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Please address all editorial correspondence: By e-mail By phone 1 212 963-5124 By fax 1 917 367-6075 By mail UN Chronicle, United Nations 300 East 42nd St., Room IN 909B New York, NY 10017, USA Subscriptions: Online By e-mail By phone 1 800 253-9646 By fax 1 212 963-3489 By mail UN Publications, United Nations 300 East 42nd St., Room IN 918B New York, NY 10017, USA Reproduction: Articles contained in this issue may be reproduced for educational purposes in line with fair use. Please send a copy of the reprint to the editorial correspondence ­address shown above. However, no part may be reproduced for commercial purposes without the expressed written consent of the Secretary, Publications Board, United Nations, 1 UN Plaza, Room DC2-856, New York, NY 10017, USA ©2010 United Nations. All worldwide rights reserved Postmaster, please send address changes to: UN Chronicle, c/o Mercury Intl. 365 Blair Rd. Avenel, NJ 07001 Periodicals postage is paid at Rahway, NJ and additional mailing offices

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Francisca de Haan PAGE


Volume XLVII  •  Number 1  •  2010 Rania Antonopoulos PAGE


Hoong Eng Khoo PAGE


Pia Cayetano

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid PAGE




Raj Loomba PAGE

Rachel Mayanja PAGE


Anne-Marie Goetz and Rob Jenkins

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Social Protection for Women


Invisible in the Media


An Invisible Life


Rania Antonopoulos

Asha-Rose Migiro PAGE


Sexual Violence as War Tactic Security Council Resolution 1888: Next Steps


Liza Gross Charlize Theron PAGE


Connor Hughes and Allan Markman

33 Women in Politics The boundaries and delineations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

The Fight to End Violence Against Women

Theo-Ben Gurirab & Pia Cayetano

37 Educate Girls, Eradicate Poverty A Mutually Reinforcing Goal

Hoong Eng Khoo


Time for Solidarity with Women of Haiti


In Haiti … The World From Her Mother’s Side


At What Point Does One Lose One’s Humanity?

Asha-Rose Migiro

Emily Troutman

Charlize Theron

9 Forward Together: UN Agencies Coordinating a Response to Violence Against Women

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid


Confronting Violence Against Women

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Lives of Widows—A Hidden Issue


A Story of Violence

4 6

When Things Fall Apart

Raj Loomba

Didier Fassin

Ruthie Ackerman

48 Navigating Refugee Life

Violence Against Women and Girls

Mulki Al-Sharmani

52 Human Traficking

Prevention, Prosecution and Protection

Takyiwaa Manuh & Adolf Awuku Bekoe

Ruth Dearnley & Steve Chalke


Armed Conflict and Women 10 Years of Security Council Resolution 1325

Rachel Mayanja

Francisca de Haan

56 A Brief Survey of Women’s Rights— 1945 to 2009

Time for Solidarity


By Asha-Rose Migiro


will never forget the time an earthquake shook Dodoma in 2002 when I was a parliamentarian in my home country of Tanzania. I had no idea how to react to the tremors and instinctively ran outside. Though I was fortunate that the tremors caused minimal damage, they brought home to me in a deeply personal way just how fragile we are. The earthquake that devastated Haiti brought these memories back vividly, and my heart went out to my many colleagues and the people of Haiti who have been deeply affected. For many more millions across the world, the tragedy provoked a profound sense of empathy and a generous outpouring of aid. This time of solidarity is also a moment to reflect on the impact of disasters all across the world, the role of the United Nations and our collective responsibility to respond—not only to immediate needs, but for a sustainable future for the survivors. Too often, those hardest hit are women and children. In search of shelter, mothers walk long distances with their children in their arms and their possessions on their heads, their necks swollen from the pressure. Families are torn apart. Children who are too young to understand what is happening are often separated from their parents in the mayhem. When beleaguered women arrive at camps set up by aid agencies, they often face the same adverse division of labour that they have long suffered. They are still responsible for the health and well-being of their families, but now under drastically worsened circumstances. Challenged by the most difficult of conditions, women struggle to find shelter, clothing and food for their vulnerable circle of loved ones. This often means they must venture into unknown territory where they are open to new risks, from robbery to sexual abuse. Perhaps no survivors are more heart-wrenching to see than the mothers who are debilitated by childbirth-related injuries. Try imagining for a second that you are expecting, while fearing not only for your own life but also for the delicate life growing inside you. The heart-wrenching stories of pregnant women in disaster situations—giving birth in cars and tents, on park benches and bare ground, with no water, much less medical care—are a gripping reminder that the cycle of life does not slow or stop just because a disaster hits. It is unacceptable that the life-giving role of women is suddenly a life-threatening one.

Too often, those hardest hit are women and children. In search of shelter, mothers walk long distances with their children in their arms and their possessions on their heads, their necks swollen from the pressure.

Asha-Rose Migiro is United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.


asha-rose migiro    time for solidarity with women of haiti


Women of Haiti The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 63,000 pregnant Haitian women are expected to deliver in the aftermath of the earthquake. We are racing to protect them—and the generation of children they will bring into the world to inherit the country’s future. The Secretary-General has shown tremendous leadership, moving swiftly soon after the earthquake to mobilize the United Nations family as well as the international community to help the people of Haiti during this difficult time. Acute suffering unfolds in the aftermath of a disaster, but there are many steps that can be taken to prevent and reduce the effects. We must pay special attention to the needs of women and their children when we plan. Why do we group women and children together? Because whatever a mother suffers, so will her children. If a mother is hungry, her babies cannot nurse at her breast. If a mother has no shelter, her children must sleep in the open. If a mother must fetch firewood or water, her children will accompany her on the task. And if a mother is attacked, her children may suffer either violence or the invisible, but no less traumatic, blow of witnessing the terrible ordeal. We may never be able to eradicate natural disasters but, with the right prevention and special attention to the needs of women and children, we will go a long way towards reducing their effects. If we can imagine the fear of an expectant mother, we can also envision a world where thorough planning, special attention to her needs, and care for her children set the stage for the safest possible delivery, even under emergency conditions. If we understand the special needs of women, we can take steps to meet them. The key is to see disaster in all its dimensions, and to prevent and respond to its effects as broadly as possible. This requires applying a gender perspective during the planning phase. Disasters demand that we provide not only food, but medical care, education and a means to a productive future. These are some of the elements critical to the kind of rebuilding we are striving for in Haiti, whose people have suffered such a succession of blights. We must help them rebuild a society that is more resilient than before the earthquake struck.   unc 

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010

Perhaps no survivors are more heart-wrenching to see than the mothers who are debilitated by childbirth-related injuries. Try imagining for a second that you are expecting, while fearing not only for your own life but also for the delicate life growing inside you.


In Haiti … The World From Her Mother’s Side By Emily Troutman


s the earthquake shook the house around her, ten-year-old Dessica ran outside and into a field behind her small street. “Did you run out alone?” I asked. “Yes”, she says. “You didn’t wait for your mother or your sisters or brothers?” “No”, she says. “I just ran.” Dessica’s mother, Marilude, looks over at her small child and nods her head in agreement. “In that moment, we were all running for ourselves.” Her face is blank as she says this, but underneath, there is an abiding solemnity. Everyone in Haiti, and especially in neighbourhoods like Marilude’s, know that death came to people arbitrarily—some were lucky, ­others were not. Over two weeks after the earthquake, Marilude received her first quantity of food aid, a 25 kilogramme bag of rice from the United Nations World Food Programme, distributed in conjunction with WorldVision. Over the next few weeks, she will use the food to feed her six children—the youngest are five-year-old twins, and the oldest is 22. “And, actually”, she says, “I’m pregnant.” The United Nations began a major scale-up of food distribution, which aims to reach two million people in two weeks through 16 distribution points in and around the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. The UN and its partners faced enormous difficulties in safely and accurately implementing the food strategy, but are combating the delay by prioritizing pregnant women, as well as malnourished children and orphanages. The food, which Marilude’s family will use for weeks, gives her family a sense of security and safety for the first time since the disaster struck. When the earthquake hit, she was at home with the children, and though she was injured when rubble fell onto her hip, she feels confident that the baby will be okay. With searing honesty she admits, the baby is not her top priority. Marilude is still trying to explain to the children that their father is dead. On 12 January, her husband was working at the Caribbean Market, a location where many people were lost, and his body has yet to be recovered. The younger children either don’t understand, or won’t admit he’s gone.


Because their house was partially destroyed, the family is now homeless and lives in the field where Dessica first ran to escape. The once-empty lot is now a city of sheets, with hundreds of neighbours and destitute families struggling to find food and water. When Marilude is out of her tent, she covers the family’s precious bag of rice with clothes and belongings, to keep it safe from theft. As she lifts the bag and places it in the middle of her tent, Marilude’s face suddenly changes—she is a proud hunter, a good mother, a woman with something to give. Over the past two weeks, Marilude spent every day on the streets, standing in lines, waiting outside government offices, desperately advocating for her family and trying to get on a food list. She is one of the few people in this camp to receive aid and knows that part of her duty in this community is to share it with the other mothers around her who have helped support her family. Dessica says she sometimes eats with Gerline, who has two children of her own and lives in an adjacent tent. Gerline is also a single mother, and was buying food on credit until this week, when she will eat with Marilude. For now, both women are uncertain about their future. Prior to the earthquake, Gerline and Marilude were working as small-scale street vendors. But neither has gone back to work, opting instead to care for their children. As she feeds her family with this first bag of rice, and begins to feel confident that they are taken care of, Marilude may feel safe enough to resume work. As the weeks and months unfold, Marilude, and the other women in her camp, will take turns walking each day to the distribution point a few kilometres away. Dessica, too, will walk to distribution points, following behind her mother, watching her yell and wait, carry, cook and share. Dessica is not quite old enough to understand the scale of what happened in Port-au-Prince. She is only ten years old and the whole world appears to her from her mother’s side. She sees struggle and collapse—but also, today, rice.   unc  Emily Troutman is a writer and photographer whose work focuses on global humanitarian issues. In October, she was named a UN Citizen ­Ambassador. Follow her journey in Haiti on Twitter at emilytroutman.

emily troutman    in haiti … the world from her mother’s side

At What Point Does One Lose One’s Humanity? By Charlize Theron


have been incredibly blessed in my life to be able to travel. Seeing the world and its diversity first hand has been the greatest teacher, and never have I learned a more difficult lesson then when I visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2009. The DRC, bordered by nine different countries, is home to over 200 ethnic groups, making it literally the heart of Africa. This country is in a state of emergency. Various militias and complicated politics all play a part in the devastation of the land and the population, but no one is suffering more than the women and young girls. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been beaten, tortured and raped—atrocities beyond anything that I have ever heard of or could imagine. During my visit to the DRC, I visited Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, a city on the eastern border that is known for being one of the hardest hit by this plague of sexual violence. The hospital is one of the only safe havens for victims, and the principal doctor, Dr. Mukwege, is one of the people closest to being a saint that I have ever met. Beyond standard medical and psychological treatments for victims, the hospital performs surgical repairs for women who suffer from fistulas in their vagina or rectum. The surgery is literally a miracle for these women and girls who could otherwise be permanently incontinent, as well as suffer from chronic infections. The fistulas that the hospital treats are normally the result of not simply violent or numerous rapes, but more commonly from a deliberate

Charlize Theron is an Academy-award winning actress and a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on eliminating violence against women.

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010


For a problem so big and so complicated, where do you begin? What I have found and what I believe is that you begin somewhere, anywhere, but you must begin. You must act. As you read this, consider your humanity. Consider for one moment if you or your sister, your mother or your daughter lived in such a dire situation—then act. infliction of damage to the genitalia, from sharp objects, knives or gun shots. The idea behind this brutality is to completely humiliate and breakdown families, as well as entire communities—a violence which seems to know no limits. After such abuse, bodies and minds will never be the same. It is moments like these when I question how is it possible for one human to commit such an act against another, and at what point does one lose one’s humanity? I found myself then wondering how can you ever expect these women to trust again, especially when they return to their families only to be shunned and cast out? Where are they to turn? Even if their physical wounds are able to heal, they become debilitated without the support of a family or a community and without skills or resources so many women have absolutely no means to support themselves. At times the problem seems overwhelming—too large to fix. At the headquarters of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of women who work with non-governmental organizations in Bukavu. Listening to these women broke my heart. One woman made the statement that they want to fight—they want change and hope, but have no idea who to turn to anymore. They felt that they could trust no one, they felt alone and helpless. I understood what they meant. Just ­listening to them talk about their situation, it was hard not to feel as she did, helpless. For a problem so big and so complicated, where do you begin? What I have found and what I believe is that


you begin somewhere, anywhere, but you must begin. You must act. As you read this, consider your humanity. Consider for one moment if you or your sister, your mother or your daughter lived in such a dire situation—then act. There are overarching problems that our generation may not ever be able to change, but there are also women suffering here and now. These women need us and we have the capacity to change their lives. In Bukavu, I saw in action the change that can be made when I met Christine Schuler Deschryver and learned about her work with V-Day. V-Day defines itself as a global movement to end violence against women and girls. They work around the world building support, speaking out, educating, collaborating with local organizations and inspiring men and women to stop the violence. Christine has devoted her life to helping the women and girls of the DRC, and when we met, she and the V-Day team were hard at work creating the City of Joy project in Bukavu. The City of Joy is a unique facility for survivors of sexual violence. It will support these women by helping them heal, and provide them with opportunities to develop their self-sustainability and leadership through programmes such as group therapy, dance, sexual education, self-defence, and economic empowerment. Seeing the land where this project would be built, and hearing the plans, I knew that this is an act that will make a difference. I urge you to please educate yourself about the situation of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and support the work of the Panzi Hospital and V-Day. I can vouch for these organizations, and promise your support will be nothing short of life saving. What does it mean if there is one more hospital bed that can comfort a woman who has just dragged herself miles to reach aid? What does it mean to the 13 year-old who does not get raped? What does it mean when she can trust a man and raise a child to believe that people—both men and women—can be good?   unc 

charlize theron    at what point does one lose one’s humanity?

United Nations Agencies

Forward together in the response to violence against women

By Thoraya Ahmed Obaid

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid is Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund.


omentum is building to eliminate the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world—­v iolence against women. Studies show that 70 per cent of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Everywhere, communities, civil society and governments are mobilizing to end practices that harm the health, dignity, security and autonomy of women and negatively impact society as a whole. The United Nations system is working together to support partners in this effort.

network of men leaders On 24 November 2009, United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon launched the Network of Men Leaders who have taken a public stance to eliminate violence against women. Members of the Network include Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and many other distinguished men who will add their voices to the growing global chorus for action. This new network is part of the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, launched in 2008, which is galvanizing action across the UN system and the world. It calls for all countries to put in place, by 2015, strong laws, multi-sectoral action plans, preventive measures, data collection and systematic efforts to address violence against women and girls. It is a unified effort of the UN system to generate momentum and concrete action, building on the work that has been done by women’s groups in many countries. Over the years, we have seen mounting efforts by ­governments, non-governmental organizations, women’s groups, community groups and other networks to eliminate violence against women. Today, there is better understanding of the nature and scope of violence and its impact on women and society. Legal and policy frameworks have been established at the national and international levels. But much more needs to be done to end impunity and change discriminatory attitudes that allow such violence to continue. To this day, violence against women remains largely hidden in a culture of silence. One in three women has either been ­beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some other way— most often by someone she knows. Such violence violates human rights, undermines development, generates instability and makes peace harder to achieve. There must be accountability for the violations and survivors must be listened to and supported.

The UNiTE campaign and many other efforts are breaking the silence surrounding this issue and ensuring that violence against women is not just a woman’s issue, but a political, social, economic and cultural issue that deserves a comprehensive response. 10 Pilot countries The UN, with its wide-ranging mandates and diverse entities, is well equipped to support a response that is comprehensive, backed by strong political clout and adequate financial resources. As part of its ongoing efforts, the UN system identified 10 pilot countries* for a coordinated and cross-sectoral response. In these countries, joint programmes have been developed on the basis of a thorough assessment of existing initiatives and capacities, especially in the areas of law, providing services, prevention and data collection. Efforts are also taking place in many other countries. Beyond UN programmes, the United Nations Trust Fund on Violence against Women has distributed more than $44 million to almost 300 initiatives led by governments, civil society and local authorities in 119 countries and territories. The organization I head, the United Nations Population Fund, is closely involved in these initiatives, supporting programmes in pilot countries and beyond: in Indonesia and Honduras, for example, police and faith-based organizations have been trained to respond sensitively to cases of violence against women; in Guatemala, progress has been achieved simply through the improved coordination and synergy between national and local governments; in India and Nepal, national partners worked together to institutionalize a response with a special focus on using the health system as an entry point; and in

The UN, with its wideranging mandates and diverse entities, is well equipped to support a response that is comprehensive, backed by strong political clout and adequate financial resources.


* Burkina Faso, Chile, Fiji, Jamaica, Jordan, Kyrgyztan, Paraguay, ­Philippines, Rwanda and Yemen.

thoraya ahmed obaid    forward together in the response to violence against women

Cambodia, a national law to address domestic violence was adopted in 2007. Addressing ­gender-based violence is now part of the country’s national development plan, which includes a domestic violence indicator to track progress in achieving Millennium Development Goal 3, to promote gender equality and empower women. At the global level, the UN is strengthening data collection and analysis to monitor progress and identify gaps in countries. A database on violence against women was launched in 2009 as the first global “one-stop site” for information on measures undertaken by UN Member States to address violence against women. It will also help identify promising practices that can fight impunity and put an end to attitudes and stereotypes that permit or condone violence. The UN is also on the verge of significant changes in its internal gender architecture. The proposals being discussed by the General Assembly call for the replacement of several current structures with a single dynamic UN entity that will significantly bolster our work to promote gender equality and address violence against girls and women. This is all the more important in conflict settings, where women’s bodies often become battlegrounds and rape a method of warfare to humiliate, dominate or disrupt social ties.

deepened accountability to women and girls in situations of armed conflict by passing two resolutions, 1888 and 1889, that strengthen women’s protection and address their exclusion from peacebuilding in post-conflict contexts. The Security Council also requested the UN Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative to provide coherent and strategic leadership to address the issue. All these resolutions provide a strong framework to engage women in conflict resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding, to protect sexual and reproductive health, prevent violence against women in conflicts and protect them when violence does occur. The campaign “Stop Rape Now: UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict” is also galvanizing action. There are a growing number of grassroots initiatives by civil society, government institutions and other partners to speak out against violence against women in conflicts. I am encouraged by all these initiatives but recognize the urgent need to do more. Ending violence against women must be given greater priority at all levels, and this includes more intense efforts to support community interventions. The need for greater political commitment remains, as does the need for a substantial increase of resources. More than sixty years ago, the founders of the United Nations reaffirmed their faith in “We the Peoples”, in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human being, and in the equal rights of men and women. Eliminating violence against women is a crucial step towards realizing this vision. This is not just an issue for women. It is an issue for everyone—for men and boys, for families, for communities. It is both a global and a national issue. From common to rare, from accepted to unacceptable, from impunity to justice, from suffering to support, we must build a world where violence against women belongs to the past.  unc

In conflict settings, women’s bodies often become battlegrounds and rape a method of warfare to humiliate, dominate or disrupt social ties.

a security response In resolution 1325 adopted in 2000, the Security Council, for the first time, addressed the impact of war on women, stressing the importance of women’s inclusion in conflict resolution and their essential role in peacebuilding. Resolution 1325 has been translated into more than 100 languages. Eight years later, the Security Council, in resolution 1820, acknowledged that sexual violence was a security issue and therefore required a security response. In 2009, the Security Council

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


Confronting Violence Ag By Takyiwaa Manuh and Adolf Awuku Bekoe

How have women confronted the scourge of genderbased violence? What pathways, strategies and actions have they evolved to defend their bodily integrity and build coalitions and alliances for justice and gender equality? What has worked well and why, and how can their efforts be supported and scaled up?


iolence against women and girls is a virulent form of abuse and discrimination that transcends race, class and national identity. It takes many forms and may be physical, sexual, psychological and economic, but all are usually interrelated as they trigger complex feedback ­effects. ­Other specific types of violence, such as trafficking in women and girls, often occurs across national boundaries. It is estimated that annually up to 2 million people, many of who are from the 150 and more countries constituting the “global South”, are trafficked into prostitution, forced labour, slavery

Takyiwaa Manuh is Professor of African Studies at the University of ­Ghana, and an activist in the women’s movement in Ghana. Adolf Awuku Bekoe is a Lecturer in Psychology at the Methodist ­University ­College Ghana, and the National Coordinator for the Coalition on ­Domestic Violence ­Legislation in Ghana.

or servitude. By threatening the safety, freedom and autonomy of women and girls, gender-based violence violates women’s human rights and prevents their full participation in society and from fulfilling their potential as human beings.

1 IN EVERY 3 While global statistics on gender-based violence are ­ neven, estimates show that one in every three women has u been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Between 30 and 60 per cent of ever-partnered women have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and between 7 and 48 per cent of girls and young women aged 10 to 24 years report their first sexual encounter as coerced, with the attendant risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

gainst Women What Has Worked Well

— and Why

The costs of violence are extremely high as they include the direct expenses for services to treat and support abused women and their children and to bring perpetrators to justice, as well as untold costs that may be inflicted on families and communities across generations, reinforcing other forms of violence prevalent in society. However, women have not accepted these violations of their bodily and mental integrity, and they have confronted ­gender-based violence on a daily basis and through big and small actions, with or without the support of States and ­inter­national agencies. Through the use of socially sanctioned actions, including “naming and shaming”, songs and other performative acts, the use of faith-based networks, or new and transnational forms of organizing, women have made alliances, lobbied States and municipal governments, and used international human rights law and continental and regional organizations to draw attention and to seek redress from oppressive social relations and practices.



T he costs of violence against women and girls are extremely high. They include expenses to treat and support abused women and their children and to bring perpetrators to justice. There are also untold costs that may be inflicted on families and communities across generations, reinforcing other forms of violence prevalent in society.

In our studies of women in the global South, violence is often inflicted by intimate partners or family members, through rape and defilement; via practices of female genital mutilation in parts of Africa and the Near and Middle East; by means of dowry murders in South Asia; and female infanticide, prenatal sex selection and systematic neglect of girl children, particularly in South and East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. But gender-based violence may also involve persons in positions of trust, such as international peacekeepers or national police officers in conflict zones, who engage in rape, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation, often as a conscious strategy to humiliate opponents, terrify individuals and destroy societies, as has happened recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Guinea. In addition, violence may be also inflicted at the State level through direct acts of commission and omission, or through militaristic acts and postures effected by assorted apparatus of repression, while government economic and


social policies may routinely subject large proportions of populations, particularly the poor, women and rural dwellers, to lives of poverty, deprivation and indignity, all of which can also be regarded as forms of violence. Economic pressures aggravate the severity of existing constraints particularly on poor women, for example, many remain in abusive relationships or engage in risky behaviours including the sex trade, in order to survive. Even where women work hard to pull themselves out of the drudgery of extreme poverty, they may be physically assaulted for attaining economic independence, while other women may endure accusations of witchcraft or of engaging in immoral acts. Some women have also experienced violence when they have attempted to participate in local or national elections, as occurred in Kenya in 2007, or in Mexico where some married women have refrained from or stopped participating in development projects because husbands perceived their growing empowerment as a threat to their patriarchal authority and beat them to try to stop it. Women’s Pathways and Strategies

To a large extent, attention to gender-based violence has come onto the global agenda from grassroots women’s movements and from feminist organizations. Women’s groups have created national, regional and global networks, and have played a leading role in raising awareness and pursuing positive change in community attitudes and practices related to gender-based violence. These networks have inspired a wide range of campaigns that have brought dramatic changes in norms, laws, policies and practices. Remarkable examples of leadership have also come from women confronted by conflict, in countries as far apart as Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Women have made demands on their governments to make local laws conform to the dictates of international human rights law. In many countries of the global South, this has led to the enactment of legislation against violence and sexual harassment of women, the adoption of measures on

takyiwaa manuh and adolf awuku bekoe    confronting violence against women

gender equality, and coordinated national efforts to ensure full and effective implementation of legislation. However, laws that have been passed have not been fully enforced, and, in many cases, they are not accessible to those who need them because of the high costs of seeking justice. In addition, many national efforts are not adequately funded and are thinly spread with disproportionate presence in urban, affluent communities, to the detriment of rural and poor communities. A major challenge hampering the effective implementation of laws and policies is the lack of political will and commitment to gender equality. Women have also strongly advocated changes in the criminal justice system to make it more sensitive to their needs. This includes retraining judges and law enforcement officers to respond considerately to victims, and applying international and regional human rights law to cases involving violence against women; establishing special courts or police stations staffed by female officers; and creating investigative procedures and institutions run by individuals whose attitudes reflect that of the society in which they operate. The idea that women understand each other’s experiences better and can often communicate more effectively with local women and serve as models for women’s empowerment has found expression in the female-only police stations in Brazil, or the Blue Helmets of certain United Nations peace­keeping missions staffed by women. Providing support services to victims of violence has been pivotal in women’s mobilization efforts, such as shelters, legal-aid clinics and psycho-social counselling centres. This is so because existing services are not designed to cater to the specific needs of women, and the services that women need are often not available. Women have chosen to do things for themselves because national policies do not often provide for their needs. Women’s civil society organizations around the world have drawn attention to the struggle against gender-based ­v iolence, which is also related to the success of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign and the Strategy and Framework for Action to Addressing Gender-based Violence of the United Nations Population Fund. Some issues include: Impunity: The high tolerance for impunity that exists and that must be tackled and ended. Prevention and the Role of Men and Boys: The focus for anti-violence work for most organizations is now prevention, with an overarching theme centred on working with boys and men. But there is agreement that this must be done without letting them “take over the issue,” and in figuring out everyone’s role, including that of men and boys in ending genderbased violence, while respecting women’s leadership and voices in defining this issue.


L aws that have been passed have not been fully enforced and, in many cases, they are not accessible to those who need them because of the high costs of seeking justice.

Confronting Cultures of Violence: Genderbased violence continues to be supported by the dynamics within societies, and both traditional and contemporary and community attitudes that protect perpetrators are a key aspect of this. However, it is important to re-examine the ways in which culture is often discussed in relation to gender-based violence, and to address both so-called “traditional cultural practices” and other forms of violence which are supported by contemporary attitudes and practices. Data: Accurate data is needed on the prevalence and incidence of various forms of gender-based violence, as well as on the approaches and strategies that have worked best to reduce it in diverse settings. Resources must be devoted to document work and contribute towards a larger body of knowledge in this field. Resources: Adequate resources must be provided for anti-gender-based violence work, both at the governmental and the civil-society levels and in all areas—from service delivery, to making the justice system accessible for victims, to education and prevention strategies—especially for people working on the ground, since this is where the first impact must be felt. Reducing violence against women should be seen as a direct indicator for achieving development in general, and the Millennium Development Goal on gender equality, in particular. Policy attention and support needs to be increasingly focused on understanding women’s own pathways in addressing the continuing scourge of gender-based violence, particularly in the global South.   unc 

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Armed Conflict and Women 10 Years of Security Council Resolution 1325 By Rachel Mayanja


n october this year, the United Nations will commemorate the tenth anniversary of an important, but inadequately recognized international development landmark: Security Council resolution 1325, which recognized the importance of understanding the impact of armed conflict on women and girls and guaranteed their protection and full participation in peace agreements. Although late in coming, there are now signs of increased commitment and action to ensure that the goals of the resolution are met. A GREAT SILENCE

Ten years ago when the Security Council adopted the resolution, it brought to light one of history’s greatest silences—the systematic, brutal and widespread practice of violence against women and girls in armed conflict. The impetus for adopting resolution 1325 was strong. Recent wars, ranging from those in the former Yugoslavia, to Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nepal and Afghanistan, as well as other conflict zones, were marked by significant violence against women and girls. It is estimated that 70 per cent of non-combatant casualties in recent conflicts were mostly women and children. Up to half a million women were raped in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Some 60,000 women were raped in the war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Rachel Mayanja is Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women. This 15-year-old girl was abducted while collecting firewood for her mother. Presently she is recovering at the UNICEF-supported Kitgum Concerned Women's Association in the northern town of Kitgum, Uganda. Like many other abductees, she was forced to walk long distances while carrying heavy loads. She witnessed girls being given to commanders as sex slaves and saw others being killed.   © UNICEF/ROGER LEMOYNE

and girls during repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution, therefore, provided a global framework within which to mainstream gender in all peace processes, including peacekeeping, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction, as well as in the general maintenance of peace and security. In the last 10 years or so, various actors have stepped up to the call of the resolution. UN offices prepared a systemwide action plan to ensure a holistic and coherent approach to its implementation. For the first time, a resolution adopted in 2000 Approximately 500 activities have been undertaken, a number of which ensure the moved the Security Council from its more common protection of women during armed conflict, ­preoccupation with the cessation of hostilities to deal- especially in the context of post-war instability and the threat of mines. Progress has been ing with the disempowering and more insidious and made in incorporating the resolution in the of intergovernmental and treaty bodies long term impact on women and their communities. work of the UN system. Among the most signifi■  ■  ■  ■ cant achievements is the adoption by many Member States of National Action Plans to implement the resolution. In many cases this process has been collaborative, involving Member States, UN The adoption of resolution 1325 by the 192 Member entities and civil society organizations allowing the sharing States of the UN fundamentally changed the image of women of best practices. in conflict situations—from that of victims to that of active participants—as peacemakers, peacebuilders and negotiators. FALLING SHORT Thus, for the first time, a Security Council resolution shifted from its more common preoccupation with the cessation of Despite these and other efforts, over the last decade, the hostilities, to dealing with the disempowering, more insidious record of implementing resolution 1325 has fallen markedly and long-term impact of armed violence against women. short of expectation. As the 10 year anniversary approaches, women and girls continue to be victims of gender-based vioWOMEN AND PEACE AGREEMENTS lence, especially sexual violence, during armed conflict and in post-conflict settings. They are raped, tortured, abducted Resolution 1325 advocated a comprehensive approach. and humiliated, and many are ostracized after the conflicts It urged Member States to ensure increased representation of end because they either have been abused or have become women in decision making in national, regional and internapregnant. In this regard, implementing resolution 1325 cantional institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, mannot be seen in isolation from Security Council resolutions agement, and resolution of conflicts. It called upon parties to armed conflicts to take special measures to protect women and girls from violence in war, and to provide them opportunities to participate in peace Despite these and other efforts, over the last decade, processes as a way of achieving longthe record of implementing resolution 1325 has fallen term solutions. The resolution urged the UN Secretary-General to appoint markedly short of expectation. more women as special representatives ■  ■  ■  ■ and envoys to pursue good offices on his behalf, and in this regard, called 1888 and 1820 (adopted in 2008 and 2009 respectively) since on Member States to provide candidates to the Secretaryresolution 1325 focuses on the operationalization of resoluGeneral, for inclusion in a regularly updated centralized rostion 1820. Through these resolutions, the Security Council ter. The resolution further called on all actors involved, when sent a clear message that sexual violence in situations of negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a armed conflict will not be tolerated. gender perspective, including the special needs of women and from 1991 to 2001 an estimated 64,000 incidents of warrelated sexual violence against women and girls occurred in Sierra Leone. The bodies of women and girls have become battlegrounds, not necessarily for bombs and shells, but for the callous human hands and minds of armed militia and their associates, and for those who take advantage of the chaos of war to inflict violence on the most vulnerable members of their communities.

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Cessation of hostilities does not often guarantee an end to violence against women and girls. On the contrary, evidence shows that even after conflict has ended, high levels of sexual and gender-based violence tend to persist, creating long-term threats to security and to women’s health, livelihoods, and their ability to participate in reconstruction and ­peacebuilding efforts. The persistence of violence against women in situations of armed conflict detracts from the achievement of

rededicate themselves to the full implementation of the resolution and develop and implement appropriate legislation to ensure that violators are held accountable. Parties to armed conflict have not lived up to their part; yet, to date, no mechanism has been designed to hold them accountable. This must change. Efforts must ensure that the empowerment of women as peacemakers, peacebuilders and peacekeepers, envisaged by resolution 1325, becomes a reality. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that bringing women to the peace table improves the quality and chances of implementing agreements. Women’s participation Cessation of hostilities often does not guarantee enriches the process, as women are likely to put issues on the agenda, set different priorities an end to violence against women and girls. gender and possibly bridge the political divide more effecOn the contrary, evidence shows that even tively. To achieve this, investments are needed to that women receive education and training after conflict has ended, high levels of sexual ensure and have real opportunities to be active and conand gender-based violence tend to persist. fident partners. It also requires that women seize the opportunity to lead processes of reconciliation ■  ■  ■  ■ and peacekeeping. The full and equal participation of women in conflict prevention, crisis managethe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose targets ment, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and management in many ways are intertwined with the goals of resolution of humanitarian disasters will contribute to democracy, and 1325. If girls live in fear of attending school because of the increase respect for human rights and development. Many heinous violations that are often typical in armed conflicts, women’s organizations are ready to take on this challenge, their access to education will remain unequal to that of boys but they need national and international support. Finally, it is necessary to develop a better way to assess and compromise MDG 2: achieving universal primary educaprogress. Implementing resolution 1325 must be streamlined tion. Sexual violence during armed conflict carries high risks and carefully monitored with appropriate global indicators, as of HIV infection and threatens the achievement of MDG 6: called for by recent Security Council resolution 1889, which combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Achieving MDG targets will also be irrelevant to the women and girls whose human rights are persistently The Security Council and Member States violated by gender-based violence which has become an inseparable part of armed conflict must rededicate themselves to the full impletoday. Indeed, the achievement of MDG 3: promentation of resolution 1325 and develop moting gender equality and empower women, requires the global community to intensify and implement appropriate legislation to action to ensure that women’s bodies are no ensure that violators are held accountable. longer an extension of the battleground during periods of armed conflict. ■  ■  ■  ■ WHAT MUST BE DONE So how can we achieve a fuller implementation of resolution 1325? A prerequisite is a global recognition that the blatant violation of the rights and bodies of women and girls during armed conflict will not be allowed to continue with impunity. The Security Council and Member States must


reaffirmed 1325. Only then can resolution 1325 attain the promise that it held when it came into being 10 years ago. Only then can women and girls have the hope of breaking out of the cycle of violence that affects them so viciously. Only then can the world claim to have truly opened the way for women to have meaningful engagement in the entire peace process.   unc 

rachel mayanja    armed conflict and women

e c n e l c i o i t c v a l t a r u a x w e s as a &

Security Council Resolution 1888

Next Steps‌

UN Photo/Martine Perret

by Anne-Marie Goetz and rob jenkins

Anne-Marie Goetz is Chief Advisor on Governance, Peace and Security for the United Nations Development Fund for Women and Robert Jenkins is a Professor of Political Science at Hunger College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, where he is the Associate Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.


t the end of September 2009, two sharply contrasting events coincided: the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced resolution 1888 at the United Nations Security Council on 30 September which, like resolution 1820 passed the previous year, condemns conflict-related sexual violence and aims to equip the UN with measures to prevent it and to address impunity. Just two days before in Conakry, Guinea, a peaceful opposition demonstration to urge an accelerated elections timetable was violently suppressed in the capital’s stadium. An International Commission of Inquiry (ICoI) determined that 156 people were killed or disappeared. A striking feature of this aggression was the use of sexual violence: at least 109 women were raped, according to leaked accounts of the ICoI’s report—many publicly in the stadium, some captured on cell phone cameras and circulated to alert the world. The Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Gérard Araud, made the connection between the sexual violence in Conakry and resolution 1888 in his comments to the Security Council on the morning of 30 September. The UN is undergoing a paradigm shift in its approach to the protection of civilians. There is growing recognition that warring parties often explicitly target citizens. However, a significant implementation lag exists between progressive policy and tangible change in the behaviour of armed groups. There is an urgent need to accelerate implementation of the many progressive measures embedded in both resolutions 1820 and 1888. The events in Guinea and the persistently high levels of rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere illustrate that extremely brutal sexual violence has become an established part of the repertoire of conflict and coercion. Sexual violence in conflict is nothing new. It has long been considered an inevitable, if unfortunate, by-product of war, a form of collateral damage beyond the control of military commanders. But like other abuses of civilians, there is nothing inevitable about it. Any command structure that can organize an assault or punish deserters can organize disciplinary action to punish rapists, and thereby deter future abuses. Beyond a failure to prevent, evidence is mounting that in many conflicts of the last century, sexual violence has been orchestrated by political and military leaders. In some cases, such as in the rape camps of Bosnia or ethnically targeted rape in Rwanda, sexual violence has been directed from the highest political levels. Sexual violence during conflict has proven highly effective in breaking the enemy’s morale, particularly where women are raped in public, or where relatives are coerced into participating. Widespread and systematic sexual violence also hampers sustainable post-conflict recovery. It does so in at least three ways: first, it undermines social stability by destroying families and communities; second, the fear of sexual violence restrains women’s mobility, leading them to retreat from economic activity, and causing girls to stay home from school; third, when perpetrators of sexual violence go unpunished, efforts to establish faith in the State’s ability to protect its citizens and establish the rule of law, is seriously undermined. Resolutions 1820 and 1888 represent the UN commitment to addressing these issues. Resolution 1820 calls on parties to armed conflict, including non-State actors, to protect civilians from sexual violence, enforce military discipline, uphold command responsibility, and prosecute perpetrators. It directs UN departments and specialized agencies of the UN 20

Systematic sexual violence hampers

post-conflict recovery: it undermines social stability by destroying families and ­communities; fear restrains ­women’s mobility ­and they retreat from economic activity, girls stay away from school; and faith in the State’s ability to ­protect its citizens is seriously undermined when perpetrators go unpunished.

anne-marie goetz and rob jenkins    sexual violence as a war tactic

© UNICEF/LeMoyne

When implemented,­

r­ esolution 1888 will equip the UN system with an arsenal of measures to combat sexual violence … including prosecution of sexual violence a priority.

system to ensure that peacekeeping forces are adequately equipped and trained to protect civilians from sexual violence, and calls on the UN Peacebuilding Commission to analyze the impact of conflict-related sexual violence on early recovery and long-term peacebuilding. Resolution 1820 also called for a report from the Secretary-General that would outline a plan of action to address sexual violence in an integrated and systematic ­fashion throughout the UN system. Issued in July 2009, the report noted the need for senior leadership, better coordination and accountability. This prompted resolution 1888, which called for the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the formation of a task team of judicial experts to help post-conflict countries prevent impunity, the appointment of women protection advisors in relevant UN peacekeeping missions, proposals for a monitoring and reporting mechanism, and the production A woman rests on a cot under of an annual report that would name parties a mosquito bednet, in a ward ­credibly suspected of committing patterns of for women victims of sexual violence, in a Doctors on Call sexual violence. for Service hospital in Goma, When implemented, resolution 1888 will Democratic Republic of the Congo. equip the UN system with an arsenal of measures to combat sexual violence. Taken together, resolutions 1820 and 1888 should help to ensure that peacekeepers are trained, staffed, and equipped to prevent sexual violence. Resolution 1889, passed just days after 1888, called for the SecretaryGeneral to devise a strategy to increase the proportion of women peacekeepers. Resolution 1888 aims to make prosecution of sexual violence a priority. Both resolutions 1820 and 1888 request the Secretary-General to include this issue in his dialogues with parties to armed conflict, and both require that this issue be addressed in peace negotiations. A recent review undertaken by the United Nations Development Fund for Women of nearly 300 peace accords signed since 1998, ranging from ceasefire agreements to specific agreements on justice, reparation, wealthsharing and power-sharing, showed that only 18 refer to sexual or genderbased violence. Sexual violence is not mentioned even in cases where it has been a major feature of the fighting, such as in Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. This can have devastating implications for peace. In June 2009 at a New York meeting on peace talks and sexual violence organized by UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, former Under-SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland, stated: “If sexual violence is not addressed squarely in ceasefires and peace processes, there will be no peace for women.” The large-scale sexual violence that occurred in Guinea in September 2009 within days of the passage of resolution 1888 made international headlines. Neither global public opinion nor the guardians of international peace and security will continue to ignore this issue, specially after the swiftly-organized International Commission of Inquiry has given attention to this crime. Resolutions 1888, 1820 and 1325 on women, peace and security, as well as resolution 1889 which addresses peacebuilding, make clear the responsibilities of Member States and UN institutions to respond with determination. There can be no further doubt about the fact that sexual violence is an instrument of conflict, that its prevention is an essential element of peacebuilding, and that women’s leadership is needed to ensure sustainable peace.   unc 

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Social Protection for Women 22

By Rania Antonopoulos


Periods of economic upheaval are always destabilizing and, as such, outcomes are uncertain. We are right now faced with a great danger and a great opportunity. The danger is that “recovery” efforts will favour those in positions of strength, reinforcing existing inequalities between and within countries. As this occurs, we will see existing disparities deepen, leading to social exclusion with grave social, economic and political repercussions. The opportunity is that leadership and bold policy action could reduce inequalities among countries and across gender lines. Historically, financial crises have been distinctly harsh on the poor, especially on poor women. With little to cushion them, this upheaval comes on top of many other calamities: such as climate change, shortage of food and clean water, lack of basic public provisioning, joblessness, distress migration and over-representation in precarious informal jobs with meagre wages. According to estimates of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the current economic crisis is already reversing gains in poverty Rania Antonopoulos is Director of the Gender Equality and the Economy Program at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, New York.

rania antonopoulos    social protection FOR women

reduction and gender equality made over the last decade, with over 300 million more in the past two years falling below the poverty threshold of living on $1 a day. One of the critical issues this crisis has highlighted is that globalization, liberalization of the finance market and a “hands off” approach do not necessarily improve market efficiency or deliver desirable socio-economic outcomes. With the economic crisis still unfolding, the idea that markets are not self-correcting, at least not in the relevant time frame, is gaining traction. If unattended, recent history has demonstrated quite powerfully that inherently destabilizing forces lead to economic disasters. Therefore, stabilizing the unstable economy has become a de facto mandate for governments around the world. social construction of policy What is not clear yet is what type of social contracts will emerge. During the post-Second World War period, most developed countries witnessed the emergence of a Keynesian consensus. With the experience of the Great Depression, the Keynesian tenet was that an activist State had a mandate to (a) use fiscal and monetary policy so as to steer the economy clear of danger and (b) put in place rights and obligations between the State and its citizens, as well as between labour and the private sector. Concerned with the welfare of its citizens, and aware of the differences and conflicts of interest among them, States assumed the responsibility to negotiate and reduce inequalities through redistribution policies. The pact that would bring peace and social cohesion included a social security system, which allowed for old-age pension, free universal education, and access to basic services. Then came the Washington Consensus era, with its laissez-faire ideology which proposed that a smaller

role and size of government would be better for a country’s economy and its citizens. Cuts in spending for ­public services, deregulation in production, trade and finance in the North went hand in hand with structural adjustment policies in the South that mandated the selling of public assets and a diminished role of government. As time progressed, with free market practices replacing the “managed capitalism” of previous decades, privileges for the financial sector in the form of national legislation and international institutional arrangements led to money-manager capitalism. In the past two decades, industrial policy and strategic development decisions—with a few notable exceptions—all but disappeared; and, all the while, it became clear that the numbers of vulnerable, socially excluded and marginalized people rose and income gaps widened. In most instances, social protection became the only viable antidote that could bridge the stubborn gap between those whose boats the tide lifted and those that it left behind, sinking. TWO SYSTEMS: NOT A SEMANTIC DIFFERENCE Social protection came to signify policy interventions that aimed to ensure a minimum standard of living for the most vulnerable people, with cash stipends as the most popular delivery mechanism. With cash in hand, the thinking goes, those incapable of fending for themselves can at least partially procure their basic needs from the markets. Subtle as the difference may be, we must highlight that government-guaranteed social security entitlements and services have been replaced by a social protection system of cash transfers. This is not a semantic difference. There is a big debate whether social security and social development in developing countries is enhanced via social protection or by promoting

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livelihood diversification. The argument has been made that social security must address the circumstances of those who work in settings, like civil service, formal markets, etc., while social assistance is appropriate for people with acute special needs, like elderly grandparents caring for poor orphaned children. Then, there is a group of people that fall in-between who can only find unpredictable, informal, seasonal employment that pays very low wages. They have no land, or the productivity of their small land holding is extremely low. Condemned to chronic poverty, they cannot meet their basic needs. For this group, social protection policies via cash transfers are fitting. The opposite view holds that cash transfers serve a good purpose as temporary unemployment benefits, old age and disability, etc., but should not be used for the “in-between” group. Instead, cash transfers should be allocated to diversify livelihoods. Examples include subsidies for seeds and fertilizers; the building of community storage

The Washington Consensus, with its laissez-faire ideology, proposed a smaller role and size of government. Cuts in spending for ­public services, deregulation in production and trade and finance in the North went hand in hand with structural adjustment policies in the South that mandated the selling of public assets and a diminished role of government.


facilities and agricultural extension services to increase productivity and secure the “right to food”; generating jobs when the market fails, or when seasonal unemployment in rural areas is daunting; guaranteed public job creation; and ensuring the “right to work”. Cash transfers therefore are important and necessary as they allow weaker participants to enter the market as consumers. In this Great Recession/postWashington Consensus period, it is unclear what system(s) of social policy will emerge. National choices at this juncture depend on the degree of fiscal space within different countries and their ability to integrate policy with social protection. Based on their position in the world economy prior to the crisis, nations are now facing diverse pressures in terms of growth, employment, food security and ­fiscal policy space. International lending

One of the critical issues the economic crisis has highlighted is that globalization, financial market liberalization and a “hands off” approach do not necessarily improve market efficiency or deliver desirable socio-economic outcomes… the idea that markets are not self-correcting, at least not in the relevant time frame, is gaining traction.


organizations and donor countries have often dictated policy, and the fear is that they will continue to do so. But in addition to economic pressures, some countries are being dealt severe blows to their human development and socioeconomic stability. While advanced and several emerging economies have some room to manoeuvre, many developing economies find themselves under the double bind of government and currentaccount deficits. Consequently, their policy and fiscal space has shrunk. At a time when targeted, counter and cyclical policies should be put in place for all affected less- and least-developed countries, and when government spending on the social sector should be expanding, they are forced to take the opposite path. Indeed, something particularly unfair is taking place. Developed countries and some emerging economies coordinated and infused a large amount of liquidity with extraordinary speed, which saved companies considered “too big to fail”. But all countries must have the ability to introduce countercyclical policies, with international help, in order to reverse the trends of insufficient demand and growing unemployment. It is imperative that special lending facilities are made available under favourable conditions for this purpose. Recent International Monetary Fund and World Bank documents seem to recognize the lessons learned from previous crises and structural adjustment policies; yet, the claim is being heard again that “prudent” macroeconomic policies must remain in place. Therefore, the first question really centres on whether developing countries can “afford” the appropriate budgetary allocation to promote social security for men and women alike. This is highly problematic, as it immediately suggests budget cuts on social spending and the selling of public assets, especially in view of increasing

borrowing needs which vulnerable countries are facing from the shock the crisis delivered. Most counter cyclical measures, although in the right direction, have privileged primarily the financial sector (again) and companies that were “too big to fail.” In a somewhat parallel fashion, the policies and measures which were put into place to reduce the impact of unemployment benefited workers holding formal contracts. What became of those who were poor, working under informal conditions or those without job opportunities to begin with? This is the time for fresh ideas to enter the policy dialogue. Reverting to measures that exacerbate inequality and poverty in the hope of medium-term

rania antonopoulos    social protection FOR women

women’s needs in mind, such a social protection policy can be pro-poor, prodevelopment and pro-gender equality by reducing unpaid work burdens and promoting equal wages for men and women, while at the same time contributing towards reaching the MDGs. FROM LENDER TO EMPLOYER OF LAST RESORT As mentioned earlier, one of the unintended but welcome outcomes of the current crisis is a renewed confirmation of the indispensable role of the State. Across the world, governments have now become the lender of last resort to the financial sector, the investor of last resort in recapitalizing private companies and banks, without moral hazard concerns or immediate deficit threats to deter such spending. Equally bold action is also needed in a different area: the State ought to act as the employer of last resort in providing jobs


Adhering to the increased stability and growth should be eliminated. Adhering to the increased commitments of the 2005 Gleneagles Summit to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) in a timely fashion and a moratorium to suspend debt repayments acquire more urgency, as both would be providing a crisis-mitigating function for many countries. policy responses to the crisis Both women and men are affected by the current crisis, albeit in different ways, also depending on their geographic location, socio-economic position and primary source of securing a livelihood. The importance of recognizing the differential policy impact between

women and men, as well as among women, has been presented at length by several contributions in recent months, including in a recent paper by me written at the request of the Gender Team of UNDP. One of the most severe problems of the crisis is protracted unemployment. If past events could be of some guidance, the pace of economic recovery lags far behind Gross Domestic Product growth. Joblessness will stay with us for some years to come, and the 1997 Asian crisis is a dreadful reminder of this fact. If the main problem of this crisis is increased insecurity and vulnerability due to unemployment, there is a promosing intervention that can combine job creation, while enhancing livelihood options. If designed with

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commitments of the 2005 Gleneagles Summit to meet the Millennium Development Goals in a timely fashion and a moratorium to suspend debt repayments acquire more urgency, as both would be providing a crisis-mitigating function for many countries.


wherever markets fail to do so. In view of the severe job crisis, direct employment creation through ­public works is indeed emerging as a key ­policy instrument. During times of economic crisis, the idea of government acting as the employer of last resort, guaranteeing employment, has a very long history. Over the years, many countries have undertaken what has variably been known as “employment guarantee schemes”, “public service employment programmes”, “food for work”, “public works programmes” and “employment of last resort” programmes. Among them, India stands out as a special case. Besides having much experience in this area, in 2005, the country voted into law the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). In addition, many other countries— Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Ethiopia and South Africa—have been making use of this policy instrument, even prior to the onset of this crisis. It must also be kept in mind that the ILO has been providing support for 20 years in the field of employment-intensive infrastructure programme development, maximizing from an engineering point of view the use of labour in construction of public works. BENEFITING WOMEN, TOO Many arguments have been made for guaranteed employment programmes from an economic standpoint, as unemployment leads to economic, social and psychological costs. It has also been convincingly argued that distress migration, ethnic antagonism, susceptibility to dangerous ideologies and anti-democratic political movements are linked to economic deprivation. The argument for full employment is indeed based on the idea that the right to work is important in and of itself, in times of crisis and prosperity alike. This right can be found in a number of United Nations documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human 26

Rights. However, such employment has been documented to be primarily benefiting men. According to the ILO, around 80 to 90 per cent of construction jobs were held by men. Similarly, the “environmental programme” and the “green recovery” packages in the United States and the Republic of Korea are essentially male-dominant construction jobs. Two key issues from a gender perspective stand out. The first is that any new jobs created are made available to women as well. Either appropriate training must be part and parcel of such initiatives, which although doubtful during severe crises is not impossible, or project design must include sectors of the economy that are primarily female-intensive to counterbalance male employment generation. In addition, to address supply constraints and redress unpaid work obligations which women suffer from, day-care facilities must be put in place. Otherwise it is a hard and unfair choice for women to make between caring for young children and being gainfully employed. This is indeed part of India’s NREGA.

One of the unintended, but welcome, outcomes of the current crisis is a renewed confirmation of the indispensable role of the State, which ought to act as the employer of last resort wherever markets fail to do. Direct employment creation through public works is indeed emerging as a key policy instrument.

The second the creation of specific work projects in physical infrastructure, rural development and the social sector that can benefit women directly by reducing unpaid work burdens. A cadre of workers, men and women, can build physical assets and community structures that allow easier and faster access to fresh water and better sanitation, feeder roads, small bridges, upgraded traditional irrigation systems, ecological latrines, as well as delivery services for early-childhood development and home-based care for the sick, especially for households with members living with HIV/AIDS, that can literally transform the life experience of women and girls. There are many more examples of best practices in gender-informed design of public works. NREGA mandates that jobs be within a certain distance of the women’s dwellings. Argentina’s Jefes y Jefas de Hogar, following the 2001 financial crisis, provided jobs mostly to women in community upgrading projects, many of which were designed and demanded by the programme beneficiaries themselves. South Africa’s social sector projects, which are part and parcel of the Expanded Public Works Programme, provide another example. The case for gender-aware design of public works could also be made from an efficiency standpoint. An extensive research project on South Africa’s direct job creation programme and India’s NREGA has shown that the employment, income and pro-poor growth impacts in social infrastructure and social services have indeed been much stronger than those in physical infrastructure. These results have been verified in the case of other developing countries as well. Social protection from joblessness ought to consider an employment benefit for men and women ready and willing but unable to find work. The evidence is compelling, and the search is on for appropriate responses to the crisis. T he hope is that it will receive serious consideration.   unc 

rania antonopoulos    social protection FOR women

Invisible in the Media VOLUME XLVII 


By Liza Gross


ack in the eighteenth century, the Anglo Irish philosopher George Berkeley summarized his theory of  ­“immaterialism’’ in the following dictum: to be is to be perceived. It is safe to assume that the gender problematic was the furthest consideration

not there, or they are included within certain ­narrow parameters that limit a full perception of their societal contribution. This state of affairs varies globally, but in general women and girls are seldom featured in journalism as narrators of their own experience or as authoritative sources on any given topic. In addition, whenever they are featured, it is in stereo­typical roles. A few years ago, I spent a considerable amount of time in various countries conducting journalism training. My co-instructor and I always ran a quick content audit of the local newspapers before launching our workshops: we would go through an edition and count the number of pages until we came across a photograph of a woman illustrating a story. Editors typically group what they consider the most important and meaty stories in the front section. It was not at all uncommon to thumb through this entire section

I still recall with amazement a story about women and breast cancer that included not one female source—neither patient nor doctor; the only ­individuals interviewed were male physicians. from the good bishop’s mind when he came up with this insight, but his philosophical epiphany aptly describes the plight of women worldwide when it comes to media coverage: they are either absent from the news, and so cannot be perceived since they are

and not find a single female image. There were plenty of pictures of males standing behind microphones or behind desks in positions that suggested power and control. No women. Television was worse. Youth and good looks were a prerequisite to stand in front of the camera. Where were the mature and experienced female reporters? The presence of females as authoritative voices was also lacking in the science, financial and sports copy. My co-instructor and I still recall with amazement a story about women and breast cancer that included not one female source—neither patient nor doctor; the only individuals interviewed were male physicians. Matters have improved somewhat since those days. Still, a study of African media released in February 2009 by the International Women’s Media Foundation in preparation for training in reporting on women and agriculture, showed that women were almost invisible in African

media. The assessment found that just 11 per cent of the sources were women, and that women were the focal point of just 7 per cent of the stories dealing with the topic of agriculture, even though women produced 70 per cent of the food in this region. In other words, the key players in the agriculture story were being ignored. How then could the news consumer be expected to understand the issue? And while it was heartening to recently come across a story about a female entrepreneur in one French-language newspaper, I was equally dismayed when almost immediately I noticed another story about the fact that short ­women may have trouble finding a husband! In broadcast journalism, the focus on biased superficiality persists. The clothing, makeup and hairdo of power­f ul female public figures is scrutinized obsessively and receives the same attention as their views and positions on vital issues, while no journalist can be bothered to

LIZA GROSS is Interim Executive Director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, Washington, D.C.

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010


In broadcast journalism biased superficiality persists. The clothing, makeup and hairdo of powerful female public figures is scrutinized obsessively and receives the same attention as their views and positions on vital issues, while no journalist can be bothered to comment on the wrinkled suit or the mismatched shirt and tie of an overweight male politician. comment on the wrinkled suit or the mismatched shirt and tie of an overweight male politician. Meanwhile, the tragedies of victims of rape in high conflict areas, or the daily abuses suffered by women in certain societies where they are deprived of their basic rights, or the enslavement of tens of thousands of women by rings of human traffickers continue to go unreported. Most newsroom leaders do not perceive these unspeakable crimes as news stories meriting investment of resources. This distorted portrayal of women and girls in the g­ lobal media is not the product of chance. It is the direct result of a multitude of factors, mainly the way in which journalism worldwide is practiced, as well as the intrinsic nature of newsrooms. Journalists write against the clock. Frequently, the pressures of the daily 28

collection of news give journalists no time to diversify sources or forage for new voices that might not be readily available or even reliable. Hence, they tend to go back to the same source over and over. New and upcoming women entrepreneurs, for example, will not be favoured as sources over a long-time male bank officer who has been interviewed before. News products look for impact. In an increasingly competitive and fragmented media landscape, it is much easier to attract the attention of the viewer or the reader with a scantily clad young woman than with a serious but unglamorous discussion on the decaying sewage infrastructure. Finally, the nature of journalism, with its hectic and unpredictable schedules and unreasonable time demands, stacks the deck against women, who are still the main managers of family households and the principal caretakers of children. New forms of media may yet introduce fundamental

changes to the manner in which consumers process news and other information, but so far there is no evidence that technological advances will magically solve professional inequities or inequities in coverage. Underlying the constraints of the journalistic craft is the fact that newsrooms are a reflection of the societies within which they operate. The glass ceiling in the media industry is a reality. This inequality among media workers, which applies to all forms of media—be it television, print, radio and now even the Internet—is but an extension of the gender inequality in society as a whole. Women are still at the receiving end of discrimination in many professional arenas, and journalism is no exception. It is always instructive to look at those black and white pictures of old newsrooms: an army of men in shirt sleeves, cigarettes dangling from their lips, editing reams of copy with fat pencils or furiously typing on their Royals. If there is a woman present, she is either serving coffee or answering phones. There is a deep-rooted sense of entitlement that prevents males from even

liza gross   invisible in the media

considering the issue of gender equality as relevant. This is not to say that there are no individual organizations that value women’s leadership or that there are no male news executives committed to promoting females and female viewpoints in coverage. But by and large, the media industry is still stuck in an antiquated framework, a male-dominated enclave where frustrated female journalists find that the promise of equality, let alone of the possibility of command, is still unrealized. This state of affairs has a direct impact on news coverage. There is no critical mass of women to institutionalize gender issues in the news agenda. Few women make it to top news-management positions, and many of those who do opt to take on the characteristics of their male colleagues as the price to pay for advancement and at the expense of prioritizing gender equity. A colleague of mine, to this day a prominent executive in the newspaper industry in the United States, did not particularly care for golf but joined her male colleagues on the course because that was the only way to be included in crucial conversations. She saw the time she spent playing as

an extension of her workday, not as relaxation. She could not risk setting herself apart as a “woman” in the newsroom by highlighting gender issues, either through her personal behaviour or explicit advocacy. Prejudices persist even as there is increasing acceptance of women managers. Existing

The nature of journalism, with its hectic and unpredictable schedules and unreasonable time demands, stacks the deck against women, who are still the main managers of family households and the principal caretakers of children.

networking structures in the media, defined by men, discourage women from active participation. If they speak up boldly, women ­managers are considered annoying and emotional. If they do not press their points of view, they are perceived as incompetent. I witnessed one of my male bosses, the executive editor of a large metropolitan newspaper, parody a fellow female executive who had expressed an opinion he did not agree with, in order to show his senior team just how deeply he discounted her comments. I never saw him making fun of male peers, no matter how inane he found their observations or how much he disagreed with their positions. The disparity in status between men and women is perhaps the most critical and practical challenge we face in our understanding of how we can determine a path to achieve a more just society. Media must be a mirror that reflects reality accurately, and so far it has fallen woefully

short when it comes to the comprehensive and fair depiction of women and girls. As a first step in the effort to promote a reconfiguration of the news agenda to include female voices in a meaningful and fair manner, the International Women’s Media Foundation is conducting the most comprehensive survey ever attempted on the status of women in the media worldwide. Executives in over 500 media houses globally have been interviewed on issues such as equity in compensation, opportunities for professional advancement and access to continued training for women journalists. The results of this study will serve as a blueprint for a platform of action to work to remedy the inequities that currently exist in newsrooms. Enough women in positions of power in the newsroom, women capable of acknowledging that every story is a potential gender story, will be an instrumental factor

Enough women in positions of power in the newsroom, women capable of acknowledging that every story is a potential gender story, will be an instrumental factor in creating the ­conditions that will ensure equality of coverage. in creating the conditions that will ensure equality of coverage. Stories only happen to those who can tell them. Once the proper structures in the media industry are in place, those invisible female voices will get the opportunity to be heard.   unc 

Next ➤

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010



an invisible life   CONOR HUGHES & allan markman

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010



an invisible life   CONOR HUGHES & allan markman

Women in Politics The Fight to End Violence Against Women By Theo-Ben Gurirab and Pia Cayetano


espite the remarkable progress of women in many professions, politics is not one of them. Indeed, around the world, women have been conspicuous by their absence in decision and policy making in government. When the United Nations First World Conference on Women was held in Mexico City in 1975, the international community was reminded that discrimination against women remained a persistent problem in many countries; and even though governments were called upon to develop strategies to promote the equal participation of women, political participation was not yet identified as a priority. Since then, though there has been an increasing focus on women’s representation and their impact on decision-making structures, the increased attention did not reflect in immediate results. For example, in 1975 women accounted for 10.9 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide; ten years later it increased by one mere percentage point to 11.9 per cent. It was not until the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held in 1985 in Nairobi, that governments and parliaments pledged to promote gender equality in all areas of political life. The initiatives were further consolidated ten years later in the Beijing Plan of Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women. It was also at this conference that violence against women was identified as an obstacle to the advancement of women requiring specific attention. Since the Beijing Plan of Action, women’s representation in parliaments and impact on political decision making has

been the subject of much attention. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which has been engaged in research and the collection of data on women in parliaments, threw its weight behind United Nations initiatives to achieve women’s full ­participation in politics. Although articulated many times, IPU’s commitment at its best was perhaps seen in its statement in 1992: “The concept of democracy will only achieve true and dynamic significance when political policies and national legislation are decided jointly by men and women with equitable regard for the interests and aptitudes of both halves of the population.”

The concept of democracy will only achieve true and dynamic significance when political policies and national legislation are decided jointly by men and women with equitable regard for the interests and aptitudes of both halves of the population.

Theo-Ben Gurirab is President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union

and Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Namibia and former Prime Minister. Pia Cayetano is a senator from the Philippines and President of the IPU Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians. UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010


In September 1997, IPU adopted the Universal Declaration on Democracy. It articulated the principle that democracy presupposed a genuine partnership between men and women that recognized differences and was enriched by them, and in which men and women worked as equals and complemented one another. This ethos imbues all of the work of the IPU, ensuring that gender partnership remains at the heart of all of its activities. Not surprisingly, and in keeping with its commitment to gender equality and gender partnership, IPU has been involved in two related and complimentary activities: first, supporting men and women in their parliamentary role, including the promotion of women in political decision making; and more recently, mobilizing parliaments to take action to eliminate all forms of violence against women. It is now universally recognized that violence against women is the worst form of discrimination against women and an affront to equality. As a denial of women’s fundamental human rights, it is an issue for both men and women. Accordingly, both initiatives were aimed at strengthening parliamentary democracy and involved the political leadership of men and women to drive needed change. The results of this global attention on the need for greater participation by women in politics are encouraging. Today, 18.6 per cent of seats in parliaments are represented by women—a 60 per cent increase since 1995. On the other hand, one quarter of all parliaments still have less than 10 per cent participation by women. Progress is being made, but the pace has been slow, and advances are not occurring everywhere. Prejudice and cultural perceptions of women’s roles, lack of financial resources and institutional insensitivity continue to impede women’s access to and participation in politics. How can we tolerate a situation where democracy still does not reflect gender parity? The message is clearly that there is more work to be done. We know that women’s participation in politics makes a difference. Women bring different views, talents and perspectives to politics which help shape the political agenda. Changes in how parliaments operate reflect the positive impact of the presence of women, such as an improvement in the language and behaviour in parliaments; a different prioritization of issues and policies; gender sensitivity in all aspects of governing, including budgeting; and the introduction of new legislation and changes to existing laws. Women’s involvement in government decision making is giving significant political visibility to women’s rights worldwide. Although women are not a homogeneous group, they tend to be supporters of other women and have been instrumental in placing women’s issues and concerns on to the parliamentary agenda. One such major concern is violence 34

Although women are not a homogeneous group, they tend to be supporters of other women and have been instrumental in placing women’s issues and concerns on to the parliamentary agenda. One such major concern is violence against women.

against women. Although not an issue confined only to women, it is no coincidence that we have seen increasing attention directed to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

RWANDA  |  We have also seen women making gains in

their representation in parliaments and assuming positions of greater responsibility and influence. One of the most compelling cases is Rwanda. In 2003, women were elected to 48.8 per cent of the seats in Rwanda’s lower house, propelling it to the top position in the world in terms of women’s representation in parliament and well beyond what is usually accepted as the necessary “critical mass” of one-third. Today that number stands at 56 per cent. It is important to note, however, that it is not just the numerical increase in women parliamentarians that has led to success in Rwanda, but also the presence of an activist women’s caucus and the highly developed model of consultative policy making which they have initiated. The Rwanda Women Parliamentarians Forum, a crossparty political caucus, coordinates the women’s agenda in Rwanda. Since 2003, it has worked to enhance gender equality within parliament, initiating gender-sensitive laws and improving gender-based governmental oversight. Its most significant achievement to date is the introduction in 2006 of a landmark bill to combat gender-based violence, which marked the first time the definition of rape in Rwandan law. What contributed to the ultimate passage of the bill was the highly participatory process guided by the leadership of

theo-ben gurirab and pia cayetano    women in politics

Continued on page 36 ➤

Women in National Parliaments

Lower and Upper Houses combined, as of November 2009

World average

50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000

Total Members of Parliament (44,741) Known gender breakdown (44,229)


Men (36,021) Women (8,208)


Regional average 25%


Nordic countries (no data available for Upper House)

21.1% 19.5%



18.4% 18%

Europe−OSCE* countries (including Nordic countries)


Europe−OSCE* countries (excluding Nordic countries)

15% 9.4%


Asia Sub-Saharan Africa


Pacific Arab States

0% * The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010


➤Continued from page 34

Funds are being dedicated to the construction of burn centres, particularly in remote and underdeveloped areas, and campaigning is underway for empowering women survivors traditionally marginalized and excluded from society.

It is not just the numerical increase in women parliamentarians that has led to success in Rwanda, but also the presence of an activist women’s caucus and the highly developed model of consultative policy making which they have initiated.

SPAIN  |  In Spain, women’s participation in decision making and within parliament accounts for more than 30 per cent, which has resulted not only in a comprehensive legislative approach to violence against women, but also included an important component of governmental oversight and monitoring. In 2008, the Congress of Deputies created a subcommittee of the Equality Committee charged with monitoring the enforcement of the 2004 Organic Act on Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence. The subcommittee was authorized to conduct hearings with various persons who could provide qualitative and quantitative data based on their experiences, including jurists, representatives of academia, administrators, the media and law-enforcement agencies. The purpose was to closely monitor the impact of the law and draw conclusions which the Government could employ to take new measures or amend and enhance the law. The first conclusions of the sub-committee were presented on 25 November 2009. SWEDEN  |  But the burden of change does not fall on wom-

Rwandan women parliamentarians over a two-year period, and the support from civil society through carefully nurtured strategic alliances. Equally important, the Rwanda Women Parliamentarians Forum collaborated closely with men, involving them in every stage of the policy making process and ensuring they took ownership of the issue along with them. When the bill was introduced it was sponsored by four men and four women. That the bill was passed 10 years after legislation combating violence against women was first discussed in Rwanda—at a time when women did not have the influence within parliament—is a testament to the fact that women’s participation does make a difference to eliminate violence against women.

pakistan  |  Similar advances can be seen elsewhere. In

Pakistan, under the leadership of the first female Speaker of the National Assembly, the first-ever bipartisan Caucus of Women Parliamentarians has enabled its members to work jointly for the cause of women in Pakistan. The Caucus has focused its efforts on policies and services for women, especially women survivors of violence. This has been reflected in the introduction of hotline services to provide access to medical, legal and security assistance in one phone call. Through the Caucus, attention is also being focused on the plight of acid and kerosene burn victims, their treatment and rehabilitation.


en parliamentarians everywhere. In Sweden, for instance, men parliamentarians used their position as opinion leaders to change attitudes. The Swedish Male Parliamentarian Network, a cross-party grouping in existence since 2004, encourages men to engage in debate about their values, their prejudices and the equality of all human beings. The Network works on the prevent human trafficking and violence against women and seeks to influence civil society by encouraging men to participate in the dialogue within parliament, at the regional level and in cooperation with other organizations. The Network also organizes meetings with police officers, lawyers, judges, the military, sports coaches, schools and trade unions to discuss values, attitudes and the need for change. As the world galvanizes its efforts in 2010 under the banner of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, it is worth taking note of the progress made even as parliaments have just begun to represent the interests and aptitudes of both halves of the population. Whether the focus is legislation, governmental oversight or changing the mentalities, women’s participation in political decision making strengthens us and our democratic institutions. Imagine, then, how much more can be accomplished when parliaments that speak for us all truly reflect a partnership of equality, where the voices of men and women are welcomed with full and equal respect, and where men and women join forces to ensure that ending violence against women becomes a reality.   unc 

theo-ben gurirab and pia cayetano    women in politics


here is no question that educating girls is a prerequisite for eradicating poverty. Education empowers and transforms women. It allows them to break the “traditional” ­cycle of exclusion that keeps them at home and disengaged from ­decision making. Education, especially higher education, can prepare women to take on roles of responsibility in government, business and civil society. Women make ideal leaders: ­numerous

Educate Girls, Eradicate Poverty A Mutually reinforcing goal

studies have demonstrated that they tend to allocate resources more wisely than men. For example, women spend a larger percentage of their income on food and education for their children. Thus, strengthening the economic and political role of women directly benefits the next generation. To provide an excellent university education for women is to make long-term investment in their and their children’s futures. As societies open up, they often create new opportunities for women to take on leadership roles, but these opportunities are lost when there are no trained women to assume such roles. Changes in Afghanistan, for instance, have created possibilities for women to accept more responsibilities in government and society; however, such possibilities become meaningless without a population Hoon Eng Khoo is Acting Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the Asian University for Women, Bangladesh.

of appropriately-qualified women. Rwanda serves as a positive example; the large numbers of women in its government have undoubtedly contributed to the peaceful and effective rebuilding of the country after the 1994 genocide. Since leadership often determines the directions of change, the ability of women to rise to leadership positions affects the progress of women’s rights, as well as their future prospects. An excellent university that specifically educates women to become capable, thoughtful and ethical leaders is vital to reducing poverty in the long term. In Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, we are putting this belief into practice by building a unique undergraduate liberal arts and postgraduate professional university. The Asian University for Women (AUW) is founded upon the conviction that women of high ability and potential can be educated to meet society’s challenges and

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010

By Hoon Eng Khoo

effect positive change. We aim to graduate highly trained and motivated women who will lead the fight against poverty, a global issue that most of them understand intimately from growing up in Bangladesh and other Asian countries where girls are traditionally underserved. In the words of Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus: “Higher education can be an escalator not only for personal success, but also for the capacity one needs to transform his or her wider society.” The idea for the AUW originated from the Task Force on Higher Education and Society, convened by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to examine the state of tertiary education in the developing world. Kamal Ahmad, founder of AUW and president of the AUW Support Foundation, served on the Task Continued on page 39 ➤


Adult employment-to-population ratios, by sex and region, 1998 and 2008* (%) 100

Female 1998



80 69.8





Male 1998


Male 2008 82.2 81.7

82.0 81.9

81.0 81.7

68.7 70.5 70.0 69.3



86.2 85.4

62.9 60.8

59.9 58.7

60 50

Female 2008 88.6 87.6


51.0 49.0



36.7 37.6

30 20.5





10 0

Developed Economies and European Union

East Asia Central and South Eastern Europe (non-EU) & Commonwealth of Independent States

South East Asia and the Pacific

South Asia

Latin America and the Caribbean

Middle East

North Africa

SubSaharan Africa

*2008 are preliminary estimates Source: ILO, Trends Econometric Models, January 2009

The female adult employment-to-population rate increased in seven out of nine regions. The largest increases can be seen in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, but the rates remain well below 30 per cent for adult women in the latter two regions. Only East Asia and South-East Asia and the Pacific saw a decrease. In East Asia, however, the female adult employment-to-population rate is very high and the gender gap in employment-to-population rates is the smallest of all regions. In most regions, the male adult employment-to-population rate decreased between 1998 and 2008, North Africa and Central and South Eastern Europe (non-EU) and the Commonwealth of Independent States being the exceptions. It is clear that, despite the progress made in many regions, far fewer women participate in labour markets than men. In developed economies, part of the gender gaps in participation and


employment can be attributed to the fact that some women freely choose to stay at home and can afford not to enter the labour market. Yet in some developing regions of the world, remaining outside of the labour force is not a choice for the majority of women but an obligation; it is likely that women would opt to work in these regions if it became socially acceptable to do so. This of course does not mean that these women remain at home doing nothing—most are heavily engaged in household activities and unpaid family care responsibilities. Regardless, because most female household work continues to be classified as non-economic activity, the women who are thus occupied are classified as outside of the labour force. While it may not be correct to assume that all women want employment, it is safe to say that women want to be given the same freedom as men to choose to work and to earn a salary if they want to. This is unlikely to be the case.

hoon eng khoo   educate girls, eradicate poverty: a mutually reinforing goal

➤ Continued from page 37

Even though transforming the education paradigm in the developing world required focusing on primary education, concentrating exclusively on it has undermined the interconnectedness of the system as a whole.

Force Steering Committee. In 2000, the Task Force published its findings in a report titled, Higher Education in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise (, which concluded that developing countries must improve the quality of their institutions of higher learning, in both governance and pedagogy, in order to compete in today’s increasingly globalized, knowledge-based economy. In previous decades in the developing world, higher education had been neglected due to the assumption that primary education provides the best return on development investment. While the development community’s traditional focus on expanding primary and secondary education results in great progress in primary school enrollment, it no longer suffices. Even though transforming the education paradigm in the developing world required focusing on primary education, concentrating exclusively on it has undermined the interconnectedness of the system as a whole. The success of primary education is compromised without robust higher-education programmes, because the system cannot produce local educators, managers and innovators with the perspectives that can spring from high-level analysis. Every country needs a cohort of highly educated people to meet the demands of government and the private sector: without such expertise, the sovereignty of a nation is often imperiled. Problems of poverty require the application of the best knowledge and resources available; the arsenic problem in Bangladesh, for example, is not likely to be solved by primary or secondary school graduates. Such problems require highly-trained technical minds who can also understand the problems faced by ordinary people. Attaining economic and social progress in the developing world requires the creation of a new cadre of highly educated women leaders who will act as agents of change. The AUW will

cultivate these new leaders by recruiting the most talented female students from across the region, regardless of their background, with a special emphasis on reaching previously marginalized groups from poor, rural and refugee populations. My hope is that these women will become the missing link in development programmes that face implementation challenges made worse by a dearth of qualified, local programme leaders. Even when adequate financial resources are available, the lack of skilled leaders has often prevented effective development. Quality university programmes, such as those offered at AUW, can address this problem by producing graduates trained to overcome these challenges. Poverty reduction, equitable globalization and sustainable reforms can only be achieved if developing countries cultivate their own leaders, capable of asserting themselves on the world stage and integrating themselves into the global economy. AUW firmly believes that selecting and educating the most talented and outstanding girls will help create local leaders who can take ownership of the development process and generate internally-driven reforms of institutional, economic and social structures. Studying at AUW with other promising young women from all over Asia will enable them to expand their occupational networks and improve their professional prospects to fulfill the priceless gift of their potential. The students at AUW have already started on the path to becoming leaders of their countries and societies. One young woman from Cambodia, who had never used a computer, spoke in front of a crowd of thousands at the university’s inaugural ceremony in October 2008, announcing her intention to return to her country and educate young girls in rural areas to use computers and the Internet. Meanwhile, one of our Bangladeshi students demonstrated remarkable insight when she declared, “Women need to get higher education and to work just like many men do. We need educated women if we want Bangladesh to become a developed country. Men alone cannot build Bangladesh.” The remarks made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the plenary session of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, still resonate today: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish... If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well.” The role of female education in advancing development has never been questioned, but it is clear that higher education is a potent and often overlooked weapon in the battle against poverty. It is time for the world to invest in universities dedicated to producing the next generation of women who can lead us to equity and prosperity.  unc 

UN CHRONICLE    No. 1    2010


Lives of

WIDOWS A Hidden Issue

By Raj Loomba


grew up the son of a widow and witnessed first-hand the suffering my mother endured. When my father passed away, my grandmother ordered my mother to remove her jewellery, including her bindi, and never to wear brightly-coloured clothes again. I was too young to comprehend these restrictions at that time, however, at my wedding the Hindu priest who was conducting the ceremony asked my mother to move away from the wedding altar because as a widow, she could bring bad luck to the newly-wed couple.

I established the Loomba Trust in 1997 in the United Kingdom together with my wife, Veena Loomba, primarily to raise awareness of the plight of widows and their children who are suffering due to poverty, illiteracy, diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, conflict and social injustice. The charity is named after my late mother Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, who became a widow in Punjab, India in 1954. She was fortunate that my father, who was a successful businessman, left her ample financial resources. Although my mother had never gone

Many of these cruelties and biases against widows are ordained by ­religious belief and social practice. In many developing countries, when a woman loses her husband she loses her place in society. She is ­regarded by her marital family and society in general as “inauspicious”. This incident left a huge mark on me. How could a mother who gave birth to me, who educated me and always wished me good luck, ever bring me bad luck? This was the reason I was inspired to set up a charity, the Loomba Trust, for widows. Over the years, we have raised awareness of the plight of widowhood worldwide. We are currently educating more than 3,000 children of poor widows in India. As part of our global work, the Loomba Trust works to alleviate the plight of poor widows world-wide. Currently we operate in 12 countries to support widows who are victims of poverty, disease, wars, genocide, rape and social injustice.

to school herself, she had a vision to educate all seven of her young children. My two sisters graduated from Punjab University at a time when girls did not even go to school. I was educated in the United States thanks to my mother. The plight of poor widows and their children is a serious one, yet it has remained unnoticed and unaddressed to date. The problems faced by a woman after the loss of her husband are that she is left with no support in a society where the presence of a husband is essential for her security. These widows and their children remain vulnerable to all forms of exploitation—even through their own family members. Many of these cruelties and biases are ordained by religious belief and social practice. In many

Raj Loomba is Founder and Chairman Trustee of the Loomba Trust.


raj loomba    lives of widows—a hidden issue

Often widows are the poorest of the poor, invisible, forgotten and unheard. The combination of losing the breadwinner of the ­family and the associated social stigma has devastating effects on dependent children.

developing countries, when a women loses her husband she loses her place in society. She is regarded by her marital family and society in general as “inauspicious”. She is blamed for her husband’s death and is considered a burden. They begin to ostracize her. The growing importance of the Trust’s wide-reaching work was underscored by the reception it received from Rwandan Government officials. President Paul Kagame hosted a gala dinner to officially launch the Loomba Trust in his country last year on the eve of the official week of mourning for the 1994 genocide, when close to 1 million innocent victims, half of whom were male heads of households, were slaughtered. The plight of widows is an important hidden issue in many countries and has grown significantly due to poverty, disease and social injustice. Often they are the poorest of the poor, invisible, forgotten and unheard. The combination of losing the breadwinner of the family and the associated social stigma has devastating effects on dependent children. We believe providing support for widows and their children is one of the most important and effective ways of fighting global poverty and injustice, and a key factor in enabling the international community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The Loomba Trust, declared 23 June as International Widows Day. Launched in 2005 at the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, it provides a day for global focus and effective global action, when recognized by the United Nations, International Widows Day will help achieve at least five of the Millennium Development Goals.

Four years ago, a major International Widows Conference was held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to raise international awareness and provide individuals, corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations with a platform to address issues affecting widowhood, such as poverty and deprivation, social stigma, legal discrimination, and the impact of HIV/AIDS. The Prince of Wales was Patron-in-Chief of the Conference, which was chaired by the Loomba Trust’s President, Cherie Blair, and attended by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and many other dignitaries from all over the world, including Yoko Ono, widow of Beatles legend John Lennon. Hillary Clinton made a presentation at the conference by videolink. In 2008, a poll commissioned by Chatham House, together with the Loomba Trust, was carried out in 17 countries by World Public Opinion. It confirmed the widespread perception that widows and divorced women are treated worse than other women. “Discrimination against widows and divorced women appears to be a phenomenon of many countries, not just some traditional cultures,” says Steven Kull, director of World Public Opinion. “People in most countries, including developed ones, ­recognize there is at least some discrimination”, adding that “while there have been no large-scale studies quantifying the scope of discrimination against widows and divorced women, the thousands of respondents in the poll report that the problem is quite widespread.” We call upon the United Nations to recognize International Widows Day.   unc 

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


a story

By Didier fassin


et us call her Magda. The name is invented, but the story is real. She was born in Lesotho 35 years ago. Her life exemplifies the burden of physical, sexual, and psychological violence against women. Magda’s grandmother, who had been adopted by poor rural workers, had migrated with them from the Orange Free State, which was at that time the heart of the apartheid ideology. Extreme poverty condemned her to return to South Africa to work while leaving her children behind with their grandparents. Magda’s mother was only 15 when she gave birth to her daughter. Abandoned by a brutal husband, she followed her own mother’s path and crossed the border in search of work. Magda was left to be raised by her grandmother and her uncle who, being the eldest man of the homestead, was considered the head of the family. She liked school but was often prevented from attending because of her domestic obligations, such as fetching wood or cleaning the house. Her uncle was often drunk and sexually abused Magda when she was seven. During the following eight years Magda had to regularly submit to forced sex. She soon understood that she would not receive any support from her grandmother, who, when she told what she was enduring, replied that she could not oppose her son’s authority.

didier fassin is James Wolfensohn ­Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton and Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He is the author of, among other books, When Bodies Remember.


didier fassin     a story of violence

y of violence


UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


Born under the protocol for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, Magda’s son was nicknamed Nevirapine after the antiretroviral drug.



didier fassin     a story of violence

One day, Magda’s mother reappeared and, discovering the situation, brought her to the province of Natal, where she had remarried and settled. But, implying that her daughter was the one trying to seduce men, she warned Magda that she would kill her if she ever had sexual relations with her new husband. It did not take long, however, for Magda’s stepfather to start abusing her every time her mother was out. These were years of political unrest in the country as the apartheid regime was living its last moments. Magda’s stepfather was involved in guerrilla activities, and the adolescent was afraid of him. Magda’s mother, although seemingly aware of what was happening, never intervened. After three years, Magda finally escaped and fled to Johannesburg. She was eighteen. In the city, her aunt initiated her into what is euphemistically referred to as “transactional sex”. They went to a bar and Magda had to choose a man who would become her “boyfriend”. In return for sex she would clandestinely spend the night with him in the dormitory of a hotel where he was employed as a cook. During the day she would work in the streets of the neighbourhood as a prostitute in search of clients who would give her some money to buy food. She lived this way for six months until she found a job as a Magda’s house in Alexandra township, maid in a Coloured Johannesburg. family who exploited her in other ways. Some time later, Magda fell in love with a young man from the northern province, and they decided to settle in a shack in

Under extreme conditions of life and without protection from the State, the relation between the social contract and the sexual contract, as Veena Das phrases it, is broken. Survival sex is the ­ultimate devaluation of not just bodies but persons and lives. the township. However, their life together soon started to deteriorate. He often got drunk and they frequently had fights afterward. When they separated she was pregnant. Only a few months old, Magda’s newborn daughter fell ill. The doctors diagnosed her with AIDS. Magda also tested positive for HIV. Her baby died before reaching one year of age. Plunged into mourning, isolated and stigmatized, the young woman in turn became sick. By that time she was working for a non-governmental organization providing home-based care for HIV patients and had become a member of an AIDS activist network, the Treatment Action Campaign. Thanks to her association with these groups, she was included in a clinical trial for antiretroviral drugs not yet available on the public health care system. Magda’s medical condition improved rapidly. She wanted to have a child and soon became pregnant. Born under the protocol for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, her son was nicknamed Nevirapine (after the antiretroviral drug in this protocol). As a militant in the struggle against the epidemic, she was interviewed several times in the newspapers and on television, and thus became a heroine of the AIDS cause. Magda’s biography illustrates the intimate links between historical context and everyday experience, between macro­ social facts and microsocial interactions, in the phenomenon of violence against women. In search of work, like most rural women of her time, Magda’s mother left her in the hands of a weak grandmother and an incestuous uncle, thus reproducing her own mother’s trajectory. The cycle of physical and sexual abuse, both among kin and with various partners, is repeated from one generation to the next. It is the result partly of individual agency (“bad” relatives or friends), but mostly of what Paul Farmer calls structural violence—­ societal inequalities and State disengagement. Masculine domination and male violence are thus part of daily life, as are economic exploitation and racial segregation. In fact, the two series of phenomena are linked. The white political and social system exerts brutal material and spatial constraints on black families, disrupts kinship and marriage relations, deprives men of their usual prerogatives, and imposes working conditions on women. Under extreme conditions of life

and without protection from the State, the relation between the social contract and the sexual contract, as Veena Das phrases it, is broken. Survival sex (the exchange of sexual relations for food and shelter) is the ultimate devaluation of not just a body, but a human life. Certainly, Magda’s case represents one extreme. However, it only exacerbates the potential violence that exists in all contexts characterized by a combination of neoliberal and repressive policies, for example, the political and domestic vulnerability of immigrant or refugee women in Western countries today. In both of these configurations, not only does the State indirectly permit the exercise of violence, but it also directly provokes it—in the openness of the social world as well as in the intimacy of sexual relations. Understanding violence in these terms is clearly converse to considering it in terms of naturalization (violence is in human nature) or culturalization (violence is a part of African culture). The so-called “virgin cleansing myth”, for example, is a rumor that continues to circulate in Southern Africa and beyond, according to which, men get purified of HIV/AIDS by raping young girls or even infants, believing that their victims’ virginity can reverse their disease. The sexual abuse Magda experienced as a child and an adolescent not only occurred before the spread of the epidemic, but ultimately grimly reveals the ordinariness of male violence, the ambiguity and the complicity of family members—including her own mother and grandmother— and the broader historical and social perspective one has to consider to account for these tragic and common situations. Of course, consideration is not determination and one cannot say that this sort of violence is mechanically caused by historical and social facts: sexual abuse occurs in all segments of society, in South Africa and elsewhere. It is embedded in what Pierre Bourdieu analyzes, beyond context and class, as masculine domination. Returning finally to Magda, it is remarkable that, unlike many other women under similar circumstances, she has been able not only to reconstruct her life after enduring a long sequence of violence, but also to invent for herself through her painful experience a political subjectivity devoted to a ­collective cause, which she henceforth embodies.   unc 

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


When Things Fall Ap a r t

By Ruthie Ackerman

Ruthie Ackerman is a freelance journalist specializing in Africa.


ruthie ackerman    when things fall apart

© alex stoia

Liberia shows the way to deal with gender-based violence by establishing special courts and laws to try rapists and through ­empowering women and girls.

Type in the words “Liberia rape” and “after the war” and Google’s search engine will return 470,000 results in 0.38 seconds.

One such result is a blog written in 2008 by Azama who witnessed a group of Liberian women share their testimonies of rape and other brutalities before a large audience at the Monrovia City Hall. “They then tore off my clothes and raped me one after another and told my brother to have me, when he refused, they threatened to kill him,” explained a victim from Lofa who was raped by eight men, including her brother, during the invasion in 2003 of the rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. “And so I beg him to, which he did because I didn’t want them to kill my only living relative at the time. My brother and I do not speak up till present, when he sees me, he goes another place as I also do; we are not on good term.” The woman said that she still used a wheelchair most of the time because of the pain. “I’m still suffering from the rape.” This particular rape happened towards the end of the 14-year Liberian civil war, which started in 1989. Amnesty International reported that between 60 and 70 per cent of the Liberian population suffered some form of sexual violence during the conflict, although the numbers are probably a lot higher because many rapes go unreported. Unfortunately, Liberia is not alone where rape has been used as a tactic of war. Conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Rwanda also hold that distinction. What is often not reported, is that countless more acts of sexual violence have occurred since the conflict ended in Liberia. Just because the war is over does not mean that the war against women has ended. According to the United Nations, there were 349 rapes reported between January and June 2008, a significant increase over the previous year. Access to health facilities to address emergency needs and psychological care are inadequate, making matters worse for those who have been raped. In fact, the same impunity that allowed rampaging soldiers to rape women and young girls during the war still exists in many parts of Liberia today. “Liberians thought that since peace has been restored in the country, sexual based violence against women and children would have decreased, but this is not the case, it continues to increase on a daily basis, especially when these people know that the survivors know them”, said Patricia Kamara, Assistant Minister for Research and Technical Services at the Ministry of Gender and Development to a group of journalists in Monrovia during a two-day workshop. Luckily for Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa, is a true advocate for women. But even so, the challenges of tackling sexual violence are daunting. The first time many in the international community woke up to the horrors of rape in Liberia was when it happened outside of the country. In July 2009, an eight-year-old Liberian

refugee living in Arizona, United States, was raped by four young Liberians in a shed in her apartment complex. The young girl knew the perpetrators—so did her family. After the girl was attacked, her family, including her father, blamed her for the rape. The media was outraged and the police removed the girl from her home and placed her in foster care. What no one in the media talked about was that many women in Liberia are stigmatized after being raped, shunned by their families and neighbours. This is why many sexual crimes go unreported, allowing the perpetrators to walk free. Families of victims often try to settle cases out of court, or obstruct the prosecution entirely. According to the Liberian National Police, 780 rape and sexual violence cases were reported to its special protection unit for women and children in 2008, but fewer than a quarter were pursued in court. RIGHT STEPS Liberia is taking steps in the right direction. In December 2008, a special court was established to fast-track rape cases. Speaking at the dedication, President Sirleaf recognized the importance of the court in combating rape and gender-based violence, which has been on the rise despite Liberia’s passage of the 2006 Rape Amendment Act, imposing stricter penalties (seven years to life) for the most serious cases, while denying bail to accused rapists. President Sirleaf also initiated the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Crimes Unit, which is supervised by the Ministry of Justice, and includes a hotline that allows the public to use their cell phones to report rape cases in their communities. Another positive development is that restrooms specifically for girls are being built in schools throughout the country. Before these restrooms had been installed, parents would keep their daughters at home for fear of rape and other dangers. One highlight of President Sirleaf’s efforts to step up prosecution and punishment of rapists, is that more women seem to be coming forward to speak about the injustices done to them. The next step will be ensuring the perpetrators are dealt with accordingly, which will entail revamping the judicial sector so that the police, courts and prison system run effectively. The truth is that even with a tough female president, getting a conviction is difficult, if not altogether impossible. “We don’t have a judiciary that’s sensitized to rape as a crime against humanity,” President Sirleaf said in an interview in New York in 2009. “We also don’t have rape victims and their families who are open to admission [about the rape] and are ready to go to court.” Combating violence against women will mean challenging gender roles, not only in Liberia, but around the world. Until equality between the sexes fully exists, rape will continue unabated. And when rape is used as a tool of intimidation and fear both on the battlefield and off, not only do women suffer, but society as a whole falls apart.   unc 

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


Navigating Refugee Life

By Mulki Al-Sharmani

Internally displaced Chadian girls collect wood in Habile village after it was attacked and burned by militiamen. Collecting firewood can be dangerous for the displaced, especially women, who are often raped in isolated areas.  © UNHCR/H. Caux


mulki al-sharmani    navigating refugee life


hose of us concerned with violence against refugee women and girls may agree on two things: the first is that the magnitude of the problem is grave, and the second is that although there have been numerous efforts to address the problem in the past three decades, the effectiveness of the outcomes remains to be debated. Refugee women and girls are exposed to multiple forms of violence. The displacement resulting from living in places of armed conflicts subjects women and girls to murder, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, trafficking, abject poverty and to a higher risk of violence inflicted by an intimate partner, family relatives or community members. A recent report of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, which notes that half a million women were raped in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, demonstrates the severity of the problem.1 The report also states that 60,000 cases of rape against women had been reported in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Another recent publication, based on a study in 2000, reports similar alarming figures2: 50,000 to 64,000 internally ­displaced women were sexually abused during Sierra Leone’s armed conflict. Furthermore, the same source reports that just between October 2004 and February 2005, Médecins Sans Frontiers treated 500 women who were victims of rape in Darfur.

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At the international level, important measures have been introduced in order to combat violence against women. In 1993, the UN issued its Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. Furthermore, the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had included rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy and enforced sterilization in the list of crimes against humanity. In fact, of those indicted by the ICC, half had been charged with rape or sexual assault. This was also the case with those charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.3 The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is the most comprehensive international tool that addresses different violations of women’s rights. Although CEDAW does not directly mention violence, the committee in charge of interpreting the convention and supervising State implementation, included in its General recommendation No. 19 (1992) the obligation of State parties to adopt the necessary measures in order to eradicate violence against women in their respective countries. To strengthen the rights of refugee women and girls and combat violence against them, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) formulated a series of policies. In 1991, it published the “Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women”.4 This document introduced policy measures for programme design for UNHCR personnel and implementing partners in order to fill the protection gaps specific to refugee women. These include unsafe physical layout of refugee camps and procedures for aid distribution which make women susceptible to sexual violence and deprive them of vital resources. Four years later, in 1995, UNHCR published “Sexual Violence against Refugees: Guidelines on Protection and Response”, which was meant to provide a framework for action for UN organizations, governmental and nongovernmental organizations working with refugees. Updated in 2003, the guidelines pertain not only to refugees but also to returnees and ­internally displaced persons. Moreover, this

l­atest UNHCR document emphasizes a new preventive approach towards the problem of sexual and gender-based violence. In 2000, a new policy, the Higher Commissioner’s Five Commitments to Refugee Women, was issued. One of the five commitments concerns developing country-level strategies to combat sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women and girls. The other commitments deal with refugee women and girls deprived of their rights due to lack of autonomous and active roles in registration, food distribution, and decisionmaking processes in the management of refugee camps. Another relevant UNHCR policy document is its “2000 Complementary Guidelines on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status”. This document, though not a binding legal tool in determining refugee status, promotes gender as a basis for persecution in considering some claims for refugee status. This is an important step in the right direction towards more gendersensitive protection measures for refugee women, but it still falls short of addressing the failure of international instruments—such as the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, and the 1969 Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention— in identifying and recognizing gender-based persecution as a valid ground for claiming refugee status. Some good national efforts in this aspect are those of the Canadian, American and Australian Governments, which establish legal mechanisms to recognize gender-based persecution as a basis for granting refugee status.5 In addition, non-governmental organizations and an increasing number of refugee-led organizations in various countries play a direct and important role in assisting refugee women and girls who are victims of violence by providing them with day-to-day services needed for their rehabilitation, support and empowerment.6 It is commendable that actors such as UN organizations and some States are concerned and are moving towards a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of violence against refugee women. For instance, some of the aforementioned UNHCR policy documents highlight the multiplicity yet the connectedness of the different forms of violence against refugee women and girls. Thus, large-scale rape and sexual assault on the one

Refugee women and girls are exposed to multiple forms of violence. The resulting displacement from living in places of armed conflicts subjects women and girls to murder, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, trafficking, abject poverty and to a higher risk of violence inflicted by an intimate partner, family relatives or community members.

Mulki Al-Sharmani is Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo.


mulki al-sharmani    navigating refugee life

hand, and abject poverty and deplorable housing conditions on the other, may be distinct forms of violence—the former being sexual and the latter, structural. But these two kinds of violence are also interconnected in that they are often gender-based and result from refugee women being situated in unequal and discriminatory socio-political structures and relations. We need to identify the links between these diverse forms of violence and shed light on the significance of these connections. But this task has yet to be done adequately. In public discourses and the work of concerned actors, structural violence against refugee women and girls is still not dealt with, nor even perceived as the shocking and violating sexual violence that it is. This is perhaps due to the lack of widespread awareness of the connection between different forms of violence against refugee women and girls. And maybe this partly explains the lack thus far of the will and satisfactory legal, political, and economic measures on the part of many host countries to address the protection needs of refugees in situations of protracted displacement. Refugee women in such conditions often bear the brunt of this failure, which translates into their daily experiences of structural violence. Such women have to confront economic hardship with little or no means of livelihood; they lack adequate health and educational services; they live in overcrowded and unhealthy housing where they are subjected to or are at risk of sexual violence; they have no or very limited choices and resources to make safe and healthy decisions about their sexual and reproduction activities; and, most of all, they live in a state of limbo and instability. I am not negating that refugee men and boys in protracted displacement also suffer from vulnerabilities and violations, which can be similarly called structural violence. But there are distinct ways in which structural violence against refugees is gendered and marginalizing. For instance, refugee women in such conditions continue to be caregivers for family members and children, while engaging in income-generating activities, such as domestic work or prostitution, in which they are exploited and subjected to physical and sexual violence. Thus the gendered and gendering aspects of structural violence against refugee women and girls, particularly in protracted displacement, need to be underscored and taken into consideration in policy-making and in advocacy work. Finally, the issue of labeling is intrinsic to the work that UNHCR and its implementing partners carry out in order to

provide protection and services to refugees. Yet this process sometimes undermines the purpose of the work, that is, the challenges of insufficient funds and services often lead UNHCR personnel and their implementing partners to create and adopt narrow and rigid constructions of the “deserving refugee woman” who is to receive their humanitarian services. This can be particularly detrimental to women who experience violence in diffuse and “hard to categorize” ways. Let us say there is a refugee woman in her thirties living in protracted displacement in an urban setting in the South. She has been abandoned by her husband; she is taking care of their two children; she has developed health problems due to many years of domestic work; and she has to fend off sexual advances from different men in her neighbourhood on a daily basis. How are her experiences and protection needs related to and comparable to a fifteen-yearold refugee girl who has been raped by a man sharing housing with her, or a twenty-one year-old refugee woman who has been raped during the flight from her home country and is suffering from the physical and psychological effects of this sexual violence? And how do we translate these different experiences of violence into meaningful language and adequate policy measures that meet the needs of these women and protect their human rights?7 Because the realities of displacement and violence for many refugee women and girls are heterogeneous, complex and dynamic, we are in need of rich and multidimensional understanding of such experiences, as well as policies that are grounded in such understanding. This is a necessary, but by no means easy task.   unc 

The realities of displacement and violence for many refugee women and girls are heterogeneous, complex and dynamic, we are in need of rich and multidimensional understanding of such experiences, as well as policies that are grounded in such understanding.

Notes 1 UNIFEM. Violence against Women—Facts and Figures, 2007. againstwomen_2007.pdf 2 IRIN/OCHA. Broken Bodies, Broken Dreams: Violence against Women Exposed. November 2005 3 UNIFEM. Ibid. 4 This policy document was updated and replaced by the 2008 UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls. 5 Canada issued its Guidelines on Women Refugees Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution in 1993. USA followed suit in 1995 and Australia in 1996. 6 For a list of such organizations, see UNHCR. Annual Consultations with Non-Governmental Organizations: Partner in Brief, Geneva, Switzerland, 2009. 7 These are the actual experiences of refugee women who were ­informants in some of the studies I conducted on Somali refugee populations in Egypt.

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


revention Prosecution Protection

By Ruth Dearnley and Steve Chalke

Human T r a ff i c k i n g How much would you pay for a winter coat? How much would you pay for the child that made it? Fifty years ago, the abomination of slavery seemed like a thing of the past. But history has a way of repeating itself. Today, we find that human slavery is once again a sickening reality. At this moment, men, women and children are being trafficked and exploited all over the world: 2.4 million have been trafficked into forced labour worldwide of these, 600,000 to 800,000 are trafficked across borders each year and 12,000 children are working as slaves on cocoa plantations in West Africa. It is impossible to ever reach a consensus on the true scale of the problem but, regardless of the figures, what matters is that human trafficking is big and getting bigger. What matters is that every number represents a human life destroyed. It is happening on every continent and in almost every country: whether the place we live is a source, destination or transit point for trafficking, none of us can claim to be wholly unaffected by this crime. Ruth Dearnley is CEO of Stop the Traffik and Steve Chalke is founder of Stop the ­Traffik and UN.GIFT Special Advisor on Community Action against Human Trafficking.


ruth dearnley and steve chalke    human trafficking: prevention, prosecution and protection

Š UNICEF/shehad Noorani/2000

Yv [name changed] stands silhouetted against the evening light coming through a window, in a brothel in the southern port city of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Yv has been a commercial sex worker since the age of 15, when she was abducted and sold into prostitution for $130.

One of the biggest impediments to anti­trafficking is a lack of understanding OF THE ISSUE. Trafficking is often entangled with ­people smuggling, immigration and asylum, prostitution and organized crime.

As the extent of human trafficking is recognized, a number of approaches to tackling it have been developed. Stop the Traffik is one such approach. Born out of witnessing first-hand the effects of human trafficking, we started out in 2006 as an informal coalition dedicated to raising awareness of trafficking and generating the political will necessary to stop it. During our short existence we have found that one of the biggest impediments to anti-trafficking efforts is a lack of understanding of the issue. Trafficking, and consequently, the measures taken to combat it, is often entangled with people smuggling, immigration and asylum, prostitution and other forms of organized crime. It must be emphasized that the essence of trafficking is the forced exploitation of individuals by those in the position to exert power over them. While moving people is an intrinsic part of trafficking, this may occur within as well as across borders, and it may take a variety of forms. If they have been tricked or deceived, a person may even willingly transport themselves into a situation of exploitation. But unlike those who pay to be smuggled into another country, victims of trafficking have no prospect of making a new life for themselves. 54

International trafficking will inevitably raise issues of immigration, but its victims cannot simply be treated as illegal migrants, nor can the efforts to tackle it be reduced to stricter border controls. We can find sex trafficking abhorrent without taking a particular stance against prostitution, and policies to reduce or control the sex industry are just one approach to ending the trade of human flesh. Finally, despite the similarities between the organized trafficking of drugs, arms and humans, which may require comparable police tactics to combat, we commit a grave injustice against the victims of human slavery if we reduce them in our minds to the status of commodities. The first step to preventing human trafficking and prosecuting the traffickers is therefore to recognize the complexity of the crime which cannot be tackled in a vacuum. Antitrafficking strategies have to be embedded in every policy area, from improving female education in source countries so that girls are less vulnerable to trafficking, to increasing police pay in destination countries so that officers are less susceptible to bribery. We cannot allow ourselves to marginalize the issue of trafficking, viewing it as something that can be ended with a few extra taskforces or dedicated units. We need everyone to be aware of how it affects them, and what they can do to stop it. Laudable efforts in this direction have already been made. In 2000, the United Nations launched the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which established a victim-centred approach to trafficking. It has since been signed by 177 countries. In 2005, the Council of Europe Convention on Action

against Trafficking in Human Beings marked a step towards greater cooperation and dedication within Europe. But more needs to be done. Many people still do not know what trafficking is, or do not care. We are working to change that, at every level of society. In February 2008 we delivered 1.5 million signatures to the UN from people calling for an end to human trafficking; as a result, our founder Steve Chalke was appointed UN.GIFT * Special Advisor on Community Action against Human Trafficking. Since then we have continued to build on our grassroots support, firm in the belief that trafficking cannot be stopped by international conventions alone. Our focus is currently geared towards three key campaigns. First is Start Freedom, our dynamic new global project run in conjunction with the UN that aims to engage and raise awareness among young people, helping them learn about the issues surrounding human trafficking. The fact that over half of all victims of human trafficking are under 18 empowers young people to realize the importance of their potential to prevent this illicit trade. Already we’ve had stories from source, transit and destination * ­United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

ruth dearnley and steve chalke    human trafficking: prevention, prosecution and protection

countries such as Greece, Mexico and Nepal, about how young ­people, schools, faith groups and ­communities are engaging with Start Freedom. Communities are at the heart of our campaigns. During Freedom Week in March 2010, young people will connect, engage and share in their communities varied and creative ways to mark their objection to human trafficking. Our other key project at the moment is Active Communities against Trafficking (ACT), which aims to bring together members of a community under the umbrella of an ACT group. We equip these groups with an abundance of resources to help them identify trafficking, understand how it affects local communities, and learn how to help prevent its continuation. They can do this by asking questions about missing children and by forming connections with local authorities, professionals and community leaders. We believe trafficking starts in a community, and can be stopped by a community, and as the ACT project takes hold across countries, we are witnessing the profile of trafficking being raised, bringing together a diversity of people to help combat human trafficking in its various guises. The second stage of ACT,

currently being piloted, will be launched in 2010. It is essentially a community research project that aims to gather information about human trafficking for sexual exploitation in local communities. This project has strong potential to contribute immensely to our key objectives: prevention of trafficking, prosecution of traffickers and protection of victims. A third central focus is our Chocolate Campaign, which is informed by the fact that more than a third of the world’s cocoa comes from Côte d’Ivoire, where child trafficking and forced labour has been widely documented and acknowledged by international initiatives, such as the International Cocoa Initiative. Since international deadlines for eradicating child trafficking were missed by manufacturers, we decided to campaign ourselves by trying to get the big chocolate manufacturers to tell us that their products are “traffik free”. Up until very recently, most of them could not guarantee this—quite simply because their supply chains were not free of child slavery. Our Chocolate Campaign encourages people to help spread awareness about child trafficking in the cocoa industry, and to pressurize big chocolate manufacturers to commit to certifications, such as Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance, which are currently the best guarantees we have to indicate that products are “traffik free”. Our campaign strategy relies on our numerous grassroots supporters: people host Fair Trade Chocolate Fondue fundraisers, send letters and make phone calls to manufacturers, boycott brands

until they become Fair Trade, and hold awareness-raising events to inform and empower others to make ethical decisions. Our successes so far have been fantastic: Cadbury committed to a Fair Trade Dairy Milk, and Mars promised to certify the Galaxy bar with the Rainforest Alliance by 2010, and their whole range by 2020. Within a few weeks of targeting Nestlé to commit to a fair trade Kit Kat, we got news that they too were following suit in the United Kingdom by introducing a Fairtrade four-finger Kit Kat in January. This is a start, but it is nowhere near the end. Only with a concerted effort by governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations, and above all communities, can we hope to end the horror of human trafficking. Stop the Traffik has developed into an independent charity with over 1,500 member organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world who refuse to tolerate the existence of slavery in the twenty-first century. People are talking, communities are rising, global networks are being forged and governments are responding to the united message that human trafficking must end.   unc 

THE BLUE HEART CAMPAIGN The Blue Heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked, while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings. The use of the blue UN colour also demonstrates the commitment of the United Nations to combating this crime against human dignity. In the same way that the red ribbon has become the international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness, this campaign aims to make the Blue Heart into an international symbol against human trafficking. By “wearing”the Blue Heart you will raise awareness of human trafficking and join the campaign to fight this crime. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime PO Box 500, 1400 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


A Brief Survey of

Women’s Rights

from 1945

to 2009

By Francisca de Haan


he story of the global strug­ gle for women’s rights since 1945 is just beginning to be told.1 For a proper under­ standing of the continuities and changes in the struggle for women’s rights during this period, we need to go back to the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations. In addition, we need to consider more fully the important role of what are now often called “traditional women’s organizations” in advancing women’s rights on the international level, at least until 1975. In 1975, the International Women’s Year, there were three ­i nternational women’s organizations with “Consul­ tative Status 1” at the United Nations, ­—the International Council of Women (ICW), the International Alliance of Women (IAW) and the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF)—out of a total of 24 interna­ tional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with that status. The reasons why these three women’s organizations had received that status will become Francisca de Haan is Professor in the Department of Gender Studies at the Central ­European ­University, Budapest.


apparent below, in a very brief survey of the history of women’s rights from 1945 to 2009. Women’s Organizations in the League of Nations The international women’s organi­ zations that were active in the League of Nations, including the ICW, estab­ lished in 1888, and the IAW, established in 1904,2 together achieved two things that would be crucial for the struggle for women’s equality in the long run. The first was the recognition that wom­ en’s status was an issue that belonged on the international level. The second was the establishment in 1937 of the League of Nations Committee of Experts on the Legal Status of Women, which laid the foundations for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).3 This League of Nations Committee consisted of three men and four wom­ en, including Kersten Hesselgren from Sweden, Suzanne Bastid-Basdevant from France, both involved with the ICW, and Dorothy Kenyon, a judge from the United States, who would be on the CSW from 1946-1950 and was IAW vicepresident from 1946-1952.4

The Period from 1945–1975 A small number of feminists from different countries and backgrounds participated in the founding confer­ ence of the UN in 1945 as members of their national delegations. Continuing what had been started in the League of Nations, but also building on women’s recent experiences in war and resistance and the related conviction that women had to contribute to creating a more peaceful world, they cooperated to get women’s rights acknowledged as part of the broader UN commitment to human rights. Thus, Bertha Lutz, IAW vice pres­ ident 1952-1958, Minerva Bernardino, ICW vice president 1947-1957, Amelia Caballero de Castillo Ledón, Isabel Sanchez de Urdaneta, Isabel P. de Vidal and Jessie Street worked together for the inclusion of the equal rights of men and women in the Preamble to the UN Charter and the acceptance of a subCommission on the Status of Women.5 During an inaugural session of the UN General Assembly in early 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt read “An Open Letter to the Women of the World”, described as the “first formal articula­ tion of women’s voices in the UN and an outline of the role for women to play

francisca de haan    a brief survey of women’s rights from 1945 to 2009

in a new arena of international poli­ tics and cooperation”.6 The letter had been initiated by Hélène Lefaucheux, a member of the French delegation, and subsequently CSW chair 19481952, president of the French National Council of Women, and ICW president 1957-1963. Her predecessor in CSW was Bodil Begtrup, president of the Danish National Council of Women and IAW board member from 1946-1949. In December 1948, the UN adopt­ ed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thanks to the efforts of women such as Minerva Bernardino during the process of drafting the Declaration, Article 1 reads, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”—instead of the proposed “All men…”.7 Begum Anwar G. Ahmed, CSW chair in the 1950s, was an IAW board member, vice president and pres­ ident from 1955-1970. The list of prom­ inent ICW and IAW women involved with the UN goes on and includes Helvi Sipilä, who in 1972 was the first woman Assistant Secretary-General, and, at the time of her appointment, ICW vice pres­ ident as well as president of the Finnish National Council of Women.8

UN PHOTO/ Rick Bajornas

In July 2009, voters came in large numbers, especially among women, to exercise their right to elect new regional, parliamentary and presidential representatives in the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. UN election observers from the Independent High Electoral Commission organized and carried out the elections.

The Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), estab­ lished in Paris in late 1945 with an anti-fascist, left-feminist orientation, was the third major international women’s organization involved in the UN. In 1947/8, the ICW, IAW and WIDF received “Consultative Status B”9 with

the UN Economic and Social Council, which allowed them to participate as observers at CSW sessions and access its reports and documents. With the CSW’s approval, they could also address its sessions. The archives and publica­ tions of these three organizations show that they have always made active use

Since 1975, the international women’s movement has become a global, grassroots women’s movement and less dominated by elite women from the North. In addition, within UN policy, a discursive shift has taken place from women as victims and objects to women as actors, with a concomitant focus on their empowerment.

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010


Despite the almost universal recognition of women’s rights at the formal level, the “deep[er] structure” of women’s secondary status and oppression persists, whether in countries that top the list of the UN gender equality index, or those at the bottom.

of these rights and have conscientiously acted as liaisons between the UN and the women they represented. cold war However, after the initial period of cooperation between feminists of different backgrounds and persua­ sions, the unfolding cold war decisively changed the climate and had very negative impact on the global struggle for women’s rights, although the CSW managed to “secure the legal founda­ tions of equality” in the period until 1962.10 A very concrete example is that the largest and probably most active international women’s organization of the time, WIDF, lost its Consultative Status in April 1954 entirely due to contemporary cold war politics, and in what friends and foes recognized as an undemocratic procedure. Among those who protested, in vain, were Jessie Street (in a personal letter to UN SecretaryGeneral Dag Hammarskjöld) and Dora Russell from the United Kingdom. WIDF was readmitted to the UN only in June 1967. Once they were back, this 58

organization contributed decisively to the women’s cause: it was WIDF president Hertta Kuusinen from Finland who in 1972 proposed to the CSW to hold an International Women’s Year.11 International Women’s Year, 1975, and the Decade for Women, 1976-1985

International Women’s Year had an impact worldwide beyond expectations and was followed by the UN Decade for Women. The global women’s movement as we now know it largely came into being in the context of the four UN World Conferences on women: Mexico City (1975), Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995)—each consisting of an official UN conference and a parallel NGO conference, and each bigger and more diverse than the previous one.12 Women of the ­global South and North clashed during the first two world conferences, but at Nairobi “consensus was found when women of the South were […] ready to speak more freely about malefemale relationships, and women of the North […] saw firsthand that women’s issues are not limited to gender equal­ ity and accepted at last that global fac­ tors affect women’s conditions. […] New global feminist organizations, such as Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) […] were created”.13 In 1979, the UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), incorporating “the principles of women’s rights and equal­ ity between the sexes in the provisions of international law”.14 However, the fact that this Convention was needed indicated “that universally-recognized human rights are still not enjoyed equally by women and men. If they were, no convention on the elimination of discrimination against women would be needed”.15

The Struggle for Women’s Rights since 1985 Since 1985, the notion of “women’s rights” has become more encompass­ ing and influential. A breakthrough occurred at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, where women’s rights were finally explicitly recognized as human rights—not less, not separate. In addition, the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, includ­ ed “the elimination of all forms of vio­ lence against women” as a key objec­ tive, whereas the 1979 CEDAW does not even mention violence against women!16 And although there is still no Convention on the elimination of all forms of violence against women, the UN now understands violence against women as an issue of security, human rights and war crimes, as exem­ plified in Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s support for the effort to end sexual violence. “Human Rights for All”? A long-term perspective not only helps to understand the various phases of women’s struggle, but also to appre­ ciate the historical nature of what has been accomplished. Women’s oppres­ sion is not “natural” but historical, and as such it is thousands of years old.17 Only some 200 years ago, in 1793, did the French Government guillotine Olympe de Gouges, who during the French Revolution had composed “The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen.” Building on the achievement of feminists within the League of Nations, the UN since 1945 has become the transnational centre and “unlikely Godmother”18 of women’s rights, not as a given, but thanks to the hard work of and cooperation between mainly women who represented their governments and/or international

francisca de haan    a brief survey of women’s rights from 1945 to 2009

women’s organizations, and women working within the UN system. In that process, but especially since 1975, the international women’s movement has become a global grassroots women’s movement and less dominated by elite women from the North.19 In addition, within UN policy, a discursive shift has taken place from women as vic­ tims and objects to women as actors, with a concomitant focus on their empowerment.20 In direct relation to the irrevers­ ible growth and greater diversity of the women’s movement, another key devel­ opment is that the meaning of “women’s rights” has expanded enormously since the 1940s, from a mainly legal interpre­ tation prioritized by Western countries, to the acceptance of socio-economic rights as equally fundamental to politi­ cal rights, to the inclusion of the right to “family planning”, i.e., a woman’s right to control what happens to her own body and, most recently, to the right to live free from violence. The notion that women’s rights are human rights has become more accepted since 1993, and the links between women’s rights and both development (nowadays, “sus­ tainable development”) and peace have become clear. task ahead But as important as it is to under­ stand the progress that has been made, it is equally crucial to be aware of the enormity of the task that lies ahead. Despite the almost universal recogni­ tion of women’s rights at the formal lev­ el, the “deep[er] structure” of women’s secondary status and oppression per­ sists, whether in countries that top the UN gender equality index or those at the bottom. There is no country in the world where women enjoy equal status with men. Moreover, the gulf between rich and poor countries has increased, and the rise of various religious funda­ mentalisms is a threat to women’s rights in many places.21

Finally, although their lit­ Although women’s eracy rates are rising, women literacy rates are rising, still make up nearly two-thirds they still make up nearly of the world’s illiterate people. They also continue to be twotwo-thirds of the world’s thirds of the world’s poor (liv­ illiterates, continue ing on $1 a day or less), perform to be two-thirds of the two-thirds of the world’s work, and produce 50 per cent of the world’s poor, perform food, while earning only 10 per two-thirds of the world’s cent of the income and own­ ing one percent of the prop­ work, and produce erty.22 These overall figures are 50 per cent of the food, as mind-boggling as on their while earning only 10 per first publication a few decades ago, when they were nearly cent of the income and the same. In addition, violence owning one percent of against women is a worldwide phenomenon of immense pro­ the property. portions. The United Nations Development Fund for Women reports that “for women aged 8 IAW Congress Reports; Newsletter ICW; 15 to 44 years, violence is a major cause Reports of the CSW 9 From 1970, Consultative Status A, B, and C of death and disability”.23 were named 1, 2 and 3. ICW, IAW and WIDF Thus, whatever may have been were upgraded from “B” or 2 to “A” or 1 between 1969 and 1975 (Yearbooks of the achieved is a work in progress at best. United Nations). For most women, their human rights 10 Pietilä 2007, 21 still exist only on paper. The “women 11 The earliest proposal for IWY and CEDAW that I have seen came from the Union of of the world don’t want any more words Australian Women, affiliated with WIDF, in from their governments—they want a letter to the UN Secretary-General, dated 23 February 1972. See UN Archives New action”. 24 Whether the current shift York, S-0446-0228-0005, file “Consultative away from the UN and “toward global Arrangements and Relations with WIDF.” (UN archives; Yearbooks of the United justice movements as the pivots of the Nations; Pietilä 2007, 39; De Haan 2009; Popa 25 global women’s movement’s attention” 2009; on the CSW, see esp. Reanda 1992) will help is an open question.   unc  12 For more information on these conferences, Notes 1 I am very grateful to Sara de Jong and Arlette Strijland of Aletta, Institute for Women’s History in Amsterdam, for their suggestions for literature for this piece; and to Ellen Dubois (UCLA) for answering a question about Minerva Bernardino. 2 The IAW began as the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, was renamed the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship in 1926, and just International Alliance of Women in 1946. 3 Miller 1994; Winslow 1995 4 IAW Congress Reports; Lake 2001; Miller 1994; Offen 2001; Whittick 1979; Women in a Changing World 1966 5 Coltheart 2004; Galey 1995; Pietilä 2007; Whittick 1979. The sub-Commission became a full Commission in 1947. 6 Pietilä 2007, 12 7 Pietilä 2007, 18

UN CHRONICLE   No. 1    2010

see the WomenWatch website (http://www.; see also Pietilä 2007, available on line. 13 Snyder 2006, 36; see also Walter 2001, xxi 14 Pietilä and Vickers 1996, 126 15 Pietilä 2007, 27 16 Pietilä 2007, 30-32 17 “Human Rights for All” was the motto of the feminist caucus at the 1993 UN Conference on Human Rights. 18 Lerner 1986 19 Snyder 2006 20 Antrobus 2004; Basu 1995; Ferree and Tripp 2006; Fraser and Tinker 2004; Jain 2005; Peters and Wolper 1995 21 Zinsser 2002 22 see e.g., Chen at al 2005; Ross 2008 23 women_poverty_economics/ 24 25 WEDO 2005, quoted in Harcourt 2006, 16 26 Harcourt 2006, 1


INSIDE this Issue Asha-Rose Migiro Thoraya Ahmed Obaid Rachel Mayanja Charlize Theron Theo-Ben Gurirab Pia Cayetano Raj Loomba Emily Troutman

United Nations Department of Public Information, Outreach Division

窶ヲ and other prominent contributors

Empowering Women Progress or not?

USD $4 ISBN 978-92-1-101217-0

Printed at the United Nations, New York 10-23388窶認ebruary 2010

UN Chronicle - Volume XLVII - Number 1 - 2010  

The UN Chronicle is a quarterly magazine published by the United Nations Department of Public Information and available worldwide through su...

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