Mandela showed us the power of action, of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. Certainly he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, . a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.”
But like other early giants of the ANC — the Sisulus and Tambos — Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for their dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination,” he said at his 1964 trial. “I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
In 2003, I visited South Africa during the World Summit on Sustainable Development and spent weeks working alongside local organizers in townships around Johannesburg and learning about the strategies they used to thrive even under the oppressive apartheid regime. Everywhere I went, I was blown away by how powerful the women were. Vocal and forthright, they were often their communities’ spokespeople and leaders.
That experience of strong female leadership owed more than a little to the Constitution of 1996, put in place largely by Mandela. In its new Bill of Rights it listed not only race as impermissible grounds for discrimination, but “gender,” and then “sex” and then, uniquely, it also added “pregnancy.” And in case the meaning of that was not clear, the Bill of Rights went on (emphasis added):
Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right
a. to make decisions concerning reproduction
b. to security in and control over their body; and
c. not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent.
More: Nelson Mandela, Feminist
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Monday she will dissolve the lower house of Parliament and call elections in an attempt to calm the country’s deepening political crisis.
Yingluck’s announcement came as thousands of anti-government protesters began marching through Bangkok in a “final showdown” against her government.
“After listening to opinions from all sides, I have decided to request a royal decree to dissolve Parliament,” Yingluck said in a televised statement. “There will be new elections according to the democratic system.”
Bharatiya Janata Party is projected to emerge as the single largest party in the Delhi Assembly elections winning between 32 and 42 seats in the 70 member House, said a post poll survey today.
The poll conducted by CNN-IBN-CSDS-The Week said the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress party would receive a major drubbing getting only between 9-17 seats and debutant AAP notching 13-21 seats.
Indicating their disillusionment with the Congress government, 70 per cent of the respondents were against the Sheila Dikshit government getting another chance while only 23 per cent respondents wanted to give her another chance, the poll said.
Pro-Europe protesters flocked to Kiev’s Independence Square on Sunday for a rally that organizers were hoping would swell to 1 million people, piling pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to turn back from seeking closer ties to Russia.
The rally, due to start at 12 p.m. (1000 GMT), will increase the tensions in a standoff between the government and protesters furious over its decision to dump a landmark pact with the European Union in favor of a trade deal with Moscow.
In a gesture likely to infuriate Yanukovich, protesters hoisted a huge portrait of his jailed arch foe Yulia Tymoshenko onto a towering New Year Tree, festooned with anti-government placards, that overlooks the tent ‘village’ on the square.
Thailand’s main opposition party announced Sunday it was resigning from Parliament to protest what it called “the illegitimacy” of the government. The move deepens the country’s latest political crisis a day before new street demonstrations that many fear could turn violent.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut told The Associated Press his party could not work in the legislature anymore because the body is “no longer accepted by the people.”
The minority Democrats are closely aligned with anti-government protesters who in recent weeks have staged the country’s biggest rallies in years. The demonstrations are aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose democratically elected government came to power in a landslide vote in 2011 that observers said was free and fair.
Atomic experts representing the United Nations nuclear watchdog landed in Tehran on Saturday to inspect a plant recently opened to them, after access was denied for years.
The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency is to inspect the Arak heavy-water production plant on Sunday, after a November agreement between Iran and the agency allowed for expanded monitoring. The plant produces heavy water for a plutonium reactor that has not yet been finished.
Iran has said the Arak plant is for energy production; however, if it became operational it would produce plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.
In the November accord, Iran agreed not to produce fuel for the plant, install additional reactor components there or put the plant into operation.
Gay and lesbian couples from around Australia joined in fragile marriages in Canberra on Saturday under the nation’s beleaguered same-sex union laws that face a challenge in the courts within a week.
The hastily-arranged ceremonies held under blue summer skies were bitter-sweet occasions for some couples who realize the High Court could annul their unions on Thursday.
The federal government has challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s fledgling law that had made gay marriage legal in Canberra and its surrounds from Saturday.
For the first time in history, a country will have an openly gay man as both its prime minister and its vice prime minister.
Xavier Bettel was sworn in yesterday as Luxembourg’s prime minister, making the former talk show host Europe’s first openly gay prime minister. (And before you leave me nasty comments, Bettel is Europe’s third openly gay head of state, Iceland has had a gay premier in the past, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, and Belgium’s current premier, Elio Di Rupo, is gay.)
Prime Minister Bettel is a member of the Democratic Party, but since the Democrats don’t have enough seats to claim a majority, Bettel has formed a coalition government with the Greens and Socialist parties. In that negotiation, Etienne Schneider, head of the Socialist party, was named deputy prime minister.
One other interesting goal of Prime Minister Xavier Bettel? (right) He wants to remove biblical references in the public school curriculum and develop a course to teach children ethics without religion.