Posts Tagged ‘human rights of women’

Rita Aciro winner of the 2021 EU’s Human Rights Defenders’ Award in Uganda

May 1, 2021

Noelyn Nassuuna in KFM of 30 April 2021 reports that Ugandan women’s rights activist Rita Aciro is the winner of the 2021 European Union Human Rights Defenders’ Award.

The award is given annually by the European Union and Norway to recognise a human rights defender in Uganda for their outstanding contribution.

Aciro, the Executive Director of the Uganda Women’s Network was recognised for her outstanding work to advance the role of girls and women in all aspects of life in Uganda. For last year’s see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/19/eus-ugandan-human-rights-defenders-award-2020-to-aime-moninga/

Speaking during the award ceremony last evening, the Germany Ambassador to Uganda Matthias Schauer said human rights need to be defended all over the world especially for disadvantaged groups.

While receiving the award, Aciro said it was an honour of the invisible Human Rights Defenders in homes, and public spaces who never have the spot light yet do an incredible job in giving a voice to women and girls.

Sandra Aceng, profile of a woman human rights defender from Uganda

March 19, 2021

In February 2021 Defenddefenders announced Sandra Aceng as Human Rights Defender of the Month Sandra Aceng is an outspoken and energetic woman human rights defender (WHRD). She is a gender and ICT researcher and policy analyst for Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) where she coordinates the Women ICT Advocacy Group, advocating for internet access for all. In addition, she writes on various platforms such as Global Voices, Freedom House, and Impakter Magazine. Her regular contributions to Wikimedia Uganda often focus on profiling WHRDs, female politicians, and journalists. “After Uganda’s January [2021] elections, many female politicians joined parliament. We want to increase their online visibility. For example, most of the profiles on Wikipedia  are on men, so we need to close the gender digital divide,” Sandra says.

After Uganda’s January [2021] elections, many female politicians joined parliament. We want to increase their online visibility. For example, most of the profiles on Wikipedia are on men, so we need to close the gender digital divide.

Having grown up in the digital age, the 27-year-old is a digital native and mainly focuses on defending women’s rights online. Her employer WOUGNET empowers women through the use of ICT for sustainable development. Their three main pillars are information sharing and networking, gender and ICT policy advocacy, and providing technical support to WOUGNET staff, beneficiaries, and members. As a Programme Manager, Sandra analyses internet and ICT policies to ensure that they are gender inclusive. She has noticed that oppressive patriarchal structures are shifting and perpetuating online. Part of her work is to document women’s rights violations and gather evidence, but she has also learned that it’s not enough to just talk about statistics. To truly understand the problems, it is important to talk to the victims and listen to find out what they face, she says.

Having experienced some forms of online gender-based violence (GBV) herself, she knows how stressful and draining it can be. On top of receiving non-consensual content, she also felt pressure to keep quiet, women are not supposed to complain, she says. As a WHRD, she is used to the subtle pressure that women not abiding by patriarchal gender norms experience. A continuous trickling of seemingly small questions can be rather stressful: “Why are you so loud and outspoken as a woman? When will you get married? How will you take care of your family if the authorities come for you? These kinds of questions make me feel uncomfortable, they make me wonder if I am doing the right thing,” Sandra shares, “but if we want online GBV to end we also need to end these harmful gender stereotypes. Establishing women’s rights is a slow process and keeping quiet won’t speed it up.”

Why are you so loud and outspoken as a woman? When will you get married? How will you take care of your family if the authorities come for you? These kinds of questions make me feel uncomfortable, they make me wonder if I am doing the right thing.

There is still a lot of work ahead of Sandra and her fellow Ugandan women’s rights activists. She recently researched digital rights violations during the COVID-19 pandemic and struggled to find female interviewees. Female journalists reporting on politically sensitive topics experienced reprisals like rape, but due to stigma and worries how this will affect their future, they were not willing to speak out. While male journalists on the other hand expressed themselves freely: men are often perceived as bold and brave, making it easier to speak out on reprisals and rights violations they endured.

But the more women speak out, the easier it gets, Sandra is convinced. “It really motivates me when I see that other women have faced the same kind of challenges with online violence, and they have dealt with it. Whatever I go through, it’s not the end of life. Hearing other stories helps me to keep working hard, to be a better version of myself and to go beyond the difficulties.” Fighting the digital gender divide is Sandra’s way to make sure that it gets easier for women to speak out and be loud.

https://defenddefenders.org/human-rights-defender-of-the-month-sandra-aceng/

Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021

March 8, 2021

This day leads to a plethora of statements and actions. Here a small selection focusing on women human rights defenders:

Credit: UN Women/Yihui Yuan.

Joan Kuriansky – a volunteer with The Advocates For Human Rightswrites: “Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021 compels us to pause and examine the lessons of the past year- the COVID pandemic, economic distress and the surging mandate of Black Lives Matter. Each phenomenon has made so more visible the challenges that historically face women across the globe. Importantly, these forces have also made it clear how connected we are to each other whether in neighborhoods within miles of our home or across a continent and the extraordinary role that women play in making lives better and more just in every corner of the world. The UN and UNDP estimate that the pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line. Our upcoming workshop at the NGO CSW65 Virtual Forum will highlight the economic and other inequalities women face as a result of the pandemic. Register here: https://bit.ly/3dmVgSk Event link: https://bit.ly/2NhPoiL

Women have been in the forefront of promoting peaceful solutions to conflict -conflict that has often included the rape and violation of women, the death of those in combat and the destruction of communities. Women have been in the forefront of promoting peaceful solutions to conflict -conflict that has often included the rape and violation of women, the death of those in combat and the destruction of communities. The Soldiers Mother’s Committee in Russia and Chechnya [[https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/3371DC1A-42AE-44BF-E349-26987BF98314], or the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace founded by Leymah Gbowe or the 3 co-founders of Black Lives Matter have inspired all of us. And as we documented in our work with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, women have a key role to play in the post-conflict and peacebuilding process.], or the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace founded by Leymah Gbowe or the 3 co-founders of Black Lives Matter [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/4f840e00-be5d-11e7-b953-f7f66015c2f3]have inspired all of us. And as we documented in our work with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, women have a key role to play in the post-conflict and peacebuilding process.

Women's World Summit Foundation (WWSF)

The WWSF introduces 60 Heroes out of 462 Laureates awarded with the WWSF Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life (1994-2020)

UN Women this year is celebrating women’s leadership in all its forms and calling for women and feminists across the world to claim their space in leadership and decision-making. Presently, only 7.4 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. Despite progress and many broken records, women continue to be excluded in certain sports. Systemic barriers, gender bias, discrimination and gender stereotypes continue to hold women back from rising in STEM careers. Women and girls have been leading climate action and environmental movements, but men occupy 67 per cent of climate-related decision-making roles. 119 countries have never had a woman leader. Just 25 per cent of national parliamentary seats are held by women.

Around the world, the space for civil discourse and movements is shrinking. The media plays a critical role in amplifying women’s voices and stories and drawing attention to key issues. But, with women holding only 27 per cent of top management jobs in media organizations, More than one-third of women’s employment is in agriculture, increasing women’s access to land and providing better support for women farmers is, therefore, essential. The majority of negotiators, mediators, and signatories in peace processes are still men.

In news media, only 24 per cent of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news are women. In global news coverage of COVID-19, only one in five expert sources counsulted were women.

Amnesty International stated that across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), despite some limited reforms, women continue to face entrenched discrimination and daily violence amid the abject failure of governments to stamp out arbitrary arrests, abductions, assassinations, so-called “honour” killings and other forms of gender-based violence, said Amnesty International, marking International Women’s Day. ..Inadequate government action to protect women from gender-based violence and address impunity has long perpetuated this form of abuse.  As a first step, authorities must publicly condemn all forms of gender-based violence and dismantle discriminatory structures that facilitate such abuse – such as male guardianship,” said Heba Morayef.   “They must also ensure that the rights of survivors are protected, that survivors can safely access justice and that perpetrators are held to account. Survivors must be able to access adequate shelter, psycho-social support as well as legal and other services.”

All over the world, a female-driven political awakening is taking place. But this is met with prosecution by the State and persecution by self-vigilante groups. Their experiences are marred with patriarchal subordination, sexualised violence, threat and harassment. They face severe retribution and systematic abuse, even at the hands of the State. It is important to have an enabling environment for these soft targets who face heightened risks as compared to their male counterparts. International obligation requires the State to stop criminalising women defenders, write SHRUTIKA PANDEY & MRINALINI MISHRA in The Leaflet of 8 March 2021.

MRT of 8 March 2021 states that International Women’s Day is not celebrated, a struggle is commemorated – that has not ended- in favor of justice, peace and freedom of each one of them. In a strict sense, feminism seeks make gender issues visible. Under that idea, there should be no censorship or exclusion. Nevertheless, What about trans women? While it is true that some people do not agree that they are part of the feminist movement, the reality is that they also suffer from violence, harassment and discrimination. Therefore, they are in the same fight. With that said, we present to you 8 recognized trans women in history

The Media Line of 7 March writes that “Women face uphill climb to equality in the MENA region” Activists and human rights groups paint a daunting portrait of the equality landscape between the genders in the MENA region, as they prepare to mark International Women’s Day, March 8. The coronavirus epidemic, certainly, did not help the plight of women this past year. Still, going forward, the largest issues facing women in the Middle East were entrenched long before the pandemic hit.

In the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries, women’s rights defenders have it tough. While prominent Saudi women’s activist Loujain al-Hathloul was freed last month after almost three years in prison [see https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/1a6d84c0-b494-11ea-b00d-9db077762c6c], Samar Badawi [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/eaed8641-4056-4130-a5ff-fb7bf289cece], Nassima al-Sadah, Nouf Abdelaziz and Maya’a al-Zahrani remain in jail after their 2018 arrests on charges of advocating for women’s rights. “Those who are behind bars are the champions for the change that took place,” Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, told The Media Line, referring to women driving.

In UCANews of 8 March 2021 Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Manila writes that “Millions of women the world over suffer from discrimination, abuse, poverty, gender-based violence and human rights violations, of which enforced disappearance is one of the most cruel forms. Enforced disappearance, which motivated the international community to establish the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, especially affects women.  On this significant occasion, I remember the faces and voices of women I personally encountered from 50 countries that I visited during my almost three decades of advocacy for the cause of the disappeared. Many of them carried pictures of their loved ones. Some gave me every bit of information with the hope against hope to find light amidst the dark night of the disappeared.”

Euromed uses the occasion for a series of podcast. For our first episode, the story you are about to hear is that of Mozn Hassan, a woman human rights defender and the founder and executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, a feminist organisation working in Egypt and the MENA region on gender equality and combatting violence against women. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/38B5C337-72F5-C4DE-BC95-95094B9E3939

[https://open.spotify.com/episode/0BLcZcwdDrab9guLW6fHVo]

https://www.woman.ch/campaign-17-days/meet-60-heroes-out-of-462-laureates-awarded-with-the-wwsf-prize-for-womens-creativity-in-rural-life-1994-2020/

https://un-women.medium.com/claiming-womens-space-in-leadership-6acc13946e2

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/mena-gender-based-violence-continues-to-devastate-lives-of-women-across-region/

https://www.ucanews.com/news/women-turn-grief-into-courage/91671#

Profile of Nicoline Nwenushi wazeh Tumasang from Cameroon

March 6, 2021

On 29 January 2021 the ISHR published this interview with Nicoline Nwenushi wazeh Tumasang, an inspiring human rights defender from Cameroon who shares her story of hope, resilience and fight for gender equality.

I am Nicoline Nwenushi wazeh Tumasang, a gender and development specialist, jurist, human rights defender and civil society activist. I am also the CEO and founder of Pathways for Women’s Empowerment and Development and its Integrated agricultural Training Center (PaWED/IATC), whose missions are to ensure a gender just society in which men and women enjoy equity, contribute and benefit as equal partners in the development of the country and the world. I am also one of the chairs of Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement (CAWOPEM).

My priority areas of intervention include but are not limited to research on women’s equal and meaningful participation; empowerment for women and girl’s for economic rights and freedom; campaign and advocacy towards the realisation of the right to education for crisis-affected and displaced children and youth; advocacy and campaign to end the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon and limit atrocities especially sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) on women and girls; capacity and movement building; advocacy and lobbying; networking and fundraising.

The year is 2050 : what does the world look like – in particular for women, ethnic minorities, LGBTI people, etc. ?

It is a world where gender and social justice prevails and all stakeholders work in synergy to ensure equity, safety, and contribute their full potential and benefit as common humanity….Through designing advocacy and campaign strategies, empowering, creating awareness and holding service providers accountable. Contributing to building the resilience of the vulnerable masses and creating safe spaces for women, girls and other socially vulnerable groups.

Was there a defining moment in your life that motivated you to defend human rights?

Before joining the civil society world as a human rights defender, I palpated vulnerability in accessing justice. These vulnerabilities, especially that of widows, triggered my passion to defend human rights. However, the outbreak of the Anglophone crisis in 2016 was a decisive period for me.

Do you face any threats and attacks because of your work?

Although I have personally not faced any physical attacks and threats, our work has been greatly impeded by intimidation from government, shrinking civic space measures, insecurity due to the ongoing armed conflicts and government’s denial to call for ceasefire, as well as threats and intimidation from the non-State armed groups.

What could be done for you to be able to work and live safely?

A specific legislation on the protection of human rights defenders particularly women human rights defenders, scrupulous punishment of offenders and compensation for damage will provide us with a safe and conducive working environment. Also, funding of our projects will give our work better visibility and respect.

How does the Covid-19 pandemic affect your work?

From an economic perspective, COVID-19 and the lockdown measures have devastating effects on the women’s economic empowerment projects that we were running hitherto. Our inability to sell three thousand (3000) broiler chickens in our Integrated Agricultural Training Center (IATC) has caused us damages worth some $8000 and a risk for the Microfinance institution to forfeit our assets used as collateral to obtain the loan. This equally means that the women who were beneficiaries of this project and had gained a certain degree of financial independence and security from gender-based violence have lost their livelihood activities and will have to strive to start all over again. Furthermore, telecommuting has left most of our beneficiaries behind due to the lack of android gadgets, sustainable connectivity and power supply.

Photo credit (in order of appearance): PaWED; Center regional delegation of MINPROF for PAWED; Yaoundé’s Women’s March against Kumba killings

http://ishr.ch/news/human-rights-defenders-story-nicoline-nwenushi-wazeh-tumasang-cameroon?fbclid=IwAR2Ri-UkKELjcenwPqC3FKLeh4mVHS2WzWVDMKqX9boNpiVhwUENN2VDpZE

Andorra should drop charges against woman human rights defender Vanessa Mendoza

November 16, 2020

It is not often that Andorra figures in this blog but on 6 November 2020 the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) refers to the case of Vanessa Mendoza, the president of Associació Stop Violències, who demands that all women in Andorra are able to enjoy their rights to sexual and reproductive health, in particular the decriminalisation of abortion. Due to her advocacy including with the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), she is facing intimidation, judicial harassment and defamation.

Vanessa Mendoza, President of Associació Stop Violències, is facing at least two judicial proceedings related to her activism. In one case where she received formal notification, she is facing charges of slander against the government, defamation against the co-princes and crimes against the State institutions due to statements she made to the media and her engagement with CEDAW. These charges carry up to four years imprisonment. In a separate case in relation to organising a protest in September 2019 calling for decriminalising abortion, she was brought before the police to testify in November 2019, but has not yet received a formal notification of the charges she is facing

During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Andorra, which took place on 5 November 2020, the State delegation of Andorra said that Mendoza ‘is not risking in any case a jail sentence’. ISHR urges Andorra to drop all charges against Mendoza, provide assurances that she will no longer face any intimidation, threats or judicial harassment, and guarantee her right to an effective remedy for the reprisals that she was subjected to.

ISHR welcomes the Netherlands’ statement at the UPR raising concerns about the reprisals against Mendoza for her engagement with CEDAW, and recommending that the Andorran government ‘stop the judicial harassment, the reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders in relation to the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms and engagement with the UN’.

The UN Secretary-General, in his 2020 annual report on reprisals, documented that the Andorra Government is taking ‘disproportionate measures’ against Stop Violències and its President for their participation with the CEDAW.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/andorra-drop-charges-against-vanessa-mendoza-and-guarantee-safe-and-enabling-environment-women

Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing – 25 Years Later

September 15, 2020
Revisiting Bella Abzug's Vision Post-Beijing, 25 Years LaterSince Beijing in 1995, feminists have not stopped advocating for gender justice, and in facing current realities, have turned toward each other to build power, speak truth, and renew commitments to the promise of Beijing—to the promise of a just and healthy world. (Wikimedia Commons)

On September 12, 1995, former Congresswoman and WEDO co-chair Bella Abzug took to the podium at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China to ask: “What will we accomplish at the week’s end when the [Beijing] Platform for Action is adopted by the world’s women and its 189 governments?”

Twenty-five years later, feminists and women’s rights organizations find themselves grappling with the legacy of Beijing—recognizing both areas of critical progress made in advancing gender equality, and the harsh reality of our present world—mired by pandemic and interlocking crises of biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and social inequality. The promise of Beijing, so far, goes unfulfilled.

The Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), is one of a broad group of CSOs and feminist organizations engaging in an initiative to renew and advance the commitments made in Beijing called The Generation Equality Forum (GEF).

The Forum was launched as “a civil society-centred, global gathering for gender equality, aimed to launch a set of concrete, ambitious and transformative actions to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality.” Six Action Coalitions have been set up, and WEDO is co-leading the Action Coalition for Feminist action on climate justice, with the knowledge that achieving climate justice is integral to any progress towards gender equality.

Following Bella’s lead, we ask ourselves, “What will we accomplish at the end of the Generation Equality Forum next year?”

Our vision: a renewed feminist agenda for a just and healthy planet.

The climate crisis is profoundly reshaping the world and the survival of communities, ecosystems and the biosphere. The struggle for livelihoods in this context is compounded for marginalized women and people, as the impacts of climate change intersect with structural inequalities like gender-based violence and discrimination.

This is particularly acute for those living in small island states, least developed countries, the global South, as well as for Indigenous peoples, urban poor, rural and remote communities, Black people, people with disabilities, migrant communities, LGBTQI+ folks, ethnic minorities, girls and youth, the elderly and many others.

For decades if not centuries, women’s rights and feminist activists and researchers have worked to showcase, to envision and to reframe understanding and metrics in our global world order. These alternatives serve to lift up the vital knowledge of frontline communities from around the world and they follow feminist analyses of money and power, currently working to deeply embed us in an extractive economy, to move us towards regenerative economies that center health, well-being and care.

Revisiting Bella Abzug's Vision Post-Beijing, 25 Years LaterBella Abzug on a panel at the United Nations. (WEDO / UN Women)

In working to define and create actions around these alternatives for advancing feminist action for climate justice, WEDO sees three key areas to make progress in fulfilling the goals of gender justice and planetary health set out 25 years ago:

1. Divest from harm, invest in care. For more details see the full article via rthe link below
2. Catalyze a gender-just transition
3. Protect and foster feminist leadership

In addition, women environmental and human rights defenders face ongoing, multifaceted and often state-sanctioned threats to their and their families’ lives and livelihoods, which are exacerbated by the dynamics of gender-based violence, with a twofold increase in the number of environmental defenders murdered over the last 15 years.

We must resource, invest and support women-led solutions, while safeguarding the environmental defenders who have put these solutions forth for generations. 

Feminists and women’s rights organizations have not stopped advocating for gender justice since Beijing, and in facing current realities, have turned toward each other to build power, speak truth and renew commitments to the promise of Beijing—to the promise of a just and healthy world.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/03/roadmap-to-women-peace-and-security-wps-agenda-2020/

Revisiting Bella Abzug’s Vision Post-Beijing, 25 Years Later

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)

Tabassum Adnan from Swat, Pakistan, tries to work within the Jirga system

July 31, 2020
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Khalida Niaz in MENAFN (Tribal News Network) of 29 July 2020 tells the story of Tabassum Adnan from Swat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who has been nominated for the Women Building Peace Award in the US.

Tabassum is working for human rights, with particular emphasis on women rights, in Swat since 2010. He has the honour of being the founder of first women Jirga of Pakistan. For this effort, she won Nelson Mandela Award, International Woman of Courage Award and several other awards.

Tabassum said in a special interview with TNN that she has worked a lot on human smuggling, Swara, early marriages and share of women in ancestral property. She said she is now planning to work on the use of ice and other drugs by children to save their future.

‘When I arranged a sitting with women of my area, I realised that they are being denied their rights and they must have representation in the Jirga. Earlier, Jirgas only had male members and no one listened to the problems of women. A woman can better understand the problems of other women. I also used to raise voice for women’s rights by attending Jirgas of men,’ she told TNN.

Tabassum is the first woman in Pakhtun history who was invited to a Jirga of men which was hearing a case about alleged sexual abuse of a child in Swat. She said once a case of Swara (giving a girl in marriage to rival family as compensation to settle dispute) was given to her in which all the accused Jirga members were arrested. She said the family members of the arrested people were requesting her to forgive them, but she asked them to approach the court for this purpose. She said if the girl’s father has committed a crime then he, and not his daughter, must be punished for it. She said she also has a daughter and she can understand how the girls suffer due to this obsolete tradition.

The rights activist said she initially included eight such women in the Jirga who had the ability of public speaking and decision making. She said the number of women in the Jirga has increased now. She said her Jirga has resolved about 2,000 cases so far and many other cases are in process of being resolved.

About her personal life, Tabassum said she was born in Swat and then went to Qatar with her father. She said she returned to Swat for marriage and settled there. She said she started working for women’s rights after her divorce and set up Khwendo Jirga platform for women for resolution of their problems. She said she has three sons and a daughter.

Tabassum faced many hardships while carrying out her mission for women’s rights. Besides problems on local level, Jamia Ashrafia of Lahore also issued a fatwa (edict) against her by accusing her of spreading obscenity.

I never asked any woman to uncover herself. I only want to give them confidence to fight for their rights. There is no harm if a woman sitting in her home decides to raise voice for her rights,’ she said.

Tabassum said now men have also started contacting Khwendo Jirga for resolution of their domestic disputes involving women. She said men feel comfortable in discussing problems of women with women members of the Jirga. She said she is also the first woman member of Dispute Resolution Council of Swat Police Station where many women arrive for resolution of their problems. She said she also encourages young girls not to afraid and speak up for their rights.

The rights activist enjoys full support of family for her work, but she sometimes receives threats from those affected by the Jirga decisions. About major problems of women in Swat, she said the ratio of divorce is increasing and prostitution has also increased besides the property disputes. She said the practice of Swara has reduced significantly.

Tabassum said she gets more recognition abroad as compared to Pakistan. Although she got a certificate from the district police chief, but she complains of not receiving much encouragement from the government.

https://menafn.com/1100562913/Pakistan-How-Swats-Tabassum-got-nominated-for-international-award

International Women’s Day 2020: Council of Europe on gender equality

March 9, 2020
Let us all rise to the challenge of making a world where gender equality is a reality

For International Women’s Day 2020, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović issued the following statement: [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/09/council-of-europes-dunja-mijatovic-presents-her-first-annual-report/]

“.. it is saddening to note that most of the challenges identified 25 years ago are still present in Europe today. In some areas progress has stalled due to persistent structural obstacles and an increasing backlash, combined with the lack of a sufficient and robust state response.

Violence against women as a serious human rights violation remains a bitter reality for too many women in all Council of Europe member states. Notwithstanding the recent movements against sexual violence, huge challenges still lie along the path towards obtaining justice for women victims who have the courage to speak out. They may even face disbelief and stigmatisation by the very people who should be providing them with assistance and protection. With the rising popularity of social media platforms, sexist hate speech has acquired a worrying dimension, providing a new breeding ground for violence against women. Furthermore, the backlash against women’s rights, upheld by ultra-conservative movements, is particularly disturbing as it endangers the progress towards gender equality that has been achieved so far. This has a particularly negative impact on girls’ and women’s autonomous and informed decision-making about their bodies, health and sexuality and hinders their access to affordable, safe and good-quality reproductive health services. We have to remain vigilant to prevent any such rolling back of women’s rights. Special attention should also be given to the protection and promotion of the rights of girls and women who may experience multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination, such as women living in poverty, rural women, migrant women, Roma women, women with disabilities and LBTI women.

This dark picture is, however, brightened by the image of thousands of women of all ages and backgrounds who, regardless of the attacks, the threats and the harassment they may face, stand up against violence and for the full realisation of gender equality. Vigilance against stagnation and retrogression in women’s rights is ensured by their mobilisation as they peacefully demonstrate throughout Europe. I firmly stand by them and salute their courage and determination. In this respect, I reiterate the essential role played in the upholding of women’s rights by women human rights defenders, who are often at the core of such mobilisation. Not only do they provide assistance and shelter to victims of gender-based violence and combat discrimination against women, they also constantly monitor the situation, while holding authorities accountable for fulfilling their human rights obligations.

However, the fight for the realisation of women’s rights also relies on each of us. I invite society as a whole, from youth to the elderly, women and men, all acting together, to speak up against violence and discrimination. We all have a key role to play as agents of change.

Whilst I perceive society’s mobilisation as vital, we should not forget that citizens’ initiatives cannot in themselves remedy the continuous lack of a strong and official response by state authorities to the challenges currently affecting the full enjoyment of women’s rights. Council of Europe member states have the primary obligation to effectively uphold women’s rights. Against this background, I urge member states to support this civic mobilisation by taking concrete action. To this end they should: firstly, ensure the ratification and full and effective implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention); secondly, promote gender equality and combat sexism in all spheres of life; and thirdly, provide an enabling environment for all women human rights defenders by removing all obstacles to their work. We should all strongly advocate for the full realisation of women’s rights and rise to the challenge of making a world where gender equality is a reality. Fighting for women’s rights is fighting for everybody’s human rights and benefits society as a whole.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/let-us-all-rise-to-the-challenge-of-making-a-world-where-gender-equality-is-a-reality

International Women’s Day 2020: Lutheran leaders on gender justice

March 9, 2020
Gender Justice is “a matter of life or death”, so both men and women must work together “to break the silence” about gender-based violence and commit to work toward gender justice. Rev Elitha Moyo, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe and Rev. Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

Lutheran leaders say churches must continue to raise awareness, promote action and demand accountability from all their members around the crucial issue of gender justice. Speaking at the conclusion of a visit to Zimbabwe, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge and Rev. Elitha Moyo, Gender Justice coordinator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) underlined the urgency of this work by recalling the recent murder of a women’s rights activist in Madagascar. The 63-year-old theologian, Ms Hélène Ralivao, was assaulted and killed after she left a church on 23 February.

Calling on all Christians to break the silence, Junge said: “I want to see, and hope and pledge from my end, a much stronger participation of men in the quest for gender justice. This is not a women’s issue, this is an issue of men and women working together so that relationships are just, and that both men and women can flourish in their full potential and dignity that God has given them.” Paying tribute to the murdered mother and grandmother, Moyo said: “We will continue with our struggle for [….] gender justice in the church and in the community.” She noted that her own church has been working hard with pastors, with village chiefs and with school children to break the silence around gender-based violence.

Supporting grass-roots movements, women’s human rights activists, and encouraging men to be more involved in gender equality work was also the focus of a meeting organized by the LWF in Geneva ahead of International Women’s Day. LWF staff and members of other organizations met at the Ecumenical Center for a discussion with a gender specialist from the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. Highlighting ways of countering the current global pushback against women’s human rights, the discussion underscored the importance of education to challenge patriarchal attitudes and gender stereotypes which breed discrimination and violence.

A quarter of a century on from the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, it is vital to recreate the momentum of integrating a gender perspective into all aspects of legislation, policy and programs at national and international levels, remarked Rev. Judith Van Osdol, LWF Program Executive for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment.

We need to ask why there has not been another World Conference on Women for 25 years; to analyze and understand the global push-back on women’s human rights and gender justice will help us to formulate a strategy for moving forward” said the LWF Program Executive.This will empower us to raise awareness, call to action, and ensure accountability that will benefit and transform couples, family relationships, churches and society.

https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/mens-voices-vital-quest-gender-justice