This week’s top stories include UN reaffirming the importance of women’s leadership to address climate change, Nagaland’s first woman Rajya Sabha MP, the first batch of girl cadets and more.
1. Taliban breaks promise on higher education for Afghan girls
The unexpected decision to postpone the return of girls going to school in higher levels came late on Tuesday as Afghanistan’s education ministry prepared for the new year opening of school. The decision appears to be a concession to the rural and deeply tribal backbone that in many parts of the countryside are reluctant to send their daughters to school.
“We did everything the Taliban asked in terms of Islamic dress, and they promised that girls could go to school and now they have broken their promise,” said Mariam Naheebi, a journalist who spoke to the AP in Kabul.
“They have not been honest with us,” added Naheebi, who has protested for women’s rights.
2. Saudi Arabia allows women to perform Umrah without male guardians
Saudi Arabia will allow women aged 18 to 65 to perform the Umrah pilgrimage without a male guardian, known as a “mahram,” on the condition that they are part of a group, local media reported.
The new decision, announced by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, requires women applying for Umrah or Hajj pilgrimage to be partially vaccinated (one dose). They must also be free of any diseases. Residents from inside the Kingdom and Saudi citizens, who had not performed Hajj during the last 5 years, can register for this year’s Hajj.
In 2021, the Hajj ministry officially allowed women of all ages to make the pilgrimage without “mahram,” on the condition that they must be part of a group.
Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims and a must for able-bodied people with the means to do so at least once in their lifetime. It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, which is considered as holiest city for Muslims.
3. UN commission reaffirms women leadership to address climate change
The 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), the second-largest UN intergovernmental meeting in New York, closed its two-week-long session, acknowledging the important role of women and girls as agents of change for sustainable development, in safeguarding the environment and addressing the adverse effects of climate change.
The agreed conclusions adopted on Thursday by member states are a blueprint for world leaders to promote women’s and girls’ full and equal participation and leadership in the designing and implementation of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and programmes moving forward.
Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, said: “The agreements reached by the commission come at a point when the world urgently needs new and coherent solutions to the interlocking crises that impact us all.
“We now have a pathway with practical, specific measures for global resilience and recovery, and a shared understanding that solutions depend on bringing women and girls to the centre. Let’s capitalise on the work done here, put these agreements into immediate practice and move these decisions forward through all the major forums ahead, including COP27.”
Initiatives to address climate change, environmental and disaster and risk reduction must consider the following:
- Promoting women’s and girls’ full and equal participation and leadership to make natural resource management and climate, environment and disaster risk action more effective.
- Expanding gender-responsive finance at scale for climate and environment action and to reach women’s organizations, enterprises and cooperatives.
- Building women’s resilience in the context of agricultural and food systems, forest and fisheries management and the sustainable energy transition.
- Enhancing gender statistics and sex-disaggregated data in the gender-environment nexus; and fostering gender-responsive just transitions.
4. S Phangnon Konyak becomes Nagaland’s first woman Rajya Sabha MP
S Phangnon Konyak, on Thursday, became the first woman Rajya Sabha (RS) member from the state as she was declared duly elected uncontested to fill the Nagaland’s lone seat in the Council of States. She is also the second woman parliamentarian from the state after Rano M Shaiza, who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977 as an Independent.
The result was declared by Returning Officer Khruohituonuo Rio, Additional Secretary of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, after the last hour for withdrawal of candidature.
“This decision has been undertaken, as “there was only one candidate for the Biennial Election till the last date for Withdrawal of the Nomination Paper,” Khruohituonuo Rio said in a press release.
In a tweet, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said: “Congratulations, Smt. Phangnon Konyak @phangnon on being elected to the @RajyaSabha and also on becoming the first Naga woman to represent Nagaland in the Rajya Sabha. I am confident that you will represent our state exceptionally well. I wish you the best for a successful tenure.”
Congratulations, Smt. Phangnon Konyak @phangnon on being elected to the @RajyaSabha and also on becoming the first Naga woman to represent Nagaland in the Rajya Sabha. I am confident that you will represent our state exceptionally well. I wish you the best for a successful tenure pic.twitter.com/BdDg1CQMkO
— Neiphiu Rio (@Neiphiu_Rio) March 24, 2022
5. NDA gearing Up to Admit First Batch of Girl Cadets
The first batch of 19 female cadets will be admitted to the National Defence Academy (NDA) based on their performance in the UPSC NDA 2 2021 written exam and Service Selection Board (SSB) interview.
As per the current plans, girls aged between 16-and-a-half and 19 shall be admitted for the first course starting June, with 10 seats allotted for the Indian Army, six for Indian Air Force and three for the Indian Navy. The girl cadets’ military training will be handled in a gender-neutral manner.
“The training objective at the NDA shall continue to remain as a centre of excellence for producing military leaders equipped with professional, moral and physical attributes required for leading the troops to victory in the future battlefields,” said an official.
Simultaneously, the NDA will provide dedicated support staff for facilitating the training of girl cadets, though the majority of training activities shall be conducted jointly keeping their employability in mind, wherein the women officers are required to command the troops of men.
6. BCCI proposes a six-team women’s IPL from next year
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is proposing a six-team Women’s IPL from next year. At a Governing Council (GC) meeting of the Indian Premier League in Mumbai on Friday (March 25), a decision was taken that efforts will be made to start a franchise-based annual T20 tournament for women cricketers from 2023. A usual three-team Women’s T20 Challenge will be played this year during the IPL.