Posts Tagged ‘gender issues’

Roadmap to Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda 2020

August 3, 2020

Trough Reliefweb NGOWG posted on 14 July 2020 the following: In October 2020, women activists, peacebuilders, and human rights defenders along with UN Member States and agencies, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and the establishment of the WPS agenda.

20 years since the adoption of Resolution 1325, despite the fact that conflicts disproportionately impact the health, safety, and human rights of women and girls, they remain excluded from decision-making processes that determine their future. Specific provisions on women and gender were almost universally absent from ceasefire and peace agreements resulting from UN-led or co-led processes in 2018. Nearly five years since the three peace and security reviews in 2015, only 50% of the recommendations on WPS directed towards the UN have progressed, and only two recommendations out of 30 were fully implemented (S/2019/800). Meanwhile, within the very bodies tasked with protecting human rights and maintaining international peace and security, we have witnessed increasing and direct attacks on core principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, including as they apply to sexual and reproductive rights, and sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

As we highlighted in our Policy Brief 2018, the Security Council is far from meeting its WPS obligations 20 years since the inception of the agenda. Despite some progress, WPS is often tokenized and only addressed at the most superficial of levels.

  • The continued ad hoc and inconsistent implementation of the WPS agenda over the last two decades by the Security Council reflects a selective approach to WPS and a lack of accountability for meaningful implementation of the agenda. Without civil society briefers raising WPS issues in their statements, our analysis shows that there would be far fewer references to WPS and that those references would be less substantive. We found a clear correlation between civil society briefers raising specific WPS issues, and those issues being addressed by Council members.
  • The Security Council continues to make decisions based on information that is mostly gender-blind. Less than 10% of WPS references in reports of the Secretary-General could be considered “analytical” — failure to embed intersectional, gender-sensitive conflict analysis in reports of the Secretary-General is contrary to guidance provided on reporting and internal good practice.
  • Women’s experiences tend to be instrumentalized at the Security Council, and violations of women’s rights are used to illustrate the seriousness of specific conflict situations and justify certain Council actions, rather than to meaningfully promote protection of women’s rights. Women’s participation in peace and security processes is also instrumentalized by use of the argument that their participation is necessary in order to make peace processes more effective, rather than that women have a right to equal participation in all areas of decision-making.

Over the last 20 years, several studies have found that gender inequality is a key predictor of conflict and instability — gender inequality increases the likelihood of conflict, and countries with weak human rights standards “are more likely to have militarized and violent interstate disputes.” A recent analysis found that 79% of armed conflict in situations for which there is data on gender equality took place in contexts with medium, high or very high levels of gender discrimination. Relatedly, strong feminist movements are also predictors of, and contributors to, efforts that reduce gender inequality. Addressing gender equality, as well as inequality more broadly, is therefore essential to preventing conflict, and requires, at its core, protection and promotion of human rights and efforts to address discriminatory structures and institutions.

In addition, as has been widely recognized and as we highlighted in our article on why women’s rights must be central to responses to COVID-19, the current pandemic is amplifying existing gender, racial, economic and political inequalities, and impacting those most marginalized, including people with diverse SOGIESC, people with disabilities, the elderly, the poor, and the displaced. Women are impacted due to their role as primary caregivers or healthcare workers, and are often less likely to be able to meet their own needs due to structural inequalities. As for women and girls in conflict-affected communities, COVID-19 is likely to hit them harder — as recognized by the UN Secretary-General, there has been an alarming surge in gender-based violence (GBV); combined with restrictions to essential services, such violence compounds existing risks for women and girls. The current pandemic underlines why preventing all forms of GBV against women requires ensuring the autonomy of those who are targeted and the full scope of their human rights, as well as the importance of enabling them to lead and contribute to the solutions to the crisis, rather than only seeking to protect them from violence.

The upcoming anniversary of the WPS agenda must be a call to action to the UN, Security Council and Member States to redouble their commitment to fully implement and advance the WPS agenda, defend the full scope of human rights, and galvanize efforts to address clearly identified gaps.

As a coalition dedicated to peace, gender equality and women’s rights, we firmly believe that the following 6 principles should guide any action:

  • Every conflict and crisis has specific gendered dimensions; there is no situation in which gender equality and women’s rights are not relevant. We advocate for the systematic incorporation of gender analysis and WPS obligations, including as enshrined in the ten WPS resolutions, in all conflict and crisis work, particularly within the country-specific discussions on the Security Council’s agenda, not only in thematic discussions on WPS.
  • Gender equality and human rights are legal obligations in conflict-affected situations, and violation of these rights must be recognized as an early warning sign and a root cause of conflict. The WPS agenda is both a peace and security issue, and a critical part of the human rights agenda. We therefore advocate for a rights-based approach to addressing all dimensions of the WPS agenda and for clear and outspoken leadership by the UN, Security Council and Member States on the importance of gender equality and human rights in maintaining peace and security.
  • We cannot achieve sustainable peace without the full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of diverse women in all levels of decision-making. There is no substitute for direct participation of women in all aspects of peace and security, yet civil society continues to be regularly consigned to observer or other ad hoc roles despite the Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council 1325 (2000) specifically calling for an end to this practice. In addition, although parity in representation is an important first step in addressing gender inequality, it is not the fulfillment of feminist leadership, nor is it a substitute for fully implementing all components of the WPS agenda. Ensuring meaningful participation also requires dismantling the barriers to participation for the majority of women, not just supporting a small number of women to reach leadership positions.
  • An intersectional approach to gender equality is fundamental to the WPS agenda, and to the NGO Working Group’s (NGOWG) work. We recognize that race, ethnicity, religion, class, SOGIESC, age, marital status, pregnancy status, disability, migratory status, geographic location, economic status and other characteristics can be sources of both oppression and resilience, and intersecting forms of discrimination reflected in structural barriers must be recognized and addressed in order to achieve gender equality and the vision of the WPS agenda. Yet women are primarily referred to as a monolithic group throughout the work of the Security Council — our analysis showed that the experiences of particular groups of women and girls comprised less than 7% of all references in outcome documents and 6% of all references in reports of the Secretary-General in 2019, reflecting little acknowledgment of the unique challenges they face. Enabling the participation of diverse women — representative of a range of backgrounds and identities, including women with disabilities, women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities, as well as women of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds — is critical in order to ensure gender equality, and that “women” are not treated as a homogenous group.
  • Civil society, including conflict-affected communities, peacebuilders, women-led and women’s rights organizations, and human rights defenders, are an integral part of the WPS agenda. Ensuring full and meaningful participation of diverse civil society organizations and representatives requires timely, systematic, transparent, inclusive, and substantive consultation in formal and informal processes in order to ensure that any action addresses clearly identified gaps and delivers real change to communities affected by conflict.
  • Without real accountability, there can be no real progress. As was highlighted by all three peace and security reviews undertaken in 2015 and reinforced by the independent assessment commissioned by the UN in 2019, greater accountability of all actors, particularly senior UN leadership and Member States, is a requirement for real progress on the WPS agenda. This requires fundamental recognition that addressing gender inequality is both an international legal obligation and a collective responsibility of the UN. Prioritizing and resourcing for women’s human rights, establishing clear standards for performance and implementation, as well as raising the cost of failure to implement, are essential for driving forward the WPS agenda.

With the above principles in mind, below we share concrete recommendations on how the UN, Security Council and Member States can advance WPS in five key areas in advance of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 1325.

1. Prevention of conflict. Take decisive action to prevent conflict, end violence and avert crisis, including by addressing gendered drivers of conflict and instability.
2. Women’s meaningful participation. Ensure women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation in all aspects of peace and security.
3. Human rights defenders, peacebuilders and civil society space. Defend the legitimacy of the work of all human rights defenders and peacebuilders and their role in promoting peace and security, and effectively prevent and address attacks against them.
4. Gender equality and the human rights of all women and girls, including access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), must be central to maintaining international peace and security.
5. Accountability for implementation. In addition to ensuring implementation by Member States, promoting system-wide accountability of the UN for implementation of the WPS agenda.

http://Download report (PDF | 602.25 KB)

Women human rights defenders and climate: a treasure of references

February 5, 2020

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On 4 February 2020 wrote in the New Security Beat an informative pieceUnsung Sheroes, Climate Action, and the Global Peace and Security Agendas“.

The December 2019 workshop on Gender, Peace and the Environment convened by the London School of Economics’ Centre for Women, Peace and Security and the University of Rosario’s Law School in Bogotá, Colombia, brought all of these interrelated perspectives together. Among other conclusions, the workshop acknowledged that indigenous women and girls are vital to more effective climate solutions, including building climate resilience in communities affected by violent conflict. However, their work is becoming increasingly fraught with danger. Criminal gangs, paramilitary groups, and private security forces from industries like mining, logging, dam construction, and agribusiness often target these indigenous environmental and human rights activists……

London School of Economic’s Keina Yoshida, one of the participants in the workshop on Gender, Peace and the Environment, reminded us of the “gender power structures, which result in violence against environmental, indigenous and women’s rights defenders such as Berta Cáceres.” Yet, as Ambassador Melanne Verveer notes in her Foreword to the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security’s report on Women and Climate Change, women are contributing to both adaptation and mitigation efforts and are creating innovative and localized solutions to build resilient communities. There is a reason for hope.

The article contains a helpful listing of relevant reports and documents on the role of women human rights defenders and climate change:

For some of my earlier posts: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/women-human-rights-defenders/


Unsung Sheroes, Climate Action, and the Global Peace and Security Agendas

 

Role of women in peace and security being rolled back (WSP@20)

April 30, 2019

On 22 March 2019 (a global gender, peace and security consultant and a former executive director of the New York–based NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security) posted this piece “The WPS agenda is almost 20, but it’s not time to celebrate yet”:

Next year, the United Nations women, peace and security (WSP) agenda turns 20, and with that will come high-level commemorations to mark this important anniversary. However, 2020 can’t be viewed only through a celebratory lens, as fundamental challenges continue to plague the agenda. Women’s civil-society organisations working on peacebuilding, conflict prevention and gender equality remain drastically underfunded, even though investment in gender equality is a proven conflict-prevention strategy. Women human rights defenders are increasingly targeted, while the international community remains largely silent. Of most concern, women also continue to be locked out from formal peace processes……

The recognition [in 2015/16] that all crises and conflicts have gendered elements is a positive development that can be attributed to the collective push in 2015 for context-specific implementation of the WPS agenda. Then came 2017 and the US-led cuts to peacekeeping budgets. The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security was among the organisations to raise the alarm that gender posts were being disproportionally cut and downgraded. That came less than 18 months after the Security Council adopted resolution 2242, its eighth WPS resolution, which among other things called for the systematic deployment of senior gender advisers to provide strategic gender advice throughout all phases of missions and processes.

In 2017, language in the mission mandate for Afghanistan relating to women’s rights and participation and girls’ education was removed under the guise of streamlining the mandate. Fortunately, those provisions were reinserted in the 2018 version of the mandate following significant advocacy from WPS civil-society organisations and key council members. The removal of gender roles and WPS references in mandates showed how fragile gains are and how easily gender provisions will be cut for cost saving or political expediency.

A study commissioned by UN Women found that women’s participation increases the likelihood of a peace agreement lasting 15 years by 35%. That finding is systematically referenced by WPS-friendly governments as evidence of the agenda’s importance. Despite all the positive statements, women continue to be absent from peace negotiations. Peace agreements also remain devoid of gender provisions.

We only have to look at the past four months to get a grim picture of how exclusive talks continue to be. Libyan women were largely missing from high-level peace talks held in Italy in late November 2018. Yemeni women were sidelined from the January 2019 talks in Stockholm, and Afghan women were excluded from the closed US–Taliban talks in Doha. Over the past few years, Afghan women have repeatedly warned of the dire consequences that closed-door talks with the Taliban could have for women’s rights.

Last year, the UN secretary-general reported that 2017 was the first time in two years that most of the signed peace agreements that the UN had helped to broker lacked any gender references. Expressing his concern at this downward trend, he called for a redoubling of efforts to promote gender-inclusive processes and agreements. The question remains: how has this backsliding been permitted, given that so many national governments now align themselves with the WPS agenda, have implemented national action plans and support the proliferation of regional women mediators’ networks. It seems that WPS continues to be sidelined in favour of other political priorities.

The WPS agenda was established as a result of a groundswell of advocacy from women activists around the world demanding equal access to peace and security decision-making. Nineteen years later, the fight to ensure women’s participation has yet to be won, but women peacebuilders haven’t given up. In 2020, the resilience and determination of conflict-affected women should be celebrated.

Essential elements of the WPS agenda are being roadblocked due to a lack of political action. It’s time for states that call themselves friends of the agenda to draw a line in the sand and cease supporting talks that exclude women.

Profile of Human Rights Defender Saja Michael from Lebanon

October 21, 2018

This is Human Rights Defender Saja Michael from Lebanon who works on gender issues. This is another of the profiles recently published by European External Action Service (EEAS) in the context of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/04/chia-wei-chi-first-in-series-of-videos-by-european-external-action-service/].

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/51514/human-rights-defenders-saja-michael-lebanon_en

A Documentation Manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders

December 3, 2015

A new publication “Gendering Documentation: A Manual for and about Women Human Rights Defenders” (http://www.omct.org/files/2015/12/23505/gen_doc_manual_final.pdf) has come out to mark International Women Human Rights Defender Day (29 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December). It has been produced by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition. The manual will be posted in pdf format in coming days on the website of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition: www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.orgwomen human rights defenders

Gendering Documentation: A Manual For and About Women Human Rights Defenders is designed for use by those who document Read the rest of this entry »

Profile of Tilder Kumichii, Human Rights Defender from Cameroon

May 13, 2015

Tilder Kumichii is Programme Coordinator at Gender Empowerment and Development (GeED) based in Cameroon.

On 21 April 2015 the International Service for Human Rights [ISHR] carried an interview with Tilder Kumichii, a human rights defender from Cameroon.

My motivation to do human rights work stems from my personal experience as a young woman growing up in a patriarchal system, which forced me to marry very young and become a very young widow’.  Tilder resolved to devote her life to support other women who find themselves in a similar situation like herself. Describing herself as a woman human rights defender, she stresses that she is involved in both teaching people to understand their rights, as well as seeking accountability for violations and abuses of human rights. Read the rest of this entry »

62% of human rights organisations threatened from different quarters in Pakistan

December 15, 2014

A staff report in the Daily Times of 13 December 2014 mentions a report by the Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD) in Pakistan which concludes that 62% of human rights organisations received threats from one quarter or another, including religious extremist groups, feudal, political groups and law enforcement agencies.

The report on “Human Rights Organizations in Pakistan: Risk & Capacity Assessment” was launched on Friday 12 December 2014 in Lahore in the presence of the Minster for Human Rights Punjab Khalil Tahir Sindhu, journalist Hussain Naqi, Director National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) Peter Jacob, human rights defender Dr Fauzia Waqar, Sandra Petersen from Norwegian Human Rights Fund and large number of civil society representatives.

Women rights, child rights, minority rights (blasphemy cases), labour rights, and gender-based violence emerged as thematic areas increasing risk for HRDs. Human rights defenders generally face high risks, with increasing volatile political climate and growth of religious fundamentalism. Yet, 57% of organizations made no changes in work strategies after being threatened.

‘62% organisations received threats from different quarters’.

Alejandra Ancheita on the challenges for women defenders working on business and human rights

December 2, 2014

(Photo credit: Martin Ennals Foundation)

For the 3rd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (going on at the moment), ISHR published also an article by Alejandra Ancheita, 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate and Executive Director of ProDESC. Women defenders and those working on business and human rights represent two groups facing particular risks yet, in Mexico, the State’s response is falling short, concludes Alejandra Ancheita in her article:

“The challenges and risks that human rights defenders (HRDs) are facing in Mexico and other Latin American countries are diverse and growing daily in the absence of comprehensive State action to address this situation. The inadequate response of the Mexican government to the hundreds of cases of attacks and intimidation has become evident in various spaces. For instance in the recent Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations, the Mexican State received 24 recommendations on the situation of human rights defenders and journalists in the country, whilst the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists,  in the Interior Ministry, has received 130 applications for protection. Its response has been insufficient, particularly for those groups of defenders who face particular and heightened risks. As a woman human rights defender who works on issues related to business and the environment, I ought to know.……

Importantly, the fact that women human rights defenders face specific threats has been well established. However, existing protection mechanisms have not yet adjusted to incorporate this reality into their functioning, thus leaving women defenders vulnerable to gender-specific threats and aggressions. This is a global phenomenon and, in over 15 years as a human rights defender in Mexico, I have personally suffered violations of my human rights because of my gender and numerous colleagues have found themselves in the same situation.….

Integral security for women defenders must also seek to transform public opinion to understand and support our work. The first step in this regard is for States to recognize that working to defend certain rights can make women HRDs particularly vulnerable, for example by working on indigenous land rights in Latin America. Public statements made by public officials on the importance of our role and the legitimacy of our work are key. Authorities must investigate and punish those responsible for statements that seek to defame or attack defenders or delegitimize their work, even when such statements are made by non-State actors like community leaders or company representatives. Given the severe impact inflammatory statements have on women defenders’ work and wellbeing, they must be treated as aggressions in and of themselves.…..

In the vast majority of countries there are no specific mechanisms in place to protect human rights defenders. Where mechanisms have been created they are often hindered by operational failings, a lack of financial or human resources, the absence of gender-sensitivity, limited options for collective or community measures, and absent political will…..

As my work is based in Mexico, and due to my incorporation into the Federal Protection Mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists last year, this is the Mechanism I am best-placed to comment on. One very positive aspect of the mechanism is that four of the nine members of the decision-making body come from civil society. However, the Mechanism is also faced with several challenges.

The Mechanism falls short in the preventative aspect. Recently, various actors including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the CEDAW Committee have highlighted impunity for violations against women defenders as the greatest obstacle in improving their safety. In spite of this concern, the law establishing the Mechanism does not guarantee the adequate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.

The Mechanism also fails to incorporate a gender perspective to better understand the situation facing women HRDs. I believe that the Mexican authorities have the opportunity to set best practices in this regard, by providing gender-sensitive training to staff and by developing gender indicators to guide the granting, planning and implementation of protection measures.

Mexican authorities responsible for the Mechanism must also effectively involve defenders in the design and implementation of protection measures, as well as conducting risk assessments in a more transparent way. This is particularly important in the case of defenders working on issues that impact upon private actors such as business, or those defending land rights in isolated communities. Finally, cooperation and coordination between federal, state and local authorities in the implementation of protection measures need to drastically improve……..”

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Attempted attack at home of human rights defender Amina Mohamed in Kenya

January 24, 2014

On 21 January 2014, a group of unidentified armed men attempted to break in to the house of human rights defender Ms Amina Mohamed. She was recently warned that a gang, hired by a young man involved in a lawsuit she is working on, was planning to “punish” her and her family for her activism on gender-based violence. Amina Mohamed is a community activist, and member of Bunge la Wamama Mashinani (The Women’s Parliament at the Grassroots), the women’s branch of the Bunge la Mwananchi movement (The People’s Parliament). Amina Mohamed has particularly been vocal on issues of gender-based violence in KenyaFrontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped Read the rest of this entry »

NGOs make statement on integration of gender in human rights work

September 16, 2013

On 12 September 2013 Cynthia Rothschild delivered a statement the Human Rights Council on behalf of World Organization Against Torture, with Amnesty International, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Association for Progressive Communications, Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Coalition of African Lesbians, Front Line Defenders, International Service for Human Rights, ISIS- WICCE, Latin American and the Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights, MADRE, Nazra for Feminist Studies, Urgent Action Fund, WOREC Nepal, and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. 

“The Council has done strong work in support of the 6/30 gender integration resolution. Read the rest of this entry »