Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Taliban’s attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai. Malala, then a 15-year-old girl in Pakistan, bravely stood up against the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education and was shot by Taliban gunmen hoping to scare her and others like her into silence. The Taliban’s efforts failed and Malala survived. She has refused to be silent about girls’ human right to education – and instead, has become an internationally recognized spokeswoman for it.
By Nan Strauss, Former Amnesty International USA Researcher
With just three days notice, the North Central Bronx Hospital (NCBH)’s Labor and Delivery service was shuttered after thirty-six years providing quality maternity care to 1500 women and babies a year. The award-winning midwife-led program at NCBH was regarded as a national model for its innovative and compassionate care practices, meeting the needs of at-risk women in an under-served community.
Eliminating NCBH’s successful program will reduce the quality of care and options available in this under-served community. The woman-centered, midwifery model of care practiced at NCHB is especially effective in addressing the health disparities faced by women of color and low-income women, but will no longer be an option in the area.
The closure will make it more difficult for low-income women to access care, increasing travel time and costs, and will end community-based care in the area. Surrounding hospitals that will be forced to absorb the additional 1500 births each year are already stretched thin.
- ALL Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.
- Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory amounts to a war crime.
This needs to be clearly said now, without ambiguity. The United States government, as sponsor of the current ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians, must uphold rule of law and human rights. Despite the fact that the U.S. has historically taken the same position as the international community that Israeli settlements within the OPT are illegal, they have chosen to prevaricate in recent years, using words like ‘unhelpful’ or ‘illegitimate’ to describe settlement building by Israel.
By Salil Shetty, Secretary General at Amnesty International
When listening to the people of Maré discuss what is soon going to happen in their communities, their fear is palpable. Partly spurred by the upcoming role of Rio de Janerio as host to both the World Cup and the Olympics, the police are undertaking a program of “pacification.”
One of several community leaders I met with today said it best, “Impunity is the mother of all violence.” I was listening to people from Maré speak about their experiences living in Rio de Janerio’s largest favela. They spoke of intertwined communities that have been established in Rio as long as their more famed sisters – Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.
But their stories were not of beautiful beaches, famed dance clubs or glamorous bars and restaurants. Their stories were of working class Brazilians trying to survive the twin threats of violence at the hands of criminals, and indifference or violence by the police.
As we reflected on 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls and its themes, including early marriage, violence against women, and sexual and reproductive health, we got to wondering: What does all this integrated human rights talk look like in practice?
So we turned to a woman who walks the talk and leads change herself, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda. Take a look at her examples of women’s participation in claiming their own rights. Then take action on an issue important to you, and join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected. (Don’t forget to join the World YWCA’s efforts, too!)
In your experience, what does participation mean in the context of women’s rights in your country?
For women to participate, it [is] important that they know and are aware of their rights, have the social empowerment to engage and the space to exercise their voice. Women’s community groups, organizations and networks…have provided the platforms for such participation.
Worldwide, women invest 90% of their income in their families and communities; men, only 30%-40% of theirs. It’s a great stat for women’s rights advocates, because it helps us tell this story: when women participate, things change.
When designed with women’s input, safe drinking water and sanitation programs function better and last longer. This, in turn, can give women back their time for work, school, or literacy training, and let girls just be girls.
In honor of Mother’s Day, Save the Children released its annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report. I was saddened, but not surprised to see the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst place to be a mother.
Severe violations of women’s human rights in Congo are, unfortunately, a perennial subject of attention for me and numerous other rights activists. Typically those violations are associated with the long and bloody conflict that has spanned the country and concentrated in its most recent stages in the East.
Indeed, DRC has been plagued by almost two decades of conflict resulting in the suffering and death of millions of men, women and children. Most chillingly, the Congo conflict has become synonymous with rape and other forms of sexual violence, which are committed with impunity by security forces, including the armed forces of the DRC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC), and other armed groups. For this reason, it was ranked the worst place to be a woman by the United Nations just last year.
Water is a women’s issue. World Water Day, March 22, is Women’s Rights Day.
As basic economic, social and cultural rights, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are a government’s responsibility. As a women’s rights issue, WASH is a concern for us all.
There is a great deal of evidence backing this up.
Every year, 40 billion working hours are lost to water collection worldwide, mostly by women and girls. This violates their rights to employment and education by taking up time and energy; and their rights to safety and dignity by exposing them to injury, animal attack, and physical and sexual violence. Since the water they collect is usually unsafe (if it were safe, chances are they wouldn’t have to walk far to get it, because a tap would be available near home), it violates their right to health, exposing them to Neglected Tropical Diseases, diarrhea, even uterine prolapse from carrying heavy loads.
Lack of sanitation and safe drinking water violates the right to safe and adequate housing. Combined with poor hygiene, it makes people sick because they ingest fecal matter without even knowing it, creates breeding grounds for insects carrying diseases like trachoma, and contaminates water sources; water-borne illnesses impact children most, keeping more kids from school and causing trauma for the many parents whose children don’t survive these diseases, up to 2,000 each day.
Angola celebrated a milestone when it was revealed in early January as home to Africa’s first female billionaire. While at first this seems like a “You go girl!” moment, the reality is the woman is the daughter of President dos Santos and she had a little help along the way via corruption and nepotism. Less than a month later, Amnesty International learned the government of Angola is once again forcibly evicting citizens in the capital of Luanda. How are these two events related?
There is a severe wealth dichotomy in Angola, where most citizens subsist on $2 dollars a day with limited access to safe housing, running water, electrical services, and adequate healthcare. Conversely, a small percentage of the population is benefitting from the oil and diamond resource boom, accumulating vast personal fortunes. Accompanying this is a demand for luxury housing and high rise office buildings. The government has long engaged in a campaign of violent forcible evictions to make way for these new buildings, destroying the homes of the most vulnerable citizens in the process.
By Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director
This week’s ruling by a Dutch court in a case brought by four Nigerian farmers against the oil company Shell for pollution damage represents a small victory – but also underlines the real-world challenges facing victims of pollution and human rights abuses involving multinational companies.
The four farmers who brought the case had seen their livelihoods destroyed by oil pollution from Shell’s operations.
The court found in favour of one plaintiff, stating that Shell Nigeria had breached its duty of care in that case by failing to take reasonable action to prevent third parties tampering with oil wells and causing oil spills. Shell will now have to pay compensation to the affected farmer.