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The War of Civilizations: Back to the Future (B)

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There is also a confusing reality: the free world cannot comprehend culturally and internalize politically the contemporary Arab-Islamic strategy, just because we are encountered by their personality paradox with its contradictory faces: on the one hand, a sense of inferiority, flattering and victimology, and an externalized brutal aggressiveness, on the other.

Two Arab sayings represent accurately this double-faced behavior, the duality of Arab-Islamic aggressiveness as compared to their perceived victimhood: a) Darabni wabaka’ sabakani washtka (he hit and cried out, he overtook me and grumbled); b) Bûs Yad ‘Adûwak Idha Kāna Akwa Minak wa-Iqta’a Yadu Lamma Takûn Aqwa Minhu (Kiss the hand of your enemy when he is stronger than you, and cut it off when you become stronger). If we understand, better internalize, these two proverbs, we have a good starter to understand Arab-Islamic political culture.

Why do so many people pretend not to know what they should know about Islam and its unique role in the world terrorism and violence today? Why do so many smear those who speak the truth about this religion and its devout followers? Why do so many ignore the fact that although other religions involve barbaric commandments, none motivates large numbers of its followers to commit atrocities the way Islam does today? We can only speculate on this count. However, just as we have a moral responsibility not only to judge Nazism and its practitioners as evil, and also to judge those who whitewash them as evil; so too we have a moral responsibility not only to judge Islam and its serious cruel practitioners as evil. People who knowingly whitewash evil are by that fact and to that extent evil.

To paraphrase Daniel Greenfield’s “Schrodinger’s Jihad,” the great paradox of the War on Terror is that we are fighting an enemy that does not exist. We are told incessantly by political leaders, academic experts and the media that there is no such thing as Muslim terrorism. There may be a tiny minority of violent extremists, but they are only weeds, a tiny minority of no importance whatsoever. We are told that this tiny minority is no way representative of the world’s billion and a half Muslims. We are told that Islam is a religion of peace and it absolutely against all these atrocities done by the tiny of weeds. Everything we have been told is obviously a lie. And the best evidence comes from the liars themselves. The media is howling that a bunch of cartoonists in Texas were irresponsible for sketching Islam’s dead warlord because they should have known that Muslim terrorists would come to kill them for it. But if the media is right and Islam is a religion of peace, then why should they have anticipated a terrorist attack?

What keeps the lie alive is another paradox. Call it Schrödinger’s Jihad. The more famous Schrödinger’s Cat is a paradox in which a cat in a sealed box with poison that has a 50 percent chance of being released is in an indeterminate state. It is neither dead nor alive until someone opens the box. In Schrödinger’s Jihad, the Muslim terrorist is in an indeterminate state until some Western observer opens the box, collapses his wave function and radicalizes him.

Every Muslim is both a peaceful spiritual person who is eager to embrace our way of life, and at the same time a violent killer who can be set off by the slightest offense. Like the cat in the box that is neither dead nor alive, he is both violent and peaceful, moderate and extremist, a solid citizen and a terrorist. He does not choose which of these to be or to become; we decide what he will be. The Jihadist paradox is that the Muslim terrorist is always defined by what we do, not by what he does. Islamic terrorism does not exist independently of the Western observer. It is not a Jihad with deep historical and theological roots within Islam, but a reaction to our interactions with Muslims.

Leaders believe that even talking about Islamic terrorism ‘summons’ them to being. By admitting the existence of Islamic terrorists, we ‘radicalize’ the Muslims and create terrorists who otherwise would not exist. The real threat is not from the terrorists, it is from the truth. When we tell the truth, people die. The truth turns Muslims into terrorists while the lies soothe them back into non-existence. Underneath all the academic terminology is the dream logic of wishful thinking. If we believe that Islam is a religion of peace, it will be a peaceful religion, and if we accept the reality that it is violent, then it will become violent. Islam does not define itself. We define it however we want. Our entire counterterrorism policy is based around the perverse ostrich belief that Islamic terrorism is a problem that we create by recognizing its existence. If we ignore it, it will go away.

The lies about Islam are sustained by a deep conviction among so-called liberals that the “Other” minorities are not real people with real beliefs and cultures, but victims in a game of power played out in the West. Islamic terrorism is just another step in the progressive pilgrim’s progress. It’s a problem that we caused and need to atone for in our cosmic karmic journey.

The Schrödinger’s Jihad paradox has many other adjoining boxes. Some are filled with dictators and criminals. If the progressive observer can open the box and find the root cause, out comes a good person; if the right opens the box, then out will march the terrorists, drug dealers and warlords. The other side of the rhetoric about oppression and colonization is the conviction that those at the bottom do not have free will. If the mugger chooses to mug, rather than being driven to it by poverty, if Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union gleefully chose conquest instead of being forced to it by Western imperialism, and if the Muslim terrorist is not a helpless victim, but an abuser, then the moral imperative of the left’s worldview collapses in a heap.

If Muslims are real people who are at least as capable of imperialism, racism, slavery and destroying the planet as any Westerner, and who have been doing all of these things a lot longer, then leftists would have to accept that they are tearing down the most progressive civilization on the planet on behalf of ridiculously reactionary civilizations.

The facts are crystal clear: Islam is the embodiment of imperialism and colonialism, by brutally implementing Arabization and Islamization of all the occupied territories from Morocco to North-Western China; Islam is the embodiment of racism, the way it treats the indigenous blacks and religious and ethnic minorities that have become an extinct species in their own territories; Islam is the embodiment of slavery ever in history (see: M A Khan, Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of forced conversion, Imperialism and Slavery in India. Willis, Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa. Fisher, Slavery in the History of Muslim Black Africa). Islam ran the wholesale slave-trade in Africa, and the data is horrible: for 25 million black slaves delivered to the markets, an estimated of about 120 million blacks were dead (Peter Hammond, Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical roots and contemporary Threats.). 80 million Hindus and Buddhists were butchered in India, Turkey, Afghanistan, and along the Silk Route. Slavery and slave trade is still practiced openly in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi-Arabia, the Gulf States, Morocco and Mauritania.

One has always to recall that lies that are based on what we want to be true are the hardest to disprove. A lie that is tied into identity cannot be touched without destroying the entire identity of an individual or a movement. The lies about Islam run into the heart of what the left is. By destroying that which exists, they can bring their dreams to life. The dream is stronger than reality. The real animating force behind al-Qaeda was George W. Bush or Dick Cheney; the true power behind the Islamic Caliphate State is Pamela Geller or the Pentagon.

The Westerner opens the box and the Muslim terrorist comes out. When Western civilization as we know it is destroyed, then the left believes Muslim terrorism will end. Kill the observer and the cat never existed. Destroy the dreamer and the nightmare dies with him. The painful paradox is that the truth is more dangerous than the terrorists. Terrorists can kill the body, but truth can kill the dream.

Indeed, as George Orwell said: there are notions that are so foolish that only an intellectual will believe in them; and the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. Therefore, in times when a lie becomes a norm, telling the truth is revolutionary. Vladimir Lenin has added: a lie told often enough becomes a truth. Accordingly, Joseph Geobbels declared: If you lie long enough and no one refutes it, eventually the lie will become accepted as truth. And Adolph Hitler summed it up: by means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people to believe that heaven is hell and hell is heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.

Even Salim Mansur, an honest and shrewd intellectual, uses Taqīyah or is in deep misunderstanding concerning Islam, or still carries water for Islam, claims, in his “A Ramadan Piece: The ‘Other’ Islam,” there is no political Islam.

Abrahamic monotheism as represented in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, precedes and stands apart from politics as an ethical vision that transcends history. It was a vision which invited people to embrace their common humanity as created and gifted by one omnipotent deity, and to follow a revealed code of ethics for righteous living, holding the promise of peace with an end to interminable conflicts that divided people into warring tribes.

This is totally mistaken. Contrary to his claim, Islam, unlike Judaism and Christianity is above all warlike and conflictual. Islam was founded explicitly as a political religion with the aim to “liberate” the world by the sword and to control it, and remains fundamentally so to this days. Islam is politics and motivates to achieve political means. There is nothing in Islam that is not explicitly political, with the core obligation to subjugate the world to the Sharī’ah. Moreover, the most salient characteristic of Islam today is still and very strongly tribal and clannish. All that is wrong with Islam is this strong sense and motivation of tribalism, as it contradicts all sorts of modernism and human endeavor of freedoms.

Contrary to Mansur’s claim, Islam and reforms are totally incompatible. The Ottoman Empire did not engage in reformism and Europe’s Reformation and Enlightenment did not signal any mirror for the Islamic world to follow this direction. The ottoman Tandhīmāt, were not reforms but ‘arrangements,’ and all failed. Islam before, the Ottomans and Islam after was intrinsically opposed to modern world, and have shown no readiness to follow in the footsteps of the West.

Mansur claims there is the “other” Islam, and that Dīn al-Fitrah, mentioned in Sûrat al-Rûm (30:30) is only of man to know his Creator. However, there is no ‘other’ Islam, written, or recorded, taught or followed, except for the official, the Sharī’ah.

Mansur brings the 1976 Commentary article, “The Return of Islam” by Bernard Lewis, to declare that the title of the essay was unfortunate and misleading; there was no “return of Islam” for Muslims, since at no point in Islamic or Muslim history had Islam been missing, or dormant. Mansur is right in this, however he continues the Taqīyah or obfuscation by claiming it was the return of only political Islam, or Islamism.

This differentiation as if “Islamic” is good and moderate, and devoted to world peace while Islamist is bad and terrorist and therefore does not belong to Islam, is non-existent and it has no corroborations in Islamic Scriptures. There is only one Islam, and it is warmongering and it is political. Mansur also suffers in Lewis’ words the “inability to recognize the importance of the factor of religion in the current affairs of the Muslim world… Islam was associated with power from the very beginning.”

Mansur claim Wahhabism, Khomeinism, Ikhwanism and their derivatives have no answer for Muslims on how to make their historic transition into the modern world, and the modern world until its civilized inhabitants, including Muslims, will obliterate them and political Islam. However, the origins of political Islam is from the first day Muhammad preached for the new religion. They arise from the ‘revelations’ of the Qur’an itself, to embark on wars of Jihad conquest, and to rule the world as the only legitimate religion.

Just another word for Ramadan. In Judeu-Christian mind it is a month of festival, of celebration, a religious month where the believer devotes himself to his Allah in prayer and love with peacefulness. However, this is another example of how Islam is different and above all 100 percent political even more than religious. Ramadan is also called Shahr al-Jihād, the month of Jihad, in which Islam has won many wars against the Kuffār. The most important one was the Battle of Badr, in March 624, the first war Muhammad won against his enemy which marked a historic turning point in the rise of Islam.

The Muslims believe they are blessed in this month to overpower their enemies, and it is Allah’s will they win over and subdue the infidels. Therefore they have a deep religious incentive to fight the infidels with astounding success. One has just to summarize the long list of Jihad violent acts of terrorism during Ramadan every year.

For this year here are the powerful terrorism acts: June 27, four homicide bombings in Mukalla, Yemen. June 27, four homicide bombing along with other many attacks against Christians in Lebanon. June 28, three homicide bombings in Istanbul Attaturk airport. July 1, homicide attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. July 2multiple homicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq. July 4, homicide attack in Malaysian nightclub. July 4, three separate homicide bombings in Saudi-Arabia.  

An important saying related to Muhammad is: “when I come to win over my enemies I frighten and terrorize them forty days before I fight them in the battleground.” This strategy was adopted in many wars by Muslim leaders along history. However, it took the Free World too long to recognize the menace and to organize adequate policies. The problem is that Islam uses three different strategies at the same time that intended to achieve gains in different fronts: the violent terrorist arm of Jihad, mainly in the failed third world; the diplomatic arm of Da’wah, to deceive and mislead the prosperous first world; and the social-economic arm of Hijrah, to win over by demography and birth-rate. By that, Islam is a political religion that makes the attainment of political goals a religious duty.

The Free World suffers from mental blindness and amnesia about who the enemy is, but much worse, it has also forgotten who we are and what the hazards we face are. One example of how the Free World articulates its policy of denial has to do with sexual assaults and rapes. A question: what happened after the mass-rape in Germany and other states during Silvester? Answer: nothing. Question: how many rapist went to jail? Answer: none. Question: what was the media’s role in this denial? Answer: 100 percent. There is a huge unprecedented rapes plague, sexual assaults and public molestation in Europe, and they are multiplying faster than tornado and effecting all the society’s branches. This horrific nightmare is one of the well-known deep-used Islamic systematic conquests during its entire history.

Now, why Europe does not to solve these most despised crimes? Don’t they care about their women? Or they do believe that Muslim deserve treating differently? Well, the answer is found in Western intimidations and confusion about this phenomenon they don’t understand. For that, they have introduced new sophisticated inventions, and Scandinavia is leading. Instead of fighting the rapists and send them to prison for a long period of time, instead of acting new laws to answer this abhor reality, Scandinavia authorities are evading it. Sweden’s police chief has announced the new brilliant sophisticated weapon: women are encouraged to wear wristbands reading in Swedish: “Don’t touch me”. “By wearing these wristbands,” Sweden’s police chief said, “young women will be able to make a stand.” Peoples of the world, do you see how much this is an effective weapon? The Emperor’s New Clothes at their best. Applauses are welcome.

To add to this infantile, insane and bitter joke, a woman-Minister of the Norwegian Government has suggested a solution to end this plague by exposing another sophisticated weapon: Young Norwegian women are advised not to walk alone in the streets of their own country. Great. These solutions are so successful so that we don’t hear of sexual assaults and rapes in Scandinavia any longer. In the words of Aldous Huxley, facts do not cease to exist simply because they are ignored.

Indeed, here are the brilliant words of Karl Popper, to deeply learn and apply: If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

As Albert Einstein said: the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. In Edmund Burke’s version: all that it takes for evil to triumph is for the good men to do nothing. Therefore, according to Thomas Jefferson, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. To that George Washington added: If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter. Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious, according to George Orwell, and James Baldwin added: it is certain, that ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

It was Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, to reflect European reality: The face of European civilization… will never again be what it is now. There is no way back from a multicultural Europe. Neither to a Christian Europe, nor to the world of national cultures. On the issue of the mass Islamic immigration to Europe, which is totally political and has nothing to do with welfare, Orban said: The proposal from the European Commission is absurd, bordering on insanity. It is an incentive for human traffickers and will simply tell people: yes, try to cross the Mediterranean at all costs.

It was Sun Tzu who claimed: when you welcome your enemy into your camp, you cannot complain about being destroyed. To that John Howard, former Australian Prime Minister said: once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism it has given the game away. Accordingly, Wolfgang von Goethe said: there is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. These are the words of Thomas Jefferson, and Robert A. Heinlein summed it up: a generation which ignores history has no past; and no future.

Following Newt Gingrich: after Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush told a joint session of Congress: “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” However, the US has clearly failed to meet that goal.

Confronted with the atrocities in Paris, French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, told his people on Jan. 10. 2015 that they were at war: “It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity.” Yet France, like the US, doesn’t have a strategy for victory.

It has become a horrific apologetic reaction of senior Western politicians who immediately claim that the Islamic Jihadist terror attacks have nothing to do with Islam. When American citizen are killed abroad by Islamic terrorism the typical U.S. State Department declaration is that they have “senselessly murdered.” Is it? American presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, stated in November 2015: “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” Really?

The failure to protect Western citizens from Islamic Jihadist violence is one of the greatest betrayals in history. Daniel Greenfield noted: the fear of being accused as “Islamophobic” has become the Western greatest existential threat. Moreover, false claims of Muslim victimhood protect Muslim terrorists such as Omar Mateen:

“Muslims are not part of the coalition of the oppressed, but of the oppressors. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can deal stop Islamic terrorism and protect the victims of Muslim terrorists. Muslim privilege killed 49 people in Orlando. How many people will it kill next week or next month? How many will it kill in the next decade or the next century? The Muslim genocide of non-Muslims is already happening in Syria and Iraq. Islam has a long genocidal history. And if we continue to confuse the oppressors and the oppressed, the next genocide we fail to stop may be our own.”

On Feb. 22, 1946, U.S. attaché to Moscow George Kennan sent what became known as the “Long Telegram,” in which he outlined the nature of Soviet Union communism with clarity and force. His analysis shaped much of the American transition to a policy of containing the Soviet Union. It is a tragedy that the US has not learned the Islamic treat properly and do not issue an equivalent “Long Telegram” about Islam.

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Joker &the Pathology of Violence

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image: Warner Bros

JOKER, director Todd Phillips and renowned actor Joaquin Phoenix’s new take on an infamous comic book villain, will hit the big screen this weekend.  It has garnered prestigious awards (such as the Golden Lion), laudatory critic reviews & is expected to attract hordes of eager moviegoers.  However, JOKER has also inspired ominous think-pieces from publications such as The Atlantic and Vox.  Additionally, the US military and the NYPD have expressed concern that the film could inspire violence.

These detractors of JOKER are arguing that the film glorifies “incel violence” and is thus likely to inspire acts as incel violence.  This logic has been used ad nauseam to condemn everything from comic books, to video games, to martial arts, to Marilyn Manson to hip-hop.  No credible study has proven that art that portrays violence causes real-world violence.  Some people may point out that extreme outliers, like white-supremacist music, could cause violence.  However, it would be more logical to argue the opposite: people who compose and listen to white-supremacist music were already enmeshed in a violent ideology.  Likewise, genocidal propaganda tends not to focus on explicitly glorifying violence for violence’s sake, but in portraying groups of people as sub-human (Tutsis being compared to roaches, Jews being portrayed as greedy and treasonous, etc.).  It’s thus a process of long, gradated inculcation.  As Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels realized, there’s no reverse-Ludovico Technique that can magically turn people into killing machines by quickly showing them a two-hour film.

Now, it is true that a few violent criminals have cited works of art as inspiration for their actions.  This is statistically inevitable, but insignificant.  There are bound to be a few outliers who have bizarre interpretations on art, just as there are a few people who have been inspired to commit acts of terrorism based on personal interpretations of religion or politics.  It’s no more logical to suggest that we ban violent video games or art because of mass shootings than to suggest we ban Buddhism because of Aum Shinrikyo’s gas attack on the Tokyo subway, or that we should ban Irish patriotism because of the IRA.  Furthermore, some violent lunatics have been inspired by works of art, such as John Lennon’s killer citing Catcher in the Rye, that aren’t even violent in nature.  Clearly, the people who commit mass killings are incredibly unhinged individuals who are in a violent frame of mind, regardless of what media they consume.  Likewise, 99.99% of people who play FPS games or who watch slasher flicks aren’t going to go on a shooting rampage or create a torture dungeon in their basement.

To return things to JOKER itself, the film in no way “glorifies” violence.  For starters, half of the violence is inflicted on the main character (the “incel hero”); there are two scenes where The Joker gets jumped mercilessly and a third scene where he gets sucker-punched in the face.  The violent acts that The Joker himself commits are portrayed in a very gruesome manner (in one scene with The Joker and a neighbor of his, the violence isn’t even shown, but is merely implied).  When The Joker bashes someone’s head in or shoots someone point-blank, there are no crass jokes, inspirational music or voiceovers quoting The Art of War. The plotline doesn’t imply any justification for the killings.  When someone gets killed in the film, audience-goers don’t hoot and holler like they would in a screening of a zombie film or a Nazi-revenge flick like Inglorious Basterds.  Rather, there is an awkward pall of silence in the theater at the nihilistic spectacle.

JOKER makes it very clear that the title character’s violence is motivated by nothing but his utter insanity.  The Joker descends into a killing machine after being released from an asylum and after he stops taking seven different psych meds (which weren’t helping him much, anyway).  When being interviewed, he admits that he isn’t compelled by any ideology whatsoever.  Rather, The Joker literally views the act of killing as a joke. 

Nor does The Joker gain any tangible reward for his violence; he gets fired from his job, arrested, hit by an ambulance and committed to an asylum as a direct result of his actions. Joaquin Phoenix’s character gets a thrill from the media coverage that his killings elicit (and a standing ovation from fellow thugs in the film’s penultimate scene), but that not’s a real reward, but rather a feeling that many real-life killers in fact get when they are portrayed in the news.  For instance, the as-yet unidentified Zodiac Killer literally played games with Bay Area news outlets, sending them letters that boasted about his kills, contained cryptic puzzles and threatened to blow up a school bus if he didn’t receive even more media attention.  Many other serial killers who were apprehended were found to have hoarded newspaper clippings that documented their crimes.  Similarly, coverage of a mass shooting often inspires “copycat mass shootings”.  The takeaway from this is that the media should be careful about inadvertently turning stories about mass shootings and terror attacks into personal biographies of the killer.  When covering these kinds of attacks, some news outlets, like The Young Turks and The David Pakman Show, deliberately choose to blur the killers’ faces and avoid naming them, so as not to give the killers the attention that they wanted to garner and to avoid inspiring other violently-deranged individuals who crave attention.

The fact that JOKER doesn’t merely portray the villain as an Evil-Incarnate caricature doesn’t mean that it is therefore glorifying violence.  The audience is meant to sympathize with The Joker when he get jumped without warning or when he talks about the crippling depression that he has felt for literally his entire life.  There are scenes showing The Joker comforting his mother and entertaining sick children.  The mere fact that The Joker is portrayed as a full human being, good traits and bad traits, doesn’t mean the film is justifying how he releases his violent rage.  No human is evil 100% of the time: there is no villain who tortures hamsters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It is only by studying the causes of violent criminals’ various motivations that we can ever hope to ebb the tide of violence.  Most violent criminals have suffered from childhood abuse, childhood poverty, a missing parental figure, bullying and/or mental illness (The Joker had to deal with all five of these traumas).  By empathizing with these plights, we can create programs (drug treatment programs, stamping out bullying in school, removing children from abusive households, etc.) that can reduce violent crime.

It’s not comfortable to acknowledge that history’s most evil people had humanity or that societal norms (like persecuting people, tolerating child abuse or underfunding mental illness and addiction treatment programs) can fuel violence.  It’s evident that Todd Phillips, through his direction and screenplay, and Joaquin Phoenix, through his tortured portrayal of The Joker, meant to give us a glimpse into the mind of a demented killer, not so we can sympathize with the protagonist’s brutal violence, but so we can sympathize with the myriad factors that drove the protagonist to criminal insanity.  The nearly uniform media portrayals of mentally-ill individuals as Pure Evil only serves to misinform the public and to scare those suffering from mental disorders from seeking help.  Hopefully, the discussions being generated by JOKER will encourage people to learn more about complex diseases like schizophrenia and to be more proactive in reaching out to loved ones who are displaying signs of mental anguish.

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Women outnumber men in higher education but gender stereotyped subject choices persist

MD Staff

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Education is essential to achieving gender equality. From the earliest schooling to the highest levels of post-graduate study, education influences the opportunities that can shape people’s lives.

This is why education and training of women is one of the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action, while target 4.5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for the elimination of gender disparities in education by 2030.

In the UNECE region girls tend to outperform boys in terms of learning outcomes in schools, and women outnumber men in tertiary education (university level and beyond) in almost all countries of the region.

Women remain in the minority, however, as students of stereotypically “masculine” subjects such as ICT and engineering, although in recent years they have begun slowly gaining ground.

Tertiary level graduates

In 39 out of the 47 UNECE countries with data, more than 55 per cent of tertiary graduates are women. Iceland has the highest share, with 66 per cent women.  Seven countries are close to gender parity, with the share of women ranging from 48 to 55 per cent, and only in Uzbekistan are women in a clear minority, with 38 per cent of tertiary graduates.

After decades of increase in women’s participation in higher education, women substantially outnumbered men among tertiary level graduates in most countries by 2012. Since then, women’s share has declined in 32 out of the 47 countries with data. Whilst in Azerbaijan and Turkey fewer than half of tertiary graduates were women in 2012, more women have entered tertiary education in these countries since and the 2017 data already show gender parity there. 

Subject choices of women and men

The subjects studied at tertiary level by women and men can reflect stereotypes of “masculine” and “feminine” subject areas. Some subjects may be preferred by potential employers and may affect occupational segregation once graduates enter the labour market. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction (EMC) are two broad groups of subjects where male students have historically predominated.

Women remain a minority among ICT students in the UNECE region, with percentages ranging from 11 in Belgium to 33 in Greece. The four countries with the largest share of women among ICT students are all in the Balkan region. Among students of EMC, the share of women is somewhat higher, but still falls far short of parity, ranging from 14 per cent in Georgia to 44 per cent in North Macedonia.

In both of these subject groups, the recent trend shows small gains for women in some countries but reductions in others. Overall, progress towards gender equality in these two typically male-dominated subject areas is uneven and slow.

UNECE Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting

Progress in achieving gender equality in education will be one of the areas in focus at the upcoming Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting for the UNECE region, with a particular emphasis on how women and girls can enter currently male-dominated fields.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 (Beijing Platform for Action) is the most ambitious road map for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere. In 2020, it will be 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action outlined how to overcome the systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation in all areas of life. 

The Beijing+25 Regional Review Meeting (29-30 October 2019) will take stock of where the UNECE region stands on keeping the promises of the Beijing Platform for Action. Bringing together government representatives and key stakeholders from the UNECE region, the meeting will tackle a number of obstacles that keep girls and women from realizing their full potential. UNECE is joining forces with the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia to deliver a two-day multi-stakeholder meeting to exchange concrete policies to accelerate the realization of gender equality. The outcomes of the meeting will feed into the global review of the Beijing Platform for Action taking place at the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York from 9 to 20 March 2020.

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Call for Action from Leaders and Business on Violence against Women

Newsroom

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Spiralling levels of violence against women in Africa require immediate action from governments and businesses, including tangible measures to create safe spaces, experts from across the continent told the World Economic Forum on Africa today.

Protesters in South Africa have taken to the streets and social media to demand action, following the rape and murder of a Cape Town university student who was attacked in a post office. Uyinene Mrwetyana was just the latest of many victims of brutal assaults in a region where approximately 45% of women and girls over 14 years have experienced physical or sexual violence.

“I’m dumbfounded by the idea that we can continue with business as usual,” said Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, Director of African Monitor, who urged technology companies to take a lead in delivering solutions. “It would take a click of a finger for a tech company to say we are going to deploy a software that can assist us with an emergency response system for poor women in South Africa free of charge.”

The potential for technology to help in the fightback highlights the need for businesses to think creatively, given that cyberbullying can also contribute to discrimination in the first place. Mniki-Mangaliso said the wider business community should also step up to the plate by backing a gender-based fund to address the deep-rooted problems behind the rising tide of physical and sexual assaults.

Hafsat Abiola-Costello, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women in Africa Initiative, said Africa could learn from China, where decisive action was taken to ban harmful practices like foot binding and polygamy. African governments, by contrast, too often fail to enforce bans on polygamy or genital mutilation, thereby reinforcing a culture of discrimination against women that becomes embedded from childhood.

The failure to protect women is not just a moral issue; it also comes with a high economic cost. “Who drives African communities? It’s our women. Our women can drive Africa’s development, if given the chance, if protected, if their rights are respected,” Abiola-Costello said. “Africa missed the first industrial revolution, we missed the second, we missed the third. If we don’t address this issue, we will miss the fourth.”

Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili, who spearheaded the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Nigeria and is a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy, said calls for women to help drive African development will simply ring hollow if violence is not addressed. “The world lacks the moral pedestal to stand on to ask girls to aspire if we cannot have the back of those who are vulnerable,” she said.

With 16,000 deaths due violence against in women every year in South Africa alone, Akudo Anyanwu, Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins University, said: “Our presidents and the leaders in government need to come out and take a position. We need to have our leaders come out and call crimes a crime.”

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