Dear Generation Equality Forum Leaders,
We salute you for organizing the Mexico City and Paris Generation Equality Forums and doing the hard work it takes to address critical issues facing women and girls. The challenges are enormous, but you are giving us precious space to share solutions. As grassroots women’s rights activists from around the world, we are pleased to see gender-based violence at the top of your list of priorities.
As you know, violence against women is “devastatingly pervasive,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 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.
This must end. And it must end now.
As members of a diverse coalition of over 1,700 women’s rights activists from 128 countries, we are writing today with a specific request: As you prepare to advocate for solutions to gender inequalities during the upcoming Forums, we urge you to consider a stand-alone, dedicated global treaty to end violence against women and girls.
We are aware that there are international agreements to address this issue, but they are not enough. 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, all good in their own space, offer overall a patchwork of protection. We need something comprehensive, specific, and legally binding.
A new holistic treaty focused solely on violence against women and girls – designed to be complementary to CEDAW and other protections – would provide an overarching framework where the entire globe acknowledges that certain stereotyping and behaviors are unacceptable and must be treated with zero tolerance. More specifically, such a treaty would provide training and accountability for police officers, judges, and health professionals; increase funding for survivor services such as shelters, hotlines, and legal aid; and prioritize violence prevention education so that such incidents don’t occur in the first place.
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.
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. In doing so, we put our own lives on the line each and every day. Female journalists and human rights activists in Afghanistan have been threatened and murdered by extremists. Protesters in the UK and Mexico have been brutally beaten and abused by police. Women’s rights activists have been labeled “foreign dissidents” in Russia, and the government has threatened to reinstate public order laws that make it illegal for women to protest in South Sudan. We have paid the price for speaking up to end this scourge, and we – along with the millions of women and girls globally who have no protection under current mechanisms – need help.
Violence against women can kill. It also has devastating, long-lasting health consequences for women and families. Women experience acute and chronic issues including broken bones, fractures, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. The mental and physical health effects of violence are intergenerational. Children of mothers who experienced violence can have poorer physical health and a greater number of emotional, psychological, and behavioral problems. Violence against women and girls has tremendous economic and societal costs as well, from greater strains on health care systems to legal expenses and productivity losses.
A treaty dedicated to preserving women’s and girls’ rights to live without violence has the potential to change the course of human history—to a healthier one, physically, emotionally, socially, and economically. A new binding global norm will mandate that nations implement evidence-based interventions, using a multi-sectoral approach. It will set standards regarding women’s health, including access to life-saving services. It will protect women across the course of their lives, and include specific protections for vulnerable groups, such as refugees, indigenous people, people experiencing disabilities, and people with various sexual orientations and gender identities, leaving no one behind.
The right to be free from violence is a universal human right. We cannot continue to put ourselves in harm’s way to help women one by one to solve this problem. This is not safe, scalable, or sustainable.
We recognize that you are already advocating for policy changes, investments, and partnerships to eliminate gender-based violence. All of this is extremely important and appreciated. A new global treaty would bolster these efforts complementary and more.
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. More information on this treaty can be found here.
Thank you for your consideration and for your leadership in promoting gender equality worldwide.
Mary Ayubi, Afghanistan; Rahela H. Sidiqi, Rahela Trust for Afghan Women’s Education, Afghanistan; Massouda Kohistani, Afghanistan; Angela Mehri, Cordaid, Afghanistan; Huma Safi, Afghanistan; Najla Ayoubi, Every Woman Treaty, Afghanistan; Atefa Ibrahimi, Afghan Tech Sisters, Afghanistan; Malali Popalzai, Afghanistan American Friendship Foundation, Afghanistan; Faria Alam, Gucci America Inc., Bangladesh; Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Aid Organization, Bangladesh; Saira Rahman Khan, Odhikar: a Coalition for Human Rights, Bangladesh; Ferdous Ara Begum, HelpAge International, Bangladesh; Shuvra Roy, Aid Organization, Bangladesh; Abu Murshed Chowdhury, Programme for Helpless And Lagged Societies, Bangladesh; Puja Kapai, Women’s Studies Research Centre – University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; Jyoti Nale, Save The Children India, India; Yuman Hussain, Azad India Foundation, India; Salim Khan, Social Development and Management Society, India; Rakesh Gaur, Udisha, India; Santosh Kumar, Sankalp Jyoti, India; Manisha Desai, University of Connecticut, India; Ramesh Awasthi, Masum, India; Keerty Nakray, India; Meera Khanna, Guild of Service, India; Kirthi Jayakumar, The Gender Security Project, India; Joseph Mount Singh, Mamta Samajik Sanstha, India; Bimla Chandrasekaran, Ekta Resource Centre for Women, India; Upasana Rana, Women for Human Rights, Nepal; Radha Paudel, Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation, Nepal; Shiwangi Rana, Women for Human Rights, Nepal; Srijana Bastola, Sankalpa- Woman Alliance for Peace, Justice and Democracy, Nepal; Narbada Sorali Magar, Shakti Samuha, Nepal; Madhabi Bajracharya, Ipas Nepal, Nepal; Krishna Deoja, Women for Human Rights, Nepal; Jeena Joshi, Women for Human Rights, Nepal; Mibusha Ghimire, Collective Campaign for Peace, Nepal; Pratistha Paudel, Nepal; Suchana Pachhai, Collective Campaign for Peace, Nepal; Nirmita Shrestha, Nepal; Sumeera Shrestha, Women for Human Rights, Nepal; Bhagyashree Rawal, Centre for Women’s Awareness and Development, Nepal; Bijay Raj Shakya, Acute Legal and Research Center Pvt. Ltd., Nepal; Azra Gul, Pak Women, Pakistan; Zainab Ali Khan, Every Woman Treaty, Pakistan; Arshid Mirza, Baidarie, Pakistan; Sabir Farhat, Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization, Pakistan; Farwa Zafar, Gender Consultant – British High Commission, Pakistan; Khurram Azam, South Asia Partnership Pakistan, Pakistan; Anbreen Ajaib, Bedari, Pakistan; Sameena Nazir, Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy, Pakistan; Musarrat Jabeen, Costed Implementing Plan Sindh, Pakistan; Farzana, Society for Human Advancement and Disadvantaged Empowerment, Pakistan; Sajad Ahmed, Society for Human Advancement and Disadvantaged Empowerment, Pakistan; Nicolette Gamara, Every Woman Treaty, Philippines; Indumathi Balasubramanian, Singapore.
Deena Brock, Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters Inc., Canada; Mahek Kaur, Canada; Nadiva A. Hartono, Canada; Monika Banel-Boily, City of Ottawa, Canada; Wendy Reed, Quasar Empowerment Fund, Canada; Betsy Spaulding, Canada; Claudia Tattrie, Canada; Lisa Morrison, Canada; Sue Bookchin, Be the Peace Institute, Canada; Myriam Fougère, Group International, Canada; Pamela Rubin, Nova Scotia Feminists Fighting Femicide, Canada; Monika Wagner, Canada; Saadia Muzaffar, TechGirls Canada, Canada; Sally Armstrong, Canada; Tanya Wiggins, Saskatoon Interval House, Inc., Canada; Tamarack Verrall, World Pulse, Canada; Jeanne Sarson, Persons Against Non-State Torture, Canada; Linda MacDonald, Persons Against Non-State Torture, Canada; Beverley Wybrow, Canada; Amy Fitzgergald, British Columbia Society of Transition Houses, Canada; Sherry Sproule, Saskatchewan Government Employees’ Union Women’s Committee, Canada; Bernadette Macdonald, End the War on Women Collective, Canada; Akefa Raza, Every Woman Treaty, Canada; Catherine Roy Comeau, Canada; Crystal Giesbrecht, Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, Canada; Jo-Ann Dusel, Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, Inc, Canada; Lynn Weaver Taylor, Cowichan Intercultural Society, Canada; Lucille Harper, Canada; Rita Audi, Canada; Lisa J, Shannon, Every Woman Treaty, United States of America; Molly Singer, Environmental System Design Global Inc, United States of America; Brando Applegate, University of South Carolina, United States of America; Kimberly Weichel, Weichel & Associates, United States of America; Judy Lear, International Council of Jewish Women, United States of America; Deb Mier, Impact Chicago Self Defense, United States of America; Rachael Elwork Wells, United States of America; Helen Rubenstein, Global Rights for Women, United States of America; Sara Winkowski, International Council for Jewish Women, United States of America; Hayat Bearat, United States of America; Heather Issers, ComForCare Home Care – Livingston County, United States of America; Susan Burke, Burke PLLC, United States of America; Maro Youssef, University of Texas at Austin, United States of America; Francisco Rivera Juaristi, Santa Clara University – International Human Rights Clinic, United States of America; Luna Mukherjee; United States of America; Leslie Decker, Rimmer Foundation, United States of America; Kevin Speer, United States of America; Matt Musselman, United States of America; Oriana Nolan, Natividad Medical Center, United States of America; Walter Mills MD, Natividad Family Medicine Residency Program, United States of America; Joseph Bish, Population Media Center, United States of America; Barbara Paradiso, Center on Domestic Violence – University of Colorado Denver, United States of America; Kelsey Capron MD, Natividad, United States of America; Isaiah Chabala, Divine Empowerment Mission, United States of America; Elaine Lee, Natividad Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program, United States of America; Stacey Keare, Girls Rights Project, United States of America; Stephen Matzat, Natividad Medical Center, United States of America; Jane Shepard, United States of America; Kelsey Capron MD, United States of America; Nora Lester Murad, United States of America; Mick Hirsch, THRIVEGulu, United States of America; Lori K. Sudderth, University of Quinnipiac, United States of America; Kris McDaniel-Miccio, Sturm College of Law University of Denver, United States of America; Venerable Tenzin Dasel, Tashi Gatsel Ling Buddhist Center, United States of America; Gail DeGiulio, United States of America; Doreen Thompson, Tashi Gatsel Ling Buddhist Center, United States of America; Isaiah Z. Chabala, Divine Empowerment Mission, United States of America; Kim Rivers, Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield, United States of America; Lisa K. Hoffman, United States of America; Thomas D. Rose, ImpactPersonal Safety of Colorado, United States of America;
Severin Sindizera, Association pour l’Intergaration et le Developpement Durable au Burundi, Burundi; Rubin Nyandwi, Asodecom Asbl Asodecom, Burundi; Aminatu Gambo, International Indigenous Women’s Forum, Cameroon; Bolanga, Centre d’Accueil et de Volontariat pour Orphelins, Abandonnés et Handicapés du Cameroun, Cameroon; Djepang Yvonne Armande, Association pour la promotion de la lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes et la participation au développement de la Femme africaine, Cameroon; Paulette Metang, Association Camerounaise pour la Prise en charge des Personnes Agees, Cameroon; Gladys Mbuyah, Foundation for International Development Assistance Cameroon Cameroon; Jeanne Mouiche Anyouzoa, Every Woman Treaty, Cameroon; Marie Nyombo Zaina, Réseau Nationale des ONGs pour le Développement de la Femme, Congo; Region des Lagunes, Action et Humanisme, Côte d’Ivoire; Gcebile Ndlovu, International Community of Women Living with HIV, Eswatini; Albertina Nyatsi, Positive Women Together in Action, Eswatini; Ntombifuthi PreciousbShongwe, Swaziland Network of Young Positives, Eswatini; Thembi Nkambule, International Community of Women Living with HIV in Southern Africa, Eswatini; Joney Gebre, Ethiopia; Abigail Edem Hunu, Ghana; Betty Sharon, Collaboration of Women In Development, Kenya; Geoffrey Kamadi, Health Policy Watch, Kenya; Susy Musungu, Groots Kenya, Kenya; Roseline K. Toweh, Young Men’s Christian Association, Liberia; Razafindrakoto Marie Gaby, Fédération Pour la Promotion Féminine et Enfantine, Madagascar; Adama Sanogo, Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique, Mali; Dieneba Sow, Réseau Wassa, Mali; Caleb Ng’ombo, People Serving Girls At Risk, Malawi; Denise Scotto, International Federation of Women in Legal Careers, Mozambique; Dr. Uzodinma Adiriege, Afrihealth Optonet Association [CSOs Network], Nigeria; Bose Agbonmerele Ironsi, Women’s Rights and Health Project, Nigeria; Joseph Gimba, Center for Peace Education and Community Development, Nigeria; Muhammad Adamu, Amnesty International Nigeria, Nigeria; Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, Every Woman Treaty, Nigeria; Obioma Nwaorgu, Global Health Awareness Research Foundation, Nigeria; Florence Gbinigie, Forum Of Nigerian Women In Politics, Nigeria; Purpose Osamwonyi iserhienrhien, Smiles Africa International Youth Development Initiative, Nigeria; Chukwu Christian Ogu, International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Nigeria; Sr. Prylla Mary Nwagbo, Support Home of God Project, Nigeria; Ugochi Cynthia Abazie, Every Woman Treaty, Nigeria; Itoro Eze~Anaba, Nigeria; Hauwa Evelyn Shekarau, Women, Law and Development Initiative Africa, Nigeria; David Tola, Childolescent and Family Survival Organization – Women’s Rights Action Group for Development, Nigeria; Anthonia Ifeyinwa Omowole, Women Alive Empowerment and Advancement Outreach, Nigeria; Saudatu Mahdi, Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, Nigeria; Eglah Ibrahim, Alheri Centre for Women and Child Care Development, Nigeria; Ijeoma Ekweozoh, Initiative for Socio-Economic Empowerment of Women and Children, Nigeria; Lucy Samuel Tari, Taraba Advocacy and Rehabilitation Foundation, Nigeria; Monica Ekweozoh, Initiative for Socio-Economic Empowerment of Women and Children, Nigeria; Patience Ngati Danjuma, Faith – Alive Vulnerable Foundation, Nigeria; Ovenaone Jennifer Uniga, Women and Young People’s Awareness Initiative, Nigeria; Leah Olusiyi Solomon, Great Gender Grassroot Foundation, Nigeria; Enogieru Blossom, Foundation Builders, Nigeria; Esther Omosivie Adah; White Ribbon Alliance For Safe Motherhood, Nigeria; Agatha Osieke, Women Youths and Children Advancement Program, Nigeria; Agnes Tola-Winjobi, Women’s Rights Action Group, Nigeria; Olukunle Adeogun, Women Consortium of Nigeria, Nigeria; Azuka Egbuonu, Care Adolescents and Women Development Initiative, Nigeria; Rhoda Tyoden, International Federation of Women Lawyers, Nigeria; Omorodion Rhoda, Care and Development Centre, Nigeria; Purpose Osamwonyi Iserhienrhien, Nigeria; Juliet Iyen, Edo Change Network, Nigeria; Rita Mebaghandu Okotie Uwasan, Civil Centre for Peace, Justice and Development, Nigeria; Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté, Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children, Republic of Guinea; Marie Pierre Diop, Senegalese Association promoting Equity and Gender Equality, Senegal; Zynab Binta Kamara, Sierra Leone; Yeabu Josephine Tholley, Sierra Leone; Alice Nenneh James, Chat with Nennehalice, Sierra Leone; Sizwe Nombasa Gxuluwe, WACI Health, South Africa; Bonita Meyersfield, Wits School of Law, South Africa; Karen Kallmann, Union of Jewish Women, South Africa; Bev Goldman, International Council Of Jewish Women, South Africa; Rashida Manjoo, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Reem Amro Abbas, Sudan; Huwayda Mohamed Ibrahim, South Sudanese Christian Women Mission for Peace, Sudan; Bonsile Sizani Mamba, Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly, Swaziland; Koudadje-Assagba Benedicata Dope, Credo Action, Togo; Ahmed Shaban Abdulrahiim Mugweri, United Communities for Development, Uganda; Aramo Angella, Alpha Women Skilling Center, Uganda; Jane Mary Nagawa, Women And Children Action For Human Rights, Uganda; Otekat Vicent, Merikit Health Center III, Uganda; Catherine Grace Akello, Youth Initiative for Youth Action Foundation, Uganda; Gwokyalya Immaculate, aYo Uganda, Uganda; Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, Women Regional Network for Peace Building, Uganda; Caroline Bunga Idembe Procsovia, Women Regional Network Uganda, Uganda; Martha Tholanah, Making Waves Network, Zimbabwe.
Sudaba Shiraliyeva, Women and Modern World Social Charitable Center, Azerbaijan; Aida Jabrayilova, Azerbaijan International Women’s Fund, Azerbaijan; Nina Wennink, Physical and Mental Resilience Empowerment, Belgium; Carol Mann, Women in War, France; Piliushyna Sviatlana, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, France; Roza Akylbekova, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Kazakhstan; Leila Nazgul Seiitbek, Freedom for Eurasia, Kyrgyzstan; Zulfia Kochorbaeva, Social Technologies Agency, Kyrgyzstan; Wendi Dragonfire, Shu Ha Ri Netherlands, Environmental Systems Design Global, Netherlands; Marina Pisklakova-Parker, Center ANNA, Russia; Violeta Momcilovic, Serbia; Catherine Scott, K. Scott Consulting, Scotland; Alejandra Bernardo Andrés, Norwegian Capacity, Spain; Sandra Johansson, Spain; Alejandra Bernardo Andres; Spain; Dr. Jelena Nolan-Roll, United Kingdom; Jackie Jones, United Kingdom; Amy Barrow, Macquarie University, United Kingdom; Ann Rosemary Arnott, United Kingdom; Nadejda Atayeva, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, Uzbekistan.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Sofiane Khoukhi, Association De Volontariat Touiza De La Wilaya Alger, Algeria; Ghada Mahmoud Hammam, Diakonia, Egypt; Fatma Waleed Fouad Rizk, Egypt; Vanazir Youssef, Iraq; Hanaa Edwar, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, Iraq; Yehudit Sidikman, MyPwr, Israel; Layla Naffa Hamarneh, Arab Women Organization of Jordan, Jordan; Saida Kouzzi, Mobilising for Rights Associates, Morocco; Fadoua Bakhadda, Morocco; Latifa Rahmani, Ikram Wahbi Issa, Tubas Charitable Trust, Palestine; Supporting Her Education Changes A Nation, Tunisia; Nabila Hamza, Tunisian Association of Women Democrats, Tunisia; Olfa Mohamed, Tunisian Feminist Network, Tunisia; Zahia Jouirou, Tunisia, Tunisia; Khedija Arfaoui, Association Tunisienne Des Femmes Democrates, Tunisia; Kaddechi Jannet, Voice of Eve, Tunisia.
Dr. Anne Cossins, University of New South Wales, Australia; Antonella Spatola, Empowerment Self Defense, Australia; Mark Evans, Empowered Today, Australia; Truffy Maginnis, Australia; Jane Aeberhard-Hodges, Every Woman Treaty, Australia; Robyn Lenn, International Council for Jewish Women, Australia; Susan Harris Rimmer, Griffith University, Australia; Pat Twiss, Country Women’s Association of Western Australia Inc, Australia; Anne-Marie Tupuola-Plunkett, New Zealand; Christine King, Pacific Women’s Watch, New Zealand.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Graciela De Oto, Suma Veritas Foundation, Argentina; Maria de Lourdes Beldi de Alcántara, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Ana Cecilia Hernandez Quintanilla, Movimiento Salvadoreño de Mujeres, El Salvador; Bianka Rodriguez, Asociación Comunicando y Capacitando a Mujeres Trans en El Salvador, El Salvado; Kate Flatley, Women’s Justice Initiative, Guatemala; Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation, Guyana; Alicia Amiga, Voluntarias Judeo Mexicanas, México; Olga Montufar Contreras, Fundación Paso a Paso Red de Mujeres Indígenas con Discapacidad, México; Alicia Padmore, Red de Mujeres Afrodescendientes de Panamá, Panamá; Cecilia Moreno Rojas, Centro de la Mujer Panameña, Panamá; Cavelle Joseph – St. Omer, Network of NGOs Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago; Yenni Peña, EmpoderaRSE a.c.,Venezuela.