Category Archives: WOMEN’S EQUALITY

Peace through Tourism: Celebrating Her Awards


An article from the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)

H.E. Eliza Reid, First Lady of Iceland, was the Guest of Honour at the 4th edition of the Celebrating Her awards on 7th March at ITB Berlin [ Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair] where five inspiring women were presented awards by H.E. Eliza Reid, Dr. Taleb Rifai – former Secretary General UNWTO and Chairman IIPT International Advisory Board, Rika Jean-Francois – CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin, Kiran Yadav – VP IIPT India and Ajay Prakash – President IIPT India. The event was conducted by Anita Mendiratta – author, tourism thought leader and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of UNWTO [United Nations World Tourism Organization].


The Celebrating Her award winners for 2019 are:

* H.E. Rania al Mashat – Minister of Tourism for Egypt for Tourism Policy and Leadership

* H.E Elena Kountoura – Minister of Tourism for Greece for Tourism Strategy and Resilience

* Helen Marano – Founder & President, Maranao Perspectives for Building Global Alliances that promote Tourism as a Force for Good

* Mechtild Maurer – General Director, ECPAT Germany for promoting Socially Responsible Tourism & the Prevention of Exploitation of Children

* Jane Madden – Managing Partner, Global Sustainability & Social Impact, FINN Partners for Sustainability and promoting Corporate Social Responsibility

Speaking of the awards, Ajay Prakash – President IIPT India said, ”the Awards are being held on the eve of International Women’s Day but our champions need to be felicitated every day of the year and each one of our award winners today is a champion. Gender equality, which is a critical part of the United Nations SDGs, is intrinsic to IIPT’s global aims and objectives and integral to fostering peace. It is also our intention, through these awards to create a network of powerful women across the world in the tourism sphere who could work with each other and serve as role models and mentors while representing IIPT as our Global Ambassadors of Peace and sustainable development. The IIPT India ‘Celebrating Her’ Awards, has at its heart this principle – the prioritisation of women as champions of the power of global tourism to uplift lives and livelihoods.”

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

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In her opening address the First Lady of Iceland H.E. Eliza Reid congratulated all the winners, commended IIPT and ITB for their initiative in instituting the Awards and said that today there are considerable energies in the tourism industry to create a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous industry and thereby help in creating a more sustainable, peaceful and prosperous world.

In his address, Dr. Rifai lauded the consistency and steadfastness of IIPT India in holding the awards every year since, he said, it is abundantly clear that humanity cannot achieve peace, development and sustainability by ignoring half the world’s population. He concluded by saying the awards were a very timely and necessary initiative and that Celebrating Her in essence was Celebrating Us.

Anita Mendiratta introduced the award winners through personal stories and anecdotes and each was invited to give a short acceptance speech.

Dr. Rania al Mashat stated that tourism was not a profession, but a passion. She accepted the award on behalf of “all Egyptian women” and expressed the hope that soon every Egyptian household would have at least one person working in the tourism industry so that the benefits could flow to all citizens.

Elena Kountoura commented on the “driving force of tourism” and its power to generate employment and improve living standards. Greece, she said, had come through many years of economic crisis and was expecting 35 million visitors this year. While thanking IIPT for the award she wryly remarked that the awards seemed to have been organised mostly by men.

Jane Madden said she had always been a champion of women and was grateful to receive an award in recognition of her work. She stated that travel had given her the opportunity to learn about other places and cultures and to educate herself and others.

Mechtild Maurer spoke of the need to sensitise everyone in the industry to the issue of the exploitation of women and children. She spoke of the need to engage with the youth, including in human rights groups, bring them to the issue and to create new leaders.

Helen Marano could not be present to receive her award but sent in a warm and personal video message expressing her happiness at being one of the recipients of a “Celebrating Her” award. She also said that the award would spur her enthusiasm. Dr. Taleb Rifai accepted the award on her behalf.

In his Vote of Thanks, Kiran Yadav – VP IIPT India congratulated all the winners, thanked the partners, especially ITB Berlin and the media partners and a special note of thanks to Anita Mendiratta who had always supported IIPT in every way.

Liberia: Feminist Voices for Peace


Articles from the Nobel Women’s Initiative and Peace People

From April 30 – May 3, emerging leaders from more than twenty countries came together in Monrovia, Liberia for Claiming Our Space: Emerging Feminist Voices for Peace—a groundbreaking summit co-hosted with Nobel peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, and the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa. And — spoiler alert — it was awesome!

(Click on image to enlarge).

For a detailed recap of the event, read this blog post from one of the participating emerging leaders, Louise McGowan, who reflects on her experience in Liberia!

Just last week, the Nobel Women’s Initiative along with the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa brought 50 women from over 20 countries together in Monrovia, Liberia to discuss feminism, power, activism and peace. The title of the conference was “Claiming Our Space: Emerging Feminist Voices for Peace” and over three days of multigenerational talking, engaging and sharing, women from North, South, East and West learned from and inspired one another.

On day one of three, the five Nobel Peace Laureates present (Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi, Jody Wiliams, Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Tawakkol Karman) shared some of their experience and offered advice for young, ‘emerging’ feminist leaders. The overarching theme to kick off the convening was that we (women) are powerful and worthy; that we must claim our space, we must use our voice and we must not ask for permission to do so.

“No one will give you space, you have to claim it yourself.” Leymah Gbowee

Tawakkol raised the important issue of women’s roles in a post-conflict setting. “As you lead the revolution, as you lead the struggle against war, women should be there to fight corruption, to fight injustice and to fight for equality.” Our space is not temporary or negotiable.

“My message for young people is to go forward, raise your voice, say what you want to say and we laureates will support you.”  Shirin Ebadi

Through speeches, panel discussions and youth-led conversations, a number of important topics were broached over the course of the day such as: The Liberian Feminist Peace Movement; Conflict, Migration and the Diaspora; and Gun Violence and Militarisation. One might be forgiven, perhaps, for thinking that this was not the gentlest of introductions, however it should be noted that the group of women attending this conference are the embodiment of power and boldness. This is a group who will not and does not wish to shy away from difficult questions. This space provided an opportunity to explore “what is grounding us, inspiring us, what feminist leadership looks like now and what could it look like in the future?” Mikaela Luttrell-Rowland

As Rigoberta Munchú Tum stated, we must “give ideas to ignite passions of other people so that they can solve problems as well” and this day was about reminding ourselves of the importance of walking your talk (Leymah Gbowee). Many words uttered during these discussions were inspiring but more than that- feeling the strength emanating from the speakers was overwhelming. When Shroq Abdulqader Al-Qasemi spoke of turning pain into power, as a participant I felt the true value of this exchange in my soul.

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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On the second day, the convening opened with eloquent spoken word from Neuteyshe Felizor and a mighty key note address from Shirin Ebadi. Following this, a panel tackled ‘decolonising feminist leadership’, unpacking cultural origins of both feminism and leadership in the process and arriving at the conclusion that power is in and of itself a colonial concept. Sometimes we have to look back to move forward. This fed directly into the subsequent youth-led discussions with two of our laureates, addressing Gender-based Violence with Leymah Gbowee and Conflict and Natural Land Resources with Rigoberta Menchú Tum. Both conversations highlighted the importance of alliance-building; tapping into different networks on a local and global scale. This emphasised to me the power of both the global feminist movement and of the individual embracing their strengths and using available resources.

After a well-earned break, the collective reconvened for breakout sessions with young feminists given space to reveal their experiences. Case studies from countries such as South Sudan, Cameroon, Colombia and Northern Ireland were discussed, and lessons learned shared. This afternoon offered an opportunity for comparison, empathy and understanding alongside ideas for strategising in a diverse range of settings. As the day drew to a close, the feeling in the (very well air-conditioned) room was that we were building important alliances in this moment.

The third day was one of joy. The plenary to start was on ‘caring for ourselves and the movement: is it even possible?’ and Felogene Anumo opened the day appropriately: “It’s said you can’t pour from an empty cup. How full are you?”.

The first session’s aim was to deepen our reflection and share knowledge of self and collective care, wellbeing and healing as critical components in our struggles for rights, justice and peace. We heard from Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchú Tum on how they look after themselves and how they continue to do the work that they do. Jody mentioned how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by urgency and righteous indignation, however with time she has learned the value of granting herself personal time and space. By exposing their own humanity and vulnerability, these powerhouse women let the young people in the room know that it’s ok to not feel strong sometimes.

Rigoberta raised the issue of our own agency; that we manage our “own energy and strength” and that “none of us can survive on goodwill alone”. This struck a chord with many of the feminists in the room who have at times felt the weight of external expectations as well as self-inflicted pressure. We were reminded that we have control over some of our pressures. Yah Parwon also spoke of finding ‘what is relevant’, leading us to think about what serves the individual; yoga might not work for everyone.

After starting the engine with the introductory panel, we shifted into gear with interactive sessions. These offered insight into Reimagining Women, Power and Movement-building; Radical Self-Care; and Intergenerational Trauma. The latter involved a moving exercise for understanding intergenerational trauma in a tangible way. All participants felt the physical weight of previous generation’s experience and hardship. The group discussed practices and rituals for addressing and letting go of trauma as well as welcoming knowledge, heritage and positive energy into our daily lives.

The Final plenary entitled ‘What’s the point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance’ was a joyful and poignant close to our conference. Aptly, the session began with actual dancing and laughter. The panelists shared ways to centre happiness and pleasure in our movements. A crucial part of ‘claiming our space’ is finding ways to enjoy our space. With little detail spared, this open and honest discussion reaffirmed why each person exists and why each participant was present. Acknowledging that pursuing peace can be painful and hard, Leymah stated: “A brand-new sponge absorbs water and all the dirt that comes with it. We are the sponges and we need to find space to squeeze out.”

In the spirit of self-reflection, learning and solidarity participants were invited to make a commitment to themselves in relation to their own feminist leadership, to multigenerational organising and/or building communities of care. The conference was closed with intentions set and mood high. I for one felt more ‘full’ than I had when it had opened.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Colombia: Scars that build peace


An article from Kienyke Historias

Coming from different places in the south of Colombia, they arrive in groups, dressed in coats, hats and gloves, since many of them are not used to the cold. In their eyes you see a mixture of emotion, expectation and some fear. From different parts of the country, these women have experienced the harshness of violence in the armed conflict.

They are organized in two groups. They greet each other and embrace each other. Some are old acquaintances. They are on the road to rebuilding their lives after having survived different forms of violence. Each story is a world, but all these worlds intersect with common elements.

Those who do not yet know each other present themselves and talk about their hopes, struggles and expectations. Little by little they gain confidence and gather the courage to experience an encounter never before possible. At the end of the afternoon, spontaneously, the group of members of the Departmental Table of Victims decide to go to the room where the other group is assembled, composed of women who were part of the FARC guerrillas in the past.

With songs performed by themselves, they still meet to dance without speaking. Music works as a balm for pains and fears. Finally, they relax and take turns interpreting music from their regions. This is the start of a 3-day meeting in which 40 women, all affected in one way or another by violence, will carry out a process of healing, encounter and forgiveness.

The second day passes and all are working in detail on a drawing of themselves. They portray in each silhouette their feelings, wounds, hopes. Then, around the fire, they talk and share their stories of pain and resilience. Crying is difficult to contain, but it serves to cleanse the soul. Talking about what happened, being heard by others in solidary silence is a way of letting go of the past. Knowing that other women went through the same thing helps relieve the burden. Finally, they are not alone.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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In both halls similar stories are heard. The armed conflict affected the lives of all and left scars, in some physical, in other more emotional.

It’s time to meet again. All the drawn silhouettes are displayed on the wall of the room, without names or faces, all with similar pains. Each woman can see and read the pain of the others and in a symbolic act, all are prepared to write messages of encouragement about the silhouettes they are seeing: “Better days will come, trust in God.

Here are some of the messages that are now seen on the wounds drawn on the silhouettes: “You are a very strong woman”; “Smile at life, since we have life, there is still much to be done”; “Perseverance and resilience”; “Change the pain for gratitude, the world wants to discover all your potential”; “Do not let the bad moments steal your peace, smile”; “There will always be a reason to be happy, women are more than just a face”; “Light to follow, to live, to have hope” … “that those scars are used to build peace”.

There are also hugs of consolation and they lend each other handkerchiefs to dry their tears.

At the end, the participants share some reflections. “Looking at the other drawings make merealize that we share many pains,” says one of them. “The body helps tell our story,” says another.

Now each one paints a clay pot. Landscapes, positive messages, many colors and details are seen in each piece. They work with great dedication and great detail. They leave a part of each craft. Another day has passed and they leave their vessels drying during the night.

The third day arrives and the time of the meeting is over. In a mandala, each group makes an offering. They exchange flowers, vessels, messages of forgiveness and solidarity and reconciliation hugs. Enthusiastic, they express their gratitude for the space and commit to promoting more similar encounters.

Between hugs, music and smiles culminates this first “Meeting of Women, My body, Territory of Peace”, a scenario of recognition among groups of women who have been affected by the conflict. They have gone through a process of psychosocial care enabling to turn the reunion into a true process of reconciliation. A first step has been taken in their joint work, recognizing their transforming role and promoter of a culture of peace. It is no longer two groups that you see in the room. Now they are a single group of women united by solidarity and determined to work together to write a new history.

Emerging Feminist Leaders Are Claiming Their Space: Follow Us to Liberia!


An article from the Nobel Womens Initiative

Emerging feminist leaders from more than twenty countries are coming together in Monrovia, Liberia for Claiming Our Space: Emerging Feminist Voices for Peace—a groundbreaking summit co-hosted by Nobel peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, and the .

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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These inspiring activists are leading communities to build peace and break gender barriers. Whether in the news, online, or in the streets, these young peacebuilders are making sure that their voices are heard!

And we know that the greater the voices, the louder the cry. These young women will strategize alongside five trailblazing Nobel peace laureates – Leymah Gbowee, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Tawakkol Karman and Rigoberta Menchú Tum – to build a global multi-generational feminist peace movement. Phew! No big deal. Because #HerPlace is at the head of the peace table.

Follow us on this exciting journey from April 30 – May 3, and hear first-hand from our amazing participants about their experiences on the ground. We can’t wait to introduce you to these bold young women!

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Meet the Trailblazing Maasai Women Protecting Amboseli’s Wildlife

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article by Erin Powell from International Fund for Animal Welfare

Surrounding Kenya’s Amboseli National Park lies nearly 150,000 acres of community lands shared by both people and wildlife. The Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch (OOGR) is within the country’s richest area of biodiversity, making it particularly vulnerable to threats including poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife trafficking.

Now, a team of eight young Maasai women is at the forefront of championing the protection and safety of the region’s wildlife, while simultaneously helping to bridge the gender gap in conservation. Around the world, women are often less involved than men in the conservation and management of protected areas.

Team Lioness is one of Kenya’s first all-female ranger units. They join the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers (OCWR) who protect wildlife across six bases and one mobile unit in OOGR through IFAW’s tenBoma, an innovative wildlife security initiative.

“In the larger Amboseli region, out of almost 300 wildlife rangers, to my knowledge there was only one woman,” says Lt. Col. Faye Cuevas, IFAW Senior Vice President. “The need was apparent.”

Assessed through an intensive leadership and peer-review process by a panel of tenBoma representatives and the OCWR Director of Security, the women of team Lioness were selected based on their academic achievements and physical strength, as well as their demonstration of trustworthiness, discipline, and integrity.

“As the first women joining the OCWR Rangers, each of the team Lioness recruits brings a new perspective and a different experience with wildlife than her male counterparts,” says Cuevas. “They are important voices in protecting wildlife and reconnecting communities to the benefits of sharing land with the magnificent big cats and other wildlife that call OOGR home.”

The recruits range in age from 19 to 26 years old, and all are the first women in the history of their families to secure employment. For many, the opportunity to join team Lioness has been life-changing — on average, Maasai girls typically leave school around the age of 10. Even among Maasai women who achieve a higher education, many lack opportunities to seek jobs or financial independence.

“It’s very rare that Maasai women achieve a secondary education,” says Cuevas. “But all of team Lioness have the equivalent of a US high school education, and none of them have had a paying job before this. It’s breaking barriers.”

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Questions for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Positioned on the Kenya-Tanzania border, OOGR is an expansive area of traditional Maasai community lands and it almost completely encompasses Amboseli National Park. Within Amboseli’s ecosystem, OOGR alone is home to 90% of habitats and corridors for migratory wildlife, including the park’s 2,000 elephants. Forming a horseshoe around Amboseli, it is an essential passage for elephant migration — every elephant that leaves the national park travels through this area, whether on a southern or northern migration route.

“Because we’re conserving our environment, animals are here,” says Loise, a team Lioness ranger. “Through wild animals, there is foreign exchange. As a ranger, now I know I have to teach other women about it. I would like to help others in our community and be a good example. I’m working and happy about that.”

Other wildlife such as giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, baboons, zebra, buffalo, and vervet monkeys also call OOGR and Amboseli home. Due to Amboseli’s proximity to a porous border with Tanzania, coupled with the scale of threats like poaching, retaliatory killings, and the trafficking of wildlife and animal parts, all wildlife in this area is in potential danger. Team Lioness and the OCWR Rangers form the first line of defense for protecting and securing wildlife in these vast community lands.

“We’re encouraging the community to take care of the animals, because in our community if a lion gets in a boma or in our village, [the community] gets it out of the village and they go to kill it. So we’re encouraging them [to see the] importance of animals and to understand,” says Sharon of team Lioness.

Team Lioness will undergo initial training with the OCWR Rangers, followed by a 21-day basic ranger training course that integrates them into the six bases throughout OOGR. In addition to supporting wildlife security operations throughout the region, a large part of team Lioness’ mission will be engaging with Maasai women and maintaining community buy-in for conservation through school visits and fostering community involvement.

“For me, to be a part of team Lioness, it shows that women have an opportunity,” says Purity, a team Lioness ranger. “I’m gaining skills and knowledge on how to conserve and protect wild animals. I will go back to my community and tell them the importance [of conservation] and show them through my experience. You kill that lion, you kill your future.”

The presence of team Lioness has created a demand in some Maasai communities for more female leadership in conservation initiatives and calls for additional female rangers.

“News of team Lioness is really catching on in the Maasai community,” Cuevas says. “A Maasai woman elder from outside OOGR attended one of the recent community meetings and said, ‘I challenge us as a Maasai people that for every four rangers we hire, one of them is a woman.’ It’s really incredible. Getting the word out means we can continue to leverage tenBoma to enable rangers to act predictively to prevent harm to both wildlife and the communities that share land in the expansive OOGR.”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

UNCSW63’s positive outcomes for women’s human rights to social protection systems, quality public services, including education, and sustainable infrastructure

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from Education International

The women workers’ delegation, including education unionists, welcomes the Agreed Conclusions of the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which includes positive language on education and social protection systems.

Key gains on gender and education

The Agreed Conclusions  of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW63), reached on 22 March, have borne satisfying results concerning gender and education:

* There are three strong references to education in the preamble paragraphs

Educational spaces are specifically mentioned among the list of key sites that require action and attention on sexual harassment. There is a specific mention of early childhood education as “crucial in enabling women to enter and remain in the labour market”.  The wide ranging, multi-layered and most pernicious gender-based barriers to the right to education for girls are also highlighted.

* Strong call on governments to strengthen normative, legal and policy frameworks,

There is explicit reference to the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by disabled women and girls, and indigenous women and girls (including in relation to education), especially for those living in rural areas.

Governments are urged to “adopt national gender-responsive migration policies and legislation, in line with relevant obligations under international law, to protect the human rights of all migrant women and girls, regardless of migration status, and to recognise their skills and education”.

A key gain for women in education is the call on governments to eliminate occupational segregation by addressing “structural barriers, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, promoting women’s equal access to and participation in labour markets and in education and training, supporting women so as to diversify their educational and occupational choices in emerging fields and growing economic sectors, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics and information and communications technology, recognising the value of sectors that have large numbers of women workers”.

* Strengthening public services for women and girls

A key paragraph in the document calls for investment in public education systems and infrastructure, free and compulsory primary and secondary education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. It also stipulates that governments should “address negative social norms and gender stereotypes in education systems, including in curricula and teaching methodologies, that devalue girls’ education and prevent women and girls from having access to, completing and continuing their education”.

Another important explicit reference is made to pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers and single mothers, with a call for governments to adopt policies that would facilitate their successful return to, and completion of, education.

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Key gains on social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure

The women unionists’ delegation also successfully lobbied for the inclusion of progressive languageconcerning social protection systems and access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. These included: references to the importance of International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards and the decent work agenda; measures to strengthen protections for informal economy workers and promote their formalisation; ensuring that unpaid care work is valued in contributory schemes; guaranteeing access to paid maternity, paternity and parental leave; promoting shared responsibility of care between parents; and acknowledgement that universal access to social protection plays a central role in reducing inequality, as well as emphasis on the need to make progress towards universal health care.

Governments, for the first time, recognised the right to social security—including universal access to social protection—and that women’s access to social protection is often restricted when tied to formal employment. The Agreed Conclusions acknowledge that budget cuts and austerity measures undermine women’s access to social protection, public services, and sustainable infrastructure, particularly in the areas of health and education. They also recognise the link between gender-responsive social protection and the prevention of gender-based violence. And, crucially, committed to providing public sector workers with living wages.

An ongoing struggle

The women workers’ delegation, including the EI delegation, will, however, still have to continue efforts for specific reference to, and inclusion of, LGBTIQ+ women and girls in the UNCSW outcome document in 2020.

Some demands were also not met, such as references to survivors’ benefits, stronger language around the ratification of ILO Conventions,  and an emphasis on the need for contributory and non-contributory social protection systems

Despite significant gains, challenges remain to realise the full human rights of women, in all their diversity, as the press release from the women’s rights caucus at UNCSW  stressed. Of significant concern was the removal of service provisions for survivors of violence—a development that is out of step with the growing awareness and action to reduce and eliminate the prevalence and consequences of gender-based violence against women. Member States also failed to commit to integrating sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression into the design of social protection, public services, and infrastructure systems. The Agreed Conclusions also demonstrated the unwillingness of governments to regulate and hold the private sector accountable for its responsibility to uphold women’s human rights.

At this crucial moment, UNCSW must continue to involve the vital voices of civil society in their deliberations and strengthen the potential of these negotiations to continue the practice of consensus-based advancement of women’s human rights.

A critical occurrence at the end of the first week of UNCSW63 was the thousands, if not millions, of young people across the world who took to the street to march and rally for climate justice, including outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The labour delegation at UNCSW63 marched in solidarity with the students.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for suggesting this article.)

The women who helped bring down Sudan’s president


An article from

Sudan’s military has overthrown the country’s longtime president, Omar al-Bashir. It’s a huge win for the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese protesters who have taken to the streets for months calling for his ouster — and for the brave women who have been a driving force in the protest movement.

Image by Lana Haroun

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Questions for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

Can peace be achieved in South Sudan?

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Sudan’s Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf announced Thursday  that al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region, had been taken into military custody. While it’s unclear if the military plans to turn al-Bashir over to the ICC for prosecution, it’s pretty clear that his brutal 30-year reign has come to a definitive end.

Much of the credit for al-Bashir’s removal goes to the women who have played a prominent role  in the uprising that has swept the country and who have become the faces of the largely peaceful movement to topple the regime.

Earlier this week, an iconic photo of a woman named Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old engineering and architecture student, addressing protesters from atop a car went viral.

The image, captured by local photographer Lana Haroun, shows Salah standing on a white car surrounded by a sea of people outside the presidential compound and army headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Wrapped in layers of shimmery white fabric styled as a “toub” — a traditional Sudanese style of dress for women — and gold moon earrings, Salah towers over the crowd of protesters, her finger raised defiantly in the air.

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from United Nations News

Women’s rights, voices and participation must be at “the centre of peacekeeping decision-making”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday [April 11], describing them as “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide.

UN Secretary-General briefs the Security Council on women in peacekeeping operations, 11 April 2019. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

Through its landmark resolution 1325  on women and peace and security, the Council reaffirmed the participation and involvement of women, which the UN chief hailed  as “a key element in the maintenance of international peace and security”. He also noted the UN’s “essential system-wide effort” to enhance women’s representation at all levels and in all arenas, through his Strategy on Gender Parity.

“This is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, he stated, citing evidence that more women peacekeepers lead to more credible protection responses that meet the needs of all.

In patrol units women can better access intelligence to provide a holistic view of security challenges, and at checkpoints they promote a less confrontational atmosphere, he said.

Within troop contingents they lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse; yield greater reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; and can access local women’s networks, leading to more inclusive peace processes.

‘Step towards parity’

The Secretary-General thanked the more than 150 Member States who have signed on to his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which calls for women’s participation in every stage of peace operations, and integrates a gender perspective into all analysis, planning, implementation and reporting.

And he was grateful to the States who, at last week’s Ministerial on Peacekeeping, launched the Elsie Initiative  to break down barriers to increasing women’s participation in peace operations.

In support of the UN’s commitments in these areas, Mr. Guterres noted a range of actions, including the Gender-Responsive Peacekeeping Operations Policy, which “commits us to promoting leadership and accountability both for gender equality and for the women, peace and security agenda”.

Flagging that since December 2015, the number of women in uniform has increased by only around one per cent, he spelled out that “this is clearly not enough”.

“This year”, he informed the Chamber, “we rolled out the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy ”, which, among other things, targets by 2028 a range of 15 to 35 per cent of women’s representation, including military, police and justice and corrections personnel.

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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While acknowledging that it “has been more challenging”, Mr. Guterres vowed “to press ahead”, adding that “keep on track, we need assistance from you, the Member States”.

He asked for a greater focus on women in battalions and formed police units and for the sustained recruitment and deployment of women within national services.

Noting that for the first time in UN history the senior leadership is close to achieving gender parity, Mr. Guterres reiterated his commitment to sustaining that progress: “We need to bring the same spirit to our peace operations”, he stressed. “This is crucial for our effectiveness, credibility and reputation”. 

‘Pushing gender equality’

The first female Force Commander and current Head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission, Major General Kristin Lund told the Council  that the “momentum of pushing gender equality must be kept”.

As Force Commander of the UN mission in Cyprus, she teamed up with Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative at the time. “For once I did not need to convince my boss that gender was important” she said. “Both of us had gender equality in our spine”.

The Major General enumerated some examples of her work in increasing the number of women, helping them in missions and reaching out to local communities.

Noting many reasons why the armed forces have a difficulty keeping women in the ranks, she outlined frequent obstacles thrown up by male culture in military settings, giving the example of how “posters with half naked women” hang in mission gyms.

“How many women do gym in bikinis?” Ms. Lund asked rhetorically, saying that under her command in Cyprus “womanized posters vanished”.

She also mandated that the all-male teams in military skills competitions had to have females.

“Gender is on the top of my agenda”, she said, adding that she initiated a female military network, engaged women to become more visible and increased the number of female observers.

Troop and police contributing countries “must do more” she said.

“We, out in the field, need to be able to reach out to the whole society. Only you can make that happen”, the Force Commander concluded.

Diversity is a strength

Chairing the meeting, German Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen said: “Women are no better peacekeepers than men, but they are different. And this diversity is a strength”.

Pointing out that Resolution 1325 has been in effect for almost 20 years, she maintained that it is “still far from full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace operations”.

To change that, Ms. von der Leyen suggested, among other things, to have successful female mentors to share their stories to younger women; have more women in national forces for deployment to international peacekeeping missions; and assess national barriers that keeps more women from joining peace operations.

“The peacekeeper’s blue helmet symbolizes protection and security”, she said. “Let us make this helmet be worn by more women. For the sake of peace”.

Photos: International Women’s Day marked by strikes, protests and celebrations

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An photo essay from the Public Broadcasting System with additional photos as indicated

Marches and protests are being held Friday [March 8] across the globe to mark International Women’s Day under the slogan #BalanceforBetter, with calls for a more gender-balanced world. The day, sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, celebrates women’s achievements and aims to further their rights.


Girls shout slogans during a protest demanding equal rights for women on the occasion of International Women’s Day in New Delhi, India. Photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters

In India, hundreds of women marched on the streets of New Delhi demanding an end to domestic violence, sexual attacks and discrimination in jobs.

Boys are prized more than girls in India. Thousands of Indian women are killed — often doused in gasoline and burned to death — every year because the groom or his family feel the dowry she brought to the wedding was inadequate.

Political parties in India have for years been promising 33 percent of seats for women in the country’s Parliament, but they have yet to enact legislation to that effect.


A woman wears a mask that reads “Feminist Strike” as she takes part in a bike protest during a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Sergio Perez/Reuters

Thousands of women walked off the job in Spain, joining millions more around the world demanding equality amid a persistent salary gap, violence and widespread inequality.

Women’s rights have become one of the hot topics in the run-up to a general election in Spain next month. Many female employees didn’t show up to work Friday. Others halted domestic work or left to men the care of children and ill or elderly people.


Sandra Delgadillo, a domestic worker from Bolivia, hangs her uniform in a balcony as she joins a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Sergio Perez/Reuters

In neighboring Portugal, the Cabinet observed a minute of silence Thursday as part of a day of national mourning it decreed for victims of domestic violence. Portuguese police say 12 women have died this year in domestic violence incidents — the highest number over the same period in 10 years.


Photo of Aissa Dumara Ngatansou from Agence Cameroun Press

In France, the first Simone Veil prize went Friday to a Cameroonian activist who has worked against forced marriages and other violence against girls and women.

Aissa Doumara Ngatansou was married against her will at age 15 but insisted upon continuing her studies as a young wife. She has since turned her attention to victims of Boko Haram extremists.

The French award is named for the trailblazing French politician and Holocaust survivor Veil, who spearheaded the fight to legalize abortion.


Female soldiers of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) distribute flowers to women during the International Women’s Day near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters


Photo from youtube

Meanwhile in Russia, International Women’s Day is a public holiday but it mostly lauds gender roles that are now outdated. As is his custom every year, President Vladimir Putin gave a speech thanking women for their patience, good grace and support.

“You manage to do everything: both at work and at home and at the same time you remain beautiful, charismatic, charming, the center of gravity for the whole family, uniting it with your love,” Putin said.

(Photos continued in right column)

(Click here for the Spanish version of this article or here for the version in French.)

Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

(Photos continued from left column)


photo from Jakarta Post

In Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, several hundred men and women carried colorful placards calling for an end to discriminative practices such as the termination of employment for pregnancy and exploitative work contracts.

“Our action today is to urge (the government) for our right to a society that’s democratic, prosperous, equal and free from violence,” said Dian Trisnanti, a labor activist. Girls and women in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, have equal access to education but face higher unemployment, lower wages and poorer working conditions than men.


On the International Women’s Day in Shikhan, north of Iraq, Yazidi women attend a ceremony at Lilash Temple to commemorate the death of women who were killed by Islamic State militants. Photo by Ari Jalal/Reuters


Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions attend during a rally to mark the International Women’s Day in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 8, 2019. Photo from . Photo from National Post

Both Koreas marked the day. In the South, women wearing black cloaks and pointed hats marched against what they describe as a “witch hunt” of feminists in a deeply conservative society.

College student Noh Seo-young said that South Korea struggles to accept that women are “also humans” and that women have to fight until they can “walk around safely.”

In the North, where Women’s Day is one of the few national holidays that is not explicitly political in nature, people dressed up for family photo shoots or bought roses for their mothers or wives at the many small, bright orange street stalls in central Pyongyang that sell flowers. The stalls normally do most of their business selling flowers to be placed at the feet of statues to the country’s leaders.


In the Philippines, hundreds of women in purple shirts used a noisy march and protest in Manila to call for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte, whom they rebuked for the often sexist jokes he cracks and authoritarian moves they say are threatening one of Asia’s liveliest democracies.

They toppled an ugly head effigy of Duterte from atop paper blocks with slogans depicting him as an American lapdog.


On the eve of International Women’s Day, U.S. first lady Melania Trump saluted women from 10 countries for their courage.

The recipients of the International Women of Courage Award included human rights activists, police officers and an investigative journalist. They came from Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Ireland, Jordan, Montenegro, Myanmar, Peru, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

“Courage is what divides those who only talk about change from those who actually act to change,” Mrs. Trump said at a ceremony Thursday that was also attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo separately recognized women in Iran for protesting the requirement that they wear a head covering known as a hijab in public and a Ukrainian activist who died in 2018 after she was attacked with sulfuric acid.


Activists take part in a demonstration during a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in San Salvador, El Salvador. Photo by Jose Cabezas/Reuters


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who named one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets last year, told a gathering that “women are the pillars of the nation and the least recognized for their sacrifices.”


In Nigeria, the U.S. Embassy hosted talks on sexual harassment that included a founder of the recent #ArewaMeToo campaign among women in the country’s conservative, largely Muslim north.


And in Niger, first lady Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou oversaw the awards in the Miss Intellect Niger contest.


Women protested against gender-based violence in Kenya’s capital.
“We haven’t gotten to a stage where women are comfortable to come out and say, ‘I was sexually abused,’” said protester Esther Passaris. “So what we need to do is slowly, slowly grow.”

AP reporters across the globe contributed to this report. Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal.

Dominican Republic: Youth and the United Nations promote a culture of peace


An article by Yimel Rivera in El Periodico (translation by CPNN)

The Ministry of Youth and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) held today [6 March] the conversation “Let’s talk about everything”, in commemoration of International Women’s Day, with the theme “Promoting a culture of adolescents and young women without violence “.

The activity, held in the Hall of Fame of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center, was attended by about 800 young people and teenagers from public and private schools, as well as young people from civil society who spoke of the campaigns “Noviazgo Sano” and “Reset”.

The discussion is based on the results of the “Amore ‘Without Violence” online test, according to which 52% of young men and 35% of young women frequently consider that “Women should behave and give up some things so as not to provoke the jealousy of their partner”, which highlights the gender inequality that occurs in the relationships of adolescents and young people.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions related to this article:

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

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In addition, 53% of men and 40% of women think that “love is an unconditional feeling that forgives everything”, this being one of the main reasons why the manifestations of violence are normalized and justified.

Through the page, more than 2,500 people were able to evaluate their courtships, showing that 51% are in a relationship with mild or severe practices and attitudes of violence, either their own or their partners. The test has two modalities, one to diagnose if violence is exercised and another if it is received.

The self-assessment showed that out of every 100 men who completed the test, five are reproducers of the highest level of violence, characterized by high levels of control over the couple, as well as serious manifestations such as breaking objects, shouting, insulting, physically attacking or forcing sexual relations In the case of women, only one in 100 presents these manifestations.

The “Amore ‘Without Violence” campaign will continue to offer tools to help eradicate gender-based violence in dating relationships in the Dominican Republic, promoting respectful cultural guidelines and gender equality, through face-to-face and digital interventions in @tunotapaeso and, where the test is still available to detect signs of violence.

The initiative also disseminates two instruments: a “violentometer”, where people can identify if they are in one of the degrees of violence, and an “amorómetro”, where levels of a healthy relationship are presented.

The first is a rule that measures the degrees of aggressiveness and its manifestations in three levels, assigning shades of yellow to red, according to the danger to the victims. While the second identifies good practices on a scale that goes from blue to green.