This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 and the kick-off of the 59th UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Both of these events happen every year. But this year is special.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the landmark framework on women’s health and rights. This is where our rallying cry, “women’s rights are human rights,” originated (though the concept has been around a lot longer than 20 years!). It’s also the basis of our My Body My Rights campaign, which seeks to accelerate progress on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, issues that still have a long way to go. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Indigenous Bangladeshi women during a demonstration demanding an end to encroaching development on their lands, still asking for the rights Kalpana Chakma fought for before her disappearance (Photo Credit: Shawkat Khan/AFP/Getty Images).
By Rebecca Landy, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group
You probably are aware of the news reports in the last twelve months regarding the horrific sweatshop fires and building collapses in Bangladesh that killed and injured over a thousand, mainly women, laborers.
Or maybe you read recently about U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling out Bangladesh for the injustice and violation of international law in the recent verdict of death sentences for 152 border guards accused of murder.
But chances are you have not heard of Kalpana Chakma and the 17-year miscarriage of justice in waiting for a proper investigation into her disappearance.
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A ten-year-old girl who was raped twice in ten days surrounded by other raped victims and a counselor (Photo Credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images).
By Rebecca Landy, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group with the Democratic Republic of Congo Country Specialists
For almost two decades, armed conflict has ravaged the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During this time, civilians have faced persistent human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings, rape, and sexual violence.
An October 2013 report by the Ministry of Gender stressed the high rates of sexual violence in areas of armed conflict – citing approximately 7,000 cases of sexual violence in North Kivu province in 2011 alone. As sexual violence is usually largely under-reported, the actual number is likely even higher.
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The reports from Haiti are more tragic everyday. The loss, the devastation, the aftershock, the grief and the suffering. Today, there are reports of losses to the women’s human rights movement– Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan are Haitian women’s human rights defenders who were victims of the earthquake. This tragic loss will be mourned throughout the global women’s rights community but the impact will be felt deeply as Haiti rebuilds.
Women’s rights and gender equality must be promoted during the humanitarian relief process but also during the rebuilding process. On the Dianne Rehm show yesterday, academics and relief organizations spoke about the importance of recognizing the risk of gender based violence in refugee camps and the threat of violence against displaced women.
Amnesty recently reported on sexual violence against school girls in Haiti. The women’s rights leaders who lost their lives spoke out against the issue of gender violence in Haiti before the earthquake. The people of Haiti, and all of us, relied on human rights defenders like these to take a stand. My thoughts go out to the families of them and all of the victims of this disaster.