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First All-Women Human Rights structure established in Mindanao

an article by Nonviolent Peaceforce

The Philippine Muslim Women Council (PMWC) is a confederation of 39 Muslim non-governmental women’s organisations in the Philippines. The PMWC is based in Marawi City, on the island of Mindanao, Philippines, a community historically prone to human rights violations resulting from various types of armed conflict that have affected women, men and children alike; however, any public forum for women, specifically, to voice their concerns and share possible solutions to these problems was lacking until 2011.

Launching of Community based Human Rights Monitors, Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur

click on photo to enlarge

Nonviolent Peaceforce, with PMWC, took a first step towards filling this gap by organising an Open Space Forum where local women could freely discuss amongst themselves, things that affect their safety and that of their families as well as start thinking about ways to address those issues. It was through this forum that it was recognised the community would benefit from establishing the first-ever all female Community Based Human Rights (CBHR) monitoring structure in the provinces of either Lanao del Norte or Lanao del Sur.

Created through the PMWC, with the support of Nonviolent Peaceforce, this newly formed CBHR structure targets the 10 most vulnerable barangays that were identified in the Open Space Forum. After the first 35 all-female monitors were selected and trained to operate the structure, their confidence and newly acquired knowledge on human rights, documentation and related topics was boosted through various trainings and formalised through the distribution of official uniforms and identification cards bearing the emblem of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights.

An opening ceremony attended by various members of the community, the Government of the Philippines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines further strengthened the validation of the structure and enhanced community acceptance. Since the launching of the structure in 2011, their successes in monitoring, documenting and responding to human rights violations in Marawi has proven to be very effective and their willingness to share their knowledge and experiences has reached out to neighbouring communities in the provinces.

Nonviolent Peaceforce continues to assist PMWC with further enhancing the capacity for this CBHR structure to grow, and acknowledges its unique and considerable contributions to safety and security in Marawi City.


Question(s) related to this article:

Is there a new international generation of human rights activism?,

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Waging Non-Violent Action in Violent World
(Reflections on  Fletcher International School Course on Strategic Non-Violent Action )

by Imran Khan

“Non-violent refusal to co-operate with injustice is the way to defeat it.” R.M Gandhi

We live in an extremely violent world. States and transnational non-state actors use violence to achieve their political and strategic objectives, believing that use of violence is the most effective way to do so, notwithstanding that it does not work most of the time. Only the last decade (2001-2011) saw 9/11 terrorist attacks, a protracted and bloody war in Afghanistan, the American invasion of Iraq, Israeli aggression against Lebanon and Palestine, 7/7 bombing in London, terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and so on. Literally hundreds of thousands of people died in these violent conflicts and terrorist attacks. For that matter, the 20th century was perhaps one of the most violent centuries in human history, witnessing two world wars responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

Talking about Pakistan, we are used to violence in this country. In the weeks and months leading up to the creation of Pakistan, the sub-continent witnessed mass killings of both Muslims and Hindus in communal riots. In 64 years of Pakistan’s history, we fought four wars against India. We launched at least four military operations against our Baloch brothers because they offended the state elite by asking for their legitimate rights. . ...more.

This report was posted on April 1, 2012.

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