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March 8, 2021

For Gender Equality

As Hand in Hand for Women, on March 8, International Women’s Day, we have tried to portray for you the women’s rights movement and the fight for women’s rights in 2020. Most often the happenings made us upset or angry. The achievements in the field of the fight for women’s rights against the violation of them did not satisfy us. But all this has taught us to bond even more with each other as women.

As Hand in hand for women, on March 8, International Women’s Day, we will continue to work and fight for gender equality and women’s rights in order to reach high levels of social position and get the support we deserve in our fight.

Of course, in the fight for gender equality and women’s rights, it will take time to create the necessary conditions for women. To empower women a holistic approach is required. For this reason, it is of great importance for all women’s lobbies to act together and reach the necessary political solutions quickly.

Hand in hand for women support for them many digital seminars and projects to maintain the social integration. We further helped the immigrant women to communicate courageously during the pandemic days.  These digital projects and seminars prevented women from being isolated and provided psycho-social support them.

Women from different segments of society have come a long way in participating in projects, getting to know the Swedish culture and learning the Swedish language.

The serious increase in male violence against women during the pandemic days is worrying. For this reason, these projects should be continue to increase in order migrant women should not be isolated in their homes, not to be separated from the society and each other. Comparing women and men, there is a serious gender inequality in society in terms of job employment that is unfavourable to women. Employment of migrant women in skilled jobs in their fields of interest and considering their abilities is still not at the desired point. Political and social support is urgently needed for migrant women to accelerate their integration and gain economic freedom.

Unfortunately, immigrant women and immigrant women associations do not have sufficient opportunities to develop themselves and a strong voice, as they do not receive sufficient support.

The Swedish government and all women’s associations need to give more say to immigrant women. In all institutions, civil society, and women’s lobbies, our most important demands are the integration of immigrant women into Swedish society, their participation in social life and the business world, and the support they need in this regard. We hope that the 8th of March 2021, will be a turning point in which we reach equitable and lasting solutions for all women.

Istanbul Convention

(Photo: Cumhuriyet)

Turkey’s Government started a discussion on Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention that has been in force in the country since 2014.

Istanbul Convention the first European treaty specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence, recently caused dispute inside Turkey’s government with conservative claims that it would corrode traditional Turkish family and values. 

Turkey has an alarming number of femicide rates – 408 women were killed only in 2020 that is followed by 66 femicide events in 2021 until now.

Reports also indicate that Poland, Croatia, and Serbia are among the countries that are considering withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

In July 2021, Women from Turkey began posting their black-and-white photos with the hashtags of #istanbulconventionsaveslives and #challengeaccepted to highlight violence against women, and women are called for the Istanbul Convention to be applied. In August 2020, amid the fear of Turkey’s possible withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, 155 prominent women of letters published a joint statement on defending the convention. They emphasized that femicide had turned into an epidemic in Turkey, saying it is unacceptable to withdraw from the convention. Thousands of women simultaneously took to the streets across Turkey protesting the possible withdrawal and calling for full implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

Women’s Rights Violations and Strip Search in Turkey

On International Women’s day in 2020, we as Hand in Hand for Women published a report about the human rights violations, discrimination, and political persecution that forced women to immigrate from Turkey to different countries and Europe have witnessed.

Almost 11,000 women are in prisons in Turkey today and estimated 5,000 of whom are political prisoners or prisoners of conscience.

The Turkish parliament passed a law providing for the release of tens of thousands of prisoners from Turkish prisons as part of efforts to free up the system due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it is violating of human/women rights that the bill excludes political prisoners even pregnant, had just given birth or seriously ill.

In Turkey, imprisoned women live in unsanitary prisons and are denied their rights to nutritional food, access to basic and complex healthcare, and feminine hygiene products even during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Among those persecuted are more than 700 mothers who have been imprisoned with their infants and numerous others who have been violently separated from their children. More than a hundred women who were pregnant or had just given birth imprisoned within extremely crowded places such as 30 people in a 10-person ward.

This report focused on the torture and ill-treatment that women witnessed of the current political persecution in Turkey. However, unfortunately still in the detention centers and prisons of Turkey women (mostly political prisoners) have been facing strip search.

Although many women and LGBTQ+ revealed the strip search, the Turkish Government denied the accusations instead, moreover, accused those victims as terrorists.

Immigrant Women and Newly arrived women in Sweden

Gender influences reasons for migrating, who migrates and to where, how people migrate and the networks they use, opportunities and resources available at destinations, and relations with the country of origin.

Risks, vulnerabilities, and needs are also shaped in large part by one’s gender, and often vary drastically for different groups. The roles, expectations, relationships, and power dynamics associated with being a man, woman, boy or girl, significantly affect all aspects of the migration process, and can also be affected in new ways by migration.

For instance, in Sweden, newly arrived women receive less, worse, and later support than men. At the same time, the large and expensive investments go to male-dominated industries and professions. If the trend is not reversed, a large group of women risks never becoming financially independent. In order to correct the unequal distribution, targeted investments in newly arrived women are required in the Government’s spring budget and the requirements for the Public Employment Service are tightened. The agency’s new action plan is welcome but will not suffice if the budget’s resource allocation continues to contribute to inequality.

Gender Pay Gap

(Photo: Sveriges Kvinnolobby)

According to the European Parliament’s definition, the gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly wage of women and men.  It is based on salaries paid directly to employees before income tax and social security contributions are deducted.

 Several studies show that women dominate lower-paying jobs than men.  Although women today have increased their representation in higher-paying jobs, it is women who are still under-represented in high-paying jobs and leadership roles.

 In Sweden, women’s full-time wages are on average 9.9 per cent lower than men’s.  This corresponds to SEK 3,700 a month and SEK 44,400 in one year.

This means that women work for free after 16:12 every day, while men are paid for their entire workday.

Uyghur Women

(Photo: Medium)

Women in China’s ‘re-education’ camps for Uyghurs have been systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured.

Many courageous Uyghur women have come forward to expose the abuses they faced in the so-called re-education camps China has used since 2018.

Unfortunately, this is only one of the numerous cases in which Uyghur women have experienced sexual abuse or harassment in China. Experts believe that China has enforced its one-child policy by preventing 400 million births via forced abortions and mandated contraception. Women who have escaped from the camps reported being forced to take unknown medications which altered their moods and stopped them from menstruating. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to deny these allegations. Despite some international focus, the alleged atrocities did not stop and did not stop at mass incarceration, forced labor, forces sterilizations, and forced abortions.

Women Under the Anti-democratic Countries

Unfortunately, under the anti-democratic policies, conflicts, or wars of countries women are always victimized. Today, Iran is still greatly oppressing women. Human rights defenders are one of the groups of women who constantly face state-sponsored violence.

Human rights defenders are subjected to torture, including mock executions, beatings, sleep deprivation, and denial of access to adequate medical care.

Currently, Syrian women suffer from food insecurity, loss of education, lack of access to clean water and medical supplies, and gender-based violence at a disproportionately higher rate than men. In fact, in 69% of communities, early and unwanted marriage is a prevalent concern. Moreover, before and during the war, societal roles of marriage and domestic abuse escalated dramatically.

Like in Syria, even women’s basic rights are not recognized in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, etc.

Abortion law of Poland

(Photo: BBC)

In Poland, the ruling party Law and Justice (PIS) has waged a long struggle against abortion law. On October 22, the Constitutional Court announced that the current abortion law (which only allows abortion after rape, when the life of the mother is at risk or in case of serious birth defects) is not compatible with the Cconstitution, and that abortion care in case of severe birth defects is illegal. The protests against the law have been extensive.  On October 30, over 100,000 people gathered in the streets despite corona restrictions to demonstrate against the decision.  The Polish government has announced that it is delaying the implementation of the law.  But despite this, hospitals have already begun to deny women abortion care.

Ukraine’s surrogate clinics and Belarus

(Photo: Sveriges Kvinnolobby)

The world is shocked by images from one of Ukraine’s largest surrogate clinics.  New-born babies in long lines screaming for closeness when foreign clients are unable to pick them up due to closed borders during the corona pandemic.  The situation during the pandemic brings the surrogacy trade to light.

Since the election in Belarus, widespread mass protests have spread across the country.  The opposition, which wants to seize power from President Lukashenko, is led by three women who have faced severe repression from the regime. Svetlana Tichanovskaya – has fled to Lithuania, Maria Kolesnikova – has been arrested by the regime, Veronika Tsepkalo – has fled to Poland.  (Britta Kramsjö)