Coptic Christian woman wins court case against Egypt’s Islamic inheritance law

Of note:

A Coptic Christian woman has won a major legal victory against Egypt’s Islamic inheritance law that greatly favors men.

Christian human rights lawyer Huda Nasrallah announced that a Cairo court ruled in her favor Monday, deciding that, as a Christian, she has a right to the same share of her father’s inheritance as her brothers.

The decision follows a nearly yearlong legal fight that has seen two other judges rule in favor of Egypt’s Islamic inheritance law that grants male relatives twice as much share of a family member’s inheritance as female relatives.

The Associated Press reported last week that when Nasrallah presented her case to a higher court she based her argument around a Coptic Christian doctrine that calls for an inheritance to be distributed equally.

On Tuesday, Nasrallah told AP that she is “thrilled” by the verdict and hopes it will serve as an encouragement to women in her country.

According to Texas Tech University law professor Gerry W. Beyer, recent cases and sentiment on the issue in Egypt did not bode well for Nasrallah. Additionally, leaders at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, regarded as the most prominent Sunni religious institution in Egypt, have rejected equal inheritance proposals.

Samuel Tadros, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., called the decision a “significant development” in a Twitter thread, but stressed that “only time will tell about its scope.”

“On the other hand, we still don’t have the court’s reasoning,” Tadros, the author of Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, added. “In Hoda’s case, there was no contest. Her brothers joined her in her demand. So if the court simply found no objection and hence ruled in her favor, the case’s scope would be very limited.”

Although Nasrallah’s brothers were on her side in the case, complaints have been raised in the past about how Coptic men “usurp the inheritance of women.” The Coptic Church has also been accused of overlooking the inheritance issue.

Tadros explained that if the court’s reasoning cited the constitutional clause that grants Copts “the right to resort to their own laws in governing their personal status affairs, then this is a huge thing.” However, he stressed the decision could bring both “positive and negative developments.”

“On the positive side, obviously the rights of Coptic women to equal inheritance. It would also be interesting to see what else would the courts consider as Christian personal status. Adoption?” He asked.

“On the other hand, this means that there is unlikely to be any movement on marriage and divorce issues. In those cases, while @PopeTawadros made significant practical moves on them (ones that got him curses from the old guard), these changes remain tied to him and not long term.”

Tadros assured that “any such movement should be understood as a return to the Dhimmitude framework.” He explained it is a framework in which “non-Muslim communities were allowed to govern their own internal affairs, but in which they are not equal citizens.”

Nasrallah is not the only Coptic woman to have successfully sued in the past for their right to equal inheritance. The AP reported earlier this month that Nasrallah was inspired by a 2016 Cairo court ruling in favor of a Coptic woman who fought the inheritance laws.

“It is not really about inheritance, my father did not leave us millions of Egyptian pounds,” she told AP at the time. “I have the right to ask to be treated equally as my brothers.”

Source: Coptic Christian woman wins court case against Egypt’s Islamic inheritance law

In their mother’s country, Lebanon protesters clamour for citizenship


Draped in the Lebanese flag, 22-year-old Dana is bursting with pride at taking part in Lebanon’s “revolution” — even if her home country refuses to give her nationality.

Standing among other demonstrators in the capital, she explains she was born in Beirut to a Lebanese mother and has spent all her life in the country.But like thousands of others in Lebanon, her father is a foreigner and, with Lebanese women unable to pass down their nationality, she has been deprived of citizenship.

“My parents divorced before I was even born. I grew up with my mother,” Dana told AFP.
“I see myself as Lebanese, but they don’t want to recognize my identity,” she added.
The politicians who do not want to change the century-old law, she says, are “patriarchal” and “racist.”

The right to citizenship is one of many long-standing demands to have found new life in the mass protests sweeping Lebanon since October 17.

The unprecedented show of cross-sectarian anger in the street brought down the government last month — but many other of the demonstrators’ demands remain unmet.
Outside the seat of government, 17-year-old Omar said he’d only ever been to Syria once, but was consistently suffering the consequences of his father’s nationality.

Each year, he has to make his way to General Security headquarters to renew his residency permit — like all other non-Lebanese.

“They treat us like foreigners. It’s humiliating,” he said, holding the Lebanese red-green-and-white flag.

Last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) strongly denounced the law, noting that Lebanon lags far behind some other countries in the region on the issue.

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen all provide equal citizenship rights to the children of both women and men, while Iraq and Mauritania confer nationality to those born in the country, according to HRW.

At a Beirut protest, Samer stood in a small crowd, raising his fist and chanting against political leaders he sees as inept and corrupt, the majority of whom have been in power since the end of the country’s 15-year civil war in 1990.

“But we need it (citizenship) to work, to sign up our children at school and receive social security,” said the 33-year-old, whose father is Palestinian and who is himself the father of three.

Despite activists campaigning to amend the 1925 nationality law, Lebanese authorities have been reluctant to do so.

In this small multiconfessional country of around 4.5 million, the political system relies on a fragile balance of power between communities.

Authorities fear that changing the law would open the door — especially through marriages of convenience — to the naturalization of some of the majority-Sunni 1.5 million Syrians and around 174,000 Palestinians living in the country, according to official estimates.

Last year, then foreign minister Gibran Bassil suggested amending the law to allow for Lebanese mothers to pass on their nationality — but only if the father was neither Palestinian nor Syrian.

“It’s racism,” said Randa Kabbani, coordinator of the “My Nationality, My Dignity” campaign demanding citizenship for children of Lebanese women.

Of the 10,000 impacted households identified by the campaign, some 60 percent are Syrian, 10 percent Egyptian, and just seven percent Palestinian, Kabbani said. Others are Jordanian, Iraqi, American or hold European nationalities, she added.

Around 80 percent are Muslim and 20 percent Christian.
Samer said those pushing for reform are not demanding the naturalization of all Palestinians living in Lebanon, “but only those born to a Lebanese mother. It’s a natural right.”
Kabbani said she was delighted the issue had gained new momentum in the ongoing protests.

“Before the movement, women were almost ashamed to speak up about it. But today they’re clamouring loud and clear,” she said.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters took part in a march organized by “My Nationality, My Dignity” in the capital.
Volunteers with the campaign have erected a tent in the square by the office of the now deposed cabinet to discuss the issue.

When she is not protesting, Dana — the university student — helps spread the word among other protesters so they too can join in her fight.

But the young student says she is under no illusions.
Whether or not a new cabinet includes independent experts as demanded, the key to her finally obtaining her Lebanese citizenship will boil down to political will.

“The day decent leaders take power, the legal amendment will fly through,” she said.

Source: In their mother’s country, Lebanon protesters clamour for citizenship

Feminist Senators are critical actors in women’s representation

Interesting take. Would also benefit from possible impact of visible minority and Indigenous senators:

The results of the federal election have produced much scrutiny over the number of women in Canadian Parliament. The Senate is nearing gender parity, with 60 percent of Prime Minister Trudeau’s appointments being women. Gender and politics scholarship has shown that meaningful representation of women’s interests is likely to occur not just because of a critical mass of women, but because of the presence of critical actors. It seems that a group of independent feminist senators have the potential to be critical actors in the representation of Canadian women’s policy interests. Their efforts will be ones to watch in the next Parliament.

The new Parliament will start in the coming weeks, and politicians will descend on Parliament Hill ready to get to work. They certainly haven’t forgotten the near-constitutional crisis at the end of the last Parliament. The Liberal government pushed many pieces of legislation through the House of Commons only to have them stall in the Senate. While some bills were passed, a few significant pieces of legislation died on the Senate’s Order Paper. Amidst the intensity of the last legislative session, a cadre of feminist independent senators worked hard to ensure that the interests of Canadian women were represented. When Parliament starts up again, these senators will surely continue to work together to pursue feminist initiatives in policy-making.

For decades, the Senate has had a better balance of men and women than the House of Commons has. However, we have no studies that show whether the presence of women senators has led to the effective representation of Canadian women’s policy interests.

In recent years, research on women’s representation has shifted focus. Rather than looking just at the number of women in Parliament, researchers are looking at the critical actors who represent women’s interests. We know that increasing the number of women in a legislature is likely to improve the representation of women’s policy interests. However, researchers have found the most important factor is that there are actually people in Parliament who are willing to stand up for women. The group of feminist Canadian senators could be those critical actors.

The new Senate appointment process allows individuals to nominate others or apply directly, and it emphasizes proficiency over partisanship. As a result, many feminists with specific expertise have been appointed as independent senators with free rein to form their own alliances.

Under the new appointment system, a number of Canadian feminist powerhouses have been introduced to Parliament. They bring with them a myriad of experience advocating for women’s interests. Donna Dasko helped found Equal Voice, which is a nonpartisan organization that supports women running for office in Canada. Kim Pate was formerly the director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, which advocates for women in the criminal justice system. Another senator who has fought for women’s rights is Marilou McPhedran, who was instrumental in getting section 15 equality rights into the CanadianCharter of Rights and Freedoms, and who helped to found the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. Mary Coyle has also promoted the rights of women and Indigenous peoples, setting up the First Peoples Fund to provide microfinancing to First Nations and Métis communities in Canada. Before entering politics, Frances Lankin was an active member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, where she acted as the provincial spokesperson for the Equal Pay Coalition. Rosemary Moodie comes from a career in maternal medicine, where she advocated for the expansion of quality health care to marginalized populations. The specific expertise that these senators bring to Parliament informs their work in the Senate.

There are also senators who have particular experience with advising governments on women’s issues. Wanda Thomas Bernard was the chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Nancy Hartling cochaired the New Brunswick Minister’s Working Group on Violence Against Women. Julie Miville-Dechêne was the chair of the Quebec government’s Conseil du statut de la femme. These formidable women represent a few of the feminist senators who, along with many other senators, are working hard to represent women’s interests in the chamber as well.

With this influx of wide-ranging expertise, there have been questions about whether ad hoc Senate caucuses will form on different issues, especially because Liberal senators were removed from the party’s national caucus. Former senator Hugh Segal has been a supporter of that change. With the removal of party discipline, he says, “you could have a caucus on women’s issues, you could have a caucus on defence, you could have a caucus on First Nations issues, you could have regional caucuses.” The efforts of feminist senators seem to be an example of that prediction at work.

In fact, Pate, McPhedran and Coyle allied with NDP MP Christine Moore to found the Canadian Association of Feminist Parliamentarians in late 2018. It already has more than 60 members, and it is working on getting parliamentary approval. The association demonstrates the drive for collaboration and support among Canadian feminist senators.

In an illustration of collaboration between feminist senators, Senator Dasko has worked with her colleagues on oversight of Bill C-78, an Act to Amend the Divorce Act, which she identifies as a bill with vast importance for women: “I took on the responsibility for delving into it. A responsibility on behalf of a small group of senators, feminists as we were, who wanted to make sure that we understood the bill and made changes where we felt necessary.” She recounts a time when the group strategized that she would take the lead. Another senator gave her seat on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to Senator Dasko as a replacement, to ensure that she could deliberate and vote on the Divorce Act at the committee stage (since she had studied the bill’s subject matter and its weaknesses). This access to expertise is an example of the benefits of a cooperative feminist group.

Senator Dasko says she finds that “with the ISG senators, there are a lot of women…it really is a quite congenial work environment. I think we try to get along and we get along very well. I think we work very collaboratively.”

Before the Senate reform, senators’ memberships in party caucuses meant that they did a lot of collaborating behind closed doors, in caucus meetings. We cannot know the specifics of what feminist alliances might have been formed there, or the effects that they had. Now, a group of openly feminist senators operates within the context of a more independent Senate. This provides evidence that some members of the Senate are working in the interests of Canadian women.

Source: Feminist Senators are critical actors in women’s representation

« Parce qu’on est en 2019 » : où en est-on avec la parité en politique?

A history of gender parity in cabinet making and how it has been portrayed:

Le 20 novembre, le premier ministre Justin Trudeau va nommer son nouveau cabinet, qu’il promet paritaire, comme le premier qu’il a formé en 2015.

Les femmes sont minoritaires tant à la Chambre des Communes que dans toutes les chambres législatives des provinces et territoires. Pour y pallier, la nomination de conseils des ministres paritaires, c’est-à-dire composés d’autant d’hommes que de femmes, s’est répandue. Bien qu’elle ne soit pas un phénomène nouveau au Canada, cette parité n’est toujours pas la norme.

C’est Jean Charest, alors premier ministre du Québec, qui a lancé le bal en 2007, en nommant le premier conseil des ministres paritaires du pays. Rachel Notley (Alberta, 2015), John Horgan (Colombie-Britannique, 2017) et François Legault (Québec, 2018)ont également répété l’exercice.

Sur la scène fédérale, la nomination du premier conseil des ministres composé d’un nombre égal de femmes et d’hommespar Justin Trudeau en 2015 avait fait grand bruit. La phrase « Parce qu’on est en 2015 » donnée en réponse à des journalistes qui voulaient connaitre les raisons derrière cette décision a d’ailleurs été reprise un peu partout à travers le monde.

Nous avons cherché à mieux comprendre les différents arguments déployés dans les médias à l’annonce de cabinets comptant un nombre égal d’hommes et de femmes. La couverture médiatique est généralement favorable à ces annonces, mais elle donne également à voir un certain nombre de réticences à l’égard des mesures visant à soutenir un meilleur accès des femmes au sein de la sphère politique.

Un portrait généralement positif

Les articles et chroniques qui abordent la composition paritaire des conseils des ministres mettent de l’avant le côté historique de l’annonce ou la présentent comme le reflet d’une société et d’une époque où l’inclusion et l’égalité sont des valeurs importantes.

L’espoir de voir une nouvelle norme s’instaurer à la suite de l’annonce du cabinet Charest, en 2007, est également très présent : « La parité entre hommes et femmes est un exploit, une première en Amérique du Nord, qui mettra de la pression sur les autres gouvernements du Canada, le fédéral en particulier », écrit le chroniqueur Michel Vastel le 19 avril 2007.

Que ce soit dans le cadre d’articles, de chroniques ou de lettres d’opinion, différentes stratégies de persuasion visent à présenter la parité et ses mesures d’implantation comme bénéfiques pour la société : recours à des statistiques sur le nombre d’élues, exemples des stratégies mises en place sur la scène mondiale, ou évocation des impacts d’un plus grand nombre de femmes sur les prises de décision. La chercheure Véronique Pronovost, de la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand, de l’UQAM, écrivait ceci dans une lettre ouverte publiée dans Le Journal de Montréal, en 2015: « les études portant sur les conséquences de la parité au sein des organisations le confirment: que ce soit au sein des entreprises ou des instances décisionnelles, la parité engendre de nombreux bienfaits ».

L’appui ne se fait toutefois pas toujours sans réserve et les revendications pour des mesures plus durables, comme des lois ou un plus grand effort des partis à nommer une parité de candidatures aux élections sont également exprimées, principalement dans les journaux francophones.

Des avis contraires

L’engouement, bien qu’il soit majoritaire dans les journaux, n’est pas généralisé.

La compétence des femmes nommées dans le cabinet Charest avait été soulignée. Mais des craintes sur ces mêmes compétences ont été exprimées dans le cas de Justin Trudeau. Pour certains, c’est le premier ministre lui-même qui est à l’origine de cette controverse, comme on peut le lire dans cette chronique écrite par Mark Sutcliffe, dans The National Post : Justin Trudeau a mis l’accent sur ce choix prédéterminé en fonction de la parité au lieu de présenter son cabinet comme le résultat naturel de son abondant choix de gens talentueux. « Cela aurait fait plus pour les femmes occupant des postes de direction que de cocher une case de sa liste de promesses. »

L’idée selon laquelle parité et compétence ne vont pas de pair figure d’ailleurs au premier plan des contre-arguments évoqués, tous cabinets confondus. Des journalistes vont même jusqu’à dénoncer l’injustice vécue par les hommes qui, plus nombreux à être députés, ont ainsi moins de chances que les femmes de se voir confier un ministère. Comme l’écrit la chroniqueuse Lysiane Gagnon dans The Globe and Mail, « le caucus libéral compte 134 hommes et 50 femmes, ce qui signifie qu’au début, chaque députée avait environ trois chances de plus que ses collègues masculins d’être nommée au Cabinet. L’équité entre les sexes ne devrait-elle pas s’appliquer également aux hommes ? »

Une question de volonté politique ?

Le choix de nommer un nombre égal d’hommes et de femmes est également dépeint comme un signe de volonté politique, une façon de démontrer l’importance que le premier ministre accorde à l’égalité. En l’absence de règles ou de lois qui forcent les partis politiques à agir, il est vrai que les personnes qui en sont à la tête jouent un rôle important dans l’augmentation de la proportion de femmes ministres.

Au Québec, il a fallu attendre 10 ans avant de voir un nouveau premier ministre, François Legault, désigner un conseil des ministres paritaire (comme Jean Charest l’avait fait en 2007 et en 2008). Justin Trudeau a quant à lui annoncé durant sa campagne que son deuxième cabinet comporterait un nombre égal de femmes et d’hommes. Il lui aurait été difficile de faire autrement sans sembler renier les valeurs d’égalité et de féminisme qui ont caractérisé le début de son premier mandat.

Only a fifth of Canadian mayors are women

Always striking that the diversity numbers for higher levels of government tend to be better than the municipal level, perhaps suggesting the role political parties play at the provincial and federal levels:

The idea that municipal politics are much more accessible to women is a persistent idea in Canada, despite research by scholars such as Erin Tolley and others that has challenged this idea. Part of the problem has been the overly positive media coverage around women in municipal leadership positions, and also the lack of data to either debunk or substantiate the claims. I created a database to look at the representation of women in municipalities, large and small, across the country. The reality is that we have a long way to go to reach parity.

News reports of recent municipal elections in Canada tended to exaggerate the involvement of women. In 2017, after Valérie Plante defeated incumbent mayor Denis Coderre, thus becoming the first female mayor of Montreal, there was an increase in the articles about the how many women were being elected at the municipal level. The Quebec newspaper La Presse, noting that the number of women mayors in the province increased from 144 in 2005 to an all-time high of 210 in 2017, enthused in its headline that it was “a record number.”

During the fall 2018 municipal elections in Ontario, the Windsor Star reported in a headline it was a “Historic night for female candidates in local municipal elections,” where 32 women put their names forward for council or mayor and 15 succeeded in their bids. The Globe and Mail and the CBC proclaimed the all-female city councils in two rural Ontario communities, Algonquin Highlands and Spanish. In New Brunswick, the CBC reported that more women were elected than in the past two elections, with 19 female mayors and 168 councillors. In Nunavut, Nunavut News stated that a new trend had emerged in the territory of young women in politics, as 24-year-old Ningeolaa Killiktee was elected mayor of Kimmirut and Pam Gross as mayor of Cambridge Bay in October 2018; Mila Adjukak Kamingoak was elected MLA in Kugluktuk in 2017. Finally, in the Northwest Territories, one media outlet stated that “Female candidates swept the municipal elections in the NWT,” and the CBC reported the victories of female mayoral candidates in Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith and Yellowknife.

While it is true there has been an increase in the number of women elected municipally across the country, the media has over-emphasized the presence of a few female mayors, giving the impression that we are much closer to reaching parity than we actually are. This over-optimistic coverage of Canada’s municipal elections is difficult to contradict, because of the lack of official national data on mayors across the country. Verifying the more recent numbers is especially problematic, as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ national verified data collection does not extend beyond 2015.

In order to verify the level of feminization of mayoral positions in the country, I created a database (which I am currently using in a handful of ongoing projects) of all mayors across Canada (including other heads of municipal governments such as chiefs, reeves, and heads of council). I identified every municipality in each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories after the municipal elections in fall of 2018. I used Statistics Canada’s 2016 census to identify population sizes. With the election results or municipal directories, I identified the mayors and their genders. When gender was not specified, I consulted newspaper articles and municipal websites. I excluded some municipalities when the mayoral positions had not been filled; for example, in the New Brunswick municipalities of Aroostook, Oakwood, Hanwell and Shediac.

In contrast to the optimistic tone of media coverage, my results show that, out of a total of 3,525 mayors, only 19.4 percent are women (figure 1).

The smallest proportions of female mayors are in Saskatchewan (13 percent), Manitoba (15 percent), Quebec (19 percent) and Alberta (20 percent), and the highest proportions are in Nunavut (32) and Nova Scotia (31 percent). It is, however, important to note that there are 25 mayors in Nunavut and 49 in Nova Scotia, which makes percentages more sensitive to single cases. As there are 1,124 mayors in Quebec, the percentage is not sensitive to single cases.

Clearly the figures show we are not close to achieving a parity zone at either the national or provincial levels.

My results also suggest that smaller municipalities are more likely to have women mayors, as the highest proportions of women mayors are in municipalities with populations of 10, 000 – 49, 999 residents (22 percent) and 9, 999 or less (19 percent) (figure 2). They also show that there are fewer female mayors in municipalities with populations of 50,000 residents or more. And in municipalities with populations of 100,000 residents or more there are even fewer: only 8 female mayors: Josée Néron (Saguenay), Sylvie Parent (Longueuil), and  Valérie Plante in Quebec; Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge), Marianne Meed Ward (Burlington), Bonnie Crombie (Mississauga), and Karen Redman (Waterloo) in Ontario; and Tata Veer (Red Deer) in Alberta).

Although some strides are being made toward gender parity at the municipal level, there is still a lot more work to be done. As my results show, mayoral positions remain largely inaccessible to women candidates, and this is without taking other variables, such as ethnicity and sexual orientation into account, and using a binary measure of gender.

Source: Only a fifth of Canadian mayors are women

He, She, They: Workplaces Adjust As Gender Identity Norms Change

Workplace changes both reflect and influence changes in attitudes:

It’s a pivotal time for LGBTQ people in the workplace. Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in cases testing whether people in that community are protected by the country’s workplace anti-discrimination laws.

That’s happening at a time when more workplaces are adapting to an increasing number of people openly identifying as gender nonbinary — that is, they don’t consider themselves categorically male or female, and favor gender-neutral pronouns like “them,” instead of “he” or “she.”

Some employers are including those preferences on email signatures and name tags. But workers and employers are also navigating changing social norms around gender that can be confusing, and shifting workplace culture away from traditional gender identifiers can also be tricky.

This is something Joshua Byron has thought about a great deal. As a child, Byron realized dressing up as Princess Leia was unconventional for a boy. It wasn’t until young adulthood that Byron first encountered the concept that someone could identify as something other than male or female. For Byron, the idea of being gender neutral — or part one, part the other — felt like it fit.

Byron, 24, came out as such to his inner circle of friends three years ago, requesting to be referred to as “they,” not as “he.” But they didn’t feel comfortable doing so at work.

“I had a very supportive friend group, and then I would go to work and not think about that part of myself,” Byron says.

That changed two years ago, after Byron applied for a teaching job in New York, and a reference outed them as nonbinary.

The new employer had no problem with it and hired Byron. But being out at work meant fielding endless questions from colleagues: Is this really a thing? How can a plural pronoun refer to one person? Byron feels caught in the middle of a culture war.

“I think people feel really intense about it … like this is breaking some rule,” Byron says.

This kind of scenario is playing out in many workplaces, especially as surveys show more people are identifying as gender nonbinary.

“Employers are going to be faced with an increasing percentage of employees over time who have nonbinary identities,” because there is greater prevalence of gender ambiguity among young people, says Jody Herman, a public policy scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA law school, which researches sexual orientation and gender identity.

There is still not a lot of research quantifying this population, especially since there are so many diverse terms around gender identity. Two years ago, Herman’s study found 27% of youth in California aged 12 to 17 said their peers would identify them as gender nonconforming. Other studiesshow a much smaller prevalence of people who identify themselves as transgender or gender nonbinary.

Some employers are already shifting policies. United Airlines gives customers the option to identify as nonbinary when booking tickets. Retirement company TIAA instructed employees to introduce themselves to clients with their preferred pronouns.

The law firm Baker McKenzie earlier this year set its staffing targets to 40% men, 40% women and 20% flexible — including nonbinary people.

Anna Brown, the firm’s director of global diversity and inclusion, says the policy was designed to reflect the shifting demographics. “These are prospective policies. And as we go forward, we know we have nonbinary colleagues,” she says.

New York psychotherapist Laura Jacobs says most employers don’t know how to deal with the issue of gender-nonbinary identity in the workplace.

But New York psychotherapist Laura Jacobs, who counsels many transgender and nonbinary individuals, says that kind of openness is still new and somewhat rare. “How to handle nonbinary people is still something that I don’t think most employers really have a sense for how to handle,” Jacobs says.

Employment forms, for example, often include only male or female options. References from old jobs might have known someone before the person assumed a different name or identity. And often, employer health insurance requires a person to choose.

“You had to be binary in order to get care and that that was enforced by the medical community, the legal community and so on,” says Jacobs, who identifies as both transgender and nonbinary.

But on a day-to-day basis, some of the persistent challenge comes from coworker questions: “Everybody wonders what’s in our pants,” Jacobs says.

Nowhere does this feel more personal than the bathroom.

For transgender populations, bathrooms are places associated with uncomfortable staring, harassment and even violence. They’ve also been at the center of political controversy. Three years ago, North Carolina passed a law requiring people to use bathrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. That law was struck down.

But Mark Marsen says bathrooms remain a hot-button issue for employers and for coworkers who don’t feel comfortable sharing bathrooms with transgender people. Marsen is director of human resources at Allies For Health + Wellbeing, a community health clinic. He recently participated in an online discussion with other HR executives about making the workplace gender neutral.

“A good 60% — at least — of the conversation was about bathrooms,” Marsen says.

At the time, Marsen says, he was re-thinking his company’s restroom policies. Marsen realized a bathroom is just a bathroom. He ended up re-labeling them simply, “restroom” and “restroom with urinals.”

For Joshua Byron, bathrooms are a central emotional issue.

For Byron, things like restrooms and dress codes become litmus tests for how their manager might react — how strictly masculinity might be enforced. It makes Byron wonder: “Will it be a thing that there is argument or stress over?”

But changing long-held gender paradigms isn’t easy. The terms used by nonbinary people can be difficult to understand.

In fact, it can still be confusing even for people who identify as nonbinary, like Mich Dopiro. Dopiro recently stumbled over pronouns for someone they just met.

“I don’t think they took offense, but it was an embarrassing moment for myself,” says Dopiro, 25, who works as a teacher in Seattle. Among middle school students, gender norms have already changed . One student recently called Dopiro by the wrong pronoun, then apologized.

“They felt like, ‘Oh this is something that I grew up with that I should know not to mess up,’ ” Dopiro says.

Source: He, She, They: Workplaces Adjust As Gender Identity Norms Change

Un candidat bloquiste dénonce la discrimination de l’« homme blanc »

Not surprising, given their ethno-centrism:

Dominique Mougin, qui brigue les suffrages dans Saint-Léonard–Saint-Michel, a partagé au cours de la dernière année deux articles du média ultraconservateur Le Peuple. Ces billets dénonçaient la Ville de Montréal et Québec solidaire pour avoir établi des critères d’embauche qui favorisent le recrutement de femmes et de personnes issues des minorités ethniques.

Dans les deux cas, les textes se désolaient que les critères de diversité défavorisent les « hommes blancs », à plus forte raison ceux qui sont « hétérosexuels » dans le cas de l’administration Plante.

M. Mougin n’était pas l’auteur de ces textes, mais en plus de les partager, il a fourni des commentaires pour les appuyer. Le 8 janvier 2019, sous le texte intitulé « Hommes blancs, abstenez-vous de postuler pour Québec solidaire ! », il a écrit que « si on veut commencer à se faire respecter, il va falloir répondre coup pour coup ».

Il est plus que temps que les députés du PQ et du Bloc québécois dénoncent le racisme dont font preuve QS et Projet Montréal.

Dominique Mougin, le 8 janvier 2019

Quelques semaines plus tôt, en novembre 2018, sous le texte « L’homme blanc hétéro est écarté par l’administration municipale », le candidat bloquiste décrivait Valérie Plante comme « notre petite mairesse », en plus d’ajouter : « et je ne parle pas seulement de sa taille ».

La Presse a laissé des messages vendredi et dimanche sur la boîte vocale de Dominique Mougin, mais celui-ci n’a pas rappelé. Les deux publications ont toutefois été retirées de son fil Facebook dans l’intervalle.

Avant qu’il annonce la fin de ses activités en août dernier, le média Le Peuple se décrivait comme « un journal qui vise à donner un point de vue différent sur l’actualité québécoise et canadienne ». Il défendait notamment des positions masculinistes, climatosceptiques et antimigratoires.

Invité à réagir au comportement en ligne de son candidat, le Bloc québécois nous a fourni une courte déclaration dans laquelle il indique que « M. Mougin s’est engagé à défendre exclusivement le programme » du parti.

Peur de la drague

Dans un registre moins draconien, un autre candidat bloquiste a lui aussi déploré la condition de l’homme québécois au cours des dernières années.

Claude André, qui se présente dans Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, a travaillé comme journaliste pigiste et chroniqueur d’humeur dans les années 2000 et 2010. À l’époque, il a alimenté une page personnelle, puis un blogue hébergé par le Huffington Post.

Sur sa page personnelle, en mars 2007, il a signé un « édito » adressé « strictement aux mecs » dans lequel il disait remarquer que les hommes d’ici étaient effrayés par l’idée de draguer des femmes.

« Serait-ce parce que les gars, depuis la garderie au secondaire, ont été élevés par des femmes que l’homo quebecencis molluscus est angoissé à l’idée d’en affronter une sur le terrain de la séduction ? […] Ou encore parce qu’elles ont connu des pères du divorce qui, par remords de ne pas leur donner une vraie famille, les traitent comme des reines que les filles d’ici sont si altières ? », a-t-il écrit.

Joint par La Presse vendredi dernier, Claude André a soutenu que ses textes « d’humour » s’inscrivaient dans « l’esprit de ces années-là ». Il affirme qu’il ne cautionne plus ces idées. « De vieux sketches de Rock et Belles Oreilles, ça ne passerait plus aujourd’hui », illustre-t-il.

« Bashing »

Dans un passé plus récent, M. André a signé un billet intitulé « Le bashing du mâle québécois : ça suffit ! » sur le site du Huffington Post. Dans ce texte daté d’août 2013, il affirmait notamment en avoir « ras le pompon » du « mépris » dont faisaient l’objet, selon lui, les hommes de la province.

Il réagissait alors à un texte publié par la journaliste Judith Lussier dans lequel elle racontait avoir cessé de porter une robe d’été car elle en avait marre de recevoir des remarques déplacées. Son usage de l’expression « violer du regard » avait mis M. André hors de lui.

Déjà que les hommes de ma génération étaient parfois perçus comme des assassins possibles, après les événements de Polytechnique commis par un meurtrier nommé Marc Lépine, faudrait pas non plus que l’on fasse maintenant des Québécois des éventuels violeurs en puissance parce qu’ils répondent – parfois maladroitement, je n’en disconviens pas –, à une impulsion séductrice.

Claude André, dans un texte de 2013

Judith Lussier a dit à La Presse avoir déjà signifié que « si c’était à refaire », elle écrirait sa chronique « autrement ».

« Je crois toutefois que ce texte nous aura permis d’entamer une discussion sur le harcèlement de rue, qui n’était pas vraiment un sujet de discussion à l’époque », a-t-elle ajouté, estimant par contre que la lecture de M. André « extrapolait d’une manière exagérée » et « faisait preuve de susceptibilité et s’inscrivait un peu dans l’idée passive-agressive du “not all men” ».

En entrevue, Claude André a fait valoir que « c’était avant #metoo, avant tout ce qu’on sait sur la culture du viol. Évidemment que je n’écrirais pas quelque chose comme ça aujourd’hui ».

Quant à l’idée du « mâle bashing », elle faisait « partie de la discussion politique de l’époque », selon lui.

Le Bloc québécois s’est dit « satisfait » des explications de son candidat et a souligné que « M. André défend l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes ».

Source: Un candidat bloquiste dénonce la discrimination de l’« homme blanc »

Malaysia: When gender gets in the way of citizenship

Of note:

IT is not difficult to guess that Aisha and Anis are sisters. They share a striking physical resemblance reflecting the Malay origin of their mother and Mauritian origin of their father.

Yet, it takes a bureaucrat to disrupt the unity of nature’s order.

For Anis is a Malaysian citizen, while Aisha, her older biological sister, has been struggling to obtain a citizenship without success.

Their mother, Siti Haniza, shook her head as she narrated the bureaucratic trauma she underwent trying to get her daughter to be granted her birth-right — which is to be registered as a Malaysian.

Her mistake, as an official had explained to her, was firstly to deliver their first child in Mauritius, and then having failed to fly 3,000km to South Africa to register her birth within the first month of her child’s birthday.

That was where the nearest Malaysian consul was located.

Unspoken in that narrative was her mistake of marrying a non-Malaysian and having children with him. That same situation would not have happened if Aisha’s father had been a Malaysian and her mother a non-Malaysian.

The rules and regulations of citizenship are gender-biased and discriminatory to Malaysian women. According to the Campaign for Equal Citizenship, Siti is not alone and her ordeal is shared by thousands of other Malaysian women.

The campaign, led by the Foreign Spouses Support Group, had raised awareness about this dismal situation by cataloguing real-life examples from around the world.

For Malaysian men with non-Malaysian wives who deliver in foreign lands, they need only notify the nearest Malaysian embassy for their children to be granted the necessary citizenship documents.

In contrast, Malaysian women with non-Malaysian husbands in similar situations would have to clear a higher standard by applying for their children to be recognised as citizens.

There is no guarantee that their child would be deemed a citizen.

The Campaign for Equal Citizenship documents the negative effects of such discrimination on Malaysian women.

It is highly stressful and disrupting to family life when family members have to undergo uncertainties with respect to the ability to enter the country and travel.

Or when husbands are separated from their wives and children for extended periods as a result of the bureaucratic process.

Children are denied access to services and job opportunities, while family relations become difficult to maintain and become brittle.

When asked about this apparent double standard, Siti responds firmly, “No matter where she was born, my daughter is every inch as Malaysian as I am.

“She comes from a long and illustrious family of civil servants who have served passionately and diligently to build the Malaysia that we are so proud of today.”

She continued, “Her forefathers were freedom fighters who fought against colonialism and suffered for it. Yet, my country has not reciprocated this legacy with empathy nor compassion.”

Malaysia is currently one of only 25 countries globally, and one of four countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which has discriminatory citizenship laws.

Malaysia does not recognise mothers as equal parents by law, as the Federal Constitution expressly provides that children born overseas to married Malaysian fathers are entitled to citizenship by operation of law (Article 14(1)(b) but is silent on children born overseas to Malaysian mothers.

Consequently, the process for registering children born overseas as Malaysian citizens is far more arduous for Malaysian women, making them feel like second-class citizens.

This law is deeply rooted in patriarchy which allows for sexist attitudes that influence the applications process.

These women are expected to follow their husband’s citizenship, live overseas and not enjoy the option for their children to choose their nationality.

Yet such a law is out of sync with the reality of Malaysian women today.

Malaysian women are among the most educated in the region, with high rates of labour participation and they play important leadership roles in both the public and private sectors.

Malaysia’s impressive economic transformation could not have been achieved without the important contributions of her women. Yet the country is unable to recognise this by discriminating against her bloodline.

Because of the painful experience with her first-born, Siti decided to deliver Anis in Malaysia and use her family network to ensure that her second daughter’s birth right to citizenship was not denied.

She now has two daughters with two different nationalities.

Siti laments: “It pains me to realise that Aisha would not be able to continue the family tradition of joining the civil service and serve Malaysia.”

She is also concerned that Aisha’s employment prospects would be significantly constrained without her Malaysian citizenship.

In May 2018 Malaysia showed the world that it had the capacity to change, to remove the kleptocrats ruining the country, in order to make the country a better place for all its citizens.

This sense of inclusivity needs to be extended also to Malaysian women and their genetic right to determine the citizenship of their children.

Source: When gender gets in the way of citizenship

Female imams lead prayers, a first in France

Of note:

Several French Muslim women are trying to lead prayer sessions in France. They face major opposition, but on Saturday two French women who converted to Islam led the country’s first non-segregated prayers where wearing of the veil was not compulsory.

Eva Janadin and Anne-Sophie Monsinay led prayers before a congregation of 60. Men and women kneeled, side by side, in a room in Paris hired for the occasion.

For security reasons the location remained secret: an indication that fundamentalist Muslims are still struggling with the move towards a more “inclusive” expression of Islam in France.

Un temps de prière mixte et progressiste, où le port du voile n’est pas obligatoire. «Nous apportons notre pierre à la construction d’un islam de France adapté aux acquis de la modernité», explique l’imame Eva Janadin

In a report by Le Parisien, Ann-Sophie Monsinay said they had faced opposition but that thankfully “there had been more encouragement than threats”.

Source: Female imams lead prayers, a first in France

Unequal citizenship rights for women and equality in law — Malaysian Campaign for Equal Citizenship

Of interest:

The Campaign for Equal Citizenship led by the Foreign Spouses Support Group welcomes the recent announcement by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Ministry of Home Affairs to draw up a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for citizenship applications. This would presumably ensure that citizenship applications are considered more fairly and promptly.

However, this is inadequate for the thousands of Malaysian mothers who wish to confer citizenship to their children born overseas. The government must fix the law, so that Malaysian women enjoy equal citizenship rights compared to Malaysian men.

Of course, a Malaysian mother married to a foreign man who gives birth in Malaysia can confer citizenship to their children but the discrimination is stark when these mothers for various valid reasons give birth overseas.

Reasons for giving birth overseas range from holding overseas jobs, unable to afford flights, premature births or risking medical complications. There are also many reasons such as aging parents, why women choose to return to Malaysia with their families and have their children grow up here as citizens.

Whilst a Malaysian father can simply notify and register at the nearest embassy of the country where his foreign wife has given birth, whereupon Malaysian citizenship papers will be issued within a time period from 3 days two months, however the Malaysian mother has to apply for citizenship for her children

Based on experiences of these Malaysian mothers, they are often misinformed by authorities abroad and at home, given inconsistent information and experience inconsistent practices. While there have been success stories, we are looking at an average waiting time of one to seven years or more to get an approval, often after multiple rejections and re-applications. Allegedly rejections are part of the SOPS to test to see if these Malaysian mothers are truly sincere and loyal to Malaysia a test not accorded to Malaysian fathers.

So, while developing a new SOP may be a temporary solution, there is a dire need for a permanent solution.

To do so, we must address first the root of the discrimination. In principle, Malaysia does not recognise mothers as equal parents by law, as the Federal Constitution expressly provides that children born overseas to married Malaysian fathers are entitled to citizenship by operation of law (Article 14(1)(b) but is silent on children born overseas to Malaysian mothers.  Consequently, the process for registering children born overseas as Malaysian citizens is far more arduous for Malaysian women making them feel like second-class citizens.

This law is deeply rooted in patriarchy which allows for sexist attitudes that influence the applications processes. These women are expected to follow the husband’s citizenship, live overseas and not enjoy the option for their children to choose their nationality. Not to be labour a point, the children born overseas to Malaysian fathers enjoy this choice.

Malaysia is currently one of only twenty-five countries globally, and one of four countries in the Asia Pacific region, which has discriminatory citizenship laws.

Amend Schedule II of Federal Constitution to explicitly allow both men and women to confer citizenship on their children born outside of Malaysia through the same process. and make it equal and right for Malaysian women, we make up half of Malaysia and we count.

Source: Unequal citizenship rights for women and equality in law — Malaysian Campaign for Equal Citizenship