Loud and Clear: Women’s Rights, In Action!

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda  (right) attends the 2008 Benefactrix Ball presented by YMCA at the Beverly Hills Hotel (Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage).

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?

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.


Why El Salvador Must Immediately #SaveBeatriz

Women's human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Women’s human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

As you’re reading this, the Salvadoran authorities are STILL biding their time discussing the merits of Beatriz’s case, the young mother we posted about earlier this month. While she’s in the hospital experiencing early stage kidney failure, the authorities are holding the key to her life that is quickly fading.

We’ve promised updates on this case. Unfortunately, we know that Beatriz has been subjected to another week of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and have no news regarding action by the authorities to save her life – in accordance with her wishes, and the recommendation of the health professionals responsible for her care.

Imagine you are in a hospital. You have lupus and you are experiencing kidney complications as a result. You have a one-year old son at home who was delivered by cesarean section weeks early because of pregnancy-related health complications. You’re pregnant again, and have been diagnosed as high-risk.

You found out after three sonograms your fetus is anencephalic, meaning that a portion of the fetus’s brain – consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres including the neo-cortex – doesn’t exist. With very few exceptions, fetuses with anencephaly do not make it to term and none survive infancy.


Mumbai’s Urban Slums: Ground Zero for Human Dignity

Mumbai slum residents protest the destruction of their homes.

Mumbai slum residents protest the destruction of their homes by multi-national corporations. PHOTO: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

I’ve spent the past two weeks working with a number of NGOs focused on women’s human rights in the urban slums surrounding Mumbai. These communities are a ground zero for human dignity, where basic needs are not met and human rights are routinely crushed by poverty and the pace of urbanization.

The underworld I traverse each day exists within a global financial capital, a land of five-star hotels and luxury cars. The stark contrast illustrates the urgency of putting human dignity at the center of the dialogue about social change in an increasingly urbanized and inequitable landscape. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Mao Hengfeng's Bittersweet Homecoming

Mao Hengfeng with her three daughters.

Mao Hengfeng, a human rights defender in China, a wife, and a mother of three, has just been released from her most recent bout of detention and torture — an experience so brutal that her life is at urgent risk.

Her crime? Advocating on behalf of women’s reproductive rights, the victims of forced evictions in Shanghai, and other Chinese human rights defenders.

Mao’s most recent arrest was a result of her protest in front of the Beijing municipal intermediate court expressing support for human rights activist and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo. On March 4, 2010, Mao was sentenced to 18 months in Re-education Through Labor.


Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the New South Sudan

via Wikipedia

On Saturday, a new nation was born: the Republic of South Sudan.

Formerly a semi-autonomous region within the Republic of Sudan, the new state is the result of a referendum on independence in which roughly 99% of the predominantly African, Christian or animist Southerners elected to split from the largely Muslim, Arab North.

For more than two decades, the two had been engaged in Africa’s longest civil war, a conflict in which staggering numbers of innocent civilians paid the price: 4 million displaced, 2 million killed and 2 million women raped.

A Violent Peace
Although a 2005 peace accord officially ended the war and guaranteed the South the right to peaceably choose whether or not to form its own state, violence continues in disputed territories of Southern Kordofan and Abyei.


Tell Congress: Pass Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011

On Sunday you called your mom. Today, call on your elected officials to protect maternal health.

This Wednesday, May 11, a Mother’s Day briefing on Capitol Hill will shine a light on the maternal health care crisis in the United States. Featured guest Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and director of No Woman No Cry, will join Amnesty International researcher Nan Strauss and others to advocate for the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011.

Drafted to address some of the most pressing recommendations in Amnesty International’s report on maternal mortality in the US, Deadly Delivery, this innovative bipartisan legislation would:


Christy Turlington Burns: Shining A Light On Maternal Health

Christy Turlington Burns is a mom, global maternal health advocate, author, filmmaker, public health student, yogi and model. Her directorial debut, No Woman No Cry, shares the powerful stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including the United States.

Join Amnesty International house parties to watch the film’s broadcast premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network this Saturday, May 7 (the night before Mother’s Day), at 9:30 ET/PT and again on May 8 at 1pm ET/PT.

We spoke with Christy recently about her work to improve maternal health worldwide: