Posts Tagged ‘women’

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.

Daughters for Life Scolarships program 2017 open for applications

September 17, 2017

 The Daughters for Life Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2017 Scholarships Program. The Foundation is looking for outstanding female students, who would like to take their education to the next level.  It is offering up to 10 scholarships for the next academic year for students to follow their dreams at universities in North America, South Asia, and the UK.  The foundation’s goal is to represent the interests of young women of all nationalities, ethnicities, and religious affiliations across the Middle East. So far, more than 30 young scholars have enrolled in universities and colleges across North America, the United Kingdom, and Bangladesh.  Submission deadline: December 16, 2016

Izzeldin Abuelaish started the Daughters for Life organization after his daughters were tragically killed. Since then he’s devoted his life to promoting the higher education of young women in the Middle East and around the world. He has helped nearly 400 girls since 2010 achieve their dreams. He said seeing these remarkable women move to change the world is keeping his daughters memory alive. I reported earlier that even this kind of approach was considered ‘controversial’ by some [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/13/human-rights-museum-controversy-izzeldin-abuelaishfor-palestinian-doctor-gallery/]

 

Source: Daughters for Life Scolarships program 2017

Next Secretary General of the UN: human rights NGOs know what they want but candidates still vague

April 19, 2016

Who will be the next secretary-general? The field is still wide open but thanks in part to the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, campaigning for the job is – for the first time in UN history – mostly public, even if the decision is ultimately made by General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. There are strong arguments in favor of a woman (first time ever, see link below) and someone from Eastern Europe (‘their turn’ in the informally agreed regional rotation).  Of the nine candidates currently in the running, UN insiders and others close to the process see UNESCO head Irina Bokova, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, former High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and former Slovenian President Danilo Türk as the frontrunners (if the bookmakers are right).

Last week, for the first time ever, nine candidates presented their visions for the UN to the General Assembly in New York Read the rest of this entry »

Tunisian human rights defender Amira Yahyaoui talks about importance of women and youth

June 18, 2015

At the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum, on 27 May 2015, Tunisian human rights defender Amira Yahyaoui talks about the global youth as an underrepresented force in many governments. She draws attention to the fact that while the world’s citizenry is increasingly young, the global leadership remains old. She criticizes the lack of representation of women and youth by reminding us that these so-called “minorities” are, in fact, majorities in the world population. If we don’t fix this problem, she argues, more and more young people will be driven to extremist groups like the Islamic State where they are given the opportunity to lead.

Applications for grants from the UN Trust Fund Violence against Women can now be submitted

November 29, 2012

With in mind that today is Women Human Rights Defenders Day, one more post related to women:

The United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women is accepting applications from government authorities, civil society organizations and networks — including non-governmental, women’s and community-based organizations and coalitions, and operational research institutions.

The 2012 UN Trust Fund Call invites proposals in the following areas of action:
i.              Closing the Gap on the Implementation of National and Local Laws, Policies and Action Plans that Address Violence against Women
ii.             Addressing Violence against Adolescent and Young Girls

Applicants are invited to submit grant proposals for a minimum of US$100,000 up to a maximum of US$1 million for a period of two to three years. The application deadline is 21 January 2013.

The complete Call for Proposals detailing criteria, eligibility requirements and application guidelines is available at: http://grants.unwomen.org/ <http://grants.unwomen.org/>  or via the UN Women homepage.

Boeung Kak Lake 13 released in Cambodia

June 27, 2012

On 6 June I informed you about the women of the Boeung Kak Lake protest being sentenced for up to two and a half years for standing up for their land rights, but now a bit of good news: the thirteen protesters have been released from jail. Their sentences having been reduced to 1 month 3 days (which is the time they’ve actually been in detention) by the Appeal Court.

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/multimedia/pictures/detail.dot?mediaInode=9bfd8879-050f-484a-977c-fb5f741f71bd 

http://ki-media.blogspot.com/2012/06/bkl-13-finally-released.html

 To see also the WHRD IC statement on the protesters: http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/international_coalition_boeung_kak_lake.php

Female protesters systematically targeted in Egypt say local NGOs

December 19, 2011

On Sunday 18 December 2011, five local human rights groups accused the Egyptian military of systematically targeting female political activists.

The 5 NGOs (Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and the Women and Memory Association) accuse in a joint statement the military rulers of exercising “unprecedented violence against protesters, with the targeting of female activists being a distinctive feature of the proceedings to disperse sit-ins, as depicted in pictures and video clips showing protesters being arrested, beaten, dragged and stripped of their clothes.”

Female protesters systematically targeted, say rights watchdogs | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Todays News from Egypt.

Social change comes from ‘tipping persons’ such as HRDs

October 1, 2011

The following excerpt from a much longer article in the Christian Science Monitor is a well-formulated description of the the crucial role of human rights defenders. The author, Courtney Martin, comes to the passage quoted below after analyzing how engrained the tradition of ‘child brides’ is and comparing it to her own (feminist) opposition to the the institution of marriage as such. In the process she makes a number of valid points about other big social changes (foot binding; female circumcision).

Those who study how traditions shift have found that, rather than a tipping point, there is often a “tipping person” who makes all the difference. In other words, those with clout in the community can be pivotal influencers in shifting whole communities’ perspectives and practices. According to a 2009 report by The International Center for Research for Women that looked closely at such examples, “Mobilizing the support of influential males in the innovation system was a powerful, commonly employed strategy that enabled more dramatic results in women’s empowerment.”

We look at social change with a macro lens so often, but rarely do we zoom in on this micro truth – large-scale change requires individuals who are willing to take a chance on a new idea or practice. It requires individual discomfort and courage and flexibility. This is what maturity – in an individual or in a society – is really about. We must deeply consider the radical power of abandoning some traditions and re-imagining others.

For those who are interested in the full article:

Feminist and child-marriage proponents have something in common | Alaska Dispatch.

Tools for Human Rights Defenders: New Tactics offers on-line dialogue on Being Well and Staying Safe

May 24, 2011

Human Rights defenders are often in a weak position standing up against powerful interests (as this and other blogs often illustrate). Still they are not without their own resources and support as shown by e.g. New Tactics. This organisation, with the help of Jane Barry and other practitioners, is offering an online dialogue on Being Well and Staying Safe from June 22 to 28, 2011: http://www.newtactics.org/en/dialogue/being-well-and-staying-safe-resources-human-rights-defenders.
The nature of their work exposes human rights defenders to distressing and threatening situations.  The need to take care of one’s self is extremely important, as is the need to take care of, protect and support each other.  Human rights defenders cannot be well without being safe.  Likewise, they cannot truly be safe without being well.  Often, security is thought of as a stand-alone concept, rooted in the set, militaristic concepts of war and conflict.  Human rights defenders are defining a new concept of security – one that comes from a feminist and anti-militarist standpoint.  Women in Black have defined security as including: freedom from constant threats, economic security, political security, environmental security, and health security.  How would a new, more integrated and holistic definition of security impact the human rights community?
This online dialogue is an opportunity to further explore the ways in which well-being and security are mutually inclusive for human rights defenders.  This is a space to discuss how these issues and concepts relate to gender, identity, human rights work, budgeting and fundraising.