Statement Signed by the Partnership for Global Justice on Sustainable Development and the Integrity of the Earth
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HARMONY WITH NATURE TO COMMEMORATE INTERNATIONAL MOTHER EARTH DAY
Discuss different economic approaches to further a more ethical basis for the relationship between humanity and Earth
UN HQ, New York, 22 April 2013
Written Statement by Member Organizations of the Working Group on Sustainable Development and the Integrity of Earth
Thank you Mr. Secretary General and Mr. President for the opportunity to make a brief written statement on the occasion of the Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day.
We write to you on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Sustainable Development and the Integrity of Earth. Our constituencies are found in all continents, and many are experiencing first-hand the devastating impact of human interference in the natural rhythms and cycles of Nature. The conclusions from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, RIO + 20, reiterated that global sustainability is now critical for human development in our world. The urgency of recognizing global sustainability as an integral part of individual, societal and world development rests on scientific evidence that humanity has indeed exceeded a number of planetary boundaries – namely, climate change, biodiversity loss and nitrogen emissions. It is abundantly clear that we need to recognize that human and natural systems are interdependent and intimately linked with social, ecological and economic systems. In this regard, the Secretary General’s 2012 Report, “Harmony With Nature,” (A/67/317), reminds us that “…humanity needs to recognize that it is time to serve the Planet, rather than using the Planet to serve our economic goals. Humankind and its economic goals must be seen as part of the earth system, as part of an integrated whole, rather than as a separate entity, divided from the Planet and its changing environment. When science is taken into account, it is clear that damaging the environment to serve the needs of the human economy only serves to damage ourselves…Properly grounded, a more ecologically informed economic system would provide clear rules for sustainability.”
In “Realizing the Future We Want For All,” the report t5o the Secretary General from the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, it is noted that the “continuous striving for improvements in material welfare is threatening to surpass the limits of the natural resource base unless there is a radical shift towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production and resource use…Business as usual thus cannot be an option and transformative change is needed.”
In this spirit, then, we strongly urge Member States to :
v Responsibly and urgently realize the ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns to ensure global sustainability and to enable just, fair, and equitable sustainable development within planetary boundaries.
v Shift from an ethic of exploitation to an ethic of right relationship; an ethic based on the rights of the human and of Earth, as essential for individuals, society and the Planet to flourish.
v Acknowledge that the GDP cannot be the strategic marker of development to the exclusion of all other indicators. We recommend the use of alternative indicators that not only measure economic growth, but also measure social development and environmental sustainability.
In conclusion, we turn once again to the Secretary General’s Report, and his reference to the late author Thomas Berry : “In the twentieth century, the glory of the human has become the desolation of the Earth. And now, the desolation of the Earth is becoming the destiny of the human. Henceforth, the measure of all human institutions, professions, programmes and activities will be the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.”
“BeFree” text shortcode instantly connects victims to services from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Washington, DC (March 28, 2013) – Human trafficking victims across the country can now send texts to get help and escape modern-day slavery, Polaris Project and Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children announced today. Victims and concerned citizens can now send text messages to “BeFree” (233733) and instantly connect with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline (1-888-3737-888), operated by Polaris Project.
“Many trafficking victims cannot just pick up the phone and call for help, because of extreme isolation or constant monitoring by their traffickers,” said Bradley Myles, Executive Director of Polaris Project. “The ability to send a silent text message could mean the difference between escape and continued exploitation. We are grateful for the support that we have received from Thorn, Twilio, and salesforce.com to increase our reach through SMS technology to more vulnerable people who need our help.”
The new system allows individuals to discreetly contact the NHTRC hotline through text message 24 hours a day. Call specialists will then respond via text to address each individual’s needs, which could include coordinating an immediate crisis response with local service providers or providing urgent and non-urgent referrals, safety planning, and emotional support.
Thorn brought Polaris Project together with the cloud computing leaders responsible for delivering this innovation pro bono. Twilio provides the BeFree shortcode and delivery of the SMS messages, and Polaris Project’s existing consulting partner, Bridge Farm Consulting, was able to quickly develop the technical integration between Twilio and Salesforce Service Cloud, which powers the NHTRC’s hotline database.
“Our research with child sex trafficking survivors has shown that many of them use text messaging as their primary form of communication and that, when under the control of their trafficker, they were in need of more accessible, discreet forms of communication to seek help,” said Julie Cordua, Executive Director, Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children. “This partnership with Polaris Project to increase access to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is a big step forward in meeting the needs of those still being exploited.”
“This is one of those times that affirms our conviction that software can change lives for the better,” said Jeff Lawson, Twilio CEO and co-founder. “Seeing how the teams at salesforce.com, Polaris Project and Thorn have combined the Twilio platform and shortcode to the task of combatting this critical issue is truly inspiring.”
“Collaborations between technology companies and NGO partners are what ultimately will help solve some of the most important challenges of our time,” said Suzanne DiBianca, president, Salesforce.com Foundation. “Salesforce.com is proud to power the life-saving work of organizations like Polaris Project and Thorn.”
The NHTRC is on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking. Through the confidential hotline, callers can connect to a network of 2,700 service providers nationwide, report tips of suspected trafficking, and access reliable information and training to learn more about the issue.
Since 2007, the NHTRC hotline has received more than 70,000 calls from across the country and around the world, connected more than 8,300 victims to assistance and support, and reported more than 3,000 cases to law enforcement. The NHTRC is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division.
Human trafficking is a fast growing criminal industry, with traffickers making billions in profits by using force, fraud, or coercion to rob victims of their freedom. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of victims forced to provide commercial sex, labor, or services against their will here in the United States.
To report a tip, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or request information, call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center at: 1-888-373-7888, or send a text to BeFree (233733).
CSW - THE GULF BETWEEN THE UN AND CIVIL SOCIETY By: Margaret Owen
Widows for Peace through Democracy - 7 March 2013 We are worlds apart. Separated not just by First Avenue, but by a vast gap in beliefs, philosophy, ideas and hopes. Margaret Owen, director of an NGO, reports on the battle over the text of the Agreed Conclusions at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
There are more than of more than 6,000 NGOS registered as attending this 57th Session of the UN CSW - and our international NGO, Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), is one of them. Each accredited NGO is allowed to register under its umbrella up to twenty individuals, but is only given two passes to enter the UN building, therefore hearing Government delegates speak is barely possible for most of us who have travelled miles, and spent considerable sums to get here and stay here.
There is anger amongst the women's NGO's, talking mostly to each other in the "ghetto" of the Church Centre, that lies across the road from the UN building. Here we tell the truth. Of the appalling, life-shattering tortures inflicted on women and girls of all ages, of the gang rapes of young girls, even babies, by criminal traffickers; of FGM, dowry-related acid-burning; stoning of older women accused of witchcraft. Throughout the day the eleven floors of the Church Centre are packed with meetings, with overflows in other nearby buildings.
We women want to see Governments made responsible and accountable for the rights, the very lives of their female citizens. We want to see the perpetrators of these acts punished. And we want to know that real actions are being taken to change the attitudes and the behaviour of men and boys. We demand that the stigma associated with the rape victim be transferred to the rapist, the perpetrator. We want zero tolerance of violence against women and now.
Our anger and frustration boils over when news comes back from that "other" place across the road, where a tiny minority of NGO women have managed to gain access, that delegates of countries where women are victims of extreme violence, condoned, even promoted by the State, for example, as in Iran and Afghanistan - make glossy presentations pretending that all is getting better, and that their programmes and policies are implementing the commitments they have under the CEDAW and the Beijing PFA (Platform for Action).
Alas, however, we are worlds apart. Separated not just by First Avenue, but by a vast gap in beliefs, philosophy, ideas and hopes. Somehow we have to bridge that gap so we can properly influence our governments, make them listen to the voices of the victims, take on board their needs, their ideas, their experiences of best practices to stop this outrage. So we have to influence the text of the draft agreed conclusions, now running into some thirty-three pages.
Our goal is to ensure that this year we can get an outcome document that does not renege, does not roll back the language concerning reproductive health rights of the BPFA and the Copenhagen Conference on Population and Development. We want a strong agreed conclusion that member States will be bound by, that spells out zero tolerance of any forms of VAWG whether in the home, the community, in a war zone, or refugee camp; that denies impunity to perpetrators, that will stop trafficking, prostitution, sexual slavery and torture.
But here is the rub. The Vatican, still up to its usual tricks -not deterred by the fact there is no sitting Holy Father - has got into bed with some strange companions, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malta from the Europe block (often nicknamed the Vatican in Vacation), and Sudan, to object to references to reproductive health rights. Rather than "reaffirming" the BPFA, it offers instead the ambiguous but negative "recalls". Russia, Bangladesh, Yemen, the UAR, Saudi Arabia and another six countries have yesterday formed a new block to strengthen their aim to withdraw from some of the established text on sexuality, and reproductive health services. References in the text to tradition, custom and religion never to justify violence to women has attracted many deletions and additions.
The big exception is Norway. Their Ministers speech was brilliant and compelling. No shifting around the issue. She declared " VAW is a global disgrace. VAW is not about culture, not about religion, it is about power, inequality and lack political will. Let us start at the top, with our own political leaders, mainly men, and demand action."
The text of the draft agreed conclusions we are all working on can change from day to day. The hard copy I am looking at is a mess of deletions and addition, brackets and references. We heard this evening that tomorrow there will be a new format, with an executive summary, easier to work on. Still there are eight days to go, with negotiations going on within and between the different blocks often through the night. There is a very well funded opposition to the commitments and message of Beijing.
We cannot bear to consider the possibility that this year, as in 2011 and in 2012, there might be no outcome document. But rather nothing, than one that is weak and withdraws from women the gains made, at least on paper.
The women delegates of, for example, Afghanistan, Egypt and Iran may declare unchallenged, in the UN building, that their governments respect women's status and progress, is being made. But we, in our restricted place across the road, listen in grief and pity to accounts of rape, sexual slavery, be headings of women activists and human rights defenders; of women imprisoned for fleeing forced marriage, of widow abuse, and of honour killings disguised as suicide. And of young women activists stripped and sexually assaulted in Tahir Square, Cairo. Of what is really happening to the women of Libya and Syria. Rape may be a weapon of war, but women's bodies are being targeted in many countries, post conflict, and during revolution, and where there is no war.
We must get a good agreement through. The UK is determined to keep to where we are, and use all its influence with other blocks and countries to get the right consensus. As member States pontificate, many mouthing platitudes, women and girls are dying, or if not dead, destroyed.
The priority theme this year is Prevention and Elimination of Violence to Women and Girls (VAWG). 70 per cent of the world's women have suffered violence. We cannot betray the women and girls of the world. We must get the outcome document they need and deserve. In the long list of acts of violence against women and girls, it will refer to the systematic, widespread, extreme but hidden violence targeting widows. Widows as young as twelve years old. If we get this, my trip here to New York will have been worth while.
This article can be found at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/csw-gulf-between-un-and-civil-society-0
USUN PRESS RELEASE #025 March 8, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2013
Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we applaud the progress and achievements of women all across the world. From the announcement that combat positions would be open to the women bravely serving in the U.S. military to the record number female members of the U.S. Congress currently in power, the U.S. has made real progress towards leveling the playing field for American women and empowering them to live up to their full potential.
But today is also a day to acknowledge the progress we as Americans and international community have yet to make. One in three women worldwide will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes. More than 30 million girls worldwide do not receive the benefit of any schooling, and more than 280,000 women die each year from childbirth complications that can be anticipated and treated.
Our societies are not truly free, if we do not uphold our fundamental ideals of fairness and equality. We as a people are not free when women and girls still struggle for their survival and safety or find their reproductive rights blocked. When women around the world still face discrimination and even death because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, our values are compromised.
Yesterday, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act, which launches new programs to help survivors of rape and assault, strengthens tools to hold offenders accountable, and offers increased protections for Native American women and the LGBT community. The U.S. is working to improve girls’ access to education and to ensure that all women have access to reproductive health services as well as maternal, newborn and child health services.
The Partnership for Global Justice chaired one of the events at the UN during the International Day to celebrate women around the globe. The room was packed and the audience heard from UNICEF personnel, the founder of Breaking Free and Canadian lawyers against State-Torture.
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“I am afraid to go home. My father’s friends used to rape me weekly and said if I told anyone they would bring shame to my family.” This statement was made by a teenage girl I interviewed in India recently as part of my research into rehabilitation processes for survivors of sex trafficking. To escape this abusive home situation, she ran away, and in the process was trafficked from Bangladesh to India. She spent two years in a brothel before being rescued by Rescue Foundation. She was 14 years old.
It is estimated that 27 million slaves are being held worldwide, with the most common form being sexual exploitation of women and girls, according to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for 2012. International Women’s Day marks a time to celebrate the victories of women’s rights across the world, but it is also a call to act together against sex trafficking – around the world and in the United States.
For close to two years, I saw the reality of sex trafficking first hand as I lived in India and worked with an organization that rescued girls from commercial sexual exploitation. When I moved to Harrisburg, Penn. to work at Messiah College, I was surprised to hear that a similar subculture existed in my own backyard. Carlisle, near Harrisburg, is one of the bigger hubs for trafficking in the East Coast of the United States due to a stretch of trucker motels and gas stations off of main highways.
What can be done about this global and complex problem? Here are three key ways that you can make a difference.
1. Get educated
Contact organizations like Polaris Project or the National Research Consortium for Commercial Sexual Exploitation for more information about trafficking issues in your area, and guidance for what is needed to help.
Learn about the factors that foster vulnerability to trafficking such as poverty, unsafe migration, subcultures of gender discrimination, lack of education, demand, and lack of law enforcement. Investigate reputable organizations like International Justice Mission or GEMS, examine their approaches to combat trafficking, and consider volunteering or supporting their interventions.
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2. Get involved
There are many organizations that can suggest ways to get involved in the fight against sex trafficking, both globally and locally. But sometimes, an individual’s best help is to be alert and ask questions.
Eldon Fry, campus minister for Messiah College, told me this story: “We met a person at Harrisburg International Airport from the Philippines via Qatar headed for Pittsburgh. It sounded fishy so we intervened, and she was ultimately rescued by Homeland Security. We have stayed connected, and she is receiving support from the Polaris Project and is waiting for trial against her “employer,” who was poised to traffick her.”
Ashley Sheaffer, a faculty member at Messiah College, monitors Craigslist for Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Philadelphia for advertisements that might be associated with trafficking and reports them to partner organizations that work with law enforcement to rescue women who have been trafficked.
These are two examples of people in ordinary communities doing their part in the fight against sex trafficking.
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3. Organize and take action
If you see genuine needs that you can help with that are not being covered by existing services, organize a team and a strategy with clear objectives. Your strategy should include partnerships with reputable organizations locally or globally to strengthen and coordinate interventions.
Approaches can include intervening in areas where women are trafficked from, through programs like education and micro-economic development to empower vulnerable populations and help with survivor re-integration. Other approaches can include intervening in areas where women are trafficked to, through services like raising awareness, education, advocacy, housing, counseling, legal assistance, and job training.
Reflect regularly on what is working, what is not working, and why. Build in a feedback system to partner organizations for continual learning, guidance, and accountability.
Opening statement of Michelle Bachelet at CSW57
“TIME FOR ACTION: Prevent and end violence against women and girls”. Opening statement of Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, at the 57th session of UN Commission on the Status of Women, 4 March 2013, New York
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet speaks at the opening of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on 4 March 2013 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Photo Credit: UN Women/Catianne Tijerina
Mr. Deputy Secretary-General,
Representatives of civil society
Colleagues and friends,
I am delighted to be here with all of you at this 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This is not just one more session. This is not just one more year. So much has happened since we last met. The world is watching as we come together to prevent and end violence against women and girls.
Recent events and protests point to growing awareness and momentum. Over the past few months, women, men, and young people took to the streets with signs that ask “Where is the justice?” with rallying cries that say “Wake up!”
They declared solidarity with a Pakistani girl shot for defending the right to education. They pledged justice for a young woman in India and another in South Africa who were brutally raped and later died. They demanded an end to the endless cases of rape and violence that threaten the lives of countless women and girls in every country but never make the headlines.
It is an understatement to say that the priority theme of this 57th session, the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, is timely.
I thank our Chair, Ambassador Kamara, ECOSOC Vice-President Ambassador Hoxha, Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson, Special Rapporteur Manjoo, CEDAW Chair Ameline, and all of you. I thank all of you who are here today, Ministers and Ambassadors and representatives of civil society, and all people around the world, who believe in and take action for the human rights of women.
We are here in this Commission on the Status of Women because every person has the right to live free of violence and discrimination. The world can no longer afford the costs of violence against women and girls, the social and economic costs and the costs in deep human pain and suffering.
I would like to share with you women’s voices and stories from around the world:
A 20-year-old girl named Kristin from the United States was raped by a close male friend she thought she could trust, and she wrote this in her journal: “The pain. The stench. The look of hate in his eyes. Is he still out there? What is left of my soul?” Less than five months later, Kristin took her own life, unable to live with the pain any longer.
A young woman from northern Mali said this: “The rebels were just at the corner and watching me. When I came out, they forced me in their vehicle and chained my two arms. There were four of them and they took me to a dark area. Three other girls were also there. They raped us during two nights and each time they came in groups of three, four and sometimes five.”
A 44-year-old woman from Vietnam said this: “He bled me for every dong I earned. He would say, ‘How much do you earn today? Give me all or I will beat you to death.”
And a young woman from Moldova who was kidnapped and trafficked said this in a court statement: “They took me to a forest and I was beaten and raped… I really believed I was going to die. They then drove me to a house where many men were staying. They were all very drunk and took turns to rape me.”
The violence needs to stop. We need strong commitment and action to end violence against women and girls.
For more than six decades, this Commission has pushed us forward, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, shaping global policies on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
This Commission has promoted the advancement of women and the realization of women’s rights as human rights, and drafted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW.
Since it first opened its doors, this Commission has welcomed women’s groups and NGOs as participants. This year broke previous records with the pre-registration of 6,000 representatives of civil society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I draw your attention to the voices of women and the history and achievements of this Commission on the Status of Women because this session, this 57th session, holds historical importance. This is the largest international meeting on ending violence against women.
During the past decades, we have made progress in the articulation of international norms and standards, and national laws and policies and programmes.
But violence against women and girls remains widespread, and impunity is still the norm rather than the exception.
Now we must take on the challenge of implementation and accountability.
My message is: Now is the time for action.
It is time for action when up to 70 per cent of women in some countries face physical and /or sexual violence in their lifetime. When intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States.
When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery; and when women’s bodies are a battleground, and rape is used as a tactic of war: it is time for action.
This 57th session of this Commission provides us with an historic opportunity to exercise our responsibility to prevent and end violence against girls and women.
Violence against women occurs everywhere. And we know that ending this violence requires a strong chain of justice and the rule of law.
Today 160 countries have laws to address violence against women. Yet all too often the women and girls subjected to this violence are blamed and made to feel shame for the very violence that was committed against them. They search for justice in vain. In the worst cases, the women whose rights were violated are punished themselves while the perpetrators walk in freedom.
During the past six months, we have witnessed rising global public outrage at the violence committed against women and girls, some of whom are human rights defenders.
One of them is a 15-year-old girl whose courage, determination and campaigning for girls education is an inspiration to all of us. She proved her incredible strength by enduring a brutal attack and two operations to repair her skull and restore her hearing, a brave human rights defender named Malala Yousafzai.
Recently Malala spoke in front a camera for the first time, and she credited her survival to “the prayers of the people.” “Because of these prayers,” she said, “God has given me this new life and I want to serve, and I want every girl, every child to be educated.”
It is for Malala and for every girl and woman, and every human being, that we must come to a strong action-oriented agreement to prevent and end violence against girls and women.
This is an issue of universal human rights and inherent human dignity that concerns us all, involves us all, and requires concerted and urgent action from all of us.
When we set up UN Women more than two years ago, we made ending violence against women one of our top priorities. And we are fully aware that this requires supporting changes in attitudes and behaviours, and making headway towards equal rights, equal opportunities and equal participation, especially in decision-making.
We are working in 85 countries to support national efforts to prevent violence in the first place, to end impunity for these crimes, and to expand essential services to survivors. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women has delivered more than $86 million dollars to 351 initiatives in 128 countries and territories. You can learn more about these efforts in the two reports before this Commission—one on the normative aspects of the work of UN Women, and the other on the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.
The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign to end violence against women is mobilizing awareness and action worldwide. In Kyrgysztan, to name just one example, NGOs, artists, footballers, media and the private sector joined together and the Government adopted a new law with tougher penalties for bride kidnapping.
And last year in November, we launched the COMMIT Initiative. So far 41 countries from every region have made clear, national commitments in their countries and I salute them. The commitment of Governments is rising, and we expect more commitments in the coming days.
The full and equal participation of women makes democracy, the economy, and peace stronger.
As a standard-setting organization, the United Nations must lead by example. The UN Secretary-General has appointed many women to high level positions, as Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General, in a historic jump. However, the representation of women in the UN system increased only marginally from 39.9 per cent in 2009 to 40.7 per cent in 2011, at a slower rate than in the previous two years. Gender parity has been reached only at the lower professional levels.
Focus should be placed on establishing special measures to attain parity in the higher professional levels. The UN System-wide Action Plan for Gender Equality points the way forward with standards for accountability on reaching gender parity and having policies in place, such as work-life balance, to create a conducive organizational culture.
During the next two weeks, this Commission will discuss many important matters, from the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men to the Millennium Development Goals to the post-2015 development agenda. And let me say this: Ending violence against women is the missing MDG that must be included in any new development framework. We need a stand-alone goal on gender equality with gender mainstreamed across all other goals.
At this session, we have before us the reports of the Secretary-General on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, another on proposals for priority themes for future sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women. And two reports, which point the way forward in addressing our priority theme—one on multi-sectoral services and responses for women and girls subjected to violence, and the other on prevention of violence against women and girls.
I would now like to highlight five key areas for action.
First, we need to strengthen implementation of laws, policies and programmes for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
Implementation must be accelerated and Governments should be held accountable for their commitments and obligations. While there has been some progress, particularly for services and responses, implementation has been slow and uneven across countries. Many justice systems are weak and do not respond to women’s needs and there are shortages of trained police, legal and forensic staff. We need stronger action and sufficient budgets for laws, policies and programmes to deliver justice and services to women.
Second, we need to place more focus on preventing violence against women and girls.
Violence can be prevented by addressing the root causes of gender inequality and discrimination and protecting the human rights of women and girls, including their reproductive rights and right to sexual and reproductive health. When women and girls can claim their rights, and enjoy equal opportunity and an adequate standard of living, they are less susceptible to gender-based violence.
It is also critical to foster changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that condone or perpetuate violence. This can be done through awareness-raising, community mobilization, educational programmes, and support for children and young people who are exposed to violence.
One thing is certain: Preventing violence against women requires the engagement of all segments of society, and especially men and boys as partners in gender equality and respectful relationships.
Third, we must address prevention and response together as part of a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to be effective.
We need to send the strong signal that violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be punished. Words need to be matched by action. In all our efforts, we need to engage survivors because they know from experience what is needed. For instance, sending a trafficking victim back home to where she was kidnapped may result in her being targeted again by the same kidnappers, resulting in further exploitation and violations of her rights. Such a scenario could be prevented by addressing prevention and response together with a focus on the rights of the woman.
Women’s participation in overall decision-making, in peace talks and peace-building, and in institution-building, can prevent violence against women and girls. Preventing violence against women is important because this violence undermines key elements of successful post-conflict peacebuilding, such as social stability, economic recovery, effective State authority, and overall development.
Fourth, establishing comprehensive and accessible multi-sectoral services and responses is essential.
This means providing the full range of services and responses.
Here I would like to provide an excellent example from El Salvador. In their programme, Ciudad Mujer, the focus is not only in responding to violence against women, but in offering services that can empower women in all spheres of life, including childcare, financial support, access to health services – including sexual and reproductive health – shelters, legal aid, and long-term support, among others. This is exactly the approach and vision that is needed to respond to violence against women and allow me to congratulate El Salvador for pushing this model forward.
Access to services is especially important in conflict and post-conflict settings, where women and girls are most vulnerable, whether to sexual violence, forced displacement, or targeted attacks on women human rights defenders, and services are most scarce. All countries and the international community as a whole must do more to address this crisis as a top priority.
And one thing is certain: We need more women police, peacekeepers and judges. Studies show that women report rape more when there are women police officers. It is very simple – we need to give women the confidence, the trust that they will be treated fairly, justly! Women serving on the front lines of justice strengthen justice for women.
Fifth and finally, reliable data, analysis and research are essential to inform the development of laws, policies and programmes on violence against women and girls.
Monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness is necessary. And here I would like to highlight an exciting initiative that is grounded in data and evidence, the Safe Cities programme. The first step that municipalities take is a scoping study to determine the extent of the problem and identify problem areas. Work is now underway in more than 20 cities, and this number continues to rise, to make cities safe for girls and women.
All over the world, change is possible and change is happening.
Just a few months ago, Africa took the lead in the UN General Assembly with a resolution that gained unanimous support to ban the practice of female genital mutilation worldwide.
It is now up to this Commission to put its unanimous support behind an agreement that will strengthen international norms and standards and provide a plan of action to prevent and end all forms of violence against women and girls.
Ten years ago, this Commission took up the theme of women’s human rights and ending violence against women. And member States were not able to come to an agreement. Today, 10 years later, we simply cannot allow disagreement or indecision to block progress for the world’s women.
I encourage all of us to seize this historic opportunity to end the cycle of violence that diminishes us all.
Just as people worldwide are rising, let us also rise to the occasion. Let us unite for women and girls and demonstrate a United Nations that lives up to our ideals of equal rights of men and women, of human rights and human dignity for all.
Thank you very much.
21 February 2013 – The United Nations and its partners today called on the international community to prioritize ensuring access to water and sanitation to vulnerable populations in the ‘post-2015’ development agenda, stressing this would help combat inequality and promote human rights and sustainability.
“The future development agenda must aim at tackling the most persistent of all challenges: inequalities in access to essential services to realize people’s rights,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, the Government of Finland and Water Aid, said in a joint press release.
“Crucially, among these essential services, it must aim for every person to have equal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Special attention should be given to women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by the lack of these services.”
The group stated that countries must build on the lessons learned working towards the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are set to expire in 2015. The eight MDGs set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development.’
“On the eve of the consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, we believe that the world must achieve and build on the MDGs, but must also craft even more ambitious goals. The goals must create incentives for change – a change that will reach every single woman, man, boy and girl,” it said.
The group also noted that States have a responsibility to respond to the millions of people who are marginalized on a daily basis and do not have access to basic services.
“We must have a world that recognizes and responds to the millions and millions who for too long have remained hidden within aggregate statistics that mask the reality of life without safe drinking-water and sanitation: children, women, people with disabilities and those living in remote areas and urban slums.
“The post-2015 agenda must not move forward without clear objectives towards the elimination of discrimination and inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene.”
Sister Deirdre Mullan, Executive Director of the Partnership for Global Justice at the UN, carried the Irish Flag into a packed General Assembly on February 14th 2013 to celebrate Inter-faith harmony week.
There were speakers from all religious faiths and traditions as well as Ambassadors from many of the Nation States. The flags were carried in alphabetical into the Assembly were over 1800 delegates had gathered.
Acc – The United Nations today launched the International Year of Water Cooperation, which seeks to provide a platform for countries to collaborate in the management of this precious resource in the interest of peace and development.
“Water is central to the well-being of people and the planet,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his video message for the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013. “We must work together to protect and carefully manage this fragile, finite resource.”
More than half of the world’s people depend daily on water resources shared by more than one country and 90 per cent of the global population live in countries that share river or lake basins. However, 60 per cent of the world’s 276 international river basins lack any type of cooperative management framework.
Mr. Ban stressed that with rising demands and changing climate conditions, it will be crucial for countries to work together to ensure every person has access to quality water.
“Each year brings new pressures on water,” Mr. Ban said. “One-third of the world’s people already live in countries with moderate to high water stress. Competition is growing between farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country. Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all – now and in the future.”
The General Assembly proclaimed 2013 International Year for Water Cooperation in 2010, following a proposal from Tajikistan. The Year will serve to raise awareness and prompt action on the multiple dimensions of water cooperation, such as sustainable and economic development, climate change and food security.
“Overexploitation, management, financing of water resources, all of these aspects are incredibly important and cooperation at different levels is therefore critical,” UNESCO Science Specialist Ana Persic said during a press conference to mark the start of the Year at UN Headquarters in New York.
Ms. Persic added that the benefits of intensifying cooperation include poverty reduction, equity, economic growth, and the protection of the environment. “We know water is critical for human life, but it is also critical for life on Earth if we want to protect and sustainably manage the planet we have.”
The UN representative of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Paul Egerton, underlined the link between climate change and water, stressing that extreme weather events result in desertification or extreme flooding in different areas and hinder development and access to safe water.
“Water scarcity triggers migration, refugees, situations where basic human rights are weakened or threatened,” Mr. Egerton said, adding that fewer resources can also trigger conflict and governments need to address these risks immediately.
The official launch of the Year took place today at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris, France. Opened by the agency’s Director-General Irina Bokova, the event gathered representatives from inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organization (NGOs), scientists and policymakers from around the world to discuss themes such as existing mechanisms for water cooperation and regional, national and local cooperation around river basins.
As part of the launch, an exhibition entitled “Water at the heart of science” was inaugurated at UNESCO, and students from Japan travelled to meet their French counterparts to share their experiences related to water and prepare a youth declaration on water cooperation to be presented to the other participants.
Cooperation on water issues will also be the theme for World Water Day, observed on 22 March.
For more information about the UN and the International Year for Water Cooperation, click here.
The Partnership for Global Justice
Educating, Advocating, and Participating for a Just World