Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, covering from September 16 to September 23, was compiled with support from Becky Allen and Anne Connell.
Women in Myanmar peace process Activists and several government officials in Myanmar are calling on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to support the participation of women in peace talks designed to end one of the world’s longest running civil conflicts. At the Union Peace Conference held this summer in the capital city of Naypyidaw, women made up 14 percent of official participants, and only 9 percent of the government’s seventy-five representatives. Local women’s groups such as the Myanmar Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process and senior figures in the UN have drawn attention to the underrepresentation of women in the negotiations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon raised the issue in remarks at the opening of the most recent round of talks, and the UN’s report on Myanmar’s implementation of CEDAW noted the absence of a Burmese national action plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). Aung San Suu Kyi, who assumed the post of State Counsellor after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won landmark elections last November, remains the only woman to hold a senior ministerial position in government, and just 13 percent of the elected members of parliament are women. Suu Kyi has faced criticism over her perceived inaction regarding women’s participation in the peace process.
Women’s political representation in Japan In a landslide vote last week, Renho Murata became the first woman to lead Japan’s main opposition party, defeating two male competitors. Murata, a former television news anchor, was elected to lead the left-of-center Democratic Party after serving for three terms in Japan’s upper house of parliament. The daughter of a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, Murata is also the first person of mixed ethnicity to lead a major party in Japan. In her election day speech, she committed to promoting diversity, and also critiqued Prime Minister Abe’s economic strategy, which she maintains neglects the needs of single-parent families and students. While women are vastly underrepresented in Japanese politics—comprising only 9.5 percent of the lower house of parliament and 16 percent of the upper house—Murata is the third woman to assume a high-level political post in Japan in recent months, following Yuriko Koike, elected as Tokyo’s first female governor in July, and Tomomi Inada, who succeeded her as Japan’s Minister of Defense.
Police abuse of women in Mexico International human rights officials are pursuing an investigation into a case of police abuse of eleven Mexican women jailed following protests a decade ago. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an independent body dedicated to protecting human rights in the Americas, has undertaken a multi-year examination of the brutal 2006 suppression of protests in a central square in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, in which two protesters were killed and more than forty women were violently detained by the police and subjected to sexual torture. While the case does not explicitly name embattled Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was then governor and ordered the crackdown, the commission suggests that his government may be culpable of minimizing and covering up the events. The state could be forced to investigate the president in coming months if the Inter-American Court, which exercises legal authority over Mexico, agrees with the findings presented by the commission this week. The case has also brought attention to the countless other cases of impunity for abductions and murders in Mexico, as well as widespread sexual violence against women and girls.