Campaigners in Action during 16 Days of Activism
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence kicked off on November 25th, the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women. The campaign highlights other important dates such as International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on November 29th, World Aids Day on December 1st, and International Human Rights Day on December 10th.
Look back at how our Campaigners participated by checking out the hashtag #16Days on social media or the 16 Days website.
This year, in collaboration with MADRE and KOFAVIV, the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict spotlighted four grassroots women's rights activists working to stop rape in Haiti. Check out the video profiles on our website!
Country in Focus: Philippines
In early November the Philippines was struck with a catastrophic typhoon. Communities were destroyed, many died, and many others suffered grave injuries and loss of livelihoods. In the aftermath of natural disasters women and girls face signficiant insecurity and suffer disproportionately.
Even before tragedy struck, gender-based violence in the Philippines was an ongoing struggle. It was only in 2004 that legislation was passed that made intimate partner violence a criminal offence. Since then, reported cases have steadily increased, with a notable spike in 2012.
Filipino women have mobilized against this injustice. In February 2013, the Philippines hosted one of the largest events for One Billion Rising, a global initiative to end violence against women and girls. Gabriela’s Party is one of the organizations on the ground working to ensure that women in the greatest need are supported. In messages sent from the hardest hit regions, women are saying, “The rising continues. Nothing will stop us. Our rising for justice will be bigger and stronger than the storm.” You can support the work of Gabriela's Party through the One Billion Rising website.
In the News
Honduras: Juan Orlando Hernández, incumbent President of Honduras was declared the winner of the national election last month. His opponent Xiomara Castor, who ran on a platform of constitutional reform, has called for a recount. After the elections protests erupted on the streets and were met with violent repression. Honduras has become the murder capital of the world, with skyrocketing rates of femicide. Crimes against women and rights defenders largely go unpunished.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Leaders of the M23 uprising in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo announced their surrender in early November, after an military operation supported by the first-ever UN offensive mission. Rights groups have called on the Congolese government to continue in the path to peace by rejecting impunity and holding its own soldiers, as well as M23 rebels, to account for war crimes.
Colombia: The government and the FARC military rebel group have reached what is considered a 'major breakthrough' in their peace negotiations. The agreement would see one of the country’s largest rebel militias commit to completely disbanding the military arm of the movement in exchange for recognition as a legitimate political party. Until recently, negotiations have taken place without the participation of women. Nigeria Renteria will join the government negotiating team when talks continue in the weeks ahead. The decades-long conflict has been characterized by widespread sexual and gender-based violence.
Kenya: The UN Security Council met to discuss the bid to defer the trial of Kenya’s current President, Uhuru Kenyatta. He is charged in connection with the widespread violence, including rape, which followed the 2007 elections. The International Criminal Court was also petitioned, in this case to extend amnesty to sitting Presidents until no longer in office. Both the Council and the ICC rejected the motions. Kenyatta’s trial is set to commence February 15, 2014.
Central African Republic: An escalation of violence has created a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic, as nearly half a million people have fled their homes. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence. A small African Union force had been deployed in CAR but has been unable to contain the violence or stabilize the situation. The United Nations has approved a mission whose mandate will include protection of civilians.
United Nations: Last month, the General Assembly passed a landmark resolution to ensure protection of Women Human Rights Defenders, despite opposition from a number of states - including the Vatican, Russia and conservative Islamic nations - over text referring to reproductive and gender rights.
Members in Action
In the New York Times' year-end magazine, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi writes about how despite the increased focused by the international community to prioritize ending sexual violence, change on the ground is still far from reality. She notes, however, that the past year has seen a revolution amongst women at the grassroots level.
As part of the 16 Days the Campaign, in collaboration with the Nobel Women's Intiative raised the profile of women's activists globally for the Huffington Post:
- Hania Moheeb wrote about her own sexual assault in Egypt's Tahrir Square and how, "In the long-term, women and civil society will bring the change we seek in Egypt."
- Nobel Laureate Jody Williams wrote about the courageous women's human rights defenders and the need for the United Nations to support them; "Women are transforming communities everywhere, but they cannot complete their work if they are targets of violence."
- Tin Tin Nyo wrote about the continuing widespread sexual violence in Burma, "We, too, yearn for democracy in Burma. But we want a democracy that brings an end to the senseless violence directed against ethnic women."
- Walaa Salah and Diana Sarosi wrote about the crisis that women in Sudan are facing: "Rape is used as a weapon to destroy communities and to suppress political opposition.... Though widespread, this crisis is invisible. And that's how the government likes to keep it."
- Madeleine Rees wrote about the need to include women in Syria's peace process: "It is foolish to keep women out of the peace talks, as if their voices matter less than the voices of the men with guns. It is untenable and wrong to exclude women at this critical juncture in Syria's history."
The Campaign has released a new report, Survivors Speak Out: Sexual Violence in Sudan, highlighting the crisis women in Sudan are facing. Take action and help get the word out - share widely with your networks! Executive Summary available in English, French, Arabic.
We will continue to call for women to be included in the Syrian peace talks, with negotiations scheduled for January 2014 in Geneva. Find out more information and how you can take action.
Stay tuned for a special project we have been working on with MADRE and KOFAVIV that will bring you the amazing story of how the women in Haiti have mobilized the end sexual violence and demand justice. We can't wait to bring it to all of you in early 2014!