October 1, 2013. Snapshots of
WFWP International Service Projects related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); latest Biennial Report will be posted soon; featuring International Women’s Day
Commemoration at the UN Vienna; several reports about Human Rights Council and ECOSOC related events in Geneva.
March 4, 2013. Talk delivered by Lopa Banerjee, Chief, Civil Society Section, UN Women on the Role of Women’s NGOs to achieve MDG 3, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women in cooperation with UN Women.
March 4, 2013. Opening Remarks at the WFWPI Luncheon Meeting to commemorate the CSW57 by H.E. Mr. Antonio Gumende, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Republic of Mozambique to the United Nations.
WFWPI Parallel Event at 57th CSW
Women Standing Up to Violence:
Finding Ways Through with Hope and Connections
WFWP Parallel Events Workshop and 57th CSW
March 4, 2013 - Armenian Convention Center, New York City
By Melissa Gontijo, Student at Worcester State College, MA
- Lisa Carol Williams, Founder & President, Circle of Friends and Living Water for Girls, USA
- Abaynesh Asrat, Founder, President & CEO, Nation to Nation Networking, Ethiopia
- Dana C. Jack, Professor, Western Washington University, Advisor to Justice for All, Nepal
- Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, Chairperson of the Nat'l Institute for Gender Justice, India
Moderator: Bonnie Berry, UN Representative, WFWP International
The Armenian Convention Center in New York attracted fresh faces in anticipation of inspiring talks from four expert panelists. The event served as a forum for the panelists to share stories, enlighten us and describe the seriousness of violence against women. The room was full with 200 participants.
As the panelists each spoke from the podium, audience members listened to the harsh statistics on violence against women. Personal connections to violence, visual presentations, passionate step by step suggestions for change, and all the issues at hand in various parts of the world were communicated to emphasize the themes connection and hope.
Introducing the first guest speaker Lisa Williams to the stage, Bonnie Berry, explained Mrs. Williams' tremendous achievements warmly. Through her organization, Living Water for Girls, she is working with young women and girls who have survived violence, human sex trafficking and prostitution, giving so many girls a voice and hope. After citing the UN's definition of violence against women, she listed several statistics to emphasize the growing threats against women. Mrs. Williams confidently believes that the scope of the problem in fact indicates a war against women.
While trying to find solutions to combat sex trafficking against women, she reminds the audience that it is a crime to rape and use women for a profit. A shift needs to take place regarding the roles placed on women. They cannot be thought of as the weaker sex, an object of sex, or as invisible and expendable. Mrs. Williams suggests communities need to be more involved against such violence. Religious organizations can help to reduce and end such violence through onsite prevention and education to members. Protocols should be placed throughout the community to act against and prevent violence. Educating young girls through the schools would empower them to understand their value and become aware of the risks of trafficking and other violence that exist. She ended with emphasis on hope, encouraging us that our passion can change the world.
Abaynesh Asrat, excited to share her efforts through her nonprofit, Nation to Nation Networking Ltd., described hope as the backbone of life and humanity. Focusing on Ethiopia and its struggles, including high rates of maternal mortality and women marrying young, she struck at the big question: what can we do? The organization has helped provided counseling, raised funds to build a fistula satellite hospital in which 90% of fistula cases are cured, and continue to empower women to live confidently. These women who receive medical care now have hope for their futures instead of facing marginalization without the medical care. They also meet other women at these hospitals and find lasting support through women to women networking.
Ms. Asrat also encouraged the midwifery college which is now graduating its second group of women. Initial concerns of men coming from surrounding communities to rape incited the recruitment of guards to keep the women safe. Trafficking, driven by money and power, is also a growing problem in Ethiopia. Traffickers need to be identified because this is a multibillion dollar criminal enterprise. Justice needs to be served. Her last point reflects on the powerful messages created with art. By writing or creating art, she feels that hope can be reborn.
Inspired by the actions made on behalf of women's rights, Dana Jack, a Professor at Western Washington University and advisor to the NGO Justice for All in Nepal, is connected to the NGO because it brings a voice to the victims of violence. This NGO is the first of its kind in Nepal, formed by seven women lawyers, who are dedicated to women's rights. One of the main problems in the patriarchal society of Nepal is that laws to protect women against violence are not enforced. Violence against women can make them feel silenced and depressed, which can also be another form of violence. Justice for All takes perpetrators to court and through the legal system.
Women turn to other women during rough times and common violent threads silence their voice. They share and talk to find hope. Stress can be reduced, according to research, when women have a voice. Providing statistics, Dr. Jack pointed out that approximately 81% of women face domestic violence in rural areas in Nepal. Suicide is now the leading cause of death among young Nepalese women because of various forms of violence and depression. Justice for All has made great strides, winning seven out of ten cases against perpetrators. They are making it possible for young girls to make a new life. They are even educating men to speak out against domestic violence.
Wearing a hand woven sari crafted by rape survivors, Ms. Sreerupa Chaudhury, president of the Women's Federation of World Peace India and Chairperson of the National Institute for Gender Justice, first introduced the news story of a brutal rape of a 16 year old paramedical student in New Delhi on the 16th of December, 2012.She explained nationwide challenges including violence against women in armed conflict in border disputes. She emphasized some of the main issues of violence against women, especially in relation to organ trading. Concern about sex trafficking is being eclipsed by the growing market for organ trading. Mafia groups come from outside India to train thugs in India how to drug and capture women to steal (forced surgery) organs to sell.
Ms. Chaudhury has personally interviewed jailed rapists in attempt to understand why men rape women. Each man she interviewed had been abused as a child. She believes that in order for change to occur, family education is needed. Women must be allowed to take leadership roles in influential positions such as parliament. At the grassroots level there have been successful elections increasing participation of women leaders. India has created rehabilitation centers for women survivors of violence to heal and also empower women in India. In finishing, she stressed the importance of maintaining that heart to heart connection to support all women.
Questions following the four panelists from the audience brought up the role of informal education as well as what women can do to foster their own inner confidence and beauty. Panelists reminded the audience that the roles placed on women by the media needs to shift. Young girls need to hear from their mothers that they are loved and are intelligent. This informal motivation and education can foster inner confidence in young girls.
Luncheon meeting to commemorate the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at UN Delegate Dining Room
Following the parallel event eighty women and men from U.S., Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines gathered at the UN Delegates Dining Room to participate in a celebratory luncheon sponsored by WFWPI. The theme was: The role of Women's NGOs in Achieving MDG #3, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. Mrs. Motoko Sugiyama served as MC. WFWPI President, Professor Lan Young Moon Park gave welcoming remarks.
His Excellency, Ambassador Antonio Gumende, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Mozambique to the UN, provided opening remarks on the theme of the role of women's NGOs in achieving MDG #3. He believes that solving violence against women is central to women's empowerment. The NGOs' role is important to question myths throughout society through activism and research. These organizations can put pressure on governments to face issues that develop and act to eliminate inequality.
Keynote speaker, Ms. Lopa Banerjee, Chief Civil Society Section, UN Women gave a riveting speech on progress toward MDGs. It has been a struggle to fulfill some of the aspirations in areas of women's health and education. The goals for gender equality still remain unfulfilled. Gender parity in primary schools, but still gender inequality exists in work, education, and the economy. Ms. Banerjee insisted there be a commitment to achieve gender equality, especially moving forward into the post 2015 development agenda. There should be strong goals to achieve women's rights. She suggests that these goals should get rid of discriminatory laws, social norms and various policies that create inequality. She hopes that women can exercise their voice through the efforts being made at the UN. When asked how WFWPI could support the work of UN Women, she strongly recommended connecting with UN Women's over fifty in country offices or the more than 70 affiliate offices around the world, and particularly stressed joining together in the work of forming the post 2015 development agenda.
CSW Conference Summary
CSW 57 Priority Theme
Elimination and Prevention of all Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls
We have Agreed Conclusions!
March 4-15, 2013 - UN HQ New York
By Bonnie Berry
Approximately 4000 NGO Representatives participated in CSW 57. Last year, CSW ended without Agreed Conclusions with regard to the issues of rural women, but hopes were high this year, that a strong proactive Outcome Document would be agreed upon that provides a policy framework for all member states of the United Nations to eliminate violence against women and girls. UN Women composed and provided the draft outcome document that became the starting point of negotiations for the official delegations from forty five nations that built in intensity over the days.
NGO representatives used caucus meetings to strategize on how to lobby the delegations to be sure that all understood and took to account, the crucial issues so women and girls are safe and protected in their homes, in the midst of armed conflict and everywhere else, as well as support services provided for those who are victimized. Statements were composed and updated as negotiations proceeded to clarify positions and use as lobbying tools. Though I have participated in the last twelve CSWs, this year, NGO representatives had significant intensity and a new level collaboration to pressure toward agreed conclusions. In fact, the European Union, North American caucus used its listserv during the final negotiations to inform the caucus members on progress and announce the final agreed conclusions! It was reported that Madame Bachelet spoke to negotiators when the process was flagging, providing encouragement that the whole world was watching and women and girls everywhere are counting on their good work. The NGO community was gratified to hear that member states had reached consensus on a strong and proactive outcome document. A side effect of the process was a stronger and more connected regional caucus network, as both the African and Asian regional caucuses have now linked into the EU-North American listserv. There is no doubt that going forward, these international electronic connections will assist the NGO community to gain momentum on the ground and leverage each other's good practices as well as face challenges and barriers through the support of the network.
The official meetings are the core and centerpiece of CSW, and offer national delegations the opportunity to report progress and challenges in their nations. In addition Side Events are held by UN Agencies and Member States, briefings by various official delegations, daily briefings by members of the NGO CSW NY Executive Committee and UN Women representatives and an extensive kaleidoscope of parallel events held by NGOs in consultative status with the UN and their partners. Parallel events were held in four different locations. The menu of events was extensive and high quality.
One parallel event sponsored by Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Violence, Ecologies and Livelihoods - Confronting Unsustainable Development examined forms of violence resulting from unsustainable development and related environmental degradation. Speakers from Colombia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Japan and the Netherlands shared experiences of violations against women's human rights in the context of land grabbing, mining, agribusiness, nuclear testing, and disasters plus proposed measures to achieve sustainable development and eliminate violence against women.
A second panel, Degradation of the Earth and Violence Against Women and Girls connected resource scarcity, deforestation and damage to our earth with increased domestic violence and violence against women and girls. Donna Goodman of Earth Child Institute works with groups of children to empower them to protect and restore the environment, benefiting today's children and future generations, reducing violence against women and girls. Nina Simons, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Bioneers inspires a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations. Nina stressed how important story is as a reservoir of our values. We need to change the story to earth honoring for all of humanity. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. Jungian analyst, psychiatrist, author and activist spoke of the importance of trees and nature. The question was raised, "What do we have to learn from nature?" Jean spoke of trees and nature having the power to connect across differences and bring differences
together, creating more resilience and strength. One way to connect for the betterment of the earth and humanity is to plant trees.
Ending Violence Against Women: Effective Practices sponsored by International Federation of University Women presented diverse perspectives. Panelist Mick Menard reminded us this is the age of media, and the importance of narrative. She presented a video with cameos of grassroots women leaders from rural India, their view of self and their development of self-respect, power in decision making and factors in development of one's agency. The next panelist from UNICEF stressed education as a key effective practice for elimination of violence against women and girls but promoted a holistic approach that included efforts to reduce and prevent incidents of violence against women and girls. Sixty one million primary school aged children are out of school around the world. Facing violence takes a complex multifaceted approach, that takes a human rights perspective and monitors incidents. For instance, one community found that boys who had been suspended from school were acting out violently toward girls and bullying other boys to participate. When a different disciplinary approach was used, keeping the boys in school, incidents of violence declined. Without monitoring, the connection would not have been discovered.
The NGO, World Vision used their event, Girls Not Brides - Prevent Early Marriage to launch the report: Untying the Knot. World Vision Australia CEO emphasized that early marriage is a type of violence against girls that lasts a lifetime and leads to other forms of violence. Sadly, it is a complex matter closely tied to family poverty and a fundamental view that girls are less valuable. In times of natural disaster or other crisis, early marriages increase as parents see marriage as protection against the unknown dangers with displacement and deep, relentless poverty. A young woman from Bangladesh spoke on behalf of her peers at home. Two thirds of the girls in her country are married before age 18, the highest rate in Southeast Asia. So far she has convinced her parents to let her stay in school but each year at least two of her friends have married and become mothers. The government has started a media campaign, parent education, drama presentations and provides educational expenses to curb early marriage and keep girls in school. It is the law but not followed.
Friday March 8, 2013 the official International Women's Day celebration was held at UN Headquarters North Lawn Building. Conference Room 2 was full to capacity with women and men, many in colorful traditional dress from their nations. Though the tone was serious to align with the seriousness of violence against women and girls, the priority theme and sense of urgency for an agreed outcome document, UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon and Madame Ban, and UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet presided. CNN international anchor, Ms. Isha Sesay served as moderator. Permanent Representative from France to the UN, Ambassador Gerard Araud also spoke. Madame Bachelet introduced the UN Women theme song, One Woman, via video featuring 25 musicians from around the world. Madame Bachelet enjoyed singing along with the video performance as we all slowly joined in. Secretary General Ban, an advocate for women's rights and the end to violence against women and girls, told us about his call to action, A Promise is a Promise. He inspired us with his message, "On Women's Day, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. You have my full support to accomplish the dream of gender equity. We honor the pioneers who advance the process to enjoy rights for women and girls. But we also must set our sights. Violence against women is not inevitable. Mindsets can be changed, data collection can be strengthened. There is a simple power in naming and shaming. Prevention should be our watch word. Laws are being strengthened. UN Women Campaign Resources are critical. We can only fund 1% of requests. UN Women also needs more money. Never forget men and boys. I commend the CSW for devoting the time on this issue and remind states about the importance of addressing this issue. We do not have the luxury of time. We must reach more women and girls before violence reaches them. If we work as one, we shall shine."
WFWPI was a signor of the statement submitted to CSW57 on behalf of NGO/CSW Austria. Full statement at http://www.wfwp.org. Also review:
WFWPI Profiled on the UN NGO WebsiteVisit the UN ECOSOC website at http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ngo/; in the top right corner type WFWP in the "Search NGO Database" field and click "Go".