Intersecting Pandemics and A Time for Action


This year will be defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also be defined by the global, exponential growth of violence against women and girls who were forced to shelter with their abusers. It is a year where the influence of frontline leaders and activists made a huge impact. Heads of State are making moves to create change - like South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa who called for an African Union and continental-wide treaty to end the violence. Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari made an even bolder call: for a Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women and Girls.

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.

  1. Donate! Every woman supports thousands of activists with a razor-thin staff of eight. This next phase of our work together requires an exponential increase in capacity to facilitate advocacy to bring nations on board. Please consider giving your first gift, or doubling your previous pledge or donation.
  2. Are you a physician or an attorney? Please sign onto our Dear Colleague letters. Attorneys and Legal experts can sign here: Physicians and medical experts can sign here:
  3. Sponsor a national coalition. Coalitions are primed and ready to launch in several key nations, like India, Pakistan, Kenya, and Nigeria. Sponsoring a national coalition begins at $10,000.
  4. Activate your network to contact African government officials or senior-level government officials of any nation: reach out, share this email. If you have connections with senior officials or influential networks, we are happy to be introduced and welcome additional voices. Or recruit your community or organization to join our coalition. Contact And remember you can include our Safer Sooner Report to provide research, context, and urgency for the Global Call.

With warmest wishes for an exceptional 2021 and with profound gratitude, 

All of us at Every Woman Treaty

Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman Named Aurora Prize Laureates

(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.”

Pakistan in Focus: From Zainab Ali Khan, Founding Working Group Member

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 READSJustice demanded for Female lawyer abducted and raped

Pakistani women journalists face online abuse

Must Reads: #ChallengeAccepted

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.

  1. Human Rights Council’s report of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls analyzes global trends in the working world through a gendered lens, and how the world can set a vision for the working world to prioritize women’s human rights and change the current economic model. (UN Docs)
  2. Indrani Goradia, one of our founding board members and founder of RAFT, is featured on Thrive Global’s series about individuals and organizations making an important social impact. Indrani talks about how she started her organization, her inspirations, and more. "Leadership means to come to a challenge with a curious mind and ask questions until everyone understands what we are solving and how we will start the process.” (Thrive Global)
  3. Turkey. Women are protesting across the country after Pinar Gültekin, a 27-year old woman was brutally murdered by her former partner. The protests come after a lack of initiative by the government to uphold its commitment to the Istanbul Convention, and rates of femicide doubling since its ratification in 2011. “We are carrying banners for a woman we do not know. It is enough now. We want to live." #ChallengeAccepted (Al Jazeera)
  4. U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave an evocative speech condemning the abuse of women and girls on the House floor after she was called a sexist vulgarity by Representative Ted Yoho in front of reporters. “You can take photos and project an image to the world of being a family man and accost women without remorse and with a sense of impunity. It happens every day in this country. It happened here on the steps of our nation’s Capitol.” (New York Times) MORE: Foreign Policy
  5. Mexico. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Mexico’s largest network of shelters for victims of violence has seen an 80 percent jump in the number of women and children who are seeking help. "COVID awoke situations of violence that were camouflaged, hidden," Figueroa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "During this lockdown, the violence gets stronger."  (Al Jazeera)


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: Changing Global Systems

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.

  1. Are you ready for change? Gender Equality Attitudes Study 2019. The UN Women report highlights and compares the scale of gender-based stereotypes across 10 countries (Colombia, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, The Philippines, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and United States). The results aim to show policymakers, private sector leaders, and civil society how the prevalence of gender-based stereotypes can harm women’s advancement and worsen gender inequality. (UN Women)
  1. The United Nations State of World Population Report 2020 is an interactive platform highlighting the importance of remaining aware of the dangers of female mutilation, child marriage and son preference - especially in the age of COVID-19. “The practices reduce and limit their capacity to participate fully in society and to reach their full potential.” (United Nations Population Fund)
  1. Dubravka Šimonović, UN expert on violence against women, says, “Women journalists have become increasingly targeted as visible and outspoken representatives of women’s rights [...] journalists face even higher levels of discrimination if they are not only women, but also indigenous, from a minority, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex.” (UN News)
  1. Maria Luísa Moreira, a MSc candidate and communications assistant at the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, writes about how the denial of structural gender inequalities in EU member states has put domestic abuse cases at alarmingly high rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how there needs to be action taken to protect those who are in danger. (London School of Economics)
  1. The Generation Equality Forum is developing a new Compact for women, peace and security and humanitarian action. The Compact aims at pushing member states and fellow actors who are allies of the Beijing Platform and UNSCR 1325 to “enhance the implementation of financial and political commitments and responsibilities on women, peace and security and humanitarian action.” (Gender Equality Forum)


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.

  • This series is hosted by the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict and Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the Institute for Public Health.
  • Karen Naimer, Director of Programs at Physicians for Human Rights, will be a guest panelist speaking about How traditional jurisdictions embrace renewed accountability demands - in DRC, along with others.
  • For more details and registration:

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 ofPreventing social conflict and promoting social cohesion in forced displacement contexts”.

  • Submissions are due by July 30th, 2020. Apply here.
  • For more information, visit: World Bank.


Must Reads: Exploring the Female Perception of VAWG

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.

  1. Morocco. Mobilizing For Rights Associates just released a comprehensive report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Violence against Women in Morocco. The report covers research developed from 16 NGOs, and explores “emerging forms of violence, the impact of confinement on women, transformations of NGO services offered to women, the public actor responses to such violence during the state of health emergency, and proposals for legal reforms and effective measures to combat such violence during a pandemic.” (MRA)
  2. Jane D. Tchaïcha and Khedija Arfaoui explore the female perception of violence against women in a post-revolutionary Tunisia through a year-long study of evaluating women’s responses to viewing the Tunisian film, The Beauty and the Dogs, a film about a woman raped by several policemen and has to decide whether to stay silent or report their crimes. (Mediterranean Knowledge)
  3. Vanessa Guillen’s, a 20-year old soldier from Fort Hood, Texas, remains were found at the end of June, months after her disappearance. Her family pushed for an investigation back in April after her sudden disappearance from base when her belongings were left in the last place she was seen. Concerns grew as Guillen had also voiced to her family that she had been sexually assaulted in the past. (NY Times)
  4. The International Labour Organization (ILO) warns that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a negative effect on gender equality norms in workplaces. “The report said women were being especially hard hit by the crisis because they were over-represented in some of the economic sectors worst affected by the crisis, such as accommodation, food, sales and manufacturing. Globally, almost 510 million or 40% of all employed women work in the four most affected sectors, compared with 36.6% of men.” These sectors also include domestic care, social and healthcare which has also been hard-hit by the pandemic. (The Guardian)
  5. Molly Boeder Harris, Founder and Executive Director of The Breathe Network, writes about the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic can trigger survivors of sexual violence - physically, mentally and emotionally - and the ways that survivors and their supporters can use empowering methods to  help understand their body’s responses to trauma and heal. (Medium)

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)

Must Reads: Rates of Violence Against Women and Girls Continue to Rise Amid Pandemic

In this week’s Must Readsexploring 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 Mexico3 women who fleed Boko Haram now face jail time and charges in suspicion of being a part of the terrorist group and more.

  1. South Africa. Are we collecting the right amount of data during the COVID-19 pandemic to tell us the whole story on the rates of violence against women in households? “Rigorous studies on the impact of pandemics on levels of violence against women and children are scarce. It’s difficult to ensure the safety of women who are asked to respond to questions about their experiences of abuse, so the accuracy of the information gathered is likely to be questionable.” (Relief Web)
  2. Venezuela. Rates of violence against women and children in their households are spiking in Venezuela, a state already facing a destroyed economy and social crisis. Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization aimed at improving the lives of children worldwide and providing resources to countries hit by devastating emergencies, has reported that “the majority of cases concern sexual violence against children, and psychological and physical violence against women by their partners.” (Vatican News)
  3. Human Rights Campaign report finds that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to face interpersonal violence, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To address the high rate of interpersonal violence in the LGBTQ community, which research shows is likely to increase during COVID-19, HRC is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 and reauthorized by strong bipartisan majorities in 2000, 2005, and 2013.” (Human Rights Campaign)
  4. A group of men who want to end femicide rates and violence against women in Mexico. Arturo Reyes, a psychologist and staff member of Gendes, an organization made to help men stop the campaign of violence against women, has seen the spike in calls for support during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Deutsche Welle)
  5. After crossing the border to Nigeria in 2014, in hopes of a better life, three women from Cameroon decided to go back in search of safety during the height of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Now, they are in limbo, having served over 5 years in jail for being members of the militant group that they tried to escape from. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time," explains Marie-Lina Samuel, Africa Project Coordinator at the organisation ECPM (Together Against the Death Penalty).” (RFI)


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)

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)


  • 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:
    • 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:

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)

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)


  • 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)