New Zealand appoints female prime minister
After weeks of negotiations among parties attempting to form a governing coalition, a minority party threw its support behind Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who will become the next prime minister of New Zealand. Ardern will be the nation’s third female prime minister and its youngest leader in more than 150 years. Just months ago, she became Labour’s youngest party head in history after rapidly rising through party ranks and drawing widespread popular support with her unconventional and accessible political style. Her popularity is credited with sparking a surge in support for Labour policies—particularly among young people—that ended the center-right National Party’s nine-year run in power. Ardern has criticized discriminatory norms in national politics, suggesting that no male politician would be questioned as she has been about future plans for having children, and has championed child welfare and economic equality.
Women and girls liberated in Raqqa
Raqqa, the de facto capital city of ISIS, was liberated by U.S.-backed Syrian forces this week, as tens of thousands of residents who lived under the group’s oppressive rule fled the city for safety. Many women were seen removing the full body veils, including gloves and eye coverings, they were forced to wear by “morality brigades” since ISIS first entered the city in March 2013. Other fleeing citizens described severe restrictions on women and brutal punishment for those who violated ISIS’s decrees. Those women fleeing ISIS’s brutal rule still face challenges to their safety: following the liberation of other ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, women and girls remained vulnerable to food and water shortages, insufficient maternal healthcare, and sexual violence.
Gender-based violence in Asia
A new report finds that gender-based violence causes more deaths than armed conflict in Asia. Violence against women and girls is pervasive across countries in the region: at least 50 percent of women surveyed in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste and up to 75 percent of women in Pakistan and Bangladesh have endured physical or sexual violence at home. The research finds that dowry disputes are a primary driver of lethal violence in many countries: in India, for example, at least 40,000 women were murdered between 2011 and 2015 over dowry disputes, which represents ten times the total number of people killed in two armed conflicts in the country during the same period. Given the widespread underreporting of such violence and inadequate data collection, the full impact of gender-based violence is likely even larger.