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Women are fighting for change and making that change happen across the world. Today check out: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Peru.

The strong women of Saudi Arabia are slowly being recognized as they are gaining more rights. On September 25, 2011, King Abdullah announced in a speech on TV that women were being granted the right to vote in future municipal elections, the right to run as candidates, and that they would be appointed to the 150-member body that advises him on legislation and policy, the Shoura Council.

On January 13, 2012 he gave the old head of the morality police the boot and replaced him with a more liberal chief Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikhreplacing, who supports women’s rights. The morality police are known for cruising the kingdom’s streets and malls to scold women for immodest dress or to stop socializing between unrelated men and women.

The new chief has publicly argued that Islamic law does not ban the mixing of men and women and does not exclude women from doing any job in Saudi society. He also opposes child marriage.

A royal decree also took effect banning men from selling women’s goods, such as lingerie, opening such jobs to women. A similar decree concerning cosmetics shops is due to take effect in July of this year. Those changes are expected to create job opportunities for more than 40,000 Saudi women.

There are still many rights Saudi women are fighting for. They do not have the right to drive and are subject to male guardianship, but many of the reforms the king has made are a step in the right direction for women to have more freedom, rights, and equality.

Maria das Gracas Silva Foster as head of Petrobras in Brazil

Brazil names Maria das Gracas Silva Foster to head the state oil giant, Petrobras. She has been with Petrobras since 1978 when she began as an intern and now she will be the first woman to be in charge of the company, which is a huge step for Brazilian women as well as women worldwide as there are few in such top corporate positions.

Maria das Gracas Silva Foster has masters’ degrees in Nuclear Engineering and in Chemical Engineering as well as an MBA in Economics. She has been awarded for her contributions to the development of the country and the state. According to the America Economia magazine, in 2010, she was among the 10 most powerful executives in Latin America and according to the Financial Times, she was among the top 50 most important women in business throughout the world.

We’ll see what they rate her now. She is moving women forward.

Indigenous Peruvian Women working.

Peruvian women are fighting for justice over forced sterilization that many of Peru’s indigenous women were subjected to under the government of Alberto Fujimori from 28 July 1990 to 17 November 2000. Fujimori was a controversial president who has been convicted of widespread human rights abuses that constitute crimes against humanity under international law.”

From 1996 to 2000, the Fujimori government oversaw a massive family planning campaign known as Voluntary Surgical Contraception. It was part of an attempt to reduce the country’s birth rate. The rationale behind the program was that families could get out of poverty if they didn’t have as many children to feed and care for. Despite its name, the program wasn’t voluntary, leaving women without a choice as to what happened to their bodies and their ability to have children. The United Nations and other international aid agencies even supported the campaign, not realizing, I’m sure, that the sterilizations were forced rather than voluntary.

In 2002, an independent congressional commission established that under Fujimori’s government 346,219 women and 24,535 men were sterilized. Most of them were indigenous. Now hundreds of people are speaking out. They say they were forced to undergo operations for sterilization. It is still being debated whether this blatant discrimination against poor indigenous women will be considered genocide. The ex-president Fujimori is in prison, but for other human rights abuses, not the forced sterilization.

Peru’s government has now reopened an investigation into the sterilization program. The original investigation against Mr Fujimori, was set aside in 2003 for lack of evidence. The reopening of the investigation is encouraging to the many women and men whose rights were violated.

Strong women are standing up around the world and changing the world for women.

Grrl Code: Women make up half of the population. We make a difference. Encourage the women around you, whether you know them or not, to be strong. Help women recognize it is important for women to be able to make choices for their bodies and selves. Encourage the empowerment and strength of women.

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