On March 3, 2010, the second day of the 54th CSW, the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal organized an official side event on the topic of “Human Dignity for LBT Women.” Hosting speakers from the 3 countries, the panel focused on experiences and strategies in achieving state policies for the rights of lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender persons.
Mr. Giao Ferreira from Portugal talked about the history of activism to include LBT rights in human rights discourse. Up until 1974, homosexuality was criminalized. Positive changes came in the mid-90s thanks to years of lobbying and organizing on the part of LGBT civil society organizations. Portugal instated same-sex registered partnerships in 2001 and protected individuals from homophobic crimes by including gender identity and sexual orientation under citizenship rights.
In the Netherlands, strategies of gay-straight alliances were particularly helpful, but recent research shows that lesbian women still get harassed at the rate of 40%. Lesbians and bisexual women have also been less visible in the emancipation process than gay men. The Dutch government is working to counter this through research and campaigning.
In Belgium, civil society has demanded that the government-funded LGBT organization give a lot more attention to lesbian women. Research on the situation of LGBs in Belgium has confirmed that the situation of young lesbian and bisexual women is very bad with higher depression rates and 5 times graeter likelihood of suicidal attempts than their heterosexual peers. One recent project is producing a pregnancy guide for women. In her closing remarks, Ms. Agna Smisthson urged civil society to build more alliances between the women’s movement and LGBT movements.
Michel Pasteel, Director for the Institute of Equality of Women and Men in Belgium, spoke about the work to improve the policies around transgender equality. Legal reform in May 2007 allowed for the right to change one’s name and gender in official records. “Many consider transgender issues as marginal,” he said. “We hope that policy-makers and the broader public recognize that such issues are critical and deserve to be put on the political agenda.” More information on the Belgian policies can be found on http://www.iefh.belgique.be.
Geeta Misra, Executive Director of CREA and discussion moderator, then spoke about the recent judgment in India that annulled the anti-sodomy law not only because of the work of good policy-makers, but also because of years of advocacy and work done by civil society. The audience was then given the change to ask the speakers questions.
A New Resource: GENDER CENTRED: A GenderIT.org thematic bulletin: "Violence against women and ICTs - part 2"
The last edition of GenderIT.org in 2009 brought you a snapshot of the laws and policy on ICTs and violence against women (VAW) in 12 countries across three regions. In this follow-up issue, GenderIT.org has prepared two cross-country overview articles for you, focusing on Latin America and Asia. They show the importance of connecting the dots between women's rights, violence against women, and ICTs.Read more...
Gabby De Cicco
Wednesday, March 3, 2010, United Nations Headquarters, Conference Room 1, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
The morning began with a light snow shower and the short distance to the United Nations main building promised to be a little unpleasant. But the weather didn't stop the hundreds of people attending the celebrations for March 8, International Women's Day. The morning's event featured the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Also attending were Meng Xiaosi, minister and vice-chairperson of the National Committee on Women and Children, People’s Republic of China, and Audun Lysbakken, minister for Gender Equality and Children’s Affairs, Norway. After their opening remarks, there was an interactive panel, moderated by the journalist María Hinojosa.
In his speech, Ban Ki-moon stated, "Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals—peace, security, sustainable development—stand in jeopardy."
The secretary-general also noted the importance of working on violence against women. He spoke about the UN’s work on sexual violence during armed conflicts: "Last year the Security Council approved two strong resolutions on this issue and I have just named a special representative to mobilize the international community to address these crimes. My UNiTE to end violence against women campaign and the recently launched Network of Men Leaders are striving to expand our global advocacy efforts."
One important lesson of the last 15 years is the importance of working against discrimination and stereotyped gender roles. The secretary-general said: "Early and forced marriages, so-called honour killings, sexual abuse, and trafficking of young women and girls are disturbingly prevalent and, in some areas, on the rise. Whether looking through the lens of poverty, or in times of disaster, we see that women still bear the greatest burden.”
Towards the end of his speech Ban Ki-moon urged the General Assembly to create a new entity within the UN system to spur on all efforts related to gender equality. When the secretary-general finished speaking, a group of activists from the GEAR Campaign held up posters with the words “GEAR UP” and Ban Ki-moon smiled approvingly.
To read the secretary-general's full speech click here
To read about the new UN entity, see "The United Nations General Assembly has finally mandated the establishment of a new gender equality entity. What does this mean?" by Kathambi Kinoti
New York, 1 March 2010
“In terms of gender-related MDGs, I wish to emphasize in particular that there cannot be progress toward achieving the MDGs without progress in gender equality. Accelerating gender-sensitie MDG performance requires participatory processes and strategic partnerships, strengthened political commitment and leadership, improved analysis, monitoring and reporting, and investment in gender equality and empowerment of women.” (p. 3)
“The reviews echoed the findings of the 2009 World Survey on the Role of Women In Development by DESA. The World Survey illustrated that the structural constraints hindering women’s economic empowerment have not been adequately addressed over the past decade. Most equality enhancing measures have been undertaken at the micro level. Gender equality perspectives have largely been ignored in macroeconomic analysis”. (p. 4)
“As the World Survey stresses, an integrated economic and social policy framework is needed to promote the equitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth. The interdependencies between economic and social policies, the formal and informal economy, and paid and unpaid work must be recognize and explicitly addressed”.
Gabby De Cicco
Organized by the Nobel Women's Initiative and the Women's League of Burma.
March 2, 2010, Proshansky Auditorium, CUNY Graduate Centre, 365- 5th Avenue
For more than six hours we listened to the testimony of 12 women who had suffered many types of violence under the military dictatorship that has ruled Burma since 1962. The panel of judges included: Dr. Heisoo Shin, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, and Nobel Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams.
Lway Aye Nang, the general-secretary of the Women’s League of Burma, and Liz Bernstein, executive director of the Nobel Women's Initiative, opened the proceedings with some introductory remarks.
Charlotte Bunch then spoke about the background of the Tribunal and its objective, which is to make the public aware of what these women have suffered and convince people that their actions can help this country return to democracy, punish these crimes and end impunity. The Tribunal is a call to action to the international community.
Testimony was given in three sessions divided by issue: 1) violence against women; 2) civil and political violations; and 3) economic, social and cultural violations.
During the first session, four women testified to the Burmese military's ongoing brutal treatment of women and youth of both genders.
Adolescents and young women forced to work as slaves, raped for hours and hours and humiliated in front of their communities and families, re-victimized by the educational system and the medical system, and punished by a judicial system that follows the orders of a terrible, corrupt government.
Two women spoke about the trafficking of women. Both women were sent to China, one tricked by the promise of better work and the other sold for a supposedly arranged marriage.
To read the judges' verdict and conclusions, visit http://www.nobelwomensinitiative.org/home/article/burma-tribunal
WASHINGTON POST - As President Obama tackles the financial crisis, his policies must address the economic distress unevenly affecting Americans. Assessments of the impact cannot be reduced to abstract averages or gross aggregates. Jobless rates and other economic measures have human dimensions that vary dramatically across the nation.Read more...