Bangladeshi tea workers on strike to demand a payrise, and North Korean propaganda goes digital
Good afternoon, and welcome back! If you’re new here, Solidaritas is a fortnightly newsletter about women’s rights, feminism, and gender in Asia and the Pacific, covering the entirety of this huge region: from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the west to Kiribati and Cook Islands in the east.
By the way, all the photographs used in my header images are my own. Just in case you were wondering. This one is a shot of Balinese Hindus celebrating Nyepi in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, in 2012, where several thousand Balinese Hindus live due to the government’s (controversial) transmigration program.
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Enjoy this fortnight’s issue!
Students, mothers, widows, workers and artists explain how their world has altered under ‘gender apartheid’:
Sakina, Kandahar: “Life has not been easy for a long time. I lost my husband in an airstrike five years ago, and before the Taliban took power I worked and sold street food to support my children. Now I am not allowed to work.”
Around 40 women protested in Kabul last week, demanding “break, work, and freedom”. Taliban fighters responded by firing their guns into the air and beating the protestors to disburse the rally.
Child marriage, lack of education, financial desperation – a year on from the Taliban takeover, what does the future hold for women and girls? Al Jazeera explores in this long read.
Two Saudi Arabian women have been found dead in Sydney in mysterious circumstances:
On 7 June, Australian authorities knocked on the door of a Sydney apartment. Mail was piled up outside the door, and the tenants hadn't paid rent in more than three months.
Inside, they found two dead women - sisters from Saudi Arabia - whose bodies had lain undiscovered, in separate bedrooms, for weeks.
Two months on, despite "extensive inquiries", police remain baffled over what happened to Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23. There were no signs of forced entry to the apartment and no obvious signs of injury, police have said, describing the deaths as "suspicious" and "unusual".
150,000 tea workers - many of them women - are striking to demand a 150% pay rise. The average wage of a tea worker in Bangladesh is just 120 taka a day (US$1.25), among the lowest wages in the world.
The employment prospects of women and girls, who are overrepresented in economic sectors like the garment industry and tourism in Cambodia, have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new UNESCAP study.
A Chinese woman said she was detained by police for hours and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for wearing a Japanese kimono and taking photos in a Suzhou street.
China wants more young women to have children, but many are refusing until the country is made safer for them, says ABC Australia.
China’s National Health Commission announced this week that it would take steps to reduce the number of abortions in the country’s latest attempt to tackle low birthrates.
A report on women and leadership has placed Cook Islands among the Pacific’s best performers for representation of women in business leadership.
Seaweed is a vital source of income and independence for women in Fiji. Climate change is washing it away.
Pathan was the first woman in her family to earn an income, live as a single mother and be part of the meagre 11% of urban Muslim women who hold paid jobs. She paved the way for her daughter to aspire for more freedom. The fact that her daughter would never wear a dupatta to cover herself, that she could explore the possibility of love before marriage, that she had a mobile phone of her own, that she could use the internet easily, that she could confidently call me and proclaim she thought an actor was sexy, that she knew and used the word ‘sexy’ freely and repeatedly while living far away from her family as she pursued a career, is nothing short of a revolution in the scope of independence the women in her family have traditionally enjoyed. Her maternal grandmother had never been to school and always maintained purdah.
India has twice as many female pilots as the US. Al Jazeera explores how this came to be.
The coronavirus pandemic led to 8,000 more suicides in Japan between March 2020 and June 2022 than would have been expected without it, a recent study has calculated. Women in their 20s saw the largest rise, but women age 19 or younger also saw a significant increase.
Meet Professor Noriko Osumi, 61, one of Japan’s most eminent female scientists. Her academic achievements include seminal work on the PAX6 gene, which is important for eye, brain and behavioral development, and lead to Osumi research in explaining autism. (Part of a Japan Times series on women who began their careers in Japan following the implementation of equal opportunities employment legislation in the mid-1980s.)
Authorities in northern Laos have called on businesses in the Chinese-run Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone to stop hiring Lao women to work as ‘chat girls’ in an effort to curb exploitation and human trafficking.
Malaysia’s appeal court has overturned a landmark decision that women should be able to pass on their citizenship to children born overseas in the same way as Malaysian men. Advocacy group Family Frontiers will now take the case to the Federal Court.
Myanmar women’s rights activists are worried that two well-known models detained by the military regime last week will be sexually abused by junta personnel.
How can the political patriarchy be dismantled when the male-dominated parties consider fielding a woman candidate too risky?
New Zealand’s healthcare policies for migrants rate among the top five countries globally, yet research shows persistent health inequities among women and children with migrant and refugee backgrounds.
North Korean propaganda is going virtual, through an unlikely method: the vlogs of a year 5 girl named Song A.
Papua New Guinea
Economist Rufina Peter and former public servant Kessy Sawang have been elected to parliament! They are PNG’s first female MPs in a decade, and just the eighth and ninth woman ever elected in the country.
Pacific migrant workers in Australia and the social costs of family separation.
Taiwan has largely ignored the existence of female sexual slaves during World War II, the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation and the Judicial Reform Foundation say. They argue that this forgotten history should be added to Academia Historica’s archives and the national curriculum.
The women defying a powerful all-male clergy to become Buddhist monks.
On barriers to women’s political participation in Vanuatu:
The way politics is played in Melanesian countries has very little national inclusivity about it – in terms of participation by and representation of both men and women at the national level. The role of women is, almost exclusively, to vote, not to actively play the game itself. To use soccer as an analogy: women can be coaches, spectators and fans. But if a woman wants to go into the field and play, this is no game for her.
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