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Executive Summary for August 17th

In this week’s wrap of gender equality news: dispute in Tunisia over equal inheritance rights, Nike being sued for unequal pay and sex harassment and an agreement by Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates to protect domestic workers.

Published on Aug. 17, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Tunisia Torn Over Equal Inheritance Rights

Tunisia is divided over a proposal to grant equal inheritance rights to women and men.

Soon after President Beji Caid Essebsi announced on Monday that parliament would debate the new law, religious conservatives took to the streets to protest the move. Women’s groups and other rights advocates responded with their own protest two days later, in support of the change.

The current rule on inheritance, which is based on Islamic law, states that female heirs get half of what male heirs get. The proposed bill would give all descendants an equal share, unless the deceased specifically stated otherwise in their will.

The proposal was sparked by a recommendation from the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee (COLIBE), in a report released in June. The president set up the committee last year and tasked it with harmonizing the country’s laws with the constitution that was passed in 2014.

Other recommendations from the committee include decriminalizing homosexuality, abolishing capital punishment, giving children the right to take their mother’s last name and allowing Tunisian women to pass their citizenship on to their foreign husbands. But protestors in the majority-Muslim country say any laws based on the recommendations would be anti-Islamic.

Nike Sued for Unequal Pay and Harassment

Four former employees at Nike have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging it practised systemic pay discrimination and fostered a work environment that allowed sexual harassment.

The plaintiffs say the company pays women less than their male counterparts, gives women smaller bonuses and is less likely to promote them.

Nike fired 11 male executives earlier this year, after a New York Times investigation revealed that women working there were being subjected to unfairly low pay and a demeaning work environment. The company is the latest in a line of famous brands to face lawsuits alleging sexism, after similar cases were brought against Uber and Google.

The four women suing Nike are asking for unspecified monetary damages and a court order requiring the company to pay all its employees fairly.

Ethiopia and UAE Agree to Protect Domestic Workers

Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a new agreement to help protect Ethiopian domestic workers against exploitation when they go to work in the UAE.

The agreement, which should go into effect before the end of the year, guarantees improved working conditions for migrant workers from Ethiopia and is legally binding in both countries. Currently, Ethiopians going abroad for jobs as domestic workers sign contracts issued by their government, but those are not enforceable outside the country.

The new accord comes after the UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa, approved a law in September guaranteeing domestic workers a day off, holiday pay and limited working hours. The agreement with Ethiopia focuses on protecting women’s rights when they get to the UAE and ensures that women looking for employment in the Gulf will be educated on those rights before they travel.

According to government figures, up to 700 women migrants go through the international airport in Addis Ababa to Gulf countries every day.

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