UN Mandela Prize Awarded to Dr. Morissanda Kouyate

The following is a statement from Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Founding Co-Chair of Every Woman Treaty Steering Committee in support of her colleague Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté. “It is with great delight that I echo the United Nations General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, in congratulating Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté. 

Dr. Kouyaté is CoFounder and Executive Director of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices and is a champion of the health and equality for women and children.  He is one of the two winners of the 2020 United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize. 

“We are proud of Dr. Kouyaté knowing his immense contribution towards ending Female Genital Mutilation and to the drafting of the Maputo protocol. This recognition is fitting and in harmony with the drumbeat of Mandela’s legacy.” 

“Keep soaring our brother!”

Dr. Kouyaté joined Every Woman Treaty in 2015 as a Working Group member and served on the Core Platform Committee. He continues to serve on the Steering Committee, and describes his commitment to our mission, “I signed the Every Woman Treaty because I dedicate my entire life to the fight to restore women and girls all the rights that are wrongly confiscated to them. Violence against women is unacceptable, not only in words but also and especially in the facts.”


Must Reads: Demanding Systems Change for Women and Girls

In this week’s Must Reads: South African activists and women are calling for an end to domestic violence after three women are found dead. Amina Mohammed addresses boys and men to be a part of ending violence against women and girls in their homes and communities. Protests grow as a 5-year old girl is raped and murdered in Sierra Leone and uncertainty lies for her justice. UN Peacekeeping examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has seen exacerbated rates of domestic and sexual violence in conflict-ridden zones. Twitter developing a resource system for domestic abuse survivors in Asia and the Pacific.

  1. South Africa. 3 women killed in South Africa, highlighting the other pandemic that the country has faced: femicide and domestic violence. Women rights activists and officials are calling for greater transparency and accountability throughout all tiers of society, in order to combat domestic violence. (CNN)
  2. UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, calls on men and boys to stop violence against women and girls, especially with the surges of abuse cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Men and boys — I am talking to you:  This is on you. Take responsibility. Speak up. Stand with women and girls.” (UN News)
  3. Examining the actions of human evil, dive into the behavioral elements of the mass shooter responsible for Nova Scotia’s mass shootings back in April and how his abuses towards his female partner prior to the shooting were warning signs to his atrocious acts. “It needs to acknowledge there are those who live, work, play, and volunteer among us who intentionally commit acts of human evil within relationships and within communities.” (The Nova Scotia Advocate)
  4. A 5-year old girl, Kadija, was raped and murdered in Sierra Leone. Hundreds protested in hopes for gaining justice for Kadija and creating lasting change in regards to how Sierra Leone handles sexual abuse cases and holds perpetrators accountable in its judicial system. (Amnesty International)
  5. UN Peacekeeping on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and seen rises in conflict related sexual violence across the world. Lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions on overall activity has limited safe access and support for survivors of sexual violence - especially those in conflict zones. While practicing safe public health measures, it's also vital to make sure that those in vulnerable and conflict-ridden places are moved into safer spaces. (Medium)

Additional Reading: 

  • Twitter partners up with UN Women to create access to helpline services on the platform for domestic abuse survivors in Asia and the Pacific, due to surges of domestic abuse cases and lack of resources during this time. “As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are being prolonged by countries around the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them. Connecting women who are feeling fearful or in danger is critical for their safety.” (UN Women)

ALSO: 

  • WATCH: New York Times journalist, Farnaz Fassihi, and women’s rights activist, Gabriela Jauregui, discuss the shadow pandemic of domestic violence and the spike in cases specifically in Iran and Mexico. (CNN)
  • Thursdays in Black Toolkit: Resources compiled by the World Council of Churches to raise awareness about gender-based violences and how you can help through action, education and prayer! (World Council of Churches)
  • TUNE IN: The 1st Annual Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association's Global Cyber Peace Conference this Saturday, June 27th, 2020! This event will be a dynamic and interactive online experience featuring speakers and attendees from around the globe working collaboratively together from their own homes. The year’s theme is “Envisioning the World after The Great Pause”. More information on the event and registration: Rotary Peace Fellowship. Use this link to confirm what time sessions are in your location: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
    • Registration is free with this code: ACCESSPEACE
    • Indrani Goradia, founder of RAFT, which provides training to advocates in sexual and domestic violence shelters, will be a speaker during the Opening Plenary Session on Saturday @ 8:45AM EDT. Her topic is: Inspirational Storytelling.

Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, our founding Steering Committee Co-Chair, will be a speaker in the Gender and Peace Session @ 11:30 am CET to 1:00 pm CET. Her topic is: Women Peace and Security in the Context of the Boko Haram Conflict (Envisioning the future). Additional speakers in this session include: Dr. Louise Olsson, Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the PRIO, and more. For additional information and registration, visit: http://rpfaa.org/global-cyber-peace-conference/


Must Reads: African Union, UN Human Rights Council Address Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter Movement

In this week’s Must Reads: COVID-19 Pandemic Cannot Distract Us From The Urgent Need To Eliminate Sexual Violence In Conflict. Giving Voice to Alaska’s Unheard Sexual Assault Survivors. Citing ‘weight of history’, senior UN officials of African descent issue call to ‘go beyond and do more’ to end racism. Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi Responds To AU Call For End To Police Brutality. 'Like I'm in a cage': Domestic workers trapped and abused in lockdown London. Wartime sexual violence survivors: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forgotten ones.

  1. From the UN: “COVID-19 hampers the possibility of survivors to report sexual violence and further exacerbates the existing structural, institutional and sociocultural barriers to reporting such crimes.” Ensuring justice for the victims and survivors will empower them to move on with their lives and to build a future that is not grounded in the stigma of the atrocities they have been subjected to. Survivors must feel empowered to speak up and to speak out about the violence they have endured. (Forbes)
  2. Alaska: ProPublica talked to hundreds of survivors over the past year who have shared their stories. Alaska has among the highest rates of sexual crimes in America. A challenge had always been the willingness of victims, many of them traumatized and fearful of being shunned by their family or their community if they spoke out. They come from all walks of life. Alaskans from ages 23 to 73, men and women, urban and rural, Native and non-Native. People who turned to the criminal justice system, and more often those who didn’t. (ProPublica)
  3. Citing ‘weight of history’, senior UN officials of African descent issue call to ‘go beyond and do more’ to end racism. The opinion piece ends with quotations from renowned human rights and anti-racism activists, including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statement that “black liberation is an absolutely indispensable prerequisite to white liberation: nobody will be free until we all are free”. (United Nations)

   Following Burkina Faso’s Ambassador Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri statement on behalf of 54 African nations regarding the global outcry for an end to police brutality and systemic and structural racism perpetrated against Black peoples, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, President of the Medical Women’s International Association released a statement: “I align fully with Coordinator of the African Group on Human Rights issues and OHCHR on the call for an urgent debate to address racially inspired human rights violations. I add my voice by calling for a Declaration of Zero Tolerance on racially inspired human rights violations.” (TrendingNG)

  1. 'Like I'm in a cage': Domestic workers trapped and abused in lockdown London. Many employees of Gulf Arab families in the UK are being exploited, with their tied visa ensuring there is little room for relief. (Middle East Eye)
  2. Wartime sexual violence survivors: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s forgotten ones. Survivors face problems often caused by the complex and dysfunctional judicial system in BiH, which insufficiently protects the rights and dignity of victims. Behind this, there are political blockades and a lack of resources –leading to the fact that victims are not provided with full and effective access to justice, truth, and reparations. (Trial International)

Additional Reading:

  • Statement by Dr. Denis Mukwege on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: “Today, our thoughts are with all survivors of sexual violence. To all those women and men who break the silence that their perpetrators often seek to impose on them, and who are speaking out with courage and determination to demand justice, truth, and reparations, such as the members of SEMA, the Global Network of Victims and Survivors to end wartime sexual violence.”

Mukwege also noted progress: “The last G7 summit hosted by the French Presidency emphasized gender inequality and committed itself to the fight against sexual violence in times of peace, as well as in times of conflict. This commitment made by major economic powers recognizes that a prosperous world cannot be built without respecting women's rights and benefiting from their full inclusion and added value.”

“Security Council Resolution 2467 adopted in April 2019 recognized the need for a survivor-centric approach to address and prevent sexual violence in conflict situations. It also emphasized the need for recognition and care of children born of rape and the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms for perpetrators and instigators of violence.”

Read the full statement, via the Panzi Foundation.

  • George Floyd's Brother To U.N. Human Rights Council: 'I Am Asking You To Help Us: Black People in America.’ During a quickly convened session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Floyd asked the group to set up a commission of inquiry into racism and police brutality in the United States — specifically "police killings of black people and America and the violence used against peaceful protesters." (NPR)

Summer Internships

Summer 2020 Internship Opportunities

Every Woman Treaty is offering unpaid internships to students and volunteers from around the world to work on our Lead Nations Project. Please share this announcement widely among your networks.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we are seeking summer interns who can work remotely from their home or place of study. We will provide supervision and support online primarily through Zoom calls. 

Lead Nations Internship: The focus of this internship is to support our Lead Nations Project. 

We are looking for interns who can assist with our Lead Nations strategy. A treaty isn't brought about by NGOs, but by nations, and we support our strong coalition of activists in 128 countries as they move the dial on women's safety and bring a treaty closer to reality in their nation. The responsibilities of this internship will include drafting country reports to aid in our outreach to lead nations, developing presentations, and providing research and other input on our grant-writing for projects related to Nigeria, Pakistan, and/or Kenya.

Requirements:

  • Strong research, writing, and presentation skills
  • It is useful if the intern in this position is from the Africa Bloc, and/or familiar with the geopolitical situation of West Africa.
  • Ability to work independently
  • Reliable technology and internet connection
  • Available 20-40 hours weekly, June-September 2020

CVs should be sent to Eliza Johnson, Chief of Staff: [email protected] 

Communications and Social Media Internship: 

The communications intern will work closely with global media superstar, Elizabeth Blackney, who is our Chief Communications Officer. The intern will be responsible for drafting web copy and maintaining and updating the style guide for Every Woman Treaty. The intern will also support our media training curriculum in conjunction with other experts to enhance the advocacy, media, communications skills for our treaty activists in 128 nations. 

Requirements:

  • Strong communications and external relations skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Reliable technology and internet connection
  • Available 20-40 hours weekly, June-September 2020

CVs should be sent to Elizabeth Blackney, Chief Communications Officer of Every Woman Treaty at [email protected]

Graphic Design & Web Development Internship: 

The graphic design intern will work closely with global media superstar, Elizabeth Blackney, who is our Chief Communications Officer. The intern will be responsible for creating designs for print and digital campaigns, creating infographics, maintaining our wordpress site, and video editing. 

Requirements: 

  • Recent experience with wordpress
  • Ability to work independently
  • Reliable technology and internet connection
  • Available 20-40 hours weekly, June-September 2020

CVs should be sent to Elizabeth Blackney, Chief Communications Officer of Every Woman Treaty at [email protected]


Must Reads: Maternity Ward Massacre in Afghanistan

In this week’s Must Reads: Maternity ward massacre in AfghanistanAn effective response to the pandemic means tackling the violence and inequality faced by women. Using codewords to protect against violence. Every Woman Treaty Steering Committee Member Ilwad Elman and founding Board Member Fartuun Adancofounders of Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia chosen as 2020 Aurora Prize Humanitarians. Joint press statements Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis issued by 59 governments and the OSCE.

1. AfghanistanThe 100-bed, government-run hospital hosted a maternity clinic run by Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Just hours before the attack, MSF had tweeted a photo of a newborn in his mother’s arms at the clinic after being delivered safely by emergency caesarean section. (Reuters)

“Whilst fighting was ongoing, one woman gave birth to her baby and both are doing well,” MSF said in a statement. “More than ever, MSF stands in solidarity with the Afghan people.”

2. UN OCHA: Women perform 76% of the total hours of unpaid care work globally. They have the majority of caregiving roles in homes and in communities. They will also carry more of the weight of caring for the sick and helping to stem the spread of the virus. Women do this essential work in spite of obstacles and inequalities. (The Guardian) (UN OCHA)

Related: Three sisters who worked in Mexico's government hospital system were found murdered in the northern border state of Coahuila, stirring new alarm in a country where attacks on health care workers have occurred across the nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. Two were nurses, the other a hospital administrator. (New York Times)

3. South Africa. Because of the lockdown, many of these women are unable to leave their homes. They’re spending extended periods of time indoors with their abusers and are at great risk of violence.

“I started seeing a campaign in the UK where victims were using code words in text messages, so I adapted it to the local context. We all know about koesiesters here in Cape Town, so when I get that message I know you are in trouble,” says Peters. (Mail & Guardian)

4. The Gift of Hope: Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman named 2020 Aurora Prize Humanitarians for the second time. “Together, mother and daughter have thrown themselves into their work, helping former child soldiers and providing survivors of rape with much-needed assistance. Their daily activity brings numerous challenges, but danger and uncertainty remain on top of the list. (Aurora Prize)

5. Joint press statement Protecting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Promoting Gender-responsiveness in the COVID-19 crisis. “The pandemic makes existing inequalities for women and girls, as well as discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty worse and risk impeding the realization of human rights for women and girls. Participation, protection, and potential of all women and girls must be at the center of response efforts.” (Sweden – Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

More: Domestic and sexual violence risks escalate in the OSCE region. Joint statement notes “At this challenging time, the social isolation of lockdowns means women and girls, as well as other victims, may be trapped in their homes with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them… We need to address them and ensure that victims are able to access the support they need.” (UK FCO)

ALSO:

  • WATCH: Hear from Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Zainab Ali Khan, Marina Pisklakova-Parker discuss the intersecting pandemics: COVID-19 and Violence Against Women and Girls. (Every Woman Treaty)
  • WATCH: Ilwad Elman keynotes a High-Level Session ‘Sustaining Peace in the Time of Covid-19’ during the Virtual Stockholm Peace and Development Forum. (SIPRI)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Must Reads and an Invitation

In this week's Must Reads: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. Rights activists in Kenya have raised alarm after indications that gender-based-violence may be on the rise with restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus. Domestic violence assault followed by arson and mass shooting by perpetrator disguised as a RCMP officer in Nova Scotia. UK Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Women mobilize to prevent COVID-19 in crowded Rohingya refugee campsCEDAW Call for ContributionsInvitation to join Every Woman Treaty on May 11, 2020 via Zoom. 

1. Rafia Zakaria: How to exist in a world that seeks to erase women. "The transformation we ultimately need as a society is (to get to a place) where it does not occur to men that they have the right or desire to harm women." (CNN)

2. Kenya: Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher on sub-Saharan Africa with the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch, "Now this is the situation that COVID has created where people are behind closed doors, there is no money. It’s a perfect environment for people who are abusive to even be more abusive or even for those who are usually not abusive to become abusive because of that stress, where they feel they need to exert their dominance in an environment where they are feeling kind of emasculated.” (VOA)

3. Victim of domestic violence aids police in Nova Scotia.  Following a domestic violence incident, a woman somehow escaped and emerged from hiding at daybreak. She called 911 and informed the police the perptrator was in possession of a fully marked and equipped replica RCMP vehicle and was wearing an RCMP uniform. The perpetrator set multiple homes and buildings on fire, and targeted more than 20 people in a shooting spree. (National Post)

Related: Women face particular challenges due to gun access, as women are five times more likely to be killed if their partner owns a gun. Despite such danger, the US recently watered down the definition of domestic violence to include only physical harm at the level of a felony, excluding psychological abuse, coercion, and manipulation. (Mediators Without Borders)

4. United Kingdom: Boots Pharmacies to provide safe spaces during coronavirus lockdown after rise in calls. Many victims who are now unable to seek help while at home trapped with their abusers will still be expected to shop for food and medicine, and there have been calls for safe space initiatives to be introduced in supermarkets and more pharmacies. Multiple support services for domestic abuse have reported a surge in calls to helplines since the lockdown was imposed, while the Metropolitan police said it was making an average of about 100 arrests a day for offences linked to abuse in the home. (The Guardian)

5. Bangladesh: To counter the gendered risks and barriers for women and girls in Cox’s Bazar, Rohingya women leaders self-mobilized, forming networks and raising awareness on COVID-19 across all camps. The rise in domestic violence and other forms of violence against women as a result of social tensions and panic in the camps is another key concern for these women. Global estimates show that in crisis settings, more than 70 percent of women experience gender-based violence. (UN Women)

SPECIAL READ

  •  Call for Contributions: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is currently elaborating a General Recommendation on trafficking of women and girls in the  context of global migration. The Committee decided to invite all interested parties to submit contributions in writing for the "Draft General Recommendation on TWGCGM".After a thorough and due consideration of contributions provided, only the Committee will decide on the contents of the final version of the General Recommendation on Trafficking of Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration. (UN OHCHR)

Also…

  • InvitationJoin us online May 11, 2020 via Zoom at 1:00PM EDT / GMT -4). We will be discussing our global week of solidarity with survivors around the world inspired by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's Red Shoes protest beginning on June 4, 2020. In 2009, Chauvet staged her first art installation of red shoes - representing the bloodshed women face in Mexico because of femicide, domestic, and sexualized violence. Her installations have inspired activists around the world  - join us to hear a special message from Elina Chauvet and take a stand in solidarity. (Every Woman Treaty)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have adverse and disproportionate effects on women and girls around the world, particularly in the rise of gender-based violence. CARE is working to prevent and respond to this issue in 24 countries. “We know that when emergencies hit, women and girls come last,” says CARE’s Humanitarian Policy Director Susannah Friedman. (CARE)

  • “A Difficult Client”: Lynn’s Story of Captivity, Non-State Torture, and Human Trafficking by Her Husband. (International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research)

  • Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima to receive 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Born in 1974, Jineth Bedoya Lima’s reporting has focused on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. Ms Bedoya Lima was herself a victim of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking she was conducting for daily newspaper El Espectador. Three years later, while working for the daily El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

    “The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya Lima, doubly exposed to unacceptable risks as a woman and as a journalist, inspire profound respect,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “We need the work of professional and independent journalists.”

    “The present pandemic highlights the vital role journalists play in providing all of us with access to reliable, in some cases vital, information in crises situations,” Ms. Azoulay added. “It also shows the many risks journalists face everywhere in the world in the exercise of their profession.” (UNESCO)

  • Nobel Women: Tune in Monday, May 4th at 11 am ET  for a Facebook Live conversation with outgoing UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, to talk risks and challenges faced by women human rights defenders and how the global community can act to protect them.
  • Listen: FiLiA Podcast with Simi Kamal. Simi Kamal is head of grants at the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. Simi joins FiLiA to discuss her experience and work as part of the Every Woman Treaty - a campaign to end violence against women and girls worldwide. (FiLiA)
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Must Reads: UN and WHO Spotlight Domestic Violence Amid Lockdowns

In this week's Must Reads: Leaders from the United Nations and the World Health Organization address the impact of Covid-19 and the disproportionate impact on women and girls. South Africa addresses 87,000 incidents of gender based violence reported during the 21 day Covid-19 lockdown. In Saudi Arabia, "Women are carrying the double burden of fighting the spread of virus infections and attacks by perpetrators of gender-based violence.” Kenya responds to the spike in sexualized and gender based violence, including the kidnap and rape of a 16 year old girl. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown

  1. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres releases policy brief: The Impact of Covid-19 on Women. "Nearly one in five women worldwide has experienced violence in the past year.  Many of these women are now trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services that are suffering from cuts and restrictions. “This was the basis for my appeal to governments earlier this week to take urgent steps to protect women and expand support services.” (UN)
  2. World Health Organization: "We call on countries to include services to #EndViolence as an essential service that must continue during the response. There is never any excuse for violence.” (WHO)
  3. South Africa:87,000 incidents of gender-based violence reported in South Africa since the 21-day national lockdown. Mkhize expressed anger and disappointment in the “toxic patriarchal mindset” which seemed unstoppable despite the nation walking in the shadow of “deadly disaster. Women are carrying the double burden of fighting the spread of virus infections and attacks by perpetrators of gender-based violence.” Mkhize urged those who felt victimised to contact the police on their Crime Stop number 0860-10111. (The Editor)
  4. Saudi Arabia:Victim-blaming in Saudi deters sexual and domestic violence victims from reporting their cases. "I reported it and the police came to convince me to drop the charges while my abuser sat with them," wrote a Twitter user by the name of Catolina.” (Thomson Reuters)
  5. Kenya:For four days, Juliet M., a 16-year-old Kenyan, was held captive by a man and sexually assaulted. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed female company to get through the government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown.The government has adopted strict measures to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But these measures, as necessary as they are, are having particular impact on women and girls, including elevating the risk of gender-based violence. Last week, the National Council on Administration of Justice reported “a significant spike in sexual offences in many parts of the country in the past two weeks.” (HRW)

SPECIAL READ

  • From Melinda Gates: "Inevitably, some people will argue that we should table conversations about gender equality until we get through this emergency. But the disease and its affects are not gender neutral. Our response cannot be either." (USA Today)
  • Afghanistan: The all-female robotics team made a cheap ventilator out of Toyota parts, joining the fight against Covid-19. The governor of Herat put out a public plea for more ventilators, five young women answered the call.
  • This team consists of five Dreamers aged between 14 and 17; captain Somaya Faruqi, Dyana Wahbzadeh, Folernace Poya, Ellaham Mansori and Nahid Rahimi. They are currently working with two prototypes. One is a gear-based system based on a design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The other uses parts from a Toyota Corolla. (The National)
  • UNFPA issues guidance on COVID-19. Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers. 
  • Download: English  Spanish  French  Arabic  Turkish  Portuguese  Russian  Tajik
  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty with a reply to this email, or contact me directly at [email protected] 


Must Reads: No Place to Hide

In this week's Must Reads: Amid lockdowns, shutdowns, curfews, and social distancing, there is a rise in reported cases of sexualized violenceIn the UK, "It's a perfect storm," Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of British charity SafeLives. Reports of domestic abuse have spiked by about 30% since France went into lockdown in mid-March. In Pakistan, between 70 to 90 percent of women experience some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse— mostly from an intimate partner.

1. "Lockdowns will lead to a surge in domestic abuse, but also severely limit the ability of services to help." As the United Kingdom shut down, charities urged employers, bank staff, healthworkers and neighbours to be extra vigilant, adding that even a note dropped in a grocery bag could be a lifeline for a woman trapped with an abusive partner. (Thomson Reuters)

2. Reports of domestic abuse have spiked by about 30% since France went into lockdown in mid-March. French officials set up an “alert system” in pharmacies nationwide, where victims of domestic abuse could discreetly ask the pharmacist to call police by asking for a “mask 19.” The initiative mimics a scheme set up in Spain’s Canary Islands that uses the same code word. (Vice)

3. France announced that it will pay for 20,000 nights in hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence and open pop-up counseling centers at supermarkets. There are worrying reports from other countries, too. "There has always been gender violence, but this crisis makes it all worse," said Simona Ammerata, who works at the Lucha y Siesta women's shelter in Rome, Italy. (CNN)

4. "For decades, critically important public programs and structures have been starved of funding, and efforts to ensure that women have adequate income, health care, worker protections, support for caregivers, nutrition and housing assistance have been met with relentless resistance," said Fatima Goss Graves, head of the National Women's Law Center, in a statement to CBS News on Tuesday. "Those efforts have placed women and their families at unconscionable risk from the COVID-19 crisis." (CBS)

5. In Pakistan, the most-cited estimate says between 70 to 90 percent of women experience some form of physical, emotional or psychological abuse— mostly from an intimate partner. Acts of physical violence in marital relationships are almost always accompanied by psychological abuse, and in thirty to fifty percent of cases, it is also accompanied by sexual abuse. Such abuse is typically part of an on-going pattern of patriarchal control, rather than an isolated act of physical aggression. (DAWN)

SPECIAL READ

  • From Indrani Goradia on Thrive Global. In her piece No Place to Hide,  she notes: "This Coronavirus pandemic is forcing closures of schools and workplaces. As I began to do my work in the gender violence space, I realized that victims have the same fears about being at home with a raging abuser. When the abuser is at home, violence occurs. When the abuser is at work, the victim gets a respite, either because they (victims) go to work themselves or because they(victims) are at home alone."When we add the ongoing pandemic of violence to women, it is easy to see that there will be more pain for women who are being forced to spend time at home."

Also…

  • Podcast with Indrani Goradia: Pandemic Inside a Pandemic. Listen on Our Voices Matter.

  • Coronavirus lockdown in India: Vimlesh Solanki, a volunteer for a Sambhali Trust, an organisation that supports women in Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan, says coronavirus has put women in danger. "Stressful situations like this means that there are more things that trigger their already abusive partners." (BBC)

  • Here’s What Women’s Rights Lawyers Want You To Know About Supporting Working Women During COVID-19. (Refinery29)

  • UNFPA issues guidance on COVID-19. Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers. 

    Download: English  Spanish  French  Arabic  Turkish  Portuguese  Russian  Tajik

  • The Rotary Foundation: Now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Rotary Peace Fellowship program. Candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district. Districts must submit endorsed applications to The Rotary Foundation by 1 July. (Rotary) (BBC)

Share your stories with Every Woman Treaty via email at [email protected]


Every Woman Institute Launches the Safer Sooner Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Elizabeth Blackney, [email protected]

(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.”

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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 protected] 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 [email protected] 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

Languages: English

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


Meet a World Leader: The Woman Behind the ILO Treaty

In 2012, Jane Hodges set in motion an idea that led to the creation of a groundbreaking new treaty to end violence and harassment at work—the International Labour Organization’s Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Last month, this treaty was adopted and we are proud to announce that Jane has joined us as a global advisor. Welcome Jane!

Jane’s work at the International Labour Organization (ILO) helped transform global policy and practices for women and other marginalized groups. Over a 35-year career—the last decade as Director of the Gender Equality Bureau—Jane designed and delivered programs on fundamental rights at work, in particular sex discrimination, disability inclusion, and indigenous people’s rights.

Here, she takes us inside the intricate process of how she and her colleagues at the ILO, and the world, got the treaty done—and why even with this new convention, we need a global treaty on violence against women and girls.

Every Woman: What’s the word that defines the ILO treaty?
Jane: Unique. It is the only binding global treaty that’s getting at violence against women and girls specifically. While it only covers the world of work, so one sphere, it’s huge progress. We finally got something that includes domestic violence, and the spillover of domestic violence, into the workplace. The significance of that cannot be understated, both for women and families, but also organizations and companies.

Take us through the treaty process. How’d it start?
In 2009, ILO Members held a general discussion on gender equality, part of which centered on gender-based violence and what needed to be done to stop it. So my team and I did extensive research and by November 2012, we’d amassed enough “homework” to introduce a proposal for standards on gender-based violence in the world of work. Then we got a boost. The following year, the UN Commission on the Status of Women had the need for greater protection from violence on the table. That broader debate gave credence to my work, and formed another strong argument in the pitch for a global standard.

What moved the treaty idea forward?
More research. My team looked at the World Health Organization’s research on violence against women, UN Women’s studies, and I helped design a survey on gender and harassment. We also looked at the economic cost. I presented papers throughout 2013 and 2014, so many papers! Finally, in October 2015, the ILO Governing Body made the decision to place the treaty on the conference agenda for 2018 and 2019.

Jane holding a draft of the treaty. Geneva, June 2019

You mentioned there was strong support from Member States. Any idea why?
Many reasons, but a major one was clearly the economic cost. Nations and companies were on board morally, no one denied the problem, but understanding the financial cost was, for some, a turning point. If we let violence and harassment continue, we lose money.

The legal obligation the treaty created was another reason. If we could have an international text that is solid, clear, workable, and enforceable, that would give us accountability. The legal aspect is the third leg of the stool. Moral and economic are essential, but a treaty’s binding nature holds it up. So the secretariat prepared reports for the International Labour Conference, and the first discussion took place in 2018. The second discussion last month, in June 2019, led to the adoption of Convention 190 and its accompanying Recommendation 206!

Was there ever any doubt the convention would happen?
I always knew we’d get a convention, but the general feeling was that it would be weak. The first draft text worried some delegates because it contained language on sexual orientation and gender identity. So the secretariat held an informal consultation in March 2019, two days of dialogue, [with] no report on what was said. It let people vent, and at the same time, listen to others’ points of view. It worked. At the second conference, the language changed so that it would be interpreted in accordance with international labour standards and international human rights instruments.

Was that a good compromise?
It was a necessary one.

Did it weaken the convention?
Not really. That type of language is very common in national laws. While lists of situations that give rise to a violence can be helpful because they make terms like “vulnerable groups” very concrete, the compromise was actually very clever. Relying on the language of international human rights instruments could be a plus because no group is left out, and it dovetails labour rights and human rights in a way that no one can object to.

The world votes on the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Geneva, June 21, 2019

How will nations be held accountable?
ILO has a decades-old, tried-and-true system of supervising ratified treaties based on regular reporting to a committee of experts, and on specialised complaints procedures. If you’re not meeting the standards, you will be found out, criticized, and sanctioned. Don’t underestimate the power of international exposure. Reputation matters greatly.

The new ILO treaty joins other treaties aimed at ending violence against women. Yet a global treaty specific to violence against women and girls is still needed. Why?
The treaty landscape on violence against women has many holes. The ILO Convention, for example, is very good and specific, but it is work related. It covers your commute, but it does not cover general transportation safety—when you’re on the bus or subway coming home after night class or dinner with friends, for example. Likewise with CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women), it’s specific to discrimination, not violence. It has been interpreted to include violence, but violence is not a binding part of the document.

Along with these gaps, there’s also confusing definitions and sometimes unworkable aims. I use the analogy of a woven blanket. It’s wonderful to have a blanket of protection, but there are so many holes in the weave, it barely keeps you warm. With a global convention to end violence against women and girls everywhere, in all spheres and situations, we tighten the weave, close the loopholes. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can get on with doing what human beings do—innovate, educate, connect, thrive.