The write stuff
The prima donnas of Bengali fiction have come together to form Soi, which literally means 'girlfriends'. Headed by novelist Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Soi is a body of leading women writers of Bengal. It is made up of young, contemporary writers as well as veterans like Mahasweta Devi and Pratibha Basu. Last week, they released with their maiden anthology of fiction titled Soi at the Kolkata Book Fair. The book was designed by painter Dipali Bhattacharya and published by the Pushpa Prakashani, a publishing house run by a woman. This month will also see Soi launching a newsletter, Soisabudh. The newsletter will detail Soi's activities and carry stories and poems written by its members. It will also have contents describing the four-year journey the Sois have traversed together.
They made it
Nowadays, if a constituency hasn't managed to put up a single woman contestant in state or central elections, it makes it to the news pages. As Haryana geared up for the Assembly elections this week, six of its constituencies were named as having received this dubious distinction. News reports pointed out that even after the 38 long years since Haryana was formed, these six constituencies ' Radaur, Guhla, Julana, Hassanpur, Nuh and Sohna ' failed to put up women candidates in state elections. Three other constituencies nearly made it to this list, except that, for the first time, they managed to find the requisite number of women.These are Nilokheri, Meham and Narnaund.
Not only do housewives not get paid in most parts of the world, in some parts they have to dish out money ' just for being homemakers. Under a law that came into effect this week, it has become obligatory for housewives in Italy to pay '9 a year towards insurance policy that would protect against injuries caused while doing housework. The law also applies to maids and cleaners. Not surprisingly, the insurance policy has been condemned by many as 'stealth tax'.
Law unto themselves
We have heard about one woman's struggle to set up a mosque for Muslim women. Now, a group of Lucknow-based Muslim women has set up their very own personal law board. According to Shaista Amber, president of the newly-constituted board and Parveen Abdi, general secretary, they were forced to set up a separate body because the Muslim religious leadership had been ignoring the rights of Muslim women. The board has pledged to work strictly under the tenets of Islam. Nevertheless, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has refused to recognise it.
GET PREGNANT, GET SACKED
In Britain, some 30,000 working women are sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs each year because of pregnancy discrimination, a survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission revealed this week. The survey found that almost half the women surveyed claimed they had suffered some form of discrimination. One in 20 disclosed they were put under pressure to hand in their notice when they announced they were pregnant. EOC chairwoman Julie Mellor said: 'Although some employers knowingly flout the law, many businesses do face genuine challenges in managing pregnancy. We need urgent action from the government to provide more information and support for pregnant employees and their employers.'
OVERHEARD: In Vietnam, a factory making shoes and shirts for foreign brands doubles as a matchmaking organisation. Employees are girls from poor families on the lookout for 'foreign' grooms. If they are found to be lazy or too talkative, they are not allowed to go to the matchmaking sessions.