Friday, December 14, 2001
Burn Your Burkas!
|December 14, 2001|
Burn Your Burkas!
Words of Wisdom from a Burning Bush
By Clinton Fein
To build our future force, the Armed Services must continue to attract America's best people, with good pay and good living conditions. Our military culture must reward new thinking, innovation, and experimentation. Congress must give defense leaders the freedom to innovate, instead of micromanaging the Defense Department. And every service and every constituency of our military must be willing to sacrifice some of their own pet projects. Our war on terror cannot be used to justify obsolete bases, obsolete programs, or obsolete weapon systems. Every dollar of defense spending must meet a single test: It must help us build the decisive power we will need to win the wars of the future. (Applause.)
But unfortunately we must say that it was the government of the United States who supported Pakistani dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq in creating thousands of religious schools from which the germs of Taliban emerged. In the similar way, as is clear to all, Osama Bin Laden has been the blue-eyed boy of CIA. But what is more painful is that American politicians have not drawn a lesson from their pro-fundamentalist policies in our country and are still supporting this or that fundamentalist band or leader. In our opinion any kind of support to the fundamentalist Taliban and Jehadies is actually trampling democratic, women's rights and human rights values.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) reported that 70 percent of theworld's 1.3 billion people living in poverty are women. And, despite the pledges made by governments at Beijing, the situation for women is getting worse in certain areas. For example, the number of rural women living in absolute poverty, i.e. life-threatening poverty, has risen by 50 percent over the last two decades as opposed to 30 percent for men. UNIFEM further reported that although women work two-thirds of all hours worked, they earn one-tenth of all income and own less than one-tenth of the world's property. In April, at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that two-thirds of the 110 million children who are not receiving an education are girls.
Given its self-proclaimed role as a vigorous defender of women's human rights around the world, the U.S. missed several opportunities in 2000 to live up to this claim. Although 166 countries, including all industrialized nations, had ratified the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the U.S. still had not. Despite pressure from women's rights groups, constituents, and colleagues, Senator Jesse Helms continued to resist demands that CEDAW be put to a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chaired. On International Women's Day, Senator Helms redoubled his efforts against CEDAW ratification and publicly vowed never to allow a Senate vote on CEDAW; instead, he promised to leave it in the "dust-bin" for several more "decades." In May, Senator Helms introduced a resolution calling for the Senate to reject CEDAW.
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