Inter Press ServiceGender – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 11 Dec 2018 19:40:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 A Migrant Turned Saviour of Othershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrant-turned-saviour-others/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrant-turned-saviour-others http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrant-turned-saviour-others/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 14:23:04 +0000 El Mahdi Hannane http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159171 Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital. They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life. Loughy, who […]

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Armand Loughy is a migrant from Cameroon. Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist. Credit: El Mahdi Hannane/IPS

By El Mahdi Hannane
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital.
They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life.
Loughy, who is now also a migrant activist based in Morocco, listened attentively to the on-going discussions during the opening ceremony of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Marrakech.

Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist—one of the most vocal personalities in the Moroccan civil society space.

“We went through the desert and where the fear consumed us. Many of my fellow migrants got hurt by bandits and died—in the most horrible way with their bodies dumped in the desert,” Loughy recalls.

After arriving in Morocco, she faced many difficulties in finding a job before finally securing work at a psychiatric clinic in Rabat.
With a well-paying job, Loughy could easily have forgotten her traumatic journey and suffering and moved on. But she chose not to—her decision to start helping migrants came at the right time as Morocco was also establishing favourable policies on how to handle migrants.

This policy shift, according to Loughy, enabled her to become “a candle that would light up the darkness of migrants.”

In 2014, she founded the Association of Women Migrants in Morocco, working to attract other migrants. Gradually, her association gained respect in the civil society space.

“In the beginning, the children of the poor neighbourhood where I was active threw stones at me,” Loughy says. “But after many months of continuous work, I became familiar and respected by locals and migrants.”

Her organisation is active in the Sidi Musa district of Salé—about 330 km north of Marrakech—where hundreds of migrants occupy small rooms, either working or begging on the streets, and then returning to the ghetto in the evening.

The children of these migrants, some of whom were born in Morocco, until recently had nothing to do. Some accompanied mothers to beg, others played in the neighbourhood all day without any clear future—a painful reality that Loughy and her organisation acted upon.

She presented a proposal to Salé’s Regional Directorate of Education and Training, and her ideas were welcomed. Classrooms were allocated within the public educational institutions for migrants’ children.

These have now become independent departments with their own teaching staff, and now even teach local Moroccan students.

“We are trying to use education as a tool for integration,” Loughy says, adding the association is making a big drive to inform migrants about the importance of education to ensure as many children as possible are enrolled into school.

Many migrants, especially those who do not have residence documents, remain sceptical of these types of initiatives, Loughy says. But the hope is that better educated children of migrants can inspire change at home and between communities.

Loughy dreams of a united African continent and believes that the best way to achieve coexistence among the continent’s peoples is through education and knowledge. After listening to discussions at the GCM about the tools and partnerships needed to give that dream a chance, she will leave Marrakech to return to spreading education among the children of Morocco’s migrants

“We have learnt that when students start living together, then parents can also learn how to coexist,” Loughy says.

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Undermining Human Rights of Women Trapped In Sex Tradehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/undermining-human-rights-women-trapped-sex-trade/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:16:35 +0000 Jessica Neuwirth http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159163 Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

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Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

By Jessica Neuwirth
NEW YORK, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed in the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Following two devastating world wars the United Nations General Assembly set out a brand new vision of human rights that the world could agree on going forward. It is still the benchmark by which most modern-day human rights organisations live.

Mickey Meji, South African sex trade survivor. Credit: wowwoman.com

The first line of the Declaration states in a clear and compelling way that all human beings are born free and equal. In practice, freedom and equality are the foundation from which every other fundamental human right is derived.

The Universal Declaration also recognizes that nobody should be held in slavery or servitude. This includes the many million women and girls who are caught in the devastating sex trade.

Despite the clarity of this issue in the minds of women’s rights advocates and survivors of prostitution some United Nations agencies – including UNAIDS and UNDP, as well as some high profile human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – have ignored this basic tenet and have instead called for the decriminalization of pimping, brothel-owning and patronizing prostitution.

Over the last twenty years the evidence against decriminalizing all aspects of the sex trade has become much clearer. The Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand removed sanctions on the purchase of sex and either decriminalized or legalized pimping and brothel-keeping.

As a result, Germany has been compared to a “giant teutonic brothel” by The Economist while Amsterdam has been backtracking from its failed experiment to protect prostituted persons.

Meanwhile, the growing evidence on what does work points to the Nordic or Equality model, pioneered by Sweden in 1999 and followed by Iceland, Norway, Canada, Northern Ireland, France and the Republic of Ireland.

Israel and others are also looking at this policy approach. It is no coincidence that many of these countries rank highest in terms of gender equality.

While the groups listed above support the right of men to buy sex, they have inexplicably ignored evidence of the Equality model’s success.

We all support the decriminalization of prostituted persons, but it is hard to justify the decriminalization of those who willfully and systematically exploit them.

The fact that gender and other structural inequalities are at the root of prostitution appears to have also been conveniently ignored. When such respected groups officially condone the purchase of sex and the horrifying human rights violations experienced by women trapped in prostitution they create an inexcusable veil of legitimacy, behind which those forced into the sex trade by poverty become collateral damage for maintaining the “rights” of men to buy sex.

Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, both male-led organizations, have in effect disowned the UDHR as it relates to the modern day subjugation of women.

As the South African sex trade survivor Mickey has said, prostitution is not only the embodiment of sexism and violence against women and girls, it is also a deep reflection of racism, poverty and other inequalities: “it is no coincidence that the majority of individuals in prostitution in South Africa are poor black women.”

Let’s be very clear about it: prostitution preys on the vulnerable – mostly women – and continues to exist because men who freely choose to buy sex want to enact their privilege in a dominant and abusive way. I have not heard any counter-argument from Amnesty or Human Rights Watch that negates this basic concept.

We can never achieve any form of equality in society as long as this extreme abuse of power by one human being over another is legitimized as a “commercial transaction”. These organizations should re-read Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

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Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with women’s groups working to end commercial sexual exploitation on the front lines around the world.

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Women’s Resistance, Inequality Marks 2018http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/womens-resistance-inequality-marks-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=womens-resistance-inequality-marks-2018 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/womens-resistance-inequality-marks-2018/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 12:59:56 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159159 Despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, Amnesty International said. Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Amnesty International launched its annual report reviewing the state of human rights around the world—and it doesn’t look good. “In 2018, we witnessed […]

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United Nations Women and partners in Colombia organised a public concert in November and lit public buildings in orange calling for women’s right to live a life free of violence. However, despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, according to Amnesty International. Courtesy: UN Women

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Despite the rise in women’s resistance, women’s rights continue to be sidelined and increasingly face blatant attacks, Amnesty International said.

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Amnesty International launched its annual report reviewing the state of human rights around the world—and it doesn’t look good.

“In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonise and persecute already marginalised and vulnerable communities,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo in the foreword of the report.

Amnesty’s Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Yamini Mishra echoed similar sentiments to IPS, noting that these “tough guys leaders” have come into power using misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic platforms.

“It is very distressing,” she said.

But among the rays of hope is women-led movements, Mishra added.

While the #MeToo movement has captured international attention, women have mobilised mass movements on women’s rights around the world in the past year at a scale never seen before.

In Argentina, one million women took to the streets demanding the legalisation of abortion, while in Nigeria thousands of displaced women mobilised for justice for the abuses they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces.

“Mobilisation really comes from people,” Mishra told IPS.

While some of these movements were galvanised in response to newer forms of oppression, others are against old forms of discrimination that have no place in today’s society.

Mishra pointed to India where earlier this year, a group of women activists advocated for their right to participate in a historic pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple, one of the holiest sites in Hinduism which has long barred entry to women of menstruating age.

While the Right to Pray movement successfully led to the Supreme Court overturning the ban, violent protests have erupted in the southern state of Kerala as devotees block women from entering the temple.

It is thus hard to celebrate the rise of women’s activism as the stark reality is that many governments and societies continue to support policies and laws that oppress women, this year’s ‘Rights Today’ report found.

This can especially be seen around sexual and reproductive health rights.

El Salvador has some of the stricter abortion policies in the world as women can be jailed if they are suspected of having an abortion.

Almost 30 women are reportedly incarcerated under the policy.

In February, Teodora del Carmen Vasquez was released after spending a decade in prison after having pregnancy-related complications which resulted in a stillbirth.

Despite protests against the draconian law,  the country failed to pass a reform to decriminalise abortion in April, leaving women and girls with no control over their reproductive and sexual health.

Mishra particularly expressed concern over the increasing attacks on women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

According to Front Line Defenders, approximately 44 WHRDs were killed in 2017, an increase from 40 in 2016 and 30 in 2015.

Among those killed in 2018 was Marielle Franco, a Brazilian politician and human rights activist who was shot in her car in March.

Women activists have also been jailed around the world including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, Saudi activists who led the movement fighting for women’s right to drive.

Amnesty International recently found that several Saudi Arabian activists, including women, have also faced sexual harassment and torture while in detention.

Such attacks on human rights defenders is not happening in a vacuum, but rather in a world where civil society space is shrinking, Mishra noted.

“It is important for us to recognise that even the shrinking of civil society space is not gender-neutral…women human rights defenders as opposed to male human rights defenders face specific kinds of vulnerabilities and heightened vulnerabilities,” she said.

Mishra highlighted the need for action at all levels to achieve human rights for all, but civil society in particular must step up.

“All these years, human rights organisations have really not done enough on women’s rights. We’ve always treated it as a secondary kind of issue…now that it has been 70 years of UDHR, it is time for us to think how do we really bring women to the centre of our work,” she told IPS.

The report urges civil society and governments to raise their commitments to uphold women’s rights, and implement changes to harmful national laws.

Naidoo particularly pointed to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), whose 40th anniversary is soon approaching, will be an “important milestone that the world cannot afford to overlook.”

While CEDAW is the second most ratified human rights treaty, with 189 state parties, the non-legally binding document allows states to reject provisions.

For instance, Kuwait reserved its right to not implement Article 9 which grants women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

Niger expressed reservation to Article 2 which states the need to refrain from engaging in any act of discrimination against women and to modify and abolish existing laws and practices which constitute such discrimination.

“Governments must stop merely paying lip-service to women’s rights. If the undeniable surge of women’s activism this year proves anything, it is that people will not accept this. And neither will we,” Naidoo wrote.

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Sexual Harassment in Schools: The Urgency Of Revolutionized Sex Educationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/sexual-harassment-schools-urgency-revolutionized-sex-education/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sexual-harassment-schools-urgency-revolutionized-sex-education http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/sexual-harassment-schools-urgency-revolutionized-sex-education/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 15:28:52 +0000 Nana Akosua Hanson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159127 14-year-old Fatima sat opposite me, a defiance to her body language, yet a vulnerability that made me want to tell her it was okay to cry. She was telling me how for the past year she had dropped out of the school theatre club, had no interest in Physics anymore, which used to be her […]

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Credit: 'Let's talk consent/Drama Queens

By Nana Akosua Hanson
ACCRA, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

14-year-old Fatima sat opposite me, a defiance to her body language, yet a vulnerability that made me want to tell her it was okay to cry. She was telling me how for the past year she had dropped out of the school theatre club, had no interest in Physics anymore, which used to be her favourite subject, and had no friends. Fatima [not her real name] had been labeled the ‘bad girl’ in her class.

This meant that boys frequently lied that they had had sexual encounters with her, and they intruded her private space, forcibly touching her breasts or spanking her buttocks as she passed by. It also meant that the girls in her class judged her, other-ed her and placed her in the rank of ‘The kind of girl not to be’. She became the marker by which they measured their ‘unspoiled’ virtues.  Teenagers can be vicious. They are reflections of adults after all.

The labeled girl is often hit with an onslaught of ‘petitions’ for sex or sexual activity from boys and most of these ‘petitions’ are violent. They often end up in sexual assault or rape, as happened to Fatima.

One thing that strikes me at every high school I visit is how each time, there are designated ‘bad girls’. ‘Bad girls’ thus labeled mostly because of false rumors spread by boys in class that they are ‘easy.’ The notion of ‘easiness’ suggests yet another girl has managed to be ‘conquered’, language patriarchy teaches boys.

The labeled girl is often hit with an onslaught of ‘petitions’ for sex or sexual activity from boys and most of these ‘petitions’ are violent. They often end up in sexual assault or rape, as happened to Fatima. At just fourteen, she had been raped by a boy in her class. At just fourteen, she had learnt too early how she will be shamed and blamed for rape.  At just fourteen, the boy would learn that he could be violent and get away with it.

This incident probably reminded her in a violent way something she had probably been hearing all her life: Being a girl in this world meant you were the second-class citizen. Your body was not yours. Girls are not equal to boys.

She probably heard this message in Ghanaian rhymes like “Mummy’s in the kitchen cooking rice-water, daddy’s in the living room, watching TV…”. She probably heard this message every time her brothers were allowed to go out and play while she had to stay in the kitchen and learn to cook for her future husband; when her parents constantly told her to ‘stay away from boys and men’, hinting that if any boy or man harmed her it was because she let it happen, yet never once would she hear them tell her brothers not to rape or sexually assault girls or assume girls’ bodies belong to them.

She probably heard it in church when the pastor stressed the need for women to ‘submit’ to men, ‘as Christians do the Church.’ She was given supposedly divine justification of her inferiority. And the rapist was given divine justification for his entitlement.

The problem of sexual harassment in schools is rooted in patriarchy and quite a lot of the time, it is harassment and rape infringed on students by other students. In a patriarchal society, it would mean that teenagers learn about sex through the most unhealthy and violent paradigms of problematic gender role stereotyping. In a patriarchal sex education, consent is non-existent.

Girls learn fast that their bodies do not belong to them and that they are prey, and boys learn fast that they are predators and are allowed to get away with all sorts of violence.

The facts of this reality range from leaked nude photos on twitter of minors to twelve-year-old girls who are forced to engage in other uncomfortable sexual  acts because they want to be liked by boys, yet want to protect their hymen to keep up a semblance of virtue, virtue that would ensure they keep this boy’s respect. Because you see, in the patriarchal philosophy of sex, once a boy has any sexual encounter with a girl, she somehow ‘loses value’ while he gains accolades.

No matter if this is achieved through violent means.  ‘Kiss and Tell’ was a common occurrence during my time in high school, where boys would share with other boys their sexual exploits with girls and usually everyone in the class or school would know. This usually invites even more harassment and shaming. Kissing and Telling was a high school system by which girls were policed and essentially terrorized into standards of sexuality that punished them at every turn. You learnt quickly that you were sexual prey and it will be announced when you were ‘caught.’

I believe to properly tackle the problem of sexual harassment in schools we need to revolutionize our sex education. In many schools, there is no sex education at all. And in those where there are some forms of sex education, it is essentially a half-education rooted in biology and nothing about human behaviour; an education that teaches only that girls can get pregnant and ignore the surrounding violent climate of sexual relationships. You find that a lot of teenagers turn to pornography as a teaching tool. It is no wonder then that dangerous notions about sex and sexual behaviour are learnt and enacted.

My dream sex education kit will be rooted in gender theory, through the lens of dismantling patriarchy. It would include activities that would push teenagers to unlearn patriarchal gender notions, include modules on Value systems [and approaching this from a humanitarian rather than religious point of view], modules on communicating in relationships, modules on gender equality, debunk myths and misconceptions about sex, teach a consent culture to end a rape culture, body intergrity and being sexually safe and healthy, as well as teach bystander interventions.

I also would hope that this education is tied to the larger institutions such that there are safe, non-judgmental spaces for students to report sexual assault, harassment and rape, spaces where perpetrators get punishment. And I hope that this sex education is mainstreamed in every aspect of the school curriculum, fine-tuned to the point of ensuring that even the language teachers use to teach does not perpetuate harmful gender norms and gender role stereotypes.

My bigger dream, however, is that a consent culture is mainstreamed in every grain of society and may we reflect on what that would look like as we commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.  As we hashtag #16daysofactivism, let us remember It is only when our homes, churches, mosques, shrines, offices, and internet communities are free from patriarchy that erasing sexual harassment in schools would be a sustainable achievement.

 

This article is published as part of an online campaign by the Gender Based Violence Prevention Network, coordinated by the Uganda-based organisation Raising Voices, to prevent violence against women. Use the hashtag #16daysofactivism to join the conversation, or check out @GBVNet via Twitter or visit the GBV Facebook page

 

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Power and Sexual Abuse: The Danger of Doublinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/power-sexual-abuse-danger-doubling/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=power-sexual-abuse-danger-doubling http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/power-sexual-abuse-danger-doubling/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2018 08:05:55 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159106 Several celebrities use their power to insult or take advantage of women. We read about sexual abuse from men like Harvey Weinsten, Bill O´Reilly, Leslie Moonves, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Dennis Hastert, Robert Packwood, Roger Ailes, James Levine, Hans Hermann Groër, Marcial Maciel, Justin Forsyth, Ruud Lubbers, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

Several celebrities use their power to insult or take advantage of women. We read about sexual abuse from men like Harvey Weinsten, Bill O´Reilly, Leslie Moonves, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Dennis Hastert, Robert Packwood, Roger Ailes, James Levine, Hans Hermann Groër, Marcial Maciel, Justin Forsyth, Ruud Lubbers, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump. The list is just a sample of an extensive catalogue of Western men accused of abusing women, using their fame, fortune and power to exploit and humiliate them. Unfortunately, misogyny, contempt of and prejudice against women and girls, may even be characterized as a cultural universal, an element, pattern, trait, or institution that is common to all human cultures worldwide.

Humans are herd animals. We depend on relations with other humans, a dependency that seldom is equal. Every moment of our lives we suffer subjugation – under parents, teachers, colleagues, bosses and government officials, at the same time as we might have power over others. Power may act as poison. Several persons I have been acquainted with and who reached powerful positions have changed completely, poisoned by their elevation above other human beings. Several imagined they earned their position though intelligence, hard work and charm; outstanding qualities that distinguished them from others, especially those who are dependent on these formidable leaders.

Endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin constitute a blissful quartet of neurotransmitters that make us content. Feelings of well-being increase levels of serotonin, which stimulate our appetite and general contentment, while low serotonin levels trigger stress hormones. Powerful beings benefit from serotonin streaming through their bodies, creating feelings of a refreshing exhilaration. Powerful men become supermen, assuming their behaviour cannot be equalled to that of inferior beings, whose blood and brains are acidified by stress hormones.

This blissful state of mind has to be protected. Power-drunk sex abusers are generally safeguarded by others, who like them fear that their power, and that of their sheltering organizations, will be weakened if voices of abused victims are taken seriously. Maybe a reason to why even the Catholic Church and United Nations, organizations supposed to care about evil and social injustice, so often have proved reluctant to address abuse committed by powerful men and women within their own domains.

While I in Paris was working at the gender division of UNESCO, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the IMF, went to trial in Lille, accused of pimping. He was acquitted from all charges, though I found his defence deplorable. He admitted that he was a “libertine” and liked to participate in orgies, though he had not realized that his partners in those excesses had been prostitutes. He assumed they were “libertines” like him. He was contradicted by several women who had shared his “pleasures”. One of them told the court: ”No other customer would have dared to do what he did. Does he assume that he can behave like that just because he does not have the same social status [as women like me]?” Fabrice Paszkowski, one of several arrangers of Strauss-Kahn´s nightly pleasures, used to text him messages about planned sexual encounters. The nature of these messages reflects opinions of men like them. Strauss-Kahn: ”So, who will you have in your luggage?” Paszkowski: “I have some very beautiful and new things for my trip to DC!!!”

While reading about the trial in Lille I found that another of Paszkowski´s clients had been the strapping sailor, author and artist Titouan Lamazou. A frequent visitor to UNESCO´s gender division. He was actively involved with charitable organizations defending the rights of women and children and had in 2003 been appointed as “UNESCO´s Artist for Peace”. Lamazou´s defence was the same as Strauss-Kahn´s: “I did not know that these women were prostitutes”.

The case of Titouan Lamazou made me remember when I was working for The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and once listened to a lecture by Karl Göran Lindberg, lawyer, police chief and former rector of the Police Academy. Lindberg was project manager of an EU project called Genderforce, aiming to improve international efforts to include a gender perspective in all police work. In 2010, Lindberg was by the Swedish High Court sentenced to a long prison term for repeated serious rape and sexual abuse of under-aged girls.

Lamazou and Lindberg might have been victims of what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton in a book about Nazi doctors called doubling. A psychological trait enabling a person to invoke evil potentials and forbidden urges, at the same time as s/he considers them to be completely alien to her/his true humanitarian and philanthropically inclined self. Jay Lifton stated:

          To live out the doubling and call forth the evil is a moral choice for which one is responsible, whatever
          the level of consciousness involved.

If we, our laws and our society accept and condone doubling, we identify with the perpetrators and pave the way for immorality, injustice and violence.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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Ending Sexual Harassment in the Work Placehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/ending-sexual-harassment-work-place/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ending-sexual-harassment-work-place http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/ending-sexual-harassment-work-place/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 14:35:33 +0000 Comfort Mussa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159078 Ten years ago when I set out on a career in media, my dream was to work for a TV station. The first prospective employer I came across invited me to an interview in his hotel room. As badly as I wanted the position, I had to give it up since it required a hotel […]

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As widespread as sexual harassment is in corporate Cameroon, denouncing it is a herculean task for many women who are faced with the options of either enduring the harassment and keeping their jobs, or speaking out and going hungry

Credit: Raising Voices

By Comfort Mussa
YAOUNDÉ, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

Ten years ago when I set out on a career in media, my dream was to work for a TV station. The first prospective employer I came across invited me to an interview in his hotel room.

As badly as I wanted the position, I had to give it up since it required a hotel room interview. Stories about employers demanding sexual favors for job opportunities were and are still very common in Cameroun.

Even before I had my foot in the door of my career, I was welcomed to a work landscape where sexual harassment at work was widespread. I went into this career “combat ready” having heard too many stories about what is expected from or done to women in the sector. Unfortunately, many women continue to go to work each day ready to fight off harassers. This constant battle is exhausting.

As widespread as sexual harassment is in corporate Cameroon, denouncing it is a herculean task for many women who are faced with the options of either enduring the harassment and keeping their jobs, or speaking out and going hungry

I settled for a radio job, gotten by merit. One afternoon as I was entering the studio, my colleague on the shift before mine was leaving. When I entered the studio, he closed the door and insisted on kissing me. I resisted and pushed him away. Other colleagues (males) in the technician’s booth watched it happen and laughed throughout. I was angry, disgusted and helpless. Colleagues laughed it off as a joke. The station at the time had no policy or provisions on how to handle cases of sexual harassment. Reporting sexual harassment in an organization with no internal tools or processes to deal with it, amounts to little or no action at all.

Many organizations do not have gender policies. In a recent report about sexual harassment at the African Union, interviewees said “…reporting incidents of sexual harassment was often counterproductive as there was no process internally to do so because the AUC does not have a sexual harassment policy”.

It isn’t just the lack of good corporate policies; it is the presence of patriarchal work culture and exploitation that makes it conducive for harassment to thrive. I remember, a colleague from another media house who was often assigned to go interview a particular business man in town or source for adverts from his company because she had broad hips and the business man had a known weakness for women built like that. Each time she was tasked with such assignments, she was told to “use her assets to secure funds for the organization”. She quit the job.

Forms of harassment at work are varied and include displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace, telling lewd jokes, making inappropriate sexual gestures, staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts, inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person, making offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

This year I and other women journalists in Cameroon launched a campaign dubbed #StopSexualHarassment237 to address the recurrent stories of sexual harassment in work places. Many #MeToo stories came out of this campaign. A few media bosses reached out to ask what they could do to make their organizations safer. Others trivialized the issue and blamed frequent harassment on how women colleagues dressed. Other bosses, queried their staff for even taking part in such a campaign in the first place – a big indicator of how toxic some work spaces are and the hindrances to breaking the silence on the subject.

As widespread as sexual harassment is in corporate Cameroon, denouncing it is a herculean task for many women who are faced with the options of either enduring the harassment and keeping their jobs, or speaking out and going hungry. Denouncing could lead to one losing her job, as perpetrators are often people in positions of power. This situation can be easily solved if we had more women in management positions. Unfortunately, top leadership in corporate Cameroon is still a men’s club.

Over the years I have learnt that ensuring my safety at work starts right from recruitment. One question I ask every prospective employer or company I have worked with is “Does this company have a gender policy?” I set that agenda for what I expect from the company. I advise other women to do the same. One’s salary is not the only thing to crosscheck on a work contract. Our safety and sanity are important too.

In the past few months of our #StopSexualHarassment237 and #MeToo campaign, we have found strength in our collective resolve. Our campaign does not only engage professionals but also students in university and professional schools where unfortunately stories of sexual harassment have been normalised. So normal, that instead of fighting to stop sexual harassment society finds ways to justify and live with it. This “normal” was learnt. It is our duty to teach ourselves a new normal and stop sexual harassment at work and in our communities.

 

 

This article is published as part of an online campaign by the Gender Based Violence Prevention Network, coordinated by the Uganda-based organisation Raising Voices, to prevent violence against women. Use the hashtag #16daysofactivism to join the conversation, or check out @GBVNet via Twitter or visit the GBV Facebook page

 

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Central America: Eradicating Gender Violence is Vital to State Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/central-america-eradicating-gender-violence-vital-state-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=central-america-eradicating-gender-violence-vital-state-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/central-america-eradicating-gender-violence-vital-state-security/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 08:08:55 +0000 Richard Barathe http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159067 Richard Barathe is Director, UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean

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Credit: Caroline Trutmann / UNDP

By Richard Barathe
PANAMA CITY, Panama, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

María is a 35-year old Salvadoran woman with three young children. Growing up, María knew her mother but never met her father. When María was six, she started working at the Central Market of San Salvador and at the age of 12 she was raped and became pregnant for the first time.

Later, María was expelled from her home once her mother got married for a second time, “My stepfather did not want to take care of me, even less with a son”, she told the researcher for “Resilient Youth, The Opportunity for Central America”, a study developed by the Regional Project Infosegura, a UN Development Programme-USAID joint initiative.

María lived in many different places until she met the father of her second daughter- who was killed years later. After his passing, María had a third child with a third partner whom she soon separated from, due to domestic violence. Currently, María’s teenage son lives with her father, uncle, and grandmother since she simply could not take care of him while also working full time.

Richard Barathe

Women all across El Salvador, women just like María have a life expectancy of around 75 years. It is safe to say that about half of María’s life has been deeply marked by the violence that women experience in Northern Countries of Central America, a region that for the past two decades has seen chronic violence despite Central America not having a regional war in decades.

When speaking of violence in the Northern Countries of Central America, it is assumed to be a problem concerning young men, since “only” 11 percent of the victims of violent deaths are women. However, the story of María is more common than is realized.

María is just another example of how women of this region live surrounded by a violence that affects them differently and specifically just because they are women.

This violence is not necessarily lethal, and victims often survive, but these women continue to be subjected to the same cycle of violence throughout their whole lives, impacting families and communities through generations, affecting their economy and sustainability, and distorting their capacities for development.

Data shows that in María’s home country, 93 percent of the victims of sexual crimes are women. Over two in every five the victims are under the age of 18. We also know that domestic violence is present throughout the adulthood of a woman and that a woman between 12 and 50 years old is at high risk of “disappearing”.

Over 3,500 women have been killed between the years 2010-2017, while nearly 2,700 were reported as Enforced Disappearances around the same period (201-2016) with 43 percent of them being minors.

We know this because the Salvadoran State has made progress in the management of information on citizen security with a focus on gender and has oriented public policies to guarantee evidence-based analysis.

Migration is a phenomenon that also characterizes this region, and data indicates that violence against women is an important factor to be considered. Our initiative also analyzed returnees data: migrants detained in transit who were sent back to their place of origin.

We know that 26 percent of these ‘returnees’ are women and 30 percent of all women say they have migrated due to violence, compared to only 18 percent of men who say violence is the main reason for leaving their country.

Every November, national, regional, and global actors campaign to eradicate violence against women. It is crucial to recognize violence against women as an essential element of citizen security: tackling it is a key step to build more cohesive and peaceful societies.

Addressing general societal violence with a special focus on violence against women must be at the foundation of comprehensive public policies on citizen security, that aim to eradicate all types of violence. Understanding everyday violence that women experience in their homes and streets is a security problem for communities and nations.

No nation will be safe unless women can live safely and develop their full potentials.

In this spirit, the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a holistic model for a comprehensive approach to ensure that women have a life free from all types of violence. All of society thrives with firm steps towards development when no one is left behind.

At UNDP, we are systematizing good practices and success stories of the work in Central America within the framework of the UNDP-USAID Infosegura Regional Project, which is dedicated to the development of capacities for the formulation of public policies based on evidence and with a gender approach. We are, thus, establishing standards, methodologies and scalable processes.

An essential part of the process has been to build trust and coordinate our work with national institutions producing and analyzing data, leveraging new technologies, national experts and innovation.

This coordination has resulted in regional accomplishments in information management with a gender focus, such as specialized surveys and standardized reports on acts of violence against women.

In El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, understanding the context of María’s story as accurately as possible will allow us to efficiently eradicate violence against women as well as all other types of violence. If countries are to achieve the 2030 Agenda, boosting gains in the economic, social and environmental realms, this can only be done if we ensure that no “Marías” are left behind.

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Excerpt:

Richard Barathe is Director, UNDP Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean

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The Bond that is Educating Girls Across Indiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bond-educating-girls-across-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bond-educating-girls-across-india http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bond-educating-girls-across-india/#respond Sat, 01 Dec 2018 05:36:17 +0000 Neeta Lal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158974 Barely five months into the start of Sneha’s year at a government school in Bhilwara, a town in India’s desert state of Rajasthan, the bubbly 15-year-old was pulled out by her parents. They wanted her to stay at home instead, to look after her four younger siblings and to cook and clean for the family […]

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Schoolgirls in rural Bihar, India. In Indian villages one in 10 girls aged 10 to 14 are kept out of school to help contribute to the family income or care for siblings. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Neeta Lal
NEW DELHI, Dec 1 2018 (IPS)

Barely five months into the start of Sneha’s year at a government school in Bhilwara, a town in India’s desert state of Rajasthan, the bubbly 15-year-old was pulled out by her parents. They wanted her to stay at home instead, to look after her four younger siblings and to cook and clean for the family as her parents worked on their farm.

Sneha’s  parents, however, are no different from thousands of others in rural Rajasthan who believe it is pointless to educate daughters as they ultimately get married and leave their parents’ homes to manage their own households and raise kids.

Many opt to train their daughters in housekeeping and child rearing from a young age, using their skills to provide free care and services to their families instead.

Sneha’s story, however, had a different ending. Her school principal and Educate Girls (EG), a non-profit that empowers communities to facilitate girls’ education in rural India, intervened. They spoke to Sneha’s parents about the importance of education and how receiving an education could become life-changing for the young girl and her family.

“After we were counselled, we realised that we had erred in depriving our daughter of an education,” Kishan Ram, 48, Sneha’s father, told IPS. “And that if  we educate her, she will be able to make informed life choices that will not only help her earn a livelihood but also improve the future of an entire generation.”

Sneha’ is not the only young girl in India who was able to return to school thanks to intervention from EG.

Since 2007, the multiple award-winning organisation has been working to empower and educate underprivileged communities to make young girls employable, join the country’s formal workforce and lift their families out of poverty.

EG has grown from a 500-school pilot project, to serve a network of over 25,000 schools across 16 districts in Rajasthan as well as the central India state of Madhya Pradesh. It aims to leverage existing community and government resources to augment access and quality of education for around 2.5 million children across 27,500 schools by the end of 2018.

In 2015 EG became part of a unique experiment. It implemented the Development Impact Bond (DIB), a mechanism which capitalises on private risk capital so that a third party, such as a donor agency or foundation, can finance the achievement of agreed-upon outcomes.

“This type of outcome-based funding can be a great catalyst for driving quality and improving learning outcomes in the education sector,” Dr. Suresh Pant, an educationist and former associate Professor from the Delhi University, told IPS.

According to one of the stakeholders in the project, UBS Optimus Foundation, DIBs are more result-oriented compared to traditional funding as they transfer the risk to investors who put in the working capital for the implementing organisations on the ground. Predefined targets are regularly measured and this enables the implementing organisation to adapt quickly for any course correction where necessary. The implementing organisation has an increased motivation to deliver results.

“Patriarchy and gender-based discrimination systematically exclude girls from school thus denying them the advantages of autonomy, mobility and economic independence that boys enjoy,” EG’s Founder and London School of Economics alumnus, Safeena Husain, told IPS. “Education opens doors for girls giving them the potential for equal opportunity. Our organisation alleviates these girls’ life and future by bringing them into a formal education system.”

Children in the rural town of Harohalli Taluq, 60 kilometres south of Bangalore, India. Though India has achieved a 99 percent enrolment rate of school children at primary level, the quality of learning has remained abysmal. Credit: Malini Shankar/IPS

Though India has achieved a 99 percent enrolment rate of school children at primary level, the quality of learning has remained abysmal. An Indian student, say surveys, lags at least two grades behind the level that is expected for their age. Rajasthan reports some of the worst education indicators in the country.

Working in synergy with the government, EG taps into a network of 12,000 community volunteers, called Team Balika, to ensure higher enrolment and attendance for girls as well as improved learning outcomes for all children.

Experts say this approach to education is a huge boon for Indian villages where one in 10 girls aged 10 to 14 are kept out of school to help contribute to the family income or care for siblings.

Dr. Shamika Ravi, Research Director at Brookings India, opines that the DIB model has immense implications for education policy and innovative financing instruments.

“Impact Bonds are a new, complementary source of funding developmental interventions. Private sector firms undertake the initial investment by providing the upfront working capital to service providers to deliver programmes on the ground. Outcome payers — governments or development agencies — are obligated to repay the private firms’ investment alongside a fixed return if, and only if, pre-determined performance indicators are met. The bonds’ stakeholders can collectively impact the delivery of social services, and how small-scale interventions can create benchmarks and common frameworks for scale and sector-wide impact,” he writes in his column in The Hindu newspaper.

EG students’ learning is measured using the Annual Status of  Education Report, an annual survey that provides reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India. The test measures three proficiencies: Hindi, English and Mathematics. Student enrolment is defined by the percentage of out-of-school girls (between the ages of seven and 14) enrolled in school by the end of the third year.

According to EG’s annual report released this August, in it’s third year the DIB surpassed both its target outcomes by achieving 160 percent of its learning target and 116 percent of its enrolment target.

“Progress was measured against agreed targets for the number of out-of-school girls enrolled into primary and upper primary schools as well as the progress of girls and boys in English, Hindi and Math. The outcome-based funding model, with its constant feedback and analysis of data from the field teams, has allowed the organisation to identify challenges and craft customised  solutions,” says the report.

The organisation’s biggest success was enrolment—which reached 92 percent—and accounted for 20 percent of the outcome payment. The programme had also surpassed the target, enrolling 768 girls, accounting for a 116 percent increase. Learning outcomes, which made up 80 percent of the outcome payment, saw an upward spiral of 8,940 more learning levels than the comparison group against a targeted predefined metric of 5,592, equivalent to a 160 percent achievement against target, says the report.

Participation in the DIB, explains Husain has led to EG becoming more target-driven and develop precise frameworks, processes and capabilities to measure and monitor the outcomes achieved. “The success of the DIB model has proven we’re on the right path,” she concludes.

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Legal Weapons Have Failed to Curb Femicides in Latin Americahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/legal-weapons-failed-curb-femicides-latin-america/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=legal-weapons-failed-curb-femicides-latin-america http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/legal-weapons-failed-curb-femicides-latin-america/#respond Sat, 01 Dec 2018 03:00:08 +0000 Fabiana Frayssinet http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158975 This article is part of IPS coverage of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which began on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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Susana Gómez, who was left blind by a beating from her then husband, says in a park in the city of La Plata, Argentina that she did not find support from the authorities to free herself from domestic violence, but a social organisation saved her from joining the list of femicides in Latin America - gender-based murders of women, which numbered 2,795 in 2017 in the region. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

Susana Gómez, who was left blind by a beating from her then husband, says in a park in the city of La Plata, Argentina that she did not find support from the authorities to free herself from domestic violence, but a social organisation saved her from joining the list of femicides in Latin America - gender-based murders of women, which numbered 2,795 in 2017 in the region. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

By Fabiana Frayssinet
LA PLATA, Argentina, Dec 1 2018 (IPS)

Left blind by a beating from her ex-husband, Susana Gómez barely managed to avoid joining the list of nearly 2,800 femicides committed annually in Latin America, but her case shows why public policies and laws are far from curtailing gender-based violence in the region.

“I filed many legal complaints (13 in criminal courts and five in civil courts) and the justice system never paid any attention to me,” Gómez told IPS in an interview in a square in her neighborhood in Lisandro Olmos, a suburb of La Plata, capital of the province of Buenos Aires.

Although they already existed in Argentina in 2011, when the brutal attack against her took place, the specialised women’s police stations were not enough to protect her from her attacker.

Her life was saved by La Casa María Pueblo, a non-governmental organisation that, like others in Latin America, uses its own resources to make up for the shortcomings of the state in order to protect and provide legal advice to the victims of domestic violence.

Gómez, her four children and her mother, who were also threatened by her ex-husband, were given shelter by the NGO.

“We had nothing. We went there with the clothes on our back and our identity documents and nothing else because we were going here and there and everyone closed the door on us: The police didn’t do anything, nor did the prosecutor’s office,” said Gómez, who is now 34 years old.

“Without organisations like this one I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale, the case wouldn’t have made it to trial. Without legal backing, a shelter where you can hide, psychological treatment, I couldn’t have faced this, because it’s not easy,” she said.

In April 2014, a court in La Plata sentenced her ex-husband, Carlos Goncharuk, to eight years in prison. Gómez is now suing the government of the province of Buenos Aires for reparations.

“No one is going to give me my eyesight back, but I want the justice system, the State to be more aware, to prevent a before and an after,” said Gómez, who once again is worried because her ex will be released next year.

Lawyer Darío Witt, the founder of the NGO, said Gómez was not left blind by an accident or illness but by the repeated beatings at the hands of her then-husband. The last time, he banged her head against the kitchen wall.

“The aim of the reparations is not simply economic. What we want to try to show in the case of Susana and other victims is that the State, that the authorities in general, whether provincial, municipal or national and in different countries, have a high level of responsibility in this. The state is not innocent in these questions,” Witt told IPS.

“When I went blind and realised that I would no longer see my children, I said ‘enough’,” Gómez said.

Alarming statistics

According to the Gender Equality Observatory (OIG) of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), at least 2,795 women were murdered in 2017 for gender-based reasons in 23 countries in the region, crimes classified in several countries as femicides.

The list of femicides released this month by OIG is led by Brazil (1,133 victims registered in 2017), in absolute figures, but in relative terms, the rate of gender crimes per 100,000 women, El Salvador reaches a level unparalleled in the region, with 10.2 femicides per 100,000 women.

Charts showing absolute numbers of femicides by country in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the rate of gender-based murders per 100,000 women. Credit: ECLAC Gender Equality Observatory

Charts showing absolute numbers of femicides by country in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the rate of gender-based murders per 100,000 women. Credit: ECLAC Gender Equality Observatory

Honduras (in 2016) recorded 5.8 femicides per 100,000 women, and Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia also recorded high rates in 2017, equal to or greater than two cases per 100,000 women.

The OIG details that gender-based killings account for the majority of murders of women in the region, where femicides are mainly committed by partners or ex-partners of the victim, with the exception of El Salvador and Honduras.

“Femicides are the most extreme expression of violence against women. Neither the classification of the crime nor its statistical visibility have been sufficient to eradicate this scourge that alarms and horrifies us every day,” said ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena as she released the new OIG figures.

Ana Silvia Monzón, a Guatemalan sociologist with the Gender and Feminism Studies Programme at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso), pointed out that her country has had a Law against Femicide and other Forms of Violence against Women since 2008 and a year later a Law against Sexual Violence, Exploitation and Trafficking in Persons.

“Both are important instruments because they help make visible a serious problem in Guatemala, and they are a tool for victims to begin the path to justice,” she told IPS from Guatemala City.

However, despite these laws that provided for the creation of a model of comprehensive care for victims and specialised courts, “the necessary resources are not allocated to institutions, agencies and programmes that should promote such prevention, much less specialised care for victims who report the violence,” she said.

In addition, “prejudices and biased gender practices persist among those who enforce the law” and “little has been done to introduce educational content or programmes that contribute to changing the social imaginary that assumes violence against women as normal,” and especially against indigenous women, she said.

#NiUnaMenos, #NiUnaMás

In the region, “significant progress has been made, which is the expression of a women’s movement that has managed to draw attention to gender-based violence as a social problem, but not enough progress has been made,” Monzón said.

Five-year-old Olivia holds up a sign with the slogan against femicide, #NiUnaMenos (Not One Woman Less), which has spread throughout Latin America in mass mobilisations against gender violence. Olivia participated in a neighborhood activity in the Argentine city of La Plata on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, celebrated Nov. 25. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

Five-year-old Olivia holds up a sign with the slogan against femicide, #NiUnaMenos (Not One Woman Less), which has spread throughout Latin America in mass mobilisations against gender violence. Olivia participated in a neighborhood activity in the Argentine city of La Plata on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, celebrated Nov. 25. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

According to U.N. Women, a total of 18 Latin American and Caribbean nations have modified their laws to punish sexist crimes against women such as femicide or gender-based aggravated homicide.

But as Gómez and other social activists in her neighborhood conclude, much more must be done.

The meeting with the victim took place on Nov. 25, during an informal social gathering in the Juan Manuel de Rosas square, organized by the group Nuevo Encuentro.

The activity was held on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which launched the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. This year’s slogan is #HearMeToo, which calls for victims to be heard as part of the solution to what experts call a “silent genocide.”

María Eugenia Cruz, a neighborhood organiser for Nuevo Encuentro, said that despite the new legal frameworks and mass demonstrations and mobilisations such as #NiUnaMenos against machista violence and feminicide, which have spread throughout Argentina and other countries in the region, “there is still a need to talk about what is happening to women.”

“In more narrow-minded places like this neighbourhood, it seems like gender violence is something people are ashamed of talking about, the women feel guilty. Making the problem visible is part of thinking about what tools the State can provide,” she told IPS.

“Or to see what those tools are,” said Olivia, her five-year-old daughter who was playing nearby, and who proudly held a sign that read: “Ni Una Menos,” (Not One Woman Less) the slogan that has brought Latin American women together, as well as #NiUnaMás (Not One More Woman).

She exemplifies a new generation of Latin American girls who, thanks to massive mobilisations and growing social awareness, are beginning to speak out early and promote cultural change.

“Today women are becoming aware, starting during the dating stage, of the signs of a violent man. He doesn’t like your friends, he doesn’t like the way you dress. Now there’s more information available, and that’s important,” said Gómez, who is a volunteer on a hot-line for victims of violence.

“Now they call you, they ask you for advice, and that’s good. In the past, who could you call? Besides the fear, if they promise to conceal your identity, that prompts you to say: I’m going to file a complaint and I have a group of people who are going to help me,” said the survivor of domestic abuse.

The post Legal Weapons Have Failed to Curb Femicides in Latin America appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of IPS coverage of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which began on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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VIDEO: Seeking Ways to Include Women in the Blue Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-seeking-ways-include-women-blue-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=video-seeking-ways-include-women-blue-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-seeking-ways-include-women-blue-economy/#respond Thu, 29 Nov 2018 21:28:22 +0000 Sam Olukoya http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158945 Women make up about half of the over 120 million people whose livelihood depend on the blue economy. But women play only a marginal role in the blue economy with most of them earning subsistence income. Women are mainly excluded from more important aspects of the Blue Economy like shipping and large scale fishing. The […]

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By Sam Olukoya
NAIROBI, Nov 29 2018 (IPS)

Women make up about half of the over 120 million people whose livelihood depend on the blue economy. But women play only a marginal role in the blue economy with most of them earning subsistence income. Women are mainly excluded from more important aspects of the Blue Economy like shipping and large scale fishing.

The Canadian High Commission to Kenya and the Canadian government funded International Development Research Centre, IDRC, organized a side event at the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, with the aim of seeking ways of increasing women participation in the blue economy.

 

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Justice elusive to victims of gender-based violencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/justice-elusive-victims-gender-based-violence/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=justice-elusive-victims-gender-based-violence http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/justice-elusive-victims-gender-based-violence/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 16:11:27 +0000 Editor Dailystar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158967 Speed up the trial process

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Speed up the trial process

By Editor, The Daily Star, Bangladesh
Nov 28 2018 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

Although incidents of gender-based violence have increased over the years, there is hardly any improvement in terms of getting justice in the cases filed over these incidents. A recent ActionAid commissioned research study has revealed that in the cases filed in such incidents, 97 percent women do not get justice, four out of five such cases brought before the court remain unaddressed for two years before they get court dates, and only in 3.1 percent cases the court rules in favour of the victims. Another striking finding of the study is that two-thirds of such violence occur inside victims’ homes. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an average of 137 women across the world are killed by a partner or family member every day.

These findings have brought to light the fact that the measures taken by the government and non-government organisations to end gender-based violence and bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice are just not enough. And the fact that in 96.9 percent of the cases, victims either did not get court hearings or had their cases dismissed is a clear indication of how these cases are manipulated by the perpetrators who are generally powerful or influential.

It is also a well-known fact that compared to the large number of incidents of violence, cases are filed only in a few of them. Having little or no information about filing complaints, interference by community leaders and the slow rate of case proceedings at court are the common reasons for low report rate.

Therefore, the state must ensure that appropriate information is disseminated among women to make them aware of resources and channels to safely file legal complaints and grievances. In addition, a lot needs to be done to change the “socially accepting attitude” towards this kind of violence. And the media also has a very important role to play here in terms of raising awareness campaigns, reporting more on violence inside the home and doing follow-up reports on the court proceedings in such cases.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

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Excerpt:

Speed up the trial process

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Asia-Pacific Takes Stock of Ambitious Development Targetshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/asia-pacific-takes-stock-ambitious-development-targets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=asia-pacific-takes-stock-ambitious-development-targets http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/asia-pacific-takes-stock-ambitious-development-targets/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 05:16:58 +0000 Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Natalia Kanem 2 http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158909 Ministers and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development. They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing […]

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By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Natalia Kanem
BANGKOK, Thailand, Nov 28 2018 (IPS)

Ministers and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development. They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing economic growth with social imperatives, underpinned by rights and choices for all as enshrined in the landmark Programme of Action stemming from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, or ICPD.

In the Programme of Action, diverse views on population, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development merged into a remarkable global consensus that placed individual dignity and human rights at the heart of development.

Truly revolutionary at the time, ICPD remains all the more urgent and relevant a quarter-century later, in this era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals. Without ICPD we would not have the SDGs, and indeed they go hand in hand. The ICPD is a dedicated vehicle through which we can – and will – address, achieve and fulfill the SDGs.

How well have we responded to trends such as population ageing and international migration? How successful have we been in ensuring optimal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all, including the right to choose when or whether to get married and when or whether to have children, and how many? How well have we done in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment, and upholding the rights of the most vulnerable among us? Where should our efforts be refocused to leave no one behind?

Asia and the Pacific has much to celebrate. The region remains the engine of global growth and at the forefront of the global fight against poverty. It is now home to half the world’s middle class. The share of the population living in poverty has dropped considerably although it is still unacceptably high. People are living, longer healthier lives. Rights-based family planning has contributed to considerable economic success and women’s empowerment. And we are on track to achieve universal education by 2030.

Yet for all this growth, considerable injustices remain. On its current trajectory, the region will fall short of achieving the 2030 Agenda. In several areas we are heading in altogether the wrong direction. Inequalities within and between countries are widening. Some 1.2 billion people live in poverty of which 400 million live in extreme poverty. Lack of decent job opportunities and access to essential services are perpetuating injustice across generations.

At the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we are keen to shine the spotlight on three key issues where regional commitment is vital.

First, we need to respond to the unprecedented population changes unfolding across the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries are facing a rapidly ageing population. The proportion of people above the age of sixty is expected to more than double by 2050. Effectively meeting the needs of an ageing society and ensuring healthy and productive lives must be a priority. This requires a life cycle approach – from pregnancy and childbirth, through adolescence and adulthood, to old age – ensuring that all people are allowed to fulfil their socioeconomic potential, underpinned by individual rights and choices.

Equally, there is a strong case for strengthening Asia-Pacific’s response to international migration. Migrants can, when allowed, contribute significantly to development. However, we know that migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. So, our ambition is for discussions this week to build further momentum in support of safe, orderly and regular migration to fully harness its development benefits.

Second, there is clear evidence the region must spend more on social protection, as well as on health care and education. Today, social protection is the preserve of a few, rather than a right for all. As a result, 60 per cent of our population are at risk of being trapped in vulnerability or pushed into poverty by sickness, disability, unemployment or old age, often underpinned by gender inequality. The “Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific: Poorly Protected”, which ESCAP will publish later this week, sets out why expanding social protection is the most effective means of reducing poverty, strengthening rights and making vulnerable groups less exposed. Many women, migrants, older persons and rural communities would also benefit. Our evidence suggests it could even end extreme poverty in several countries by 2030.

Third, we need to invest in generating disaggregated data to tell us who is being left behind to ensure our response to population dynamics is targeted and credible. Availability of data on social and demographic issues lag far behind anything related to the economy. Millions of births remain unregistered, leading to the denial of many basic rights, particularly to women and girls. Of the 43 countries which conducted a census between 2005 and 2014, only 16 have reliable data on international migration. With the 2020 round of censuses upon us, we will be redoubling our efforts to close these data gaps by strengthening new partnerships for data capacity and working with governments and other partners to translate data into policy and action.

The Midterm Review of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development as well as the Committee on Social Development provide the region with an opportunity to speak with one voice on population and development issues. ESCAP and UNFPA stand united in their commitment to supporting their Member States to build and strengthen a regional response to issues that will shape the future for generations to come.

We look to this week’s discussions to galvanize countries behind the ambition and vision that link ICPD and the SDGs and accelerate work to leave no one behind in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Dr. Natalia Kanem is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

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Promoting Gender Equality On Front Lineshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/promoting-gender-equality-front-lines/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=promoting-gender-equality-front-lines http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/promoting-gender-equality-front-lines/#respond Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:17:43 +0000 Jessica Neuwirth http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158897 Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with front line women’s groups around the world.

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Hawa Aden Mohamed and girls at The Galkayo Center, Somalia.

By Jessica Neuwirth
NEW YORK, Nov 27 2018 (IPS)

Last week’s announcement by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) of £50m ($64.3m) to help end female genital mutilation (FGM) is great news. The biggest ever financial commitment by any donor, it could be a game changer for the African-led movement to end this abhorrent subjugation of women.

We have yet to see how exactly the proposal may work, but one of the best parts of the announcement was a pledge to fund women on the front lines. This sets a precedent that I hope other governments will follow.

Funding the front lines is an approach that is often talked about but rarely translated into action. For years, I have seen with my own eyes the importance of the work that happens at the grassroots. The Tasaru Rescue Centre in Kenya has done life-saving work to protect Maasai girls at risk of FGM.

In Nepal, the Forum for Women, Law and Development has changed the law to better protect Nepalese women from cases of rape and acid attacks. In South Africa, Embrace Dignity has helped start a movement of sex trade survivors, fueling the conversation to end sex trafficking on the African continent.

However, despite the growing evidence that locally-led advocacy is more effective and more sustainable, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), only 8% of the $10 billion given in 2014 to non governmental organizations (NGOs) working on the promotion of gender equality in economically developing countries, actually reached groups that were located in those same countries.

In response to the growing gap between the needs of these national grassroots groups and the allocation of resources to larger international NGOs, I set up Donor Direct Action in 2011 to help level the playing field and get more funding to the women’s groups working on the front lines where it will have the most impact. At least 90% of funds we receive to support these groups are re-granted directly to them.

The women who work on the front lines to end violence and discrimination against women get little attention. They are brave, insightful and effective. Their biggest need is almost always core funding, so our grants are largely unrestricted.

These women should be trusted to invest funding where they know it is likely to be most needed. They determine their own priorities for how best to use the funds. We then help build their public profiles, get their issues highlighted in international media, link them with major donors and political leaders, and provide other forms of strategic support.

On this “Giving Tuesday”, I hope that you will join me in supporting one or more of our partner groups, who are carrying out such critical work. Please also take a moment to share this article on social media or with anyone you think may want to help. If you use Facebook please start a fundraiser. Do anything you can do to help get donations where they are most needed.

Together we are changing the lives of women and girls around the world. It is challenging work but it is moving forward. Let’s keep the momentum going!

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Excerpt:

Jessica Neuwirth is founder of Donor Direct Action, an international organization which partners with front line women’s groups around the world.

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The Geneva Centre reiterates the importance of eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls for the achievement of gender equalityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/geneva-centre-reiterates-importance-eliminating-forms-violence-women-girls-achievement-gender-equality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=geneva-centre-reiterates-importance-eliminating-forms-violence-women-girls-achievement-gender-equality http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/geneva-centre-reiterates-importance-eliminating-forms-violence-women-girls-achievement-gender-equality/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 18:40:18 +0000 Geneva Centre http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158923 On the occasion of the observance of the 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue reiterates the urgent need to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, as a sine qua non condition for the achievement of gender equality worldwide. […]

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By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Nov 26 2018 (Geneva Centre)

On the occasion of the observance of the 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue reiterates the urgent need to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, as a sine qua non condition for the achievement of gender equality worldwide.

Echoing UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who deplored violence against women and girls as “a mark of shame on all our societies”, the Geneva Centre notes that it is estimated that a third of women worldwide have experienced either sexual or physical violence, including domestic violence, in their lifetimes(1). Phenomena such as femicide, human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, cyber-violence against women, early and forced marriage, sexual harassment and intimidation are on the rise and undermine the halted progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women globally.

In relation to the situation in the Arab region, the Geneva Centre recalls that discriminatory laws providing impunity to perpetrators of violence against women and girls must be repealed. The Centre commends the recent efforts of Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia to repeal discriminatory laws against women and girls. They stand out as shining examples of how to address the prevalence of gender-based violence through legislation and practical measures that protect victims’ rights. Loopholes in national legislation should not allow that wrongdoers escape the long arm of justice.

The Geneva Centre also notes that the unprecedented rise of extremist violence and armed conflict in the Arab region has likewise contributed to worsening the status of Arab women. The effects of armed conflict and insecurity have disproportionately affected women and girls. Conflict situations and humanitarian crises constitute fertile grounds for the perpetration of grave forms of violence against women, aimed at tearing apart the social fabric and thus further destabilizing societies undergoing conflict. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are used by some belligerents in Syria and in Iraq as weapons of war. Victims of these forms of sexual abuses face long-term psychological and social effects, as well as exclusion from society due to persisting stigma.

Furthermore, Resolution 1820 of the UN Security Council of 19 June 2008 prohibits and condemns all forms of sexual violence and rape targeting women and girls, which can amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or may be acts constitutive of genocide.

The Geneva Centre underscores the nexus between violence against women and the pervasiveness of gender inequality in leadership positions. Violence against women under its multiple forms, including sexual harassment, is frequently used as a means of intimidation and exclusion of women from the political arena, and from the private sector. A 2016 study by the Inter-Parliamentarian Union revealed that a staggering 82% of the interviewed women parliamentarians had experienced psychological violence, whilst 44% had received death, rape or abduction threats.

The use of violence with the aim of excluding women from societies and of undermining their civil and political rights becomes even more evident during election times. Women experience more than twice as much electoral violence than men(2), according to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In this regard, The Geneva Centre calls for the full political inclusion of women worldwide and in the Arab region in particular, and for the adoption of targeted measures to remedy any deliberate attempts to exclude women from leadership positions through the use of violence and intimidation.

In order to improve the status of women in the Arab region, the Geneva Centre appeals to Arab governments to address all challenges impeding the full realization of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this connection, he noted that Arab countries must uphold the positive momentum witnessed in the region with regard to the status of women.

The advancement of women’s rights and the enhancement of gender equality constitute the pillars of an inclusive and harmonious society. Decision-makers must remain committed to taking concrete measures for the elimination of gender discrimination and violence, as well as for lifting the barriers that hinder the empowerment of women.

The Geneva Centre will shortly issue a new publication dedicated to the progress and the persisting challenges with regard to women’s rights in the Arab region. Under the title “Women’s rights in the Arab region: between myth and reality”, the upcoming publication will include a comprehensive account of the panel discussion organized in 2017 on this theme, featuring a compelling statement from Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, as well as an in-depth study of the situation of gender equality in the Arab region and worldwide by Ambassador Naela Gabr, member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The Geneva Centre remains committed through its initiatives to giving prominence to women’s rights and gender equality worldwide, in all spheres of the society.

(1) According to data provided by UN Women.

(2) International Foundation for Electoral Systems: Breaking the Mold: Understanding Gender and Electoral Violence, by Gabrielle Bardall, December 2011.

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Gender Inequality is Stunting Economic Progresshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/gender-inequality-stunting-economic-progress/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gender-inequality-stunting-economic-progress http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/gender-inequality-stunting-economic-progress/#respond Sun, 25 Nov 2018 08:05:36 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158840 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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UN SG Mr. António Guterres-“women’s rights are being, reduced, restricted and reversed”. The Deputy UN Secretary General (DSG) Ms Amina Mohammed and the UNSG. Credit: UN Photo

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 2018 (IPS)

‘Do not let us off the hook; keep our feet to the fire’. These were the words of the UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres when he promised to personally lead the global body towards greater gender equality.

As the world observes the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence today 26 November 2018, an independent United Nations system-wide survey on sexual harassment is taking place around all UN country offices.

It is the first of its kind and it demonstrates the UN’s common resolve to eradicate sexual harassment and ensure a safe and inclusive workplace for all personnel across the UN.

The UN initiative is in lock-step with the theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism – ‘Orange the World; Hear Me Too’. The aim is to raise awareness on violence against women and its impact on a woman’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being.

The now-famous ‘MeToo’ movement brought out from anonymity the shame that many women were forced to live with, fearing that to reveal the various inappropriate remarks and unwelcome advances they had endured would jeopardise their careers.

Statistics indicate that more than one in three women across the world have experienced physical or sexual violence, usually perpetrated by an intimate partner. In a study by Edison Research and Marketplace on sexual harassment, 27% of women and 14% of men reported that they had been harassed at some time at their workplace.

Despite the progressive policy commitments and institutional frameworks on gender equality and women empowerment, implementation remains slow and inconsistent. To date, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa has not secured universal ratification.

While the HeForShe campaign has gained high momentum since its launch in September 2014, a lot still needs to be done to bring men on board towards addressing sexual harassment towards women in public and private spaces.

Such campaigns have brought considerable gains towards raising consciousness and self-assurance for women. Increasingly, they are speaking out against the indignities of work-related sexual advances and intimidation.

It is time for another crescendo to rise as we consider the multiple dimensions of gender violence. This is the cost that countries are paying when women are girls are denied the chance to live to their full social and economic potential.

This is the insidious aspect of gender violence that needs the most urgent restitution.

Consider the aspect of employment: according to a World Bank report released this year, countries are losing $160 trillion in wealth because of differences in lifetime earnings between women and men. This amounts to an average of $23,620 for each person.

UNDP in its Africa Human Development Report for 2016 says, “Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year

In education, girls still have catching up to do. While Kenya has done relatively well in balancing school enrolment among genders, there remains work to do towards demonstrating to young women that they have a future after their education. According to a recent survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), only about a third of Kenyans in formal employment are women.

Estimates indicate that the return on one year of secondary education for a girl correlates with as high as a 25% increase in wages. In addition, ensuring that all girls get at least secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa, would reduce child marriages by more than half.

All these demonstrate the cyclical benefits, from one generation to the next, of education as an intervention strategy. However, while evidence abounds that parity with women is the best driving force for economic growth, wealth creation and poverty eradication, women’s rights are being “reduced, restricted and reversed”, according to UN Secretary-General Mr. Guterres.

There cannot be any illusions about the enormity of the task ahead. Misogyny is a deep-rooted expression of male entitlement that often excuses sexual harassment and violence, even at times by the victims themselves. For instance, a World Bank Gender Data Portal shows that 76.3 per cent of women in Mali and 92.1 per cent in Guinea believe a man is justified in beating his wife if she goes out without telling him, neglects the children, refuses sex, burns the food or argues with him.

Such attitudes are often rooted far beyond the reach of social media hashtags. Shifts in attitude must begin from the home, before we can expect corporate bodies and national governments to enact gender-sensitive legislation.

The UN in Kenya is taking some concrete steps in this direction, starting with the establishment of a coordination network on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse in the Nairobi duty station.

Women shouldn’t have to feel ‘grateful’ for opportunities says the UN DSG Amina Mohammed in a recent BBC interview. So true. Ultimately, countries need to begin breaking structural barriers, not just with gender equality as a lofty ideal but as deliberate strategy for sustainable development.

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Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Violence Against Women, a Cause and Consequence of Inequalityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/violence-women-cause-consequence-inequality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=violence-women-cause-consequence-inequality http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/violence-women-cause-consequence-inequality/#respond Fri, 23 Nov 2018 15:25:56 +0000 Selim Jahan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158823 Selim Jahan is Director of the Human Development Report Office, UNDP

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Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

By Selim Jahan
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 23 2018 (IPS)

The lack of women’s empowerment is a critical form of inequality. And while there are many barriers to empowerment, violence against women and girls (VAW) is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality.

Estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that about 1 in 3 (35 percent) of women and girls worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. However, these numbers – shocking as they are – only tell a part of the story.

VAW is a global phenomenon that cuts across boundaries of age, socioeconomic status, education and geography. Yet globally we still do not know very much about its extent: only 107 of 195 countries have data available on intimate partner violence for example, a number that falls to just 56 countries when we seek to understand non-intimate partner violence.

Even when data is available, it is likely that the figures are an underestimate as it is notoriously difficult to collect sensitive information on VAW when the victims can fear coming forward or feel ashamed.

VAW also has an impact on the lives of many women beyond the direct victims. The fear of violence can prevent women from pursuing education, working or exercising their political rights and voice. A recent Gallup survey shows that in every region of the world, women consistently feel more insecure than men, although the levels of insecurity significantly vary across regions.

VAW is not only a cause of gender inequality, it is a consequence of it. In many places, gender-based violence is reinforced by discriminatory laws and exclusionary social norms that undermine women and girl’s opportunities for education, income and independence.

Sometimes VAW accompanies shifting power relations within households and communities, especially when there is resentment against women who move away from conventional roles.

Today, 49 countries still do not have laws that protect women from domestic violence. In 32 countries the procedures that women face to obtain a passport differ from those of men. In 18 countries women need their husband’s approval to take a job.

Practices like early marriage are also widespread, particularly in low human development countries, where 39 percent of women aged 20 to 24 were married before their 18th birthday.

Estimates from the 2015 Human Development Report show that even though women carry out the major share of global work (52 percent), they face disadvantages in both paid and unpaid work.

They perform three times more unpaid work than men – 31 percent vs 10 percent – and, when their work is remunerated, they earn 24 percent less than their male counterparts. A professional ‘glass ceiling’ means that women still hold only 22 percent of senior leadership jobs in businesses, and fewer than 25 percent of senior political and judicial positions.

So what next? It is clearly vital to support women and girls who encounter violence, for example ensuring they have access to justice, shelter and protection, whether violence is domestic or in the work place.

But to break the VAW cycle, policy interventions should focus on the longer-term by changing discriminatory social norms; closing gender gaps whether they are educational, economic or social level; or building awareness about VAW.

Innovative and aggressive policy that aims to change outcomes (such as increasing women’s voice in the community) may change norms. Although norms should guide the design of culturally sensitive policies and programs, they should not constrain or undermine initiatives.

Progress has been made on many important fronts (e.g. on closing gaps between men and women in primary education and political participation), but there has been inertia and stagnation in others (e.g. employment).

And so much more effort is needed to tackle the patterns of violence that cut deep into many societies so that they are not perpetuated across generations. Collecting more data is an important first step.

*The HDialogue blog is a platform for debate and discussion. Posts reflect the views of respective authors in their individual capacities and not the views of UNDP/HDRO.

HDRO encourages reflections on the HDialogue contributions. The office posts comments that supports a constructive dialogue on policy options for advancing human development and are formulated respectful of other, potentially differing views. The office reserves the right to contain contributions that appear divisive.

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Excerpt:

Selim Jahan is Director of the Human Development Report Office, UNDP

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Women Must be at the Heart of Africa’s Blue Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/women-must-heart-africas-blue-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-must-heart-africas-blue-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/women-must-heart-africas-blue-economy/#respond Wed, 21 Nov 2018 17:36:41 +0000 Mahawa Kaba Wheeler http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158776 Mahawa Kaba Wheeler is Director for the Women, Gender and Development Directorate, Bureau of the Chairperson, at the African Union Commission

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Rita Francke and another fisherwoman at the jetty, in front of the old crayfish factory at Witsands, South Africa. Credit: Lee Middleton/IPS

By Mahawa Kaba Wheeler
ADDIS ABABA, Nov 21 2018 (IPS)

The blue economy has quite rightly been described as the ‘New Frontier of the African Renaissance’. Its potential for a continent on which almost two thirds of its states have a coastline, whose trade is 90 percent sea-borne and whose lakes constitute the largest proportion of surface freshwater in the world, is enormous.

Indeed, its potential runs into the many trillions of dollars and promises to combine enormous economic growth with environmental conservation, if stewarded properly.

The Africa Union’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS 2050) provides a robust roadmap to fully exploit the potential of its oceans and seas and the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi next week offers African nations the opportunity to solidify this continental framework.

But one thing we can say with certainty now is that the full potential of Africa’s blue economy can only be reached if it is truly inclusive, allowing all people in society to reap the dividends on offer from the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers of the continent.

Women must be at the heart of this inclusivity. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the heart of all African Union (AU) policies and actions and the blue economy is fertile ground to further women’s role in this transformative field.

The AU at its 31st Ordinary Summit in Nouakchott adopted its first Continental Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (2017-2027) to accelerate translate Agenda 2063 into reality for the millions of women and girls across the continent.

The first pillar of this strategy is aimed at achieving economic autonomy for women through maximising outcomes and opportunities for them. The blue economy is one such target.

Women have not always been able to fully enjoy the rewards of the growth in Africa’s economies and the roles they have played in helping expand sectors across the continent are gaining greater recognition.

Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director for the Women, Gender and Development Directorate, at the African Union Commission, says that while the marine industry in Africa is male dominated, women are working collaboratively with men to find a voice within it. Courtesy: Mahawa Kaba Wheeler

The AU is committed to ensuring this is not the case with the blue economy and is advocating for women to be more involved in marine industries across Africa. The AU currently works with women’s networks in this field, including among others Women in Maritime Africa, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association and Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa, and welcomes new initiatives.

As delegates will hear at the Nairobi conference, we are pushing several initiatives for women in the blue economy, for instance to help them become sea cadets, lead port operations, increase the number of women in the industry, become captains of ships, celebrate their accomplishments and leaders in the industry, to expand their roles in shipping, fishing and other sectors of the marine industry.

We want to make sure that the blue economy is an inclusive one for women. Agenda 2063 calls for inclusive economic growth and we want to make sure that women are included in that growth and within the blue economy.

At present, the marine industry in Africa is male dominated, but women are working collaboratively with men to find a voice within it. This conference will ensure women’s voices are more fully heard.

This is especially important now as we have seen women deciding to come together to play their part in the blue economy and take their dividend from it – across Africa they are joining groups to promote and support the role played, and which could yet be played, in the marine industry.

The AU welcomes and fully supports these and any similar activities as they can only be good for women, for the promotion of inclusivity, and the blue economy as a whole.

But it must not stop there.

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi offers an opportunity for all blue economy stakeholders, in Africa and from other countries, to not only hear about the key role women can play in the blue economy, but help suggest and support ways and means to expand those roles and to ensure that women are truly and fully included in Africa’s blue economy and able to reap its rewards. Several events will be held to promote women’s role in the blue economy and are anticipated to help leaders rally behind women’s initiatives in the industry.

Together, heads of state, ministers, policymakers, civil society groups and other stakeholders must come together to honour commitments we have all made to inclusivity in the blue economy and guarantee that women are not left behind as Africa’s ‘New Frontier’ is opened up. We must therefore create bold and transformative initiatives to accelerate women’s economic empowerment and leadership in this field.

It must also not be forgotten that this is not just about women’s roles in developing the potential of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers around the world. It goes well beyond this.

By showing that women can succeed and thrive as entrepreneurs and independent active agents of change and growth in the blue economy, we can inspire women in all other sectors of society. If they can succeed in one economy, why not in another? If a woman can rise to the top in a sector of the marine industry, she can rise to the top in, for example, the finance or retail industry, to name just two.

The AU helps give women a voice in all industries, especially those which are non-traditional or male-dominated, and in Nairobi, we want to help them find their voice in the blue economy.

We say “women can sail Africa to the seas” and we believe the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will give us the chance to succeed.

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Excerpt:

Mahawa Kaba Wheeler is Director for the Women, Gender and Development Directorate, Bureau of the Chairperson, at the African Union Commission

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UN Commemorates International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Womenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/un-commemorates-international-day-elimination-violence-women/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-commemorates-international-day-elimination-violence-women http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/un-commemorates-international-day-elimination-violence-women/#respond Mon, 19 Nov 2018 16:16:14 +0000 Rangita de Silva de Alwis http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158738 Rangita de Silva de Alwis* is Associate Dean of International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School & Special Adviser to the President of Wellesley College on Women’s Leadership.

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Protesters gather at a candlelight vigil in New Delhi. Credit: Sujoy Dhar/IPS

By Rangita de Silva de Alwis
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 2018 (IPS)

“From the tuk tuk drivers in Cambodia… to the school children in South Africa, women and men and girls and boys are taking a stand to prevent violence against women,” says Executive Director of UN Women and Under Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

On November 19, the UN marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at the Trusteeship Council Chambers at the UN Headquarters. It also commemorates the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign to End Violence against Women.

One of the unique features of the commemoration is the UN’s commitment to the role of law enforcement in ending violence against women and girls in private and public spaces. This local-to-global focus at the UN will bring critical perspectives from the UN, Member States, and including for the first time, a local law enforcement agency – the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The “violence against women” movement is perhaps the greatest success story of international mobilization. However over 35 percent of women across the world face violence during their life in what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls a “global health problem of epidemic proportions.”

Over one billion women experience gender – based violence in the world. Under Secretary General Mlambo-Ngcuka has pointed out that given the magnitude of this pandemic, if it was a disease, governments and scientists would be marshalling every resource to address it.

According to research led by a group of scholars at Stanford and Oxford universities, domestic violence costs 25 times more than conflict and violent extremism and exhausts 5.2 percent of global GDP.

Despite the stark and unyielding statistics, around the world, a new energy is bringing renewed commitments from heads of state and government leaders to address the different faces of violence against women.

Eighteen years ago, when I partnered with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on a study on domestic violence in the outskirts of Beijing, violence against women in the domestic sphere was recognized only in terms of loss of limb or eyesight.

The broadening categories of domestic violence including the recognition of economic abuse as a category of violence is part of a second generation of domestic violence laws and is in full compliance with international norms such as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW).

Earlier in the year, Theresa May wrote to the Guardian, “Not all abusive behavior is physical. Controlling, manipulative and verbally abusive behavior ruins lives and means thousands end up isolated, living in fear. So, for the first time, the bill will provide a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes economic abuse, alongside other non-physical abuse.”

While older laws on gender -based violence focused on punishment, the new crop of laws focus broadly on punishment and prevention.

For example, the newly passed “anti-violence against women” law in Tunisia (2017) makes it easier to prosecute domestic abuse, and it imposes penalties for sexual harassment in public spaces. Most importantly it calls for children to be educated in schools about human rights.

Another phenomenon of this “second generation” of gender-based violence laws is a heightened recognition of a victim- centered approach and the costs of violence on the survivor, in terms of physical, economic, psychological, social and familial.

Earlier in the year, New Zealand passed legislation granting victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave to allow them to leave their partners, find new homes and protect themselves and their children. Family violence in New Zealand is estimated to cost the country between NZ$4.1bn and $7bn a year.

One of the critical components of the UNiTe campaign is the recognition that violence against women does not take place in a vacuum. As Secretary General Antonio Gutteres has confirmed: “Violence against women is fundamentally about power. It will only end when gender equality and the full empowerment of women will be a reality.”

Mlambo- Ngcuka harnesses the full panoply of international commitments in their full majestic entirety, including the recognition that gender parity and women’s leadership is critical to UNiTe campaign to end violence against women.

In doing so she marshals international norms, from General Recommendation 12 and 19 of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the DEVAW and the Security Council Resolution 1325 and its progeny as normative and constitutive in combating violence against women.

From the HeforShe movement, which calls for male leadership in advancing women’s equality, Mlambo-Ngcuka is putting in motion a broader bedrock of structures to combat violence against women in order to address the root causes of gender inequality.

On November 19, we come together at an extraordinary moment of unprecedented momentum built by the #MeToo movement towards empowering women and achieving gender equality across the board and across the globe.

As envisioned 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognized that “contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind…” More must be done to recognize that these barbarous acts take place not only battlefields, but within hallowed halls of power, in the classrooms, in workplaces, including the paddy fields, and in our homes.

As stated in the UDHR, the commitment to end violence against women is a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. This common standard transcends culture, tradition, power or politics.

*Along with Richard Liu of MSNBC, Rangita de Silva de Alwis will be moderating the UN’s Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at the UN Trusteeship Council on November 19.

The post UN Commemorates International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Rangita de Silva de Alwis* is Associate Dean of International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School & Special Adviser to the President of Wellesley College on Women’s Leadership.

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Teenage Pregnancy in Kenya: A Crisis of Health, Education and Opportunityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/teenage-pregnancy-kenya-crisis-health-education-opportunity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=teenage-pregnancy-kenya-crisis-health-education-opportunity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/teenage-pregnancy-kenya-crisis-health-education-opportunity/#respond Mon, 19 Nov 2018 10:50:36 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158723 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Education CS Amina Mohamed chats with form four candidates of Mama Ngina Secondary School a few minutes before KCSE exams. Credit: Standard

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 2018 (IPS)

That almost one in five Kenyan teenage girls is a mother represents not only a huge cost to the health sector, but also a betrayal of potential on a shocking scale.

November 20, 2018 marks International Children’s Day. Perhaps a day we should use to reflect on a national crisis of underage pregnancies that confronts us.

Recent media reports of the high number of girls failing to sit their final secondary school examinations (KSCE) only reveal the extent to which we have continued to sweep under the carpet candid discussions about adolescent sexuality.

Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed said that the country must confront this worrying trend. “We must have this conversation. We cannot bury our heads in the sand. It is happening to our children, our sisters, and even our young brothers. We will deal with it or it will not go away”. No doubt CS Mohamed has a tough job ahead.

Consider this. Statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicate that between June 2016 and July 2017, 378,397 adolescents in Kenya aged 10 to 19 got pregnant.

The carpet’s edges are now too frayed to conceal our failure to act; we no longer can afford the blissful pretence about sexual activity among our teenagers. Nor can the responsibility for decisive solutions be shunted around.

Numerous studies have documented the fact that a high number of teens are already sexually active. These young girls are part of the four in ten women in Kenya aged between 15 and 49 who have unintended pregnancies. There can be no illusions about what they need: accurate, up-to-date information and access to effective contraception.

It is time to take a wholesome picture of the social and economic price society is paying when 15 percent of its teenage girls become pregnant. For virtually all of them – and statistics say majority are from poor families – it means an end to any dreams of coming out of poverty because they cannot continue with education.

Complications during pregnancy are the second cause of death for 15 to 19-year-old girls, therefore it means their already poor families have additional health care costs to meet. Children born to such young mothers are more prone to physical and cognitive development.

The overall effect is a perpetuation of the cycle of poverty that brings personal catastrophe while weakening social and economic development and adding strain to already stretched medical services.

In reproductive health, as in most things, knowledge is power. But across sub-Saharan Africa too many teenage girls lack knowledge of their bodies, their contraceptive options, and their rights. The notion of rights is central.

As the UNFPA report The Power of Choice states, in countries where rights to health, education and opportunity prevail, fertility rates tend to be lower. Through exercising their wider rights, people exercise choice about the timing and number of their children.

The 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2014 that shows girls who have completed secondary education have an average of three children in their lifetimes compared to an average 6.5 for those with no education. Additionally, around 60% of girls who have completed primary and secondary school use some form of modern contraception compared to only 15% of those with no education.

That almost one in five Kenyan teenage girls is a mother represents not only a huge cost to the health sector, but also a betrayal of potential on a shocking scale.

“The girl child in this country is under threat from all manner of vices, including early pregnancy and female genital mutilation and many other kinds of nonsense that affect our communities. These things have no basis for the development of our country” said the Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto.

The underlying drivers of teenage pregnancy are complex and include gender inequality, child marriage, poverty, sexual violence, and poor education and job opportunities. To be successful, efforts to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy must address all these elements through comprehensive programmes of behaviour change, social and economic development, health and sex education, reproductive rights, and gender equality.

Crucially, such efforts must also include boys and men, whose attitude to girls and women underpin many pervasive social problems in Kenya and across the world.

Reproductive rights and health are also central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3 on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all ages.

As the UN family in Kenya we are working in partnership with government, civil society, religious and youth groups to extend access to sexual and reproductive health information, counselling and services for young people. We intend to step this up.

Three years ago, Kenya launched the Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy. Unless bold decisions are made to implement that policy, pregnancies among our youth will continue to be a wrecking ball to the national development agenda particularly the Big Four and the SDGs.

In order for every girl to achieve her full human potential, how can the entire country be engaged to initiate a change in mindset in Kenya? How can a national conversation on this subject be leveraged into national action?

The post Teenage Pregnancy in Kenya: A Crisis of Health, Education and Opportunity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Women Make the Voice of Indigenous People Heard in Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/women-make-voice-indigenous-people-heard-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-make-voice-indigenous-people-heard-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/women-make-voice-indigenous-people-heard-argentina/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 21:38:52 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158673 The seed was planted more than 20 years ago by a group of indigenous women who began to gather to try to recover memories from their people. Today, women are also the main protagonists of La Voz Indígena (The Indigenous Voice), a unique radio station in northern Argentina that broadcasts every day in seven languages. […]

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