Human rights attorneys from around the world are calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to call for a global treaty to end violence against women during its upcoming session. Read the full letter and see the list of signatories here.
by Lindsay Apperson
Dr. Morissanda Kouyate, 2020 Mandela Prize co-laureate and Every Woman board member, wrote an article published on Think Global Health urging the creation of a global treaty to end violence against women and girls. In this publication, Dr. Kouyate shares the story of his journey towards ending female genital mutilation, which has grown into an effort to end this violence for all women and girls.
His piece came ahead of the 2021 WHO Assembly, where 555 physicians and healthcare professionals from around the world signed a letter addressed to the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as well as diplomats from 195 nations, urging action on a global treaty to end violence against women and girls. The letter has been distributed to nearly 600 diplomats from every UN Member State.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2021
CONTACT: Shayna Samuels, email@example.com
Letter Spearheaded by Mandela Prize Winner
Points to Gaps in International Law Allowing 1 Out of 3 Women to Experience Violence in Their Lifetimes
In anticipation of the 2021 WHO Assembly coming up May 24 - June 1, a letter was sent today signed by more than 500 physicians from around the world to the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as well as to diplomats from 195 nations, calling for a global treaty to end violence against women and girls.
Spearheaded by Mandela Prize-Winner Dr. Morissanda Kouyate from Guinea, known in part for his fight against female genital mutilation, the letter states: “The right to be free from violence is a universal human right...But no international treaty adequately or comprehensively addresses all aspects of a State’s duty to respect, protect, and fulfill every woman’s right to live free from violence”.
In a phenomenon that the WHO calls “devastatingly pervasive,” 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetimes, with younger women being most at risk. On the upcoming WHO Assembly agenda is discussion about a “global plan of action...to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children”. But so far, a new global treaty has not been proposed.
In addition to Dr. Kouyate, other notable signatories of the letter include: Professor Gabrielle Casper from the Sydney School of Medicine (Australia); Professor Chyong-Huey Lai, Vice Superintendent of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Taiwan); Dr. Svetlana Suvorova from Medical University (Russia); Emeritus Professor Kyung Ah Park of Yonsei University (Korea); Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, President of the Medical Women's International Association (Nigeria); and Dr. Charlie Clements, former executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University (U.S.). More about the proposed global treaty can be seen here. See the full letter and list of signatories here.
Below are a few excerpts from the letter. Interviews with any of the above spokespeople are available upon request.
“Violence against women and girls had already assumed pandemic proportions prior to the COVID-19 crisis, with one in three women globally experiencing violence over their lifetimes...Yet, violence against women is not being responded to with the sense of urgency required to address a global pandemic of these proportions. Although references to violence against women in international and regional treaties are numerous, they differ in substantive scope and nature.
“Designed to be complementary to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW), the treaty aims for a norm that combines the best of public health and human rights frameworks. We, the undersigned physicians and public health professionals, support this call. We urge you to do the same...We pray that the pain that women and girls suffer daily around the world due to domestic and sexualized violence will awaken the collective consciousness of the world to act.”
# # #
Every Woman Treaty (EWT), Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and Women for Human Rights (WHR) are pleased to announce a new project to support women’s rights leaders in Nepal to build a nationwide coalition that will raise awareness about and advance measures, including government policies that prevent and redress violence against women.
Improving women’s security and furthering gender equity will help Nepal consolidate the gains of the 2006 peace process and ensure that fundamental human rights are protected.
Globally, the United Nations has reported a 25 percent rise in domestic violence cases associated with lockdowns—as the UN Secretary-General put it, a “horrifying global surge.”
The project is hosted by the Rotary Club of Kathmandu. Funding was provided by the Rotary Foundation through the Rotary Club of Newberg.
“We are proud to support this critical project,” Vandana Shah, director of South Asia Programs, GHAI, said. “Violence against women is a human rights violation with huge public health impact. In keeping with GHAI’s focus of catalyzing a sustainable movement of passionate advocates to address critical health/human rights problems, we look forward to supporting civil society organizations in Nepal advance policies that contribute to equity and prevention of violence."
Through training and technical assistance, GHAI will help women’s rights organizations assess and strengthen their capacity to change policies and promote norms and practices to end gender-based violence. The project will focus on skills and activities including setting policy objectives, political mapping, engaging policymakers, messaging, media advocacy, partnership coordination and monitoring and evaluation.
“This project will support frontline women’s rights advocates already doing the work to end violence against women and girls in Nepal. The skills the advocates will gain — leadership, public speaking, community organizing, storytelling — will ensure advocates steer the national conversation on ending violence against women. We are encouraged by the courage and momentum building towards universal recognition that women and girls have the right to live a life free from violence,” said Judge Najla Ayoubi, Chief Operations Officer of Every Woman Treaty.
“The culture of violence has enveloped our entire society and yet the delivery of justice in the cases reported is delayed. Therefore, the training through this project is very relevant to obtain the skill to safeguard and protect the women and girls within and outside home with zero tolerance to gender based violence,” said Lily Thapa, Founder of Women for Human Rights in Nepal.
About Every Woman Treaty
Every Woman Treaty is a coalition of more than 1,700 women’s rights activists, including 840 organizations, in 128 nations working to advance a global binding norm on the elimination of violence against women and girls.
About Women for Human Rights
Women for Human Rights, single women group (WHR) is a nongovernmental organization in Nepal dedicated to address the rights of single women since 1995. WHR has a nation-wide network with membership base of over 100,000, empowering single women economically, socially and politically all over Nepal. WHR also has Consultative Status of United Nations ECOSOC since 2011 A.D.
About the Global Health Advocacy Incubator
The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) supports civil society organizations advocating for public health policies that reduce death and disease. GHAI provides partners with direct, systematic, ongoing technical assistance and capacity-strengthening support to deliver health policy wins in countries around the world, in every type of government system.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Elizabeth Blackney, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Seattle) Today, February 20, 2020, the Every Woman Institute releases its first-ever Safer Sooner Report.
“For many women around the world, there is no easy path to justice. Laws, government systems, and social norms favor perpetrators. In courtrooms, media, communities, and homes across the world, female victims of violence are often blamed, ignored, and not believed, entrenching the world in a system of silence and impunity.
“The international community has come together to solve the problem through various instruments, including regional treaties, recommendations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and treaties specific to a certain form of violence, such as torture and trafficking. The lack of a binding global framework specific to violence against women and girls has resulted in a patchwork of protection with wide normative, geographical, and enforcement gaps in women’s safety.
“The supermajority of the world’s women lack access to a treaty that specifically addresses violence against women.
“Over the last six years, from 2013 to 2019, the Every Woman Global Working Group engaged in a global, inclusive dialogue on the need for a treaty and conducted deep analysis of the existing legal framework with members of the Every Woman coalition and additional experts. The global consultation found that a binding global norm would close the existing normative, geographic, and implementation gaps in women’s security, as well as provide global backup to existing mechanisms, and create a framework at the highest level of international law in which all entities, from governments to civil society to the UN, could work together to eradicate this human rights crisis.”
For additional information or to schedule interviews with the Authors of the Safer Sooner Report, please The Authors and CEO Lisa Shannon, MPA are available for interviews. Languages include: Arabic, English, French, Hindi, Russian, and Spanish. Please reach out to Elizabeth Blackney at email@example.com for more information, or call/WhatsApp +1 646 818 0145. Biographies are below.
Authors’ languages include: Arabic, English, French, Hindi, Russian, and Spanish. Please reach out to Elizabeth Blackney at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or call/WhatsApp +1 646 818 0145. Biographies are available upon request.
Authors of the Safer Sooner Report:
Dr. Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi Founder, Widows Development Organization and President, Medical Women’s International Association; Every Woman Steering Committee Co-Chair, Nigeria
Francisco Rivera Juaristi, JD Director, International Human Rights Clinic, Santa Clara Law School; Every Woman Steering Committee, Puerto Rico
Languages: English, Spanish
Marina Pisklákova-Parker, PhD Founder and Chair of the Board, Center for the Prevention of Violence - ANNA, coordinating center for a network of 150 organizations, Russia
Languages: English, Russian
Hala Aldosari, PhD Women’s rights activist-scholar, Every Woman Steering Committee, Saudi Arabia/USA
Languages: English, Arabic
Meera Khana Trustee and Executive Vice President, Guild for Service; Every Woman Steering Committee, India
Languages: English, Hindi
Jane Aeberhard-Hodges Human Rights Consultant; former director, ILO Gender, Equality and Diversity, Switzerland
Languages: English, French