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Executive Summary for May 25th

In this week’s round-up from Women’s Advancement Deeply: a crackdown on women’s rights campaigners in Saudi Arabia, a push for land rights in Zimbabwe, and accusations of discrimination towards domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Published on May 25, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Saudi Arabia Detains Women’s Rights Activists

Saudi Arabia is cracking down on women’s rights activists, a month ahead of lifting its ban on women driving. At least 11 people have been detained in the past week. The government says the activists have engaged in “suspicious contact with foreign parties” and undermined the “security and stability” of Saudi Arabia, while pro-government news sources have described them as “traitors.”

The Associated Press has reported that seven of the detainees recently requested permission from the government to set up an NGO to help victims of domestic abuse.

King Salman first decreed in September last year that the driving ban would be lifted, prompting worldwide celebrations at the success of a decades-long campaign by female Saudi activists, many of whom had risked exile and imprisonment to demand the right to drive. The announcement was seen as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s program of economic and social renewal in the kingdom.

Renewed Push for Women’s Land Rights in Zimbabwe

Women largely missed out under Zimbabwe’s controversial fast-tracked land reform program, new research has found. Women made up just 20 percent of 300,000 beneficiaries of the program, according to research from the Sam Moyo Agrarian Institute.

Former president Robert Mugabe’s land redistribution scheme, which began in 2001 and led to widespread violence in the country, saw many smallholder farmers established on new plots of land. But a lack of gender-sensitive programming, low rates of joint ownership and discriminatory norms have led to far fewer women landholders, activists say.

The Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network, a collection of civil society organizations, has launched a campaign to increase women’s access to land.

Domestic Workers’ Meetings ‘Unhygienic’ – Hong Kong Politician

A lawmaker in Hong Kong has insisted the government provide facilities for domestic workers to gather on their days off, saying the use of public space by workers is a “nuisance.” Eunice Yung of the New People’s Party told the Legislative Assembly that there were “hygiene” issues arising from the workers’ use of bridges and parks in the city.

Rights groups have condemned the comments as racist and discriminatory against the 380,000 domestic workers living in Hong Kong, many of whom are migrants. The secretary for labor and welfare, Law Chi-kwong, responding to Yung, said the government had no plans to set up dedicated facilities for domestic workers, citing the economic contribution they make to the economy.

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