Despite Reforms Saudi Arabia Continues to Criminalize Activists
Saudi Arabia has charged Manahel al-Otaibi, a women’s rights activist and fitness instructor who has been detained since November 2022. She was originally arrested for social media posts that challenged the country’s male guardianship laws and the requirement for women to wear a body-shrouding abaya. Prosecutors have now accused al-Otaibi of “defaming the kingdom at home and abroad, calling for rebellion against public order and society’s traditions and customs, and challenging the judiciary and its justice.” Manahel’s sister, Fouz, is accused of similar charges but has left the kingdom. Speaking to AFP, Fouz criticized authorities for “targeting influential women demanding women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.” Despite the implementation of Saudi Vision 2030, an economic and social reform blueprint that includes measures to increase women’s rights and participation in society, the government remains opposed to any criticism or dissent. Fouz went on to comment, “there is a contradiction... as if there are two states... a state with Vision 2030, and a state that still applies the old strict rules.”
Indigenous Women in Guyana are Using Drones to Combat Climate Change
A small group of Indigenous women in northern Guyana is using drones to fight against climate change. They are currently using these drones to monitor mangrove forests for illegal cutting but plan to begin collecting soil samples and mangrove litter to measure carbon levels in the coastal ecosystem. This will provide the data necessary to advocate for policies and programs to protect the landscape from further degradation. “We are merging traditional knowledge and scientific research to get all this information that we need but never had before and couldn’t afford to get,” said Annette Arjoon-Martins, head of Guyana’s Marine Conservation Society. With 90 percent of the population living below sea level, this data is critical to helping protect coastal communities in the country threatened by rising sea levels.
White House Launch of National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence
The White House released its first-ever U.S. National Action Plan to End Gender-Based (GBV) Violence this week, which is focused on preventing and addressing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of GBV. According to the World Health Organization, approximately four out of five countries have multi-sectoral action plans in place to address GBV. Specifically, the U.S. plan urgers a comprehensive focus on seven specific pillars, including 1) Prevention; 2) Support, Healing, Safety, and Well-Being; 3) Economic Security and Housing Stability; 4) Online Safety; 5) Legal and Justice Systems; 6) Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Response; and 7) Research and Data. In a statement to CNN, Jennifer Klein, the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said: “Our hope is that the Plan will also be useful to local and state governments as well as community organizations across the U.S. to guide and support their efforts to end gender-based violence.”