16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
November 25-December 10, 2008
Organizing under the theme Human Rights for Women ‹—› Human Rights for All: Celebrating 60 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, hundreds of organizations from every region of the world participated in the 2008 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. CWGL heard from groups in 64 countries, and is continuing to receive activity highlights.
Some highlights from the campaign are as follows: In Africa, more than 300 women in the Democratic Republic of Congo convened a day-long meeting with men from their community to encourage an end to violence against women and armed combat, while in Nigeria, women’s rights activists held sessions with government officials to encourage gender-sensitive budgeting with special allocations for anti-VAW work. Additionally, in Kenya a group of around 30 men traveled around the country by bus giving impromptu street performances to educate people about gender-based violence. Activities in Asia included town-hall meetings across Azerbaijan about domestic violence, awareness-raising activities in over 500 villages of Maharashtra, India about the 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, and a conference of Women Human Rights Defenders in Nepal. In Italy, women’s rights activists took to the streets to protest against femicide. A coalition of Swiss organizations arranged over 50 public events for the campaign, and in Poland, free self-defense training classes were offered to girls. Across Latin America, activists organized awareness-raising campaigns and events including the Women’s International Network (WIN) Belize Torch Run, a march in Grenada to bring attention to the related problems of HIV/AIDS and violence against women, and a mass postcard campaign in Chile with messages encouraging men to stop violence against women. This year CWGL also heard from an organization in Iraq that disseminated leaflets and broadcasted a radio program about the 16 Days Campaign. In Palestine with the assistance of various UN organizations, local women’s rights groups held a festival to combat violence against women, focusing on the issue of honor killings. Activities in North America included memorial ceremonies for the victims of the Montreal Massacre in Canada, and candlelight vigils and sustained outreach programs on college campuses in the United States. At the international level, a groundbreaking campaign entitled Take Back the Tech encouraged young women to speak out about new forms of violence against women manifested through technology and called upon women to reclaim technology to make it safer for women and girls.
To view pictures of this year’s campaign from around the world, please visit our 16 Days Flickr page. If you have not had an opportunity to share your 16 Days activities with CWGL yet, please be sure to send the details to email@example.com so that we can keep this information in the campaign archives. Additionally, to help CWGL evaluate the 2008 campaign and explore ways to make next year’s campaign more effective, please be sure to respond to the survey which can be downloaded from the 16 Days homepage.
Although the 2008 16 Days Campaign marked the end of both UNIFEM’s Say NO to Violence Against Women Campaign as well as the Every Human Has Rights (UDHR60) Campaign, CWGL is excited to continue building on the momentum of these important efforts in 2009. UNIFEM’s Campaign concluded with an astounding five million signatures, which demonstrates that the issue of violence against women is indeed gaining the attention of people across the world. 2009 promises to be an exciting year for the women’s movement, so please continue to check the CWGL website for updates about next year’s campaign and join the 16 Days listserv to stay informed!
Association for Women’s Right in Development (AWID)
11th Forum, The Power of Movements
Cape Town, South Africa: November 14-17, 2008
Margot Baruch (Program Coordinator), Charlotte Bunch, (Executive Director), Cynthia Rothschild (Senior Policy Advisor), and Keely Swan (16 Days Coordinator) participated in the 11th AWID Forum in Cape Town, South Africa. CWGL sponsored events on violence against women, UN gender architecture, and women human rights defenders and participated in sessions on sexual rights, multigenerational leadership, violence and conflict, among others. CWGL participated in two launches of new reports: the French version of Claiming Rights, Claiming Justice: A Guidebook on Women Human Rights Defenders, and Listening to Each Other, co-published by CREA, CWGL and the Youth Coalition based on a jointly-hosted meeting on multigenerational leadership.
To pay tribute to the courage of all women human rights defenders who risk their lives in defense of their rights, and the rights of others, CWGL partnered with Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development, Forum Asia, and the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition in developing a photo exhibit on 16 Defenders for 16 Days, which premiered at AWID and can be seen on CWGL’s website. In addition, Margot Baruch attended an all day strategy meeting for AWID’s Young Feminist Activist (YFA) program and participated in the YFA blog. New staff member Keely Swan held a caucus on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign where activists discussed their current plans and future ideas for the campaign. CWGL hosted a Campaign Corner site, where we featured a number of campaigns, including Every Human Has Rights, which marks the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Charlotte Bunch moderated a session on Violence Against Women: the Next Big Ask, which CWGL sponsored and was also featured in a dialogue entitled Sex Workers Meet Feminism, organized by Indian advocate Meena Seeshu. She was also a speaker on sessions entitled, GEAR UP: The UN as a Space for Women''s Organizing: Successes and Challenges--Past and Future, sponsored by the GEAR Working Group and Mobilizing Resources to Sustain the Building Block of Social Movements in Conflict Zones, sponsored by MADRE. Cynthia Rothschild participated in IPPF’s panel on sexual rights, The Contribution of Sexual Rights to Movement Building and moderated the Women Human Rights Defenders launch noted above.
For a more detailed list of CWGL activities at AWID please see the CWGL at AWID flyer. CWGL plans to post photos and to follow-up on sessions organized at AWID in the coming weeks so please continue to visit the website.
International AIDS Conference
Mexico City: August 3-9, 2008
Roughly 25,000 people attended the International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Mexico City from August 3-9. Women’s rights and human rights activists joined scientists, researchers, government representatives and UN officials in exploring trends and needs related to the HIV & AIDS pandemic. Human rights and gender issues remained central to the programming of the official conference and the NGO-driven Global Village. Critical areas of concern in both spaces were: women’s empowerment and leadership, violence against women, rights of sex workers, criminalization of HIV transmission, criminal justice systems targeting people living with HIV & AIDS (PLWHA), stigma, discrimination and other rights violations targeted at PLWHA. One highlight of the IAC was former US President Bill Clinton’s endorsement of the new UN gender equality architecture proposal. CWGL’s Cynthia Rothschild attended the conference and wrote an article on lesbian and gender issues, entitled the L Word and the G Word at the IAC, written for Mujeres Adelante, a daily newsletter focusing on women''s rights and HIV at the International AIDS Conference 2008 in Mexico.
Next Steps Global Consultation on Strategies on Violence Against Women
New Brunswick, NJ: July 21 – July 25, 2008
CWGL hosted the Next Steps Global Consultation on Strategies on Violence Against Women from July 21st through July 25th. The meeting convened 35 women''s rights activists from around the world working in various capacities within the women’s human rights movement to discuss the next steps of the movement in relation to violence against women prevention. Participants assembled into working groups and discussed issues related to VAW such as Violence Prevention, Culture and Violence, Implementation Standards, and Global/Local linkages, among others. At the conclusion of the strategic conversation participants made commitments ensuring their promise to work towards ending violence against women. Some commitments from participants include: capacity building, prevention of VAW, reframing discourses around culture, documenting evidence of forms of violence not yet recognized, hosting feminist discussions on working with men and boys, building on VAW and women’s human rights, strengthen links between women’s human rights defenders and VAW, and more. To view photos from the meeting click here.
Human Rights Council
United Nations, Geneva: June 2-18, 2008
On June 5th, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva hosted several events on Rights of Women, including a session on violence against women – the first time this topic had been addressed in depth since the inception of the new Council in 2006. Human rights, anti-violence, women’s rights and sexual rights advocates, including CWGL staff, helped to create the session on Addressing Violence against Women: Setting Priorities, which is also a result of recent efforts to integrate “human rights of women” throughout the Council’s agenda. Alejandra Sarda, a WGLI graduate representing CLADEM and Mulabi (Argentina), was the civil society representative on the panel, and called for, among other things, greater state commitment to providing resources for and implementing measures that will prevent and punish acts of violence. Advocates are also calling for the creation of a governmental HRC Focal Point on gender, with focus on VAW.