Posts Tagged ‘stereotyping’

Side event on religion and gender: 18 June 2015

June 17, 2015

A side event on organized by Geneva for Human Rights (GHR) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands:

– Dialogue on “synergies and conflicts between freedom of religion or belief and gender related rights”

– Dialogue on “overcoming religious and gender stereotypes”

18 June 15h30 – 18h30, room XXVII, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

for more info:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights writes about Women’s Human Rights Defenders

December 8, 2014
UN HCHR Al Hussein

On 5 December 2014, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post in which he eloquently calls on all to ‘Stand in Solidarity With Courageous Women’s Human Rights Defenders’. 

In the article he explains that his Office has decided to launch a campaign to pay tribute to women and men who defy stereotypes and fight for women’s human rights. The campaign runs from Human Rights Day, December 10 this year, to International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015. We encourage everyone to join the ranks of these strong and inspiring advocates, on social media (#reflect2protect) and on the ground. Below the text in full:



Almost two decades ago, in Beijing, 189 countries made a commitment to achieve equality for women, in practice and in law, so that all women could at last fully enjoy their rights and freedoms as equal human beings.

They adopted a comprehensive and ambitious plan to guarantee women the same rights as men to be educated and develop their potential. The same rights as men to choose their profession. The same rights to lead communities and nations and make choices about their own lives without fear of violence or reprisal. No longer would hundreds of thousands of women die every year in childbirth because of health care policies and systems that neglected their care. No longer would women earn considerably less than men. No longer would discriminatory laws govern marriage, land, property and inheritance.

In the years that followed, the world has witnessed tremendous progress: the number of women in the work force has increased; there is almost gender parity in schooling at the primary level; the maternal mortality ratio declined by almost 50 percent; and more women are in leadership positions. Importantly, governments talk about women’s rights as human rights, and women’s rights and gender equality are acknowledged as legitimate and indispensable goals.

However, the world is still far from the vision articulated in Beijing. Approximately 1 in 3 women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Less than a quarter of parliamentarians in the world are women. In over 50 countries there is no legal protection for women against domestic violence. Almost 300,000 women and girls died in 2013 from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Approximately 1 in 3 married women aged 20 to 24 were child brides. In many parts of the world, women and girls cannot make decisions on their most private matters — sexuality, marriage, children. Girls and women who pursue their own life choices are still murdered by their own families in the dishonorable practice of so-called honor killings. All of our societies remain affected by stereotypes based on the inferiority of women, which often denigrate, humiliate and sexualize them.

Today we have the responsibility to protect the progress made in the past 20 years and address the remaining challenges. In doing so, we must recognize the vital role of women who defend human rights, often at great risk to themselves and their families precisely because they are viewed as stepping outside socially prescriptive gender stereotypes. We must recognize the role of all people, women and men, who publicly call for gender equality and often, as a result, find themselves the victim of archaic and patriarchal, but powerful, threats to their reputations, their work and even their lives. These extraordinary individuals — women’s human rights defenders — operate in hostile environments, where arguments of cultural relativism are common and often against the background of the rise of extremist, misogynistic groups, which threaten to dismantle the gains of the past.

Attacks against women who stand up to demand their human rights and individuals who advocate for gender equality are often designed to keep women in their “place.” In some areas of the world, women who participate in public demonstrations are told to go home to take care of their children. Consider the recent example of a newspaper publishing naked photos of a woman, claiming she was a well-known activist — an attack designed to shame this defender into silence. In other places, when women claim their right to affordable modern methods of contraception, they are labelled as prostitutes in smear campaigns seeking to undermine their credibility. Online attacks against those who speak for women’s human rights and gender equality by so-called “trolls” — who threaten heinous crimes — are increasingly reported.

These attacks have a common thread — they rely on gender stereotypes and deeply entrenched discriminatory social norms in an attempt to silence those who challenge the age-old system of gender inequality. However, these defenders will not be silenced, and we must stand in solidarity with them against these cowardly attacks.

This is why my Office has decided to launch a campaign to pay tribute to women and men who defy stereotypes and fight for women’s human rights. The campaign runs from Human Rights Day, December 10 this year, to International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015. We encourage everyone to join the ranks of these strong and inspiring advocates, on social media and on the ground.

As we approach the 20-year anniversary of Beijing, discrimination and violence against women, and the stereotypes that confine them into narrowly fixed roles must end. Women have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and their bodies. Guaranteeing and implementing these rights are non-negotiable obligations of all States. Women human rights defenders were instrumental in securing the ambitious program laid out in Beijing. Their work, their activism and their courage deserve our recognition, our support and our respect.”

Stand in Solidarity With Courageous Womens Human Rights Defenders | UN Women.

UN now asks for calm debate on Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in Dutch Sinterklaas tradition

November 22, 2013

Not the last word on the Black Pete issue but a step in the right direction, that is how I would qualify the report of the UN [Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, WGPAD] who looked into Zwarte Piet. On Tuesday 19 November it called on the Dutch Government to take the lead in the ongoing debate about whether it is time the tradition undergo a change. The experts said that facilitation by Government of the debate would serve to promote understanding, mutual respect and intercultural dialogue. “In the meantime we ask for calm and an end to the abuse directed at opponents of the tradition in the Netherlands and the UN Experts”.

Verene Shepherd (Jamaica Observer photo)This is a lot more realistic than the rather sudden and uninformed demand by Group Chairperson Verene Shepherd who –in anticipation of the final report– told newspapers that her own opinion was that “Zwarte Piet should be abolished” which then created a strong popular backlash against any changes. The experts now explain in the statement that their task had not been an ‘investigation,’ nor was there any intention to reach a judgment [SIC]. They pointed out that the Zwarte Piet tradition has evolved and continues to evolve, saying: “Cultures and traditions are not static – they change in response to evolving contexts and in the light of understanding of how dignity and all human rights can be enjoyed by all.” They added though that it is clear that many people, especially people of African descent living in the Netherlands, consider that aspects of it are rooted in unacceptable, colonial attitudes that they find racist and offensive.

They said it is for the people of the Netherlands to discuss and decide how elements that offend might be modified. “Zwarte Piet is interpreted in different ways, but critical questions are how to treat the concerns of those who feel offended, and those who are unhappy about changing a long-held tradition for children? How do we respect the views of all those living in multicultural societies?” The experts recommended Government facilitate an “open, inclusive, non-confrontational and respectful” debate on the issue. This is a lot closer to what I advocated in this blog. Let’s continue next year.

[The statement by the experts comes just days after the Second Chamber almost unanimously 9135 of 150 MPS) voted against a motion that aimed to forbid giving Zwarte Piet a different color than black. Exactly one of the future modifications I had suggested – see link below. The motion was brought by the extreme nationalist PVV party which felt that the calls for a Piet with different colors were a “blatant assault” on Dutch heritage and tradition.]

via Panel: Calm debate on Zwarte Piet needed – NL Times.

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