Tag Archives: women

16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence

Yesterday WILPF was in the Scottish Parliament as part of the no women no peace campaign wearing green scarves to support women’s rights in Afghanistan, activists presented the scarves to all MSPs, in time for International Day Against Violence Against Women, and the start of the 16 Days of Action Against Violence against Women 2011.

The theme for 16 Days of Action against Violence against Women 2011 is ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World. Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women’. WILPF sees supporting human rights for Afghan women, and women’s involvement in the political process as also an essential part of finding better alternatives to violence in the region. The Scottish branch of WILPF invites everyone to support the call for international negotiations to include women in peacebuilding activities here in UK and in Afghanistan, and at the international conference in Bonn to discuss transition arrangements for Afghanistan.

Parliamentary motion S4M-01392 has been presented by Humza Yousaf MSP to the Scottish Parliament as part of the campaign.

S4M-01392 Humza Yousaf (Scottish National Party): That the Parliament is pleased to reaffirm its commitment to the cause of ending violence against women; supports the eve of the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign this year, which is themed “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World”; understands that, despite the improvement in the situation of women in Afghanistan over 10 years, it is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman; recognises that international negotiations for transition, international long-term engagement and peace and reconciliation will take place before the end of the 16 days in Bonn, Germany; supports the UK Government in ensuring that women’s voices are heard before, during and after these talks in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1325, which recognises that an understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls and effective institutional arrangements to guarantee their protection and full participation in the peace process can significantly contribute to the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security; thanks the Scottish branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for the green scarves to be worn during the 16 days to highlight and support Afghan women’s rights, and notes its ongoing work in making known the links between domestic violence and war.

Statement of Support for the Occupy Movement

UK WILPF sends its support to the ‘Occupy ‘ movement now extending across the globe. WILPF women share the condemnation of greed and abuse of power that characterises the government of so many countries where the needs of humanity are valued below those of corporate power and military might.
It particularly supports the non violent, leaderless and democratic manner of the resistance, fitting so well with our WLPF principles, which include furthering by non- violent means the social and economic transformation of the international community. We believe in the establishment of economic and social systems in which political equality and social justice for all can be attained, without discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, or any other grounds whatsoever.

Scottish WILPF support Afghan women

Monday October 31st
Scottish WILPF  are going to be wearing green scarves,
leafleting and petitioning in support of Afghan women at Gibbs Entry, Clerk Street Edinburgh from 12.00 till 2.00pm

When the UK and USA entered Afghanistan in 2001, they promised to improve the lives of Afghan women. As we approach the discussions which will take place on the future for Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany on the 5th December, we need to ensure that women’s voices are heard and that the UK Government makes – and keeps – a firm commitment to including women.

Today, 31st October, women are wearing green scarves in solidarity with Afghan Women and  holding vigils all over the world in support of Afghan women.

Join us! We will have green scarves at the vigil, and you can also sign our petition and write a letter to your MP at the vigil or on line, in support of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

If you can be there for ten minutes or for the whole time, you will be welcome.

Women have the right to shape peace and to contribute to rebuilding their societies. However over the last twenty five years only 1 in 40 peace signatories have been women. Women’s experiences of conflict and the contribution they make in their communities go unnoticed in formal peace building processes. Help make the change.

Statement on UN Peacekeepers involved in sexual abuses in Côte d’Ivoire

WILPF International issued the following statement on UN peacekeepers involvement in sexual abuses in Côte d’Ivoire.

There is academic research, literature, documentaries, recently the film the Whistleblower, and most pertinently, the accounts of women in countries which experience conflict, all of which document the link between militarization and the sexual exploitation of women, including through trafficking. The UN and those who occupy on humanitarian grounds are part of this militarization and it is foreseeable that without effective regulation, investigation, prosecution and punishment, then a climate of impunity for crimes committed against women and girls will prevail.

In the case of Côte d’Ivoire it seems that the lack of these procedures has again lead to the commission of acts of serious sexual violence against women and young girls. The disclosure by Wikileaks of a US embassy cable citing sexual exploitation by troops from Benin, proves again the vital role that must be played by civil society in ensuring that the such conduct is exposed. It was civil society organizations and an international civil servant principled enough to stand up for what was right, which exposed similar crimes being committed by Moroccan Peace keepers in 2007. The outcome of that expose was an apology from the Secretary General of the UN to the Moroccan government! This time the UN has been a little more robust, but within its own lights and policies; there was a year long investigation, perpetrators were identified, some 16 soldiers, of which 10 were in command positions, were sent home in April and are barred from serving in the UN. As a UN spokesman stated, the commanders failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse.

The question must be asked, however, as to how, given the experience of Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Liberia, Chad, Haiti, to name but a few, the ultimate sanction for those who aid, abet and commit acts of rape is simply to be repatriated. It is possible that they could face criminal charges in their home country, but how many actually do? If this had happened in time of conflict then these acts would fall to be considered as war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. Simply by changing the nomenclature from combatant to peacekeeper, the sanction is changed from criminal to administrative with no real accountability.

A random poll of ten underage girls in Toulepleu Côte d’Ivoire by Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure their most basic needs. “Eight of the ten said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” whilst not conclusive as to the extent of the abuse it is indicative. The UN says that there have been 42 complaints since 2007 but nothing this year but this is to cling to false indicators. Women are unlikely to make a complaint when they are dependent on those they are complaining about, its how the system works. Abuse of authority and position of power will ensure that the indicator of complaints received will never give realistic assessments as to the extent and nature of the problem.

The UN must re-think how it ensures compliance with international law. There have been strong developments under human rights law as to how that applies in situations of occupation and humanitarian crisis. The UN should embrace these and develop effective measures to ensure implementation. These should include changes to the ostensible zero tolerance policy. As to believe that this will prevent abuse without a fundamental cultural shift in how men relate to women in conflict is naïve. Change the way the UN interprets functional immunity which at present is not in accordance with international law and facilitates impunity. Demand screening of all personnel recruited and ensure that there are binding agreements with Troop Contributing Countries as to their responsibilities to train, monitor, investigate and prosecute offenders. There should also be strict reporting obligations to the UN on actions taken and the UN itself should ensure that no troops will be accepted unless measures are in place and are demonstrably adhered to.

These are small steps in real terms and would represent only a beginning, a small start to address an issue which has for far too long been considered of little import to the big picture of keeping peace between men!

The .pdf version of this statement can be found here.

Guide to Supporting Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

Over the coming months, the No women, no peace. campaign will be focusing on women’s rights in Afghanistan. No Women, no peace have been holding workshops throughout the UK and are asking activists to take action in their local communities.

This campaign toolkit provides a handy guide to the issues facing Afghan women, the need to have their voices heard in transition talks, and suggestions on how to take action in solidarity with Afghan women where you live. Click here to download the toolkit.

Several activities are planned in the coming months around the 10 year anniversary of military intervention in Afghanistan and peace talks in Bonn. Check back here for more information on what is planned by groups across the country. We are asking activists across the UK to stand in solidarity with women in Afghanistan and take action.


New Resource From Reaching Critical Will

Reaching Critical Will, a WILPF project, has published Costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power: NGO world-wide study on the implications of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station.

The report is the collaborative work of non-governmental researchers, scientists, and activists. It was released on 11 September 2011, six months after the disaster at Fukushima and in advance of the high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene at the United Nations on 22 September. Its release is also timed to coincide with the UN system-wide study of the implications of Fukushima commissioned by Ban.

Inspired by the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global debate on nuclear energy, Reaching Critical Will, a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, coordinated an international civil society study in order to provide non-government perspectives of the range of issues related to nuclear power. This report includes civil society analysis of nuclear power infrastructure and government policies from around the world. It also articulates arguments against the common myths of nuclear power in its relationship to safety, the environment, renewable energy, climate change, economics, and more.

Edited by Ray Acheson 

Download the full report

Run for WILPF

There is still time to register for the Adidas Women’s 5K in London and raise money for the WILPF Charitable Trust. The 5K takes place on September 11th in Hyde Park and is a fun run (or walk) for women of all ages.

Register online and get started collecting sponsorship. You will need to add the WILPF UK Section Charitable Trust as the charity you would like to support. Your registration fee is £15 – £5 of which will go to the trust.

WILPF is reliant on donations from supporters, your money goes along way towards supporting WILPF’s international work at the UN and developing campaigns and research, supporting actions like our Voices of African Women and Human Security campaigns.

We are committed to helping you fundraise and can provide tips and tools to help you achieve your fundraising target. Email us for more information.

Women condemn attack on peaceful protesters in Iraq

UK WILPF has joined feminist activists around the world in support of this peacfully demonstrating for basic human rights in Iraq.

The statement reads

Women from Around the World Condemn Attack on Peaceful Protesters in Iraq for an End to Sexual Assault of Women Protesters

We, feminist activists from 12 countries, stand in support of our sisters and brothers peacefully demonstrating for basic rights in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

This morning, June 10, demonstrators were brutally targeted with sexual violence and beatings by men who were reportedly bussed in by the thousands to disrupt the weekly protest. Protesters suffered broken bones, knife wounds and beatings. Several women were severely beaten and violently groped; armed attackers attempted to forcibly strip off the women’s clothing. The activists, who work with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, report that their attackers were organized and paid by government security forces who used the un-uniformed men to avoid accountability for the violence.

As feminists, we strongly condemn assaults against peaceful protesters and the specifically gender-based violence against women. As in so many of our countries, the use of sexual violence against Iraqi women is designed to terrorize, shame and silence those women who dare to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens and raise political demands in the public sphere.  We stand with our sisters who exercise their rights to political participation and dissent.

Today’s attacks represent a noted escalation of violence against protesters in Iraq as well as a crime and a fundamental violation of human rights. We call on the government to uphold its obligations to guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and to respond to the demands of demonstrators.

See the full list of signatories

UNSCR 1325: The Participation Promise

As a member of GAPS we are happy to announce the launch of the newest publication “UNSCR 1325: The Participation Promise”. This short and concise guide provides a really handy overview of the issues surrounding women’s participation in peace and post-conflict reconciliation and provides recommendations for government action. It is a great tool for getting informed on key women, peace and security issues.

Read the participation promise

“Strengthening Women’s Voices in Government” Consultation Response

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is currently consulting around women’s engagement and the systems and structures to replace the Women’s National Commission (WNC). The consultation seeks views on the best ways and methods for the GEO to engage with and listen to women.

The WILPF response aims to demonstrate that a comprehensive and integrated approach is essential to engage with women and women’s organisations across the UK. We stress that the functions of the WNC cannot be replaced with an online platform and that the GEO must support the women’s sector with funding and training opportunities. We ask the GEO to ensure that it is at the forefront of effective gender mainstreaming across government and that it reflects international commitments and priorities.

Individuals can respond to the consultation through an online survey; our response is strengthened by your voice and you can add any additional information or comments. You can use the WILPF response as a template to complete questions 1-14 of the online questionnaire.

Find the questionnaire here.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/StrengtheningWomensVoicesConsultation

Download a PDF version of the WILPF response

Download a word version of the WILPF response

You can find more information about the consultation here

http://www.equalities.gov.uk/what_we_do/womens_engagement.aspx

We are grateful for the support and resources of the Women’s Resource Centre in formulating our response.