You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Human Rights’ tag.

On Tuesday morning I asked God to keep me open to any opportunities to network that might come my way that day. That afternoon I was asked by Salwa/Sally Kader, President of U.S. Federation for Middle East Peace, to speak as the Christian voice in a dialogue between the three Abrahamic faiths. The dialogue was held yesterday in the North building of the UN. We simply shared our faith journeys and expressed how our faith calls us to be people of peace.

We had a wonderful time. I immediately connected with my Jewish dialogue partner, June Jacobs, CBE, who is a delightful woman. She received this honor from Queen Elizabeth for her work in human rights and inter-faith relations. She spoke of leaving London as a small child to live with relatives in Massachusetts at the beginning of WWII. Her parents feared England would go the way of the rest of Europe and so sent the children abroad. She is the former President of the International Council of Jewish Women, and sits on several boards dedicated to Jewish culture and peace.

The woman who was to speak about her Islamic faith could not attend. So, Shagufta Omar of the International Islamic University in Islamabad stepped in from the audience. She shared several texts from the Koran that address the rights of women, including the right to education, prohibition of infanticide, right to refuse a marriage, and the right of inheritance and the right to keep her possessions after marriage.

We were reminded by poet Herminia Littleton, a women from the the Philippians, that when members of his congregation asked Mohammed for guidance he often told them to “Ask Aisha”, his second wife. Aisha also taught Mohammed’s followers after his death. Ms. Littleton, whose mother was killed by the Japanese during WWII, described her own childhood journey of moving from hate to forgiveness. She reminded us to “Open the window of your heart and let the spirit go in and out.”

It has been an incredible privilege to be here and share faith and ideas with so many powerful, resourceful and peace loving women and men.

H.E. Marjon Kamara, Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations and Chair of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women welcomes everyone to this year’s session.

Note that the volume appears to be low

Harriet Tubman. Eleanor Roosevelt. Maggie Kuhn. Naomi Rose. Merdine T. Morris.

On this day – who are the women who have served as advocates for whom you give thanks?

Advocacy took central stage at the Ecumenical Women‘s Orientation. The afternoon workshops focused on advocacy and with good reason.

The “agreed conclusions” will be the primary outcome of the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. The 45 Member States of the Commission will create a set of concrete, action-oriented  recommendations for action by governments, intergovernmental bodies,  and other relevant stakeholders. These recommendations will call for implementation at the international, national, regional and local level. They will address the primary theme for the 56th Session of the Commission: “the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges.”

We come to the Commission – representatives of the Ecumenical Women member organizations and other NGOs – to advocate for concepts, themes, and language to shape those agreed conclusions. In the case of Ecumenical Women, we do so guided by faith in Jesus Christ and the policies of our respective organizations.

As we advocate, we follow in the footsteps of our sisters who have gone before – we stand beside our sisters who live the struggle.

For whom do we give thanks this day and everyday?

The Civil Society Unit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is moderating an on-line discussion on Women and Human Rights, focusing on issues of accountability and access to justice.

The discussion started on 1 February and will end on 28 February.  Sub-themes are:

– National legal frameworks challenges, trends and best practices with respect to legal protection of women’s human rights (Week 1);

-Accountability challenges, trends and best practices with respect to ensuring accountability for violations of human rights of women, including violence against women (Week 2);

-Access to justice challenges, trends and best practices with respect to womens access to justice (Week 3);

-Summary, wrap-up and observations (Week 4).

Each week starts with a short introduction to the theme to trigger and encourage a constructive and fruitful on-line discussion, to be summarized and analyzed in order to contribute to the Beijing +15 review. The discussion is part of a series of United Nations online discussions dedicated to the fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000); and is coordinated by WomenWatch, an inter-agency project of the United Nations Inter-agency Network on Women and Gender Equality.

Join the discussion!

Posted by Onleilove Alston and authored by Yuan Tang

God doesn’t need an army of men to change the world.  Rather He needs servants with humble hearts who are willing to do His work.  As Christians, we need hearts of persistence, faith, and love that endures through the discouragements and hopelessness that can come with human rights work.  It is through relationships and communities that change happens.

I met Im Sopheak while I spent my summer abroad in Pnomh Penh doing legal work.  He is a Christian who started an organization called the Lazarus Project in 2005 where he goes into a slum every Sunday to teach the children Bible stories.  I offered to go with him since I taught Children’s Bible Study at my church.  I had no idea of the impact that those two hours would have on me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Onleilove Alston (with permission) and authored by Lisa Sharon Harper on God’s Politics (first posted 09-25-2009)
 
The following is a message delivered at the “Stand for Freedom in Iran” rally that took place September 24th, 2009 at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across from the United Nations.

Hello! I’ve been deeply moved by this gathering. This is amazing! My name is Lisa Sharon Harper. I am the executive director of NY Faith & Justice and the author of Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican … or Democrat, and I am here today to say “Enough is enough!” Say it with me, “Enough is enough! Enough is enough! Enough is enough! Enough is enough!”

The whole world saw the elections in Iran and the crush of the Iranian government when they stole the election from the people! We saw it via social networking sources like Twitter and Facebook. Well I’m a twitterer! So, everyone say “Hi!” and I’m gonna take a picture of you because this is amazing!

[The empty space is the space directly in  front of the stage. You can’t see it from here, but the crowd reached back to 3rd Avenue from 1st Ave!]

President Ahmadinejad,
Democracy is not enough!
Democracy is nothing unless that government protects the rights of “the least of these” in society!
Democracy is nothing unless that government protects the rights of the ones who live with their backs against the walls!
And that kind of democracy is achieved by protecting the basic human rights of all people within a society.

We watched Iran’s election and it is unconscionable that 322 people have been executed just this year. It is unconscionable that every day citizens of your country were thrown in jail just because they wanted to have their vote count!

Enough is enough!

Read the rest of this entry »

by Onleilove Alston

Note: Though DWU works on issues affecting domestic workers in the U.S. the issues faced by its membership are shared by women worldwide. The exploitation of women workers is an international human rights issue. According to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the U.N. :

  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor  and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. THEY will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD   for the display of his splendor. THEY will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; THEY will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. -Isaiah 61:1-4

“I want to be in tune with my maker.”

“I pray for the organization to get the (the Domestic Worker) Bill of Rights passed”.

“Without God we can’t do anything”.

“I put fliers in the churches, I speak to the pastors”.

–Marilyn Marshall and Joyce Gill-Campbell Leaders in Domestic Workers United (DWU)

“We have a dream that one day, all work
will be valued equally”.-Mission of Domestic Workers United

During the spring of 2006 I started to closely read Isaiah 61 and began to gain spiritual encouragement from meditating on God’s care for the poor and oppressed. I began to study this scripture whenever I had the chance. In 2007 I started to work with New York Faith & Justice after meeting founders: Lisa Sharon Harper, Anna Lee and Peter Heltzel at Pentecost 2007. In the Fall of 2007 New York Faith & Justice did an in-depth Bible Study on Isaiah 61 and from this study I learned that this passage declares the poor “the oaks of righteousness”, and “that THEY will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated”. This new insight revolutionized my approach to the ministry of ending poverty. Instead of just preaching the gospel to the poor, the poor are called to rebuild and restore their communities! If you are a person of privilege instead of working for the poor you are called to work alongside the poor. And if like me you come from the ranks of the poor you are called to rebuild and restore your community. This re-reading of Isaiah 61 is further supported by my work with the Poverty Initiative’s Poverty Scholars Program. The Poverty Scholars program brings poor activist from across America to Union Theological Seminary to take part in an educational program of conferences, theological reflection and action planning centered on re-igniting Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Paola Salwan

In September 1995, thousands of people made the historical move of adopting the Beijing Declaration and Plan for Action during the World 4th Conference on Women. The declaration, although not legally binding, quickly became a comprehensive reference policy document on women’s rights and women’s lives throughout the world for governments, NGOs, international organisations and the global women’s movement. The twelve critical areas of importance and concern outlined in the declaration (Women and poverty, Education and training of women, Women and health, Violence against women, Women and armed conflict, Women and the economy, Women in power and decision-making, Institutional environment and the girl child) paved the way for the other documents that try to ensure and enforce women’s rights, such as the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 or the third Millennium Development Goal, which is promote gender equality and empower women.

A review of the implementation of the BDPA has taken place every five years since its adoption. A political document was drafted at Beijing +5, “Further Actions and Initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action”, in order to deepen the understanding and application of the BDPA.

For Beijing+15, governmental delegations, but also NGOs, UN Bodies and international organisations attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2010 will assess and evaluate the progress made on the implementation of the Beijing document. Delegations will be invited to share good practices and experiences, but also to reflect on the challenges that are still lying ahead for women around the world. Many different spaces will be available for participants to express themselves and try and build strategies for women’s rights. The outcome of theses meetings should be a vision for the substantial improvement of women’s lives , in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

In order to prepare this ever-important session, many regional events are already taking place around the world, such as the Africa Regional Task Force for the Beijing Review Process or the 2009 Asia-Pacific NGO Forum on Beijing +15, organised around the theme “Weaving Wisdom, Confronting Crises, Forging the Future”. These events are mainly put together by NGOs and civil society, while the high level and experts review meetings that are also being undertaken in each region towards the end of 2009 are organised by ministries and national ministries or regional commissions.

It is indeed paramount to have these events, as well as the review of the Declaration, taking place, in view with the current status of women around the world. If we follow WHO’s statistics following a 10-countries study:

  • About 5,000 women are murdered by family members in the name of honour each year worldwide.
  • Trafficking of women and girls for forced labour and sex is widespread and often affects the most vulnerable.
  • Forced marriages and child marriages violate the human rights of women and girls, but they are widely practiced in many countries in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Worldwide, up to one in five women report experiencing sexual abuse as children. Children who experience sexual abuse are much more likely to encounter other forms of abuse later in life.
    • Between 15% and 71% of women reported physical or sexual violence by a husband or partner.

It’s time the world wakes up and truly makes the Violence Against Women a top priority on the global agenda. VAW not only traumatizes the women as individuals, it also affects the community as a whole. In societies where women are less represented than men, where women die from honour killings or domestic abuse, the cohesion is likely to be loose and a lack of resources may arise.

Women are homemakers, more often than not bread earners, mothers, sisters, and pillars of the family and of the society. To violate and abuse them is to violate and abuse the society as a whole.

Beijing+15 will be a platform to fight this battle, but we need more of those.

Go on, promote Gender Equality, participate in Beijing+15 events, follow the news on Gender-based violence, spread the word. Every voice counts.

by Diana Sands, LGTB Program Associate at the Unitarian Universalist UN Office.

Last week, Human Rights Watch released a much-anticipated report on a truly horrifying campaign of human rights violations in Iraq called “They Want Us Exterminated”: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq. This 67-page report documents a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009.

If you have heard about this issue in Iraq you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with women if the report documents a systematic campaign of torture and murder against men?” The answer is simple: These attacks constitute gender-based violence because they are perpetrated against men who are believed by the attackers to engage in homosexual conduct and also against men whose behavior or gender expression is judged to be “effeminate.” Fear or hatred of feminized men boils down to hatred of women or misogyny. These human rights violations should concern everyone, but it is critical that those of us who have dedicated our work to fighting gender-based violence – especially when it is committed in the name of faith – recognize it as such and do what we can to help stop this campaign of torture and murder. It is also worthwhile to remind (as is noted in the report) that Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) calls on states “To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all iraq0809other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”

Iraq ratified CEDAW in 1986, but the Iraqi authorities have done nothing to try to stop this murderous campaign or to hold any of its perpetrators accountable. I hope that you all will take the time to read this insightful report and take action on the recommendations.

Read and download the full report here.

For many women who weren’t able to attend (or who weren’t old enough to know what was going on oat the time) the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995 exists only in the realm of the imagination.  For me (age 12 at the time) the words “Beijing conference” conjure up the list of areas of the Beijing platform and visions of huge crowds of global women.  That was until I saw “The World Through Women’s Eyes.”

In the time leading up to the Beijing conference, a group called The U.S. Ecumenical Women’s Network: Beijing and Beyond, was focusing on the importance of calling media attention to Beijing and spreading the stories that would be shared there.  This group of women decided that one of the most effective things they could do was create a video (yes, it was VHS then) documenting the conference.  Through the magic of modern technology, we were able to transfer this VHS tape to DVD, and then upload it to YouTube.

It is with great thanks to the women who had the foresight to make this video possible that we encourage you to watch, send it to your friends and networks, and inspire a new generation with the stories of your own involvement in the global women’s movement.

In the US, slavery was officially abolished 140 years ago. “In reality, modern day slavery is not only alive and well, but growing in unprecedented dimensions”, Sheila Novak SDS says. in Human Trafficing: Modern Day Slavery, a resource packet for congregations, she informs that app. 27,000,000 men and women, girls and boys are enslaved in today’s world. Human Trafficing was created by the Sisters of the Divine Savior, in order to raise awareness and to equipp congregations to act against this modern scandal.

Grounded in the Christian faith, Human Trafficing includes practical background information, gives suggestions for bible readings, prayers, and sermons, helps with event planning from letterwriting campagns to FairTrade, and shows how a congregation can reach out to different age groups.

Download your own copy of Human Trafficing: Modern Day Slavery.

by Diana Sands.

To begin, I would like to borrow an exercise popularized by a very creative teacher and writer*. Below I have copied a quote from a human rights advocate. All clues to the identity of the writer, the writer’s religion, and the writer’s country of origin have been obscured. Please read the following three paragraphs and try to guess which religion is referenced, which country the writer is from, and if you’re really daring, who wrote it.

 “I have been a practicing [religious faith] all my life and a [lay leader and teacher] for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with [my religion], after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the [religion’s highest] leaders, quoting a few carefully selected [religious text] verses, … [declared] that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as [religious leaders].

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries…

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of [prophets] and founders of [the] great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of [God]. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.”

Can you guess? I am sure that the media, which is truly a global influencer these days, must have had some sway over your guesses. Be honest with yourself. Did you guess the writer was a formerly Muslim woman from the Middle East or Central Asia who was fed-up with the politics of Islamic leadership in her community? Maybe you sensed a trick question and guessed a formerly Muslim woman from the West? Well, the writer is former United States President Jimmy Carter writing about why he is leaving Christianity. This exercise can show us lots of things about ourselves – I think primarily it shows that Islamophobia in the Western media is influencing us in very divisive ways. We have been distracted from the reality that women suffer subjugation and dehumanization at the hands of so many religious leaders across faith traditions. We have almost forgotten that opportunities for interfaith solidarity and cooperation around women’s rights are indeed possible through progressive and respectful dialogue.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cross-posted from Human Rights Watch.
by Marianne Mollman, Advocacy Director for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch

On October 10, 2003, after years of abuse at the hands of her former partner, a 35-year-old woman in Hungary decided to seek intervention in a way American women can currently only wish for. The woman, identified as A.T., filed a petition with a United Nations body on women’s rights. The body promptly asked her government to prevent further harm while they considered her case. Subsequently, it directed Hungary both to take measures to guarantee her physical and mental health and to ensure protection and justice for all the nation’s victims of domestic violence.

The petition, was filed with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, known as CEDAW. It diligently analyzed Hungarian law and court proceedings, and concluded that available remedies both in A.T.’s case and in general were too weak, too slow, and too begrudgingly implemented.

Women living in the United States cannot appeal to CEDAW, though, when their rights are inadequately protected by US law. Why? Because the United States still, almost 30 years after it came into force, has not agreed to be bound by the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which created the committee. Read the rest of this entry »

Ecumenical Women’s chair, Assistant Director of the Lutheran Office for World Community Emily Davila, was recently published in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.  Her article is titled “A Human Rights-Based Approach to Advocacy: the Role of the Church.”

In her paper, Davila states,

As people of faith, we have the freedom to use language about human rights and poverty that emphasizes the dignity of the human person, tells the story and the conditions of persons living in poverty, as well as communicates the necessity for collective response. We must approach the future of human rights careful not to forget the achievements of the past, and support new and emerging regional and national human rights initiatives, especially those led by the Global South.

The World Bank in collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) recently launched the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook. The Sourcebook contains 30 detailed case studies and over 300 highlighted projects sharing gender mainstreaming knowledge on a range of development interventions in agriculture from rural infrastructure to education.

In describing the sourcebook, the World Bank released an apt statement:

Women play a vital role as agricultural producers and as agents of food and nutritional security. Yet relative to men, they have less access to productive assets such as land and services such as finance and extension. A variety of constraints impinge upon their ability to participate in collective action as members of agricultural cooperative or water user associations. In both centralized and decentralized governance systems, women tend to lack political voice.

Gender inequalities result in less food2 being grown, less income being earned, and higher levels of poverty and food insecurity. Agriculture in low-income developing countries is a sector with exceptionally high impact in terms of its potential to reduce poverty. Yet for agricultural growth to fulfill this potential, gender disparities must be addressed and effectively reduced.

Twitter Timeline

RSS UN Gender Equality Newsfeed

  • Work of doctor who helped treat rape victims focus of new film
    The work of a gynaecologist who treats rape victims who have been subjected to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the focus of a film which has just been released. "The Man Who Mends Women", tells the story of Dr Denis Mukwege.
    UN Radio
  • Report lays out "baseline" for progress in gender equality
    Although women are outpacing men in achieving higher levels of education, they are still more likely to pursue the humanities as opposed to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That's according to the World's Women 2015, a UN report which looks at how women worldwide are faring in eight critical areas such as health, education, work, p […]
    UN Radio

Disclaimer:

The views expressed in this blogroll are those of individual bloggers and do not necessarily represent the views of Ecumenical Women.