Vietnam Names First Female Head of State
Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh was named acting president of Vietnam following the death of Tran Dai Quang, making her the country’s first female head of state. Thinh will hold the interim position until the National Assembly elects a new leader. On October 3rd, the Vietnamese Communist Party’s Central Committee put forward General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong as their sole candidate for the presidency, and he is expected to be confirmed later in the month. Though the number of female heads of state and government has more than doubled since 2000, women represent fewer than 10 percent of national leaders worldwide.
Brazilian Women Protest Presidential Candidate Bolsonaro
A week before the October 7 elections, Brazilian women took to the streets to protest presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right candidate known for his vulgar and incendiary comments about women and minorities. At least 195 events occurred across the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of participants, united by the message #EleNão—#NotHim. Political polls confirm an unprecedented gender gap in support for presidential candidates. Though Bolsonaro currently leads in the polls, half of the women in Brazil say they will never vote for him. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote on Saturday, the women’s vote will be decisive in a run-off. This weekend’s election has the highest number of women running in history, following a new campaign finance law that requires 30 percent of party funding go to female candidates.
Egyptian Activist Jailed for Protesting Sexual Harassment
Amal Fathy, an Egyptian activist, has been sentenced to two years in jail on charges of “spreading false news” after posting a video to Facebook in which she criticized the government for failing to protect women against sexual harassment. She is not the only woman to face consequences for speaking out: earlier this summer, a Lebanese tourist who posted a similar video detailing her experience of sexual harassment while visiting Egypt was charged for “spreading false rumors that would harm society.” Last week, a group of United Nations human rights experts issued a joint statement condemning Egypt for using anti-terrorism laws to detain activists fighting for women's rights. Fathy’s husband said “the sentencing is an appalling verdict that contains a message to every victim of harassment that if she speaks out, she will be jailed.”