Women, banknotes, and patterns of inequity

Business ethics blogger Chris MacDonald writes, “Attention has recently been drawn to a petition calling for women to be pictured on bank notes. Currently, Canada’s bank notes feature only dead (white) male politicians. Queen Elizabeth is the only woman featured, and she’s not Canadian. The result is that Canadian women, no matter how accomplished or historically significant, are excluded from being celebrated in this high-profile way. The petition notes that Canada’s $50 bill once featured “The Famous 5″ (women instrumental in the fight to acknowledge women’s legal personhood) and Thérèse Casgrain, a Canadian senator who had once been a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Quebec. But in 2012, those images were replaced with an image of an icebreaker.”

See the rest here,

United Families and Friends Campaign 2013 Procession


The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger to name but a few. Together we have built a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.

During the late nineties the families of the most controversial deaths in police custody victims came together to form UFFC. Since then we have campaigned for justice for our loved ones and our efforts have yielded some results. The police self-investigation of deaths in custody, previously overseen by the Police Complaints Authority, was replaced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Attorney General was forced to undergo a review of the role of the Crown Prosecution Service. We continue to monitor these developments. Since last year, and in particular through the case of Sean Rigg, the IPCC has been found not fit for purpose.

No reforms or reviews have ever addressed the lack of justice in outstanding cases such as Joy Gardner, Brian Douglas and Shiji Lapite, to name a few. These are human rights abuses and must be dealt with accordingly. Nothing can replace due process of law and with so much overwhelming evidence against police officers accused of murder or manslaughter, the question remains why have they not been convicted? UFFC has supported cases such as Ricky Bishop, Roger Sylvester, Mikey Powell and Harry Stanley. In recent years other high profile cases such as those of Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles De Menezes and Sean Rigg show how the IPCC and the CPS have continued to fail us. In the last two years alone we have had the deaths of David Emanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Lloyd Butler, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger. The deaths have not stopped and nor shall we. Our Annual Remembrance Procession will take place on 26th October 2013.

UFFC is supported by Migrant Media, Newham Monitoring Project, Pan African Society Community Forum, 4wardEver UK, Garden Court Chambers, Institute of Race Relations, INQUEST and Defend the Right to Protest.

The UUFC facebook page with more information is here.

Demonising Turkish single mothers.

A young mother from a small town in the North-West of Turkey came back from the 9 days long religious holiday to find her two-months old baby had died of starvation. It is hard to think about what the baby must have gone through, and it is criminal that this should have happened. However, there might be some disagreement as to who the criminal element is.

For the Turkish press, there is no mystery: the mother is being described everywhere as a monster mother (canavar anne).

Nor is it difficult to follow their reasoning: she was home alone with the baby. She left to visit her parents and did not take the baby with her.

But here are a few considerations that ought to be obvious to the Turkish Press but maybe not to the rest of the world:

Being a single mother in Turkey is highly stigmatized, so that it’s not surprising that the young woman would not have wanted to tell her parents she’d had a baby. In some parts of Turkey, it still happens that young women who find themselves pregnant outside marriage are murdered by their male relatives.

Abortion, is very much not an option for most people in Turkey, and very much frowned upon so that she may have thought it unacceptable herself.

Moreover, as a single woman, she has to answer to her father’s authority and would be expected to go back to her parents’ home for religious celebrations, and to stay and help for the duration of the holiday granted by the state (nine days, this year, including weekends).

And add these to considerations that ought to be obvious to everyone:

Unless this was a repeat of the virgin birth, this baby must have had a father. As there is no mention of the woman murdering the baby’s father, nor of her being a widow, we may assume that he is alive and has simply deserted his son and the woman who gave birth to him. Either he has deserted them to the extent that she cannot feel she can ask him for his help when he is desperate, or he has refused to help. In both cases, he is as much to blame for the baby’s death as she is.

Secondly, mother of young babies do experience prenatal depression, and this can be exacerbated by particularly stressful circumstances. Women who give birth need a lot of support simply to learn how to care for a baby. A single mother who is ashamed to admit she is to her family does not have such support in Turkey. There is, as far as I’m aware, no system of health visitors to ensure that they’re coping. Just a lot of blaming and shaming.

Again, I am not suggesting that the baby’s death by starvation was not both horrible and criminal. But if we want to demonize anyone, let’s make sure we share it out with the father, and those others who failed to provide the necessary support for raising a child (or having an abortion).

Men Construct Logical Space

MIT is hosting a conference on ‘The Construction of Logical Space’ at which all named speakers are male. The lineup is:

John Burgess
Princeton University

Brian Weatherson
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Agustin Rayo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tom Donaldson
Harvard Society of Fellows

David Boylan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Proseminarians
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Some of ‘The Proseminarians’ may be female  – we don’t know. But all named speakers are male, and all faculty speakers are male.

Sharing missing persons pics on facebook

Anyone on Facebook will have seen posts asking people if they have seen a missing person, and appealing for help in finding them. Like me, you might feel you’re helping to reunite lost family members by passing on the info and sharing the photos. But it turns out this might not be the best thing to do. A man recently made a heart-rending plea, asking for help to find his missing children. Kind-hearted folks shared the photos and eventually, someone recognised them and told him where to find them. What no-one sharing the photos realised was that his ex-partner was living under a secret identity after leaving the man, and this information allowed him to find her. She subsequently had to move to a women’s shelter. You can read more here.

Transforming Gender Relations in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

The book “Transforming Gender Relations in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa” is now available. The book is by Cathy Farnworth, Melinda-Fones Sundell, Akinyi Nzioki, Violet Shivutse, and Marion Davis.

Click here for a low-res PDF of the entire book – the PDF file size is 3 MB.

Click here for a high-res PDF of the entire book – the PDF file size is 43 MB.

“This book distills lessons learned about integrating gender equality into agricultural development initiatives in Africa, with case studies of efforts at all levels, from households to national government.

“The authors start from the premise that empowered women and men are better, more successful farmers who can make the most of the opportunities around them. They argue that there is a causal relation between more equal gender relations in the household and in the community, and better agricultural outcomes: the one underpins the other.

“This is a radical thing to say, because it means that the standard development interventions – more extension services, better information, more fertilizer, better machinery – will not fully achieve their goals unless women and men are on equal footing, able to make rational economic decisions unhindered by gender norms that limit what is “appropriate” for women or for men to do, or to be.

“Empowering women as decision-makers in all areas of their lives is challenging and exciting. It is a key to poverty reduction. Transforming gender relations will help to make smallholder agriculture and associated development efforts more effective and efficient, with knock-on effects for a variety of development outcomes…”

See the link below for more on these matters:

Recognizing the African woman farmer