From early to late summer in 2010, the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute and KVINFO, the Danish Center for Information on Gender, Equality and Ethnicity, has helped develop a new agenda for working with gender equality in Egypt and the Arab world through the project "Changing Masculinities, Changing Communities".
A delegation comprising 8 Jordanians and 17 Moroccans visited Denmark between 10 and 14 November. Firstly, they visited Denmark’s second largest city. Following this, they went to the Danish capital Copenhagen to participate in the international conference “Women, local politics and equality in Denmark, Jordan and Morocco” hosted by the Women’s Council in Denmark.
When Jordanians went to the polls in 2007’s local elections, one candidate in particular stood out. Kawtar Abd-Allah Bakheet Al-Egweiri was a clear vote-winner (being the woman candidate who received most votes in the entire country) and was overwhelmingly elected onto the municipal council of Jordan’s third-largest city, Zarga.
Cultural mediator Uzma Ahmeed and photographer Tina Enghoff have turned the spotlight on one of Denmark’s most humanitarianly sensitive issues with their photography project Seven. With the publication of a book and a major exhibition at Denmark’s Royal Library, the two bring to the fore Denmark’s ‘Seven-year rule’ – a contentious piece of legislation affecting primarily women residing in Denmark who have been reunited with their spouse. One of Denmark’s most acknowledged female authors, Kirsten Thorup, has written the preface to the book. She raises the question of just where Denmark’s pain threshold goes when it comes to these women who find themselves trapped between a life of abuse or deportation.
This Danish legislation means that any woman who has come to Denmark to be reunited with a spouse must to remain ‘tied’ to her husband for seven years before being able to apply for permanent residency independently. In the spring of 2010 the rules were altered reducing the period a woman has to remain tied to a man to four years before being eligible for permanent residency. On the other hand, however, this reform also brought with it stricter requirements for employment, Danish language proficiencies and education. As well as this, a two-year rule was also introduced which allows a woman to apply for residency after two years if she can prove that abuse is the cause of the marital breakdown and can produce clear evidence that abuse has been committed.
There are no figures showing just how many women victims of violence there are in Denmark. There is also much disagreement as to how many women brought into Denmark to join a husband live hidden from the authorities and are the victims of spousal abuse. The vast majority of women who move to Denmark from abroad to be reunited with a spouse are married to a Danish or Nordic citizen. The marriage visas statistics for 2009 show that 3,043 of the 3,662 marriage visas issued in Denmark were to spouses marrying resident Danish of Nordic citizens (The Danish Immigration Service, 2010). The countries whose citizens were granted most marriage visas were Thailand, Turkey and The Philippines. The annual reports from women’s shelters in Denmark show that of the approximately 2,000 women who annually seek refuge in a women’s shelter, roughly 40% are women with a non-Danish ethnic backgrounds.
The new book and photo exhibition Seven tells the stories of mistreated women, subjected to this statutory threshold of pain lasting seven years. Where do we cross over the line of our own threshold of pain? asks acclaimed author Kirsten Thorup in this preface to the book.
Nordic-Arab Network of Research on Women’s Empowerment, Gender and Politics (WEP)
The aim of this network is to provide young Arab and Nordic scholars in the field of gender and politics with the opportunity to establish intra-regional as well as cross-regional contacts with other PhD students and seniors in the same field and to provide additional academic supervising.
The network covers the following areas of studies and research:
Women’s political empowerment (political representation, social move-ments)
Policy changes and gendered rights (civil, political and social citizen-ship and violence against women)
Labour market (gender segregation, equal pay, unemployment)
Migration (including migrating care workers)
Media, communication and cultural debates
The purpose of the network is three-fold:
To contribute to the development of research in the field of women in political life.
To facilitate the exchange of theories, methodological approaches and empirical findings between young Arab and Nordic scholars.
To facilitate contacts between senior and junior researchers in the field. Thus, the network will be of vital help to young scholars who are looking for international research contacts and who are in want of add-itional external supervision capacity.
Activities and Resources
The network will assist young scholars with establishing new research contacts and will provide additional academic supervising opportun-ities by Arab and Nordic senior researchers.
Two PhD seminars (one in Denmark, 1-3 November 2010 and one in Fez, Morocco 30 September - 2 Oct 2011) for Master, PhD, and postdoc students from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Nordic countries.
An online forum for network members on KVINFO’s three-language (Arab, English, Danish) website: http://www.womendialogue.org
Four scholarships (2010-2011) will be available for Arab PhD students wishing to study one semester at Aalborg University in Denmark.
The working language of the network is English.
How to Join
Master Students, PhD Students and Postdoc Scholars: Everybody within the target group may join the network. The network is primarily aimed at PhD students but Master students and Postdoc scholars are also invited to join the network.
Senior Researchers: Please feel free to join the network, if you are a senior researcher willing to share your experience with and provide feedback to young scholars.
History tells us that research on women in political decisionmaking has been and still is vital for national and transnational NGOs and for public agencies working to enhance women’s position and influence in political life. One central issue is how to change the general under-representation of women in political decision-making which still exist the Arab and Nor¬dic countries.
Understanding the mechanism of exclusion and inclusion has been an important factor behind the high level of women’s representation in the Nordic countries, with an average of 42 % women in Nordic parliaments today. A second central issue is the possibilities of changing the political agenda and making public policies more gender-sensitive. A third central issue is the ideas, strat-egies and effects of the women’s movements and the potential of transnational cooperation. Improvement in women’s political representation and new policy reforms has often been initiated by women’s or¬ganizations. Within all three fields, intra-Arab and intra-Nordic diffusion of best practices is important, as is the exchange of ideas and experiences between the Arab countries and the Nordic countries.
The network steering committee consists of representatives from the Arab and Nordic countries and the members are responsible for the scientific coordination and quality assurance of the network activities.
For more info about this project
Tlf: 50 76 33 54
It is hardly a secret that men dominate the public sphere in most parts of the world, also in the Arab world. The past generation, however, women have gained ground as their access to education and jobs has grown. This accumulated talent, however, is not reflected in for instance media exposure and business leadership.
In Denmark, before a person can be divorced he or she must undergo a period of legal separation.This legal separation is a form of trial period during which the husband and wife live apart. In accordance with Danish law, a spouse who does not believe that it is possible for him or herself to continue the marital union has the right to instigate legal separation.No given reason is required by law other than that the individual does not feel capable of continuing in the marriage. Firstly, the parties are legally separated and, if both spouses agree to divorce, they may be legally divorced after 6 months of separation.Should one party not agree to the divorce, a spouse can become legally divorced following a period of 12 months separation. In cases involving infidelity or violence within a marriage, divorce can be granted immediately – providing that the violence has been reported to the police or that medical reports can substantiate the fact that a person is the victim of violence. In infidelity cases, a statement from the third party stating that they have been involved with the relevant spouse, is required.
Although the story was fictional, the situation is a real one for many Danish women. Each year more than 2,000 women victims of violence stay at a shelter. If they knock on the door of one of Denmark’s biggest shelters, Danner in Copenhagen, they can get help right there and then and over a longer period, tells Danner Managing Director Vibe Klarup Voetmann:
The anthology, which is the first of its kind, is published with support fron the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) and the Danish Association of Writers. The work has been translated by Muniam Alfaker and May Tchelebi. read more (In Danish)
”In literature, fiction can do something that non-fiction cannot as through works of fiction we can indirectly meet ‘the other person’. And it’s through this meeting that we can learn to understand one another”, explains May Tchelebi, who translates Danish literature into Arabic.
No difference between the national and international struggle for women’s rights
“I’m here to celebrate International Women’s Day because, when it comes to the fight for women’s rights, I don’t differentiate between the fight at national and international level.” So explained the gray-haired Nawal Al-Saadawi determinedly to Women Dialogue when I met her in Copenh
Since the mid 1990s, the right of Muslim women to wear headscarves at work has been a source of constant debate among politicians, the public and in the media. To begin with, the debate primarily concerned the extent to which checkout assistants and others in the retail sector should be able to wear headscarves when at work.
“Fifteen years ago, you had to be a journalist, writer or member of some organisation before you could make your voice heard. Today, you can get your message out there through your blog,” tells American Jessica Valenti, founder of the site feministing.com.