At UN General Assembly Today, President Buhari of Nigeria Becomes First Sitting President to Call for a Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women and Girls
Leading Nigerian Woman’s Rights Activist, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Available for Interviews
(September 24, 2021) - In a speech today at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari endorsed a treaty to end violence against women and girls. President Buhari is the first sitting President to recognize a global treaty as a solution to this issue, which according to the World Health Organization, impacts 1 in 3 women worldwide. This already bad situation has grown exponentially worse in the wake of COVID-19, according to the latest UN Women’s report, The Shadow Pandemic.
Buhari’s statement in support of a treaty ending violence against women and girls followed his remarks emphasizing the “safeguarding of human rights” and the “promotion of fundamental freedoms.”
Buhari stated: “Nigeria has been steadfast in safeguarding human rights, including the advancement of women, the protection of children, the protection of the rights of people living with disabilities, the treatment of migrants, refugees, returnees and displaced persons as well as, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through all legitimate means….In this context, Nigeria calls for collective global action through a Treaty to end all forms of violence against women and girls of all ages.”
In June, a letter calling for a global treaty to end violence against women and girls was signed by over 260 women’s rights activists from around the world and sent to leaders of the U.N. Women’s Generation Equality Forum. One of the signatories was Nigerian physician and gender expert, Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, who is available for interviews.
“The right to be free from violence is a universal human right,” says Dr. Nwadinobi. “I commend President Buhari for heeding our call for this vital and necessary treaty. We need action immediately to protect women and girls everywhere.”
The proposed global treaty would mandate: new laws proven to lower rates of violence; training and accountability for police officers, judges, social welfare and health care workers; violence prevention education; services for survivors such as hotlines, shelters and legal protections; and increased funding for implementation. It would also create a universally accepted definition of violence against women and girls and provide explicit standards for criminal prosecution and punishment, as well as concrete remedies that bring justice to survivors.
As the sign-on letter states: “This is not about one country telling another country what to do. This is about nations coming together to take a stand on ending violence against women and girls once and for all.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 23, 2021
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Spokespeople from Around the World Available for Interviews
(June 23, 2021) - A letter was sent today to the leaders of the U.N. Women’s Generation Equality Forum signed by over 260 women’s rights activists from around the world calling for a global treaty to end violence against women and girls. The Paris leg of the Generation Equality Forum will be taking place June 30-July 2, and has identified gender-based violence as one of its six top priorities.
“For far too long, women’s rights activists like ourselves have shouldered the burden of responding to violence against women in the face of huge obstacles, and to the best of our abilities,” says the letter, which can be read in full along with the complete list of signatories here. “In doing so, we put our own lives on the line each and every day. This is not safe, scalable, or sustainable...
“We are aware that there are international agreements to address this issue, but they are not enough,” the letter continues. “The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and regional treaties, for example, offer a patchwork of protection. We need something comprehensive, specific, up-to-date and legally binding…
“This is not about one country telling another country what to do. This is about nations coming together to take a stand on ending violence against women and girls once and for all.”
The letter was spearheaded by Judge Najla Ayoubi from Afghanistan; Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, physician and gender expert from Nigeria; and Lisa Shannon, CEO of Every Woman Treaty, from the United States. Other signatories include women’s rights activists from: Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Tunisia, UK, Zimbabwe, and many more - a total of 64 nations worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, violence against women is “devastatingly pervasive, impacting one in three women globally, with younger women most at risk. This already bad situation has grown exponentially worse in the wake of COVID-19, according to the latest UN Women’s report, The Shadow Pandemic.
The letter concludes: “We must come together as an international community to create a comprehensive and legally binding international treaty to end violence against women and girls. As leaders of the Generation Equality Forum, you have the power to take a stand by encouraging nations to consider this potent and much-needed solution.”
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.
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
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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.
In this week's Must Reads: Coronavirus lockdowns create unique risks for women subjected to violence as policymakers and service organizations build capacity to respond. Women make up 70 percent of workers in the health and social sector, and they do three times as much unpaid care work at home as men. Nurses in Australia experience attacks from citizens. In Spain, criminal law reform efforts see some success: all nonconsensual sex will be defined as rape and perpetrators will face tougher sentences.
1. Amid efforts to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, policymakers must not lose sight of the vulnerabilities of women and girls, which have been exacerbated by the crisis, says a UNFPA guidance note released on March 19, 2020: “Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently,” says the new UNFPA guidance document, which covers how gender is playing a role in the unfolding pandemic. “Pandemics make existing gender inequalities for women and girls worse, and can impact how they receive treatment and care.” (UNFPA)
2. As millions stay home to help flatten the curve, domestic violence organizations and support systems are scrambling to adapt to the rapidly shifting landscape. Spending days, weeks or even months in the presence of an abusive partner escalates already dangerous situations. The lives of people stuck in physically or emotionally abusive relationships have — and will — become harder, which has already been seen in the pandemic hotspots of China and Italy. (New York Times)
3. The very conditions that are needed to battle the disease—isolation, social distancing, restrictions on freedom of movement—are the very conditions that feed into the hands of abusers who now find state-sanctioned circumstances tailor-made for unleashing abuse. (ReliefWeb)
4. Nurses in some hospitals are reportedly being urged to remove their scrubs before leaving hospital after a female healthcare worker was attacked and accused of spreading the novel coronavirus. The Nursing and Midwifery Federation says it has begun to see reports of aggression towards nurses as the pandemic escalates. (Yahoo! Australia)
5. Spain to toughen law against sexual violence: All non-consensual sex will be regarded as rape, with tougher sentences available to judges. Calls to reform the criminal law concerning sexual offences have been mounting after a series of high-profile trials, including the so-called "Wolf Pack" case, in which an 18-year-old woman was gang-raped during the Pamplona bull-running festival in 2016. (Al Jazeera)
Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice releases progress research report on: Investing in Equity: Creating Equitable Funding for Local Women Peacebuilders. The IPJ conducted this research in partnership with its 2019 Women Peacemaker Fellows and five international peace funders (USAID, UKFCO, UN Women, Global Affairs Canada, and Search for Common Ground).
Domestic violence is the biggest source of injury for women in Nepal with half the women in a recent survey saying they had experienced some form of violence. (Nepali Times)
During crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, women make essential contributions as leaders and frontline responders. But they are also hit harder by the health, economic and social impacts of the outbreak. Watch video: English | French | Spanish (UN Women)
Watch video: English | French | Spanish
Every Woman Treaty invites you to join our own Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi for a virtual panel with Helen Rubenstein of Global Rights for Women this Thursday, March 19, 9:00 a.m. Eastern time via Zoom for the release and discussion of Time for Action: The Way to a Binding International Treaty on Violence Against Women and Safer Sooner: Toward a Binding Global Norm to End Violence Against Women and Girls.