An Afghan woman displays her voter registration card at a voter registration center (Photo Credit: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images).
When did it become cliché to say that you want “world peace”? Probably for as long as anyone can remember.
But why should this be such a farfetched and unattainable objective? Perhaps we don’t believe peace will ever be sustainable because half of all peace agreements around the world fail within the first five years? Or perhaps because the way governments approach peace processes hasn’t changed despite such an abysmal record of success?
Perhaps it’s time to try something new. Something that can change this record and help build lasting and sustainable peace. Yesterday, several Members of the U.S. Congress agreed and laid down a marker for change.
Through the reintroduction of the Women, Peace and Security Act (WPS) of 2013 (H.R 2874), Members of Congress said loud and clear that the essential yet overwhelmingly absent component to both lasting peace and the prevention of recurring conflict is the inclusion of women.
A Yemeni hold up a banner during a protest against U.S. drone attacks on Yemen close to the home of Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi. Strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen nearly tripled in 2012 compared to 2011 (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images).
Tomorrow in Washington D.C., President Obama will meet with Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. White House statements already suggest that the agenda will include Guantánamo detainees.
Here are five of our top recommendations for their agenda:
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education, speaks at the United Nations Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013 in New York City (Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images).
By MbaLuka Michael Mutinda, Youth Activist and AIUSA Ladis Kristof Fellow
Last Friday, the world watched in awe asMalala Yousafzai addressed international leaders and youth on her 16th birthday at the U.N. General Assembly. Her message was clear: protect the right to education for young people across the world. I was fortunate to witness this historic moment along with 500 youth delegates representing more than 80 countries.
In the lead up to #Malaladay, youth leaders worked tirelessly to draft a youth resolution on education. This collaborative initiative was led by the Youth Advocacy Group and the resolution was amended by hundreds of youth delegates. In this effort, Amnesty International youth delegates and other youth asserted the need to include human rights language in the final document of the Youth Resolution. This measure was vital in strengthening the youth resolution and establishing a human rights framework for addressing the education emergency.
Two Texas bills have achieved significant attention in the national news and if Texas Gov. Rick Perry signs the legislation into law, as he is expected to do, women across Texas will be denied the autonomy to make decisions about their bodies. As a human rights activist, I feel compelled to speak out against legislation that will have devastating consequences for the health of women and girls in Texas.
The bills recently passed by the Texas legislature, House Bill 2 (HB2) and Senate Bill 1 (SB1), violate women’s sexual and reproductive human rights by limiting access to legal abortion and equal access to health services.
In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, but survived. Now, in her first public appearance since the attack, she will stand with the UN in calling for youth around the world to have access to education (Photo Credit: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images).
By Luka Mutinda, 2013 Ladis Kristof Fellow, AIUSA National Youth Action Committee Co-Chair
Nine months ago, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl namedMalala Yousafzai stood up in brave defiance of the Taliban’s ban against female education. She was shot by Taliban gunmen in a senseless act of violence, but her powerful statement drew attention to education rights for millions of young people across the world.
This week, hundreds of youth leaders from around the world will come together at the United Nations headquarters in New York to stand in solidarity with Malala and the millions of young people who are denied access to education.
This Friday, Malala will be making her first public appearance since the shooting last fall. To commemorate her 16th birthday and highlight the urgency of the global education crisis, youth leaders will stand with Malala on July 12th to present the first-ever set of education policy demands drafted by youth.
Faced with a spike in sexual violence against female protesters, Egyptian women are overcoming stigma and recounting painful testimonies to force silent authorities and a reticent society to confront “sexual terrorism” (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images).
By Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher, in Cairo
While the world is focusing on the political fall-out of millions of people taking to the streets in Egypt, with widespread calls for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi, and the army taking over, other stomach-turning developments have passed virtually unnoticed: Women and girls protesting in the vicinity of Tahrir Square are, time and time again, being sexually attacked by mobs, with authorities remaining idle.
Testimonies from women caught up in the demonstrations, survivors from previous protests and those trying to help, point to a horrific chain of events: tens if not hundreds of men surround their victims, tearing-off their clothes and veils, unzipping trousers, groping breasts and backsides. Sticks, blades and other weapons are frequently used in such attacks.
It took Miriam Isaura López Vargas several weeks to piece together what happened to her after she was tortured and raped by Mexican soldiers.
On February 2, 2011, the 30-year-old mother of four had just dropped three of her children at school in the city of Ensenada, located in northern Mexico, when two men wearing balaclavas forced her into a white van and took her away.
Until then, Miriam didn’t know the men were soldiers or that she was being taken to a military barracks. She was blindfolded and her hands were tied.
“I didn’t know who they were or anything, and when I asked them they put a gun to my head and told me to shut up or they would blow my head off,” she told Amnesty International.
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda (right) attends the 2008 Benefactrix Ball presented by YMCA at the Beverly Hills Hotel (Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage).
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?
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.
Russia’s crackdown is not just about silencing opponents at the political fringes. It is about stifling all who would question his consolidation of power (Photo Credit: Mikhail Klimentye/AFP/Getty Images).
New controls over the media are being used to smear government critics and bolster the government’s policy line. Authorities use secret detention facilities and torture, especially in the North Caucuses region, to silence critics and deny them access to counsel. These measures are widespread and systematic.
This crackdown,should be a matter of grave concern to the United States. Moscow’s lack of respect for human rights speaks volumes about its reliability as a potential partner to the United States and Europe in addressing pressing international security concerns, from the conflict in Syria to the danger of nuclear proliferation.