seat at the decision-making table, Prensa Libre news agency reported Jan. 23. The national coordinator for Mayan, Garifuna and Xincas women publicly called on President Alvaro Colom to fulfill his campaign promise to include indigenous women--who are triply marginalized on account of their gender, class and ethnicity--in the political process.
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A Jan. 30 appearance in Johannesburg by convicted rapist Mike Tyson, a former world champion boxer from the United States, angered South African women's rights activists, Reuters reported. Tyson went to South Africa to help raise funds for a children's charity at a gala banquet, where one of the nation's most controversial figures, Jacob Zuma, was the keynote speaker. Zuma was accused of raping a woman while he was vice president but was acquitted of the charges. He is currently acting leader of the African National Congress and goes on trial in August for racketeering, money-laundering and other charges tied to an arms deal.
Activists from the group One in Nine--named for the 1 in 9 South African women who are rape victims--had sought government permission to protest outside the gala venue, but police denied the request.
George Lekgetho, an African National Congress member of parliament, was also met with criticism this week when he was asked about the legalization of prostitution during the 2010 World Cup, to be held in South Africa. "It is one of the things that would make it a success because we hear of many rapes, because people don't have access to them," he told the Johannesburg Times on Jan 29.
Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints President Gordon B. Hinckley died Jan. 27 at age 97, amidst passionate quibbles over the role of women and feminism in the Mormon community. "My feeling is that things are not going to change much, that the church is going to keep its very conservative positions on women's roles," Margaret Toscano, a self-described feminist activist who was excommunicated in 2000, told the Associated Press. Mormon women can't be bishops or pastors but many are fighting for greater leadership in local congregations.
Shanelle Matthews is a Women's eNews intern and a recent graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Dominique Soguel is Women's eNews Arabic editor.
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