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Johanna Higgs is from Perth, Australia. She is working on her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from La Trobe University in Melbourne and is the director of Project MonMa, a nonprofit group focused on improving women's lives. She has an undergraduate degree in anthropology and politics from James Cook University in Queensland, and a master's degree in international development from Deakin University in Victoria. She speaks English and Spanish.

Chan Kanha, a member of the Cambodian People’s Party

In Cambodia’s Single-Party Politics, Women Are Barely Seen

KAMPOT, Cambodia — Chan Kanha is the deputy mayor for the Cambodian People’s Party in this small port town, which sits along Cambodia’s southern coast and still retains much of its French colonial architecture. The Cambodian People’s Party, or CCP, is led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has run the country for the last …

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From the Kingdom of Women, With Love

LIOUSHUI, China — Known as the Kingdom of Women, the Mosuo are a small ethnic minority group living in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, predominantly around Lugu Lake. The Mosuo have become somewhat famous for their matriarchal society, where the family name and other legalities are passed to the next generation through the women, and the …

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In Breakaway Abkhazia, Revived Traditions Put Women on the Edge

SUKHUMI, Abkhazia — Here in the Caucasus region, hugging the Black Sea, this is what the capital of the small breakaway territory of Abkhazia looks like, more than 20 years after severing from Georgia: a city in tatters with abandoned buildings lining the streets and bullet holes still pockmarking the facades. The territory’s quarter of …

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In Iraqi Kurdistan, It’s a Life of Harsh Contrasts for Women and Girls

ERBIL, Iraq — Despite the war crimes being committed against women and girls in northern Iraq since the extremist group ISIS invaded two years ago, rejection of entrenched violence and discrimination against females may be taking root among pockets of the autonomous Kurdish region here. Yet in many ways, life for women and girls remains …

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Argentina Has a Problem: Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls

BUENOS AIRES — Like many countries, Argentina is considered a source, transit and destination nation for the trafficking of men, women and girls, according to the United States State Department. Female victims and children are brought to the country from across South America — Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru — as well as from the …

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The Butterflies of Buenaventura, Saving Women’s Lives

BUENAVENTURA, Colombia — Described as Colombia’s horror capital, this costal city is a denizen of drug trafficking, gang violence and turf wars primarily between right-wing paramilitary networks and leftist rebels. Soldiers patrol the streets as part of the government’s attempt to crack down on the dangers, while abductions and sexual violence remain rampant as girls …

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Despite Peace Talks, Colombians Are Still Terrified of the FARC

MEDELLIN, Colombia — “There is conflict in every single country in the world,” a 16-year-old former combatant from the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC, rebel group said at a rehabilitation center for demobilized child soldiers here in Colombia’s third-largest city. Yet when it was pointed out that there was no conflict in Australia …

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Tunisian Women Feel Their Rights Eroding

TUNIS — Tunisia has possessed the rare reputation of being progressive in gender equality in the Middle East-North African region. Yet with the rise of an Islamist political party in Tunisia after its relatively placid revolution in 2011, the question is, how have women fared in the post-Arab spring landscape? In Tunis, the cosmopolitan capital, …

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Sahrawi women's meeting

Mostly, Sahrawi Women Just Want to Go Home

NEAR TINDOUF, Algeria — Our goal was to understand the dynamics of women who live in the refugee camps here in the Sahara Desert, where tens of thousands of Sahrawi people reside in tents and mud-brick buildings, having fled their homeland up to decades ago. The camps originated in 1975-1976, when the Sahrawis first escaped …

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