Posts Tagged ‘gender issues’

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 »