Women’s Health: The Questions Women Who Work Should Be Asking

Women’s Health: The Questions Women Who Work Should Be Asking

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Women’s News: Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani Is First Saudi Woman To Compete In Olympics

Women’s News: Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani Is First Saudi Woman To Compete In Olympics

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Julia Gillard

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Julia Gillard

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard was born on September 29th, 1961, in Barry, Wales to John and Moira Gillard. When Julia was five, her family (including her sister Allison) moved to Adelaide, Australia, in the state of South Australia, where she was raised.

Gillard began her studies in arts and law at the University of Adelaide; but in 1983, she was elected the Vice President of the Australian Union of Students (AUS). Since the AUS headquarters were in Melbourne, she had to stop her studies in Adelaide, and continue them at the Melbourne University. That same year, the very politically active and aware Gillard, was elected the President of AUS.

After finishing her law degree in Melbourne, Gillard began working for the industrial law firm, Slater and Gordon, which she would later, in 1990, become a partner at. Her work at the firm focused primarily on employee rights after unfair dismissals and workplace disputes.

While working at the firm, Gillard switched her aims to that of a career in federal politics.

Political Life

In 1996, Gillard entered the political world by becoming John Brumby’s (the then Opposition Leader of the State of Victoria) Chief-of-Staff. She served as Brumby’s Chief-of-Staff until 1998, when she ran for “the Federal seat of Lalor for the Australian Labor Party…and was elected that year.” *

From 1998 until 2001, Gillard served on a number of committees including, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Workplace Relations. Then in 2001, she was appointed Shadow Minister for Population and Immigration, and in 2003, she took on the responsibilities of the Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs Committee. Gillard also served as Shadow Minister for Health from 2003 to 2006. †

Julia Gillard became the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) on December 4th, 2006, and also assumed the responsibility of Shadow Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and Social Inclusion. The ALP came out on top after the 2007 elections and Gillard became the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion.

On June 24th, 2010 and September 14th, 2010 (there are two-swearing in sessions so as to follow the later Federal Election) Julia Gillard became the first female Prime Minister of Australia.

Women’s News: Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani Is First Saudi Woman To Compete In Olympics

By AYA BATRAWY

CAIRO — There was no way Alaa al-Mizyen, a 22-year-old Saudi investmentconsultant, was missing this Olympic match. While her family slept in late Friday morning, she alone was awake and glued to the TV.

It was, after all, her first ever opportunity to cheer a Saudi woman in the world’s biggest sporting event.

The participation of Saudi judo player Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani had raised the scorn of the kingdom’s ultraconservative Islamic clerics, who said she was dishonoring herself by fighting in front of men, including the male referee and judges. And the match Friday was a swift defeat for Shahrkhani: The teenager was thrown by her Puerto Rican opponent in just over a minute.

But for her supporters, it was an enduring, landmark victory.

Shahrkhani was taking a stand against culture and customs that have little to do with Islam but are used to justify hardline interpretations that restrict women, al-Mizyen said.

“There is a very fine line between religion and culture and customs. People are holding so tightly to customs and traditions and using Islam to defend them,” she said, speaking by telephone from the Saudi Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah.

The judo match wasn’t shown live on Saudi state TV or many other Saudi-owned satellite channels, though it was unclear if that was because of the controversy swirling around her. Other state-owned stations in the region focused instead on other athletes or regional crises. But the match was shown on several Arab satellite sports channels.

Many in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region missed the fleeting moment altogether simply because the match coincided with the middle of traditional Friday prayers.

But her supporters watched closely.

It is beautiful that she played and in front of people and proved her presence and stated that Saudi women are not all servants at home,” said Wajeha al-Huwaidir, a Saudi activist who launched a campaign before the 2008 Beijing Olympics to support women’s participation.

Rafid Fatani, a Saudi who pulled out all the stops to make sure he could attend Shahrkhani’s match in London, walked out of the stadium afterwards proudly waving his nation’s flag.

Some in Saudi Arabia use criticism of participation by women in society “just so they can empower their cause, and their cause is just to put women down.”

“They have been brought up to believe women are subordinates, are second class citizens and should not have the same opportunity as men,” he added.

Shahrkhani dressed in a loose, cream-colored judo suit and a tightly-fitted black cap that served in the place of a traditional hijab, or headscarf worn by conservative women to cover their hair. The modified hijab was a concession to the sport to avoid choking. In a competition where everyone else holds a high-level black belt, Shahrkhani has only attained a blue.

Shahrkhani’s detractors, though, see her participation as a deviation from Islamic mores and an attempt by the West to co-opt the Arab world’s most conservative nation, home to Islam’s holiest site.

In Saudi clerics’ eyes, the cap fell far short of the all-encompassing black robes and face veil that they insist women should wear. And there was the fact that the Saudi judoka was competing in front of men.

Saudi preacher Sittam al-Dusri told The Associated Press that Shahrkhani’s family should have protected her “as a precious gem” from the eyes of men.

“It is not important for the West that the Saudi woman participates well, but that she goes out in dress that does not conform to Islamic rules,” he said. “Wojdan is a martyr of Westernization and liberalism.”

Women in Saudi Arabia face heavy restrictions under its ultraconservative interpretation of Islam. They must have written approval of a male relative before they can travel or work and are not allowed to drive. They are often the target of the unwanted attention of the kingdom’s intrusive religious police, who ensure men and women do not mix in public.

Strict gender segregation often relegates women to inferior facilities – if facilities for them exist at all.

“Today highlighted how much of a winner she is. In the face of not having any facilities, in the face of swimming upstream like a salmon she still had the ability to make it here,” said Fatani, the Saudi who attended the match.

Fatani said his three sisters and mother pay $3,000 a month to be members in one of the handful of gyms for women in Saudi Arabia. For the average Saudi girl, physical education is not part of the curriculum in public schools and private gyms are too costly.

Thousands posted comments on Twitter Friday – both for and against – about the teenager from Mecca whose first time to ever fight in public was in the London Olympics.

Some have urged her not to jeopardize her place in the afterlife for a fleeting bit of fame on earth. Others warned that she and her family could face ostracism when she goes home. Others cast doubt on whether she was really Saudi, saying her appearance looked Central Asian.

Farani said Shahrkhani has proven she can cover her hair and play at an international event.

“That is the biggest slap in the face to anyone who says that being a Muslim woman is a hindrance to being an equal part in society,” Fatani said.

In remarks carried on the Olympics website, Shahrkhani said her journey was only just beginning.

“Hopefully this will be the start of bigger participation for other sports also,” she said. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era.”

A Message From The Creator

Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.
-Doug Firebaugh

Women’s Health: The Questions Women Who Work Should Be Asking

Pat Mitchell

President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

I’ve hesitated to weigh in on the “having it all” debate, re-sparked once again by Anne-Marie Slaughter’s much-discussed Atlantic cover story last month. In part, I was reluctant because I find this debate a big distraction from the more important questions about why our work environments are still so unfriendly and inflexible for working parents, especially mothers. For many, it feels as if our options become to take an early exit from the fast track or feel guilty about the times work interferes with parenting and guilty for the parenting times missed because of a workplace still not flexible enough to accommodate parental needs.

We need policy answers that address those questions more than we need to debate our choice as “having it all” or “settling for less.” After all, there are millions of working women who don’t have the luxury of even asking the question about whether they can “have it all” because they are already DOING IT ALL. For them, there is no debate, because there is no other option but to work too long, too hard, all the while trying to be the best parents they can. A debate about balance for a woman who has to keep going, even if she is carrying babies, debt, briefcases and guilt is only adding to her burden. The truth is when we frame our options in the ways sometimes framed by smart and high profile women making the case for their personal decisions and choices, we not only seem to be passing judgment on other women’s choices, but also we give rise to judgments about whether women are worth the investments of graduate school education, corporate recruitment, and advancement.

The result of some of these high-profile departures is a growing reluctance on the part of big companies to invest in women as potential leaders. Wouldn’t it be better for them and other women if they stayed and pushed for more family friendly policies in their companies, like mandated family leave and flex time?

We also ignore the choice more women than ever are making to become entrepreneurs and create their own work environments and schedules. That’s one way that more women are defining having it all — even though making it as an entrepreneur is never without other challenges.

I would prefer that we have less of the “having it all” debate, and focus instead on identifying ways to expand and improve our options: how can we ensure that women’s leadership is cultivated and sustained in every sector and what can we do to motivate women leaders to be different kinds of leaders once they get to the top? It’s especially disappointing when women CEO’s don’t make the concerns of working women a top priority in setting their policies.

What kinds of structural changes must we make to ensure that working parents can be there for their kids and excel at their jobs? There are better models on family friendly policies in many other countries. The truth is, the U.S. has done little to support the needs of working women and that’s probably why the debate is probably hottest here.

I would like to see us debate how we can make good on the Lilly Ledbetter Act. That would be big step forward towards getting what is fair and equitable at any and all levels for working mothers. There are no universal answers or absolutes in the work/life enigma. Each of us finds our way to what works based on our own internal balance detector. But whenever this subject comes up, as it seems to at every gathering of women these days, I am reminded of the scene from Search for Inteligent [sic] Life. Lily Tomlin portrays a young mother working all day as an editor, running from meeting to meeting, constantly checking her watch, coming home to young children, preparing dinner, helping with homework, reading bedtime stories, preparing for a meeting the next day and finally falling into bed, exhausted, turning out the light and saying, “if I had known this is what it meant to have it all, I would clearly have settled for less.”

But if Lily were doing that play today, I would suggest she add a line to provide another option: doing more to ensure that women, all women, can have what they want and need.

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