This is a watershed moment.
For seven years, along with thousands of frontline advocates, survivors, and citizens, we have made this our central mission - and we are grateful for your support every step of the way. But we cannot rest. We must secure support from every African Union nation and from every corner of the globe.
The former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda now serves as our Special Envoy. Her Excellency is leading conversations with former and current African leaders including with Liberia’s former President, Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
This is a moment unlike any before. 2020 brought great challenges but it has also brought us this historic opportunity to create the change necessary to create a life free from violence. Together.
You were essential in getting us this far. Now, it’s all hands on deck! Here’s what you can do.
With warmest wishes for an exceptional 2021 and with profound gratitude,
All of us at Every Woman Treaty
by Akefa Raza
(Seattle, WA, USA) The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative named Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman of the Elman Peace Center in Somalia as the 2020 Aurora Prize Laureates. Adan is a Founding Board Member of Every Woman Treaty, and Elman currently serves on our Steering Committee. The following is a statement from Every Woman Treaty CEO Lisa Shannon, who cofounded the Sister Somalia program at Elman Peace – the first rape crisis center in Somalia.
“Gratitude in Action. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative advances and recognizes this principle as central to humanitarian work, and as the world will now see: it is central to the world-changing work my sisters Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman continue to do in Somalia.
“In 2011, Fartuun welcomed me to Mogadishu. We met with sexual violence survivors, and I supported the launch of Sister Somalia - the Elman Peace Center's program for rape survivors. While post-conflict and conflict-related sexual violence disproportionately affects women and girls, Fartuun and Ilwad persevere, undaunted by statistics or the constant threats.
“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.
“I have had the great privilege of watching, up close, Ilwad's extraordinary life work unfold, as she shunned the comfortable life, trading it for courage beyond measure, stepping into being a fierce advocate for the world's most marginalized, combating violence at its roots, through Elman's extraordinary work ending violent extremism, and violence against women.
“Ilwad is the African leader of the future: Bold, compassionate, unrelenting in her work for every human being to realize human dignity and flourishing.
“I have also seen first-hand these women grapple with the deepest loss: That of daughter/ sister/ partner Almaas Elman last November. They carry on her spirit, and that of their father, through their tenacious commitment to human rights, safety, and dignity for all.
“Their family's work stretches back over nearly 30 years - work that transforms the lives of Somali youth and embraces nonviolence and peacebuilding. Thankful to see recognition of their leadership and their generosity with the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.”
Zainab Ali Khan, Founding Working Group Member of Every Woman Treaty, is a Gender Specialist with over 10 years of work experience in the Development and Corporate sectors of Pakistan. Belonging to a conservative family, Ms Ali Khan had to fight for her right to a foreign education. She is the first woman in her family to be sent abroad for further education. Ms Ali Khan’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine (USA) in English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto (Canada) in Women and Gender Studies. Ms Ali Khan was awarded full scholarships for both degrees. During her time at the Women and Gender Institute of University of Toronto, Ms Ali Khan extensively researched honor crimes in Pakistan for her dissertation entitled, “Honor Crimes in Pakistan: A Critical Analysis of the Zina and Qisas & Diyat Ordinances.”
Ali Khan’s work in the development sector of Pakistan includes working as a Documentation Specialist for a USAID funded Gender Equity Program worth USD 38 million – one of the biggest gender equity initiatives in the country. She has also worked for Women on Board, an initiative of the South Asian Federation of Exchanges that aims to address the acute imbalance of women professionals on corporate boards and higher management in Pakistan. She has also worked with AASA Consulting, a firm that specializes in social policy and human resource management.
She is the author of a number of publications including case studies, success stories, reports, and a magazine. As a women’s rights activist who feels very passionately about gender equality, Ms Ali Khan has had the opportunity to speak about women’s empowerment in Pakistan and internationally.
This week, she analyzes the mistreatment of women in Pakistan, but also why hope still remains.
“The rape, torture, and abduction of a woman doctor in the time of COVID-19, the honor killing of another that's conveniently been dubbed a suicide, and the harassment of women who speak their mind online - THIS from a nation whose founding father, Mohmmad Ali Jinnah, recognized that the power of the sword and the pen both pale in comparison to the power of women! However, even in these dark times, hope remains! Stories such as that of Tabassum Adnan remind us that the women of Pakistan have traded their bangles for fists. Kudos to Academy Award-winning Director, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, for shining a spotlight on these stories! In violent times, showing a mirror that reflects the misogyny of your culture is a heroic act in itself!"
MUST READS: Justice demanded for Female lawyer abducted and raped
Pakistani women journalists face online abuse
Must Reads: The Human Rights Council report on what needs to improve in the working world: improvement of women’s human rights. Indrani Goradia, one of Every Woman Treaty’s founding members has a conversation on leadership at Thrive Global. U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for accountability and systemic change for women and girls. The brutal murder of Pinar Gültekin has sparked widespread protests across Turkey and social media. Mexico’s spike in calls for help from survivors of domestic violence proves the necessity to acknowledge the shadow pandemic and more.
MORE TO READ
Egypt. Two women, Hansen Hossam and Masada Eladhm, were sentenced to two years in prison for “violating family values” by posting content on the famous social media platform, TikTok. Activists have called for the release of women who have been arrested on debauchery charges and for a change to the current laws that put women in jail for their social media activity. (Egyptian Streets)
Nigeria. Experts are calling for a restructured loan system to properly and better support women, who are already put at a disadvantage, by government policies, to be financially and socially stable. The COVID-19 pandemic has made women even more vulnerable to financial hardships and support. Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi noted, “the majority of macro loans were given to men, while women were inadvertently nudged towards owning and running small-scale businesses predominantly.” (The Guardian NG)
Poland. Thousands of people gathered to protest in Warsaw on Saturday after Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland's Minister of Justice, announced that Poland is leaving the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, a treaty made to prevent and combat violence against women. Ziobro accused the convention of "constructing the so-called socio-cultural gender in opposition to biological sex." (CNN)
Tripura, India. Online protests led by students calling for the end of violence against women surged after a series of rapes occurred in the Tripura region. Students demanded capital punishment for the five rapists and for a united front when it comes to combating violence against women and girls. Almost all of the rapists were arrested shortly by authorities upon receiving the complaints. (Indian Express)
Must Reads: a call to end violence against women journalists by UN expert, Dubravka Simonovic. The UN SWOP Report 2020 highlights the pressing need to end the practices that defy women and girls. The Gender Equality Attitudes Study 2019 examined how gender stereotypes across 10 countries affected women’s advancements. How the EU member states failed female survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for embracing gender equality. A new Gender Equality Forum Compact that aims at holding countries accountable to the women, peace and security agenda.
MORE TO READ:
Gender Action for Peace and Security UK’s shadow report examines how the UK government has and could have taken action on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in 2019. “In this important anniversary year of UNSCR 1325, we hope that Governments and donors globally, including the UK, will commit to implementing the agenda in full to ensure that the rights, needs and experiences of women and girls are met – and that women and girls can participate in the decisions that affect their lives.” (GAPS UK)
The Human Rights Council held the first panel on the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women and girls on accountability for women and girls in humanitarian settings. Tatiana Mukanire, National Coordinator for the National Network of Survivors of Sexual Violence (DRC), said “that some people still believed that rape did not exist or that it was not so serious -- this was absurd and revolting! Rape and sexual violence were the most humiliating way to kill a person while letting them breathe.” (OHCHR)
TUNE IN: Digital Dialogue Series: A Conversation on National Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence on July 21st, 2020 at 11AM EST. This event celebrates the launch of a Special Issue of the Journal of International Criminal Justice on Progress and Challenges of National Efforts to Address Impunity for Sexual Violence.
SUBMIT: Building the Evidence on Protracted Forced Displacement: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership, a joint research program developed by the World Bank, UNHCR and the UK Government’s Department for International Development is calling for research proposals on the theme of “Preventing social conflict and promoting social cohesion in forced displacement contexts”.
Tunisian women continuing their fight for true gender equality and exploring the female perception of violence against women and girls through film. A report covering how COVID-19 has impacted the rates of violence against women and girls in Morocco. The tragic death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen, and the call for systemic change in the U.S. military towards sexual assault cases. How the COVID-19 pandemic can trigger survivors of sexual violence and how understanding the pandemic’s impact and trauma can lead survivors to a path of holistic healing and empowerment.
More to Read:
Khedija Arfaoui, an independent human rights researcher, explores the advances and setbacks that Tunisian women have endured in their fight for gender equality. From education to their activism against sexual harassment, Tunisian women have not stopped their fight for true equality. “Discrimination has persisted in Tunisia and it seems the freedoms granted to women were mostly implemented in order to improve the country’s reputation in the West.” (Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy)
In this week’s Must Reads: exploring the methods of gathering true and accurate data on domestic violence in South Africa, Save the Children and their efforts in combatting the rise of sexual violence cases in Venezuela, HRW report finds that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to face interpersonal violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, how a group of men are helping to end femicide and VAWG in Mexico, 3 women who fleed Boko Haram now face jail time and charges in suspicion of being a part of the terrorist group and more.
IN FOCUS - NIGERIA:
Dr. Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru, a gynecologist who works at The Women at Risk International Foundation, a rape crisis center in Lagos, Nigeria, talks on the concerning rates of rape and violence against women in Nigeria and the difficulties that women and girls face as they have to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive forms of a human rights violation and should be recognized by all countries," DaSilva-Ibru said.” (CNN)
Damboa. Ten Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents near Damboa, a town in Nigeria’s Borno State. (Sahara Reporters)
Jihadists in NE Nigeria kill 11, others missing. (Ahram Online)
Rape as another pandemic (Guardian NG)
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.
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/
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.
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)
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.
In this week’s Must Reads: Maternity ward massacre in Afghanistan. An 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 Adan, cofounders 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. Afghanistan: The 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)