WOMEN IN PEACE NEGOTIATIONS: SUSTAINABLE PEACE NEEDS WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP AND REPRESENTATION

02By Juliana Maria Marques Boyd (former intern, SNDATUN): 2017 marks the 17th Anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 (SCR 1325). SCR 1325 not only recognizes the severe impact of war on women, but also the essential role that women play in preventing conflict and in the peacemaking processes. The resolution represents a breakthrough in women, peace and security. This resolution also serves as a reminder on the importance of enabling a large pool of women to have full participation at all levels in conflict negotiations and peace treaties.

The crucial role of women in sustainable peace and security was the central theme of the side-event, “Women Mediators, Words to Action,” held at the UN Headquarters on September 21, 2017. Several government representatives, members of civil society

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Courtesy;  UN Women

organizations, and Women Mediator’s Networks (from Nordic, African, and Mediterranean countries) attended the event. Speakers highlighted the importance of the inclusion of women in mediation leadership positions. In her remarks at the event, the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Angelino Alfano, stated that, “though, women are powerful agents of peace and security, they are still well underrepresented as official participants at the UN.” Despite resolution 1325 (2000) calls for women’s participation in peace building processes, it is still a challenge to integrate women in international peace mediation positions.

Women are significantly outnumbered by men, or excluded in some cases, in peace consultations.  According to the UN Women, between 1992 and 2011, less than 10 per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.

This trend is unfortunate, because the significant role women hold as advocates can pave the way for successful peace building and for sustainable peace. It is therefore crucial that the UN Security Council and Member States strongly enforce resolution 1325, in order for more women to participate fully in peace negotiations. This action will help rectify the perception many have about women simply being victims in conflict.  Far from it, women are not just victims, but are also vital agents of peace and reconciliation, spanning from local communities to the international sphere.

Read more: Facts and Figures: Peace and Security;  http://bit.ly/ZWlt0u

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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: “WE ARE ALL EQUAL IN DIGNITY AND RIGHTS”

01The United Nations (UN) was founded in the aftermath of World War II in 1945. To forestall the tragedy of another world war, “to promote social progress and better standards of living, human rights and freedoms” are some of the principal objectives of the organization. On December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This complements the UN Charter. The UDHR which sets out fundamental rights of people to be universally promoted was the result of the experience of atrocity crimes committed against the Jews and other minority groups during World War II. The document is considered the UN’s “road map for guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of individuals everywhere.” The UDHR has been translated into over 500 languages, making it the single most translated document in history.

December 10, 2018 will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on December 10, 2017 launched a year -long campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of the UDHR. This campaign tagged, #STANDUP4HUMANRIGHTS, is to highlight the importance of the UDHR in the lives of people around the world. According to the OHCHR, the campaign is aimed at three main objectives; to engage a broad base of audiences’ world over, to help promote an understanding of how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all; and to encourage further reflection on the ways that each of us can stand up for human rights, every day.

Ways to engage:

KNOW YOUR FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS. Learn the UDHR. Encourage others to do the same. Teach the UDHR in schools this year.  Click here to download illustrated booklet of the UDHR.

Join in the #standup4humanrights campaign and take the following pledge:

  • I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you
  • When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will STAND UP
  • I will raise my voice. I will take action. I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.

Read more:

History of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights;http://bit.ly/2nQeV4G

#Standup4humanrights campaign: http://bit.ly/2A5a81t

Illustrated booklet of UDHR: http://bit.ly/2hTiaDI

UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CONFERENCE (COP23): CALL TO HOLD TO PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT PATH

4 Two years into the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, (COP23) was held in Bonn, Germany, from December 6 to 17. Against the background of the  horrific natural disasters around the world in recent months, there was a unified call by participants at the Conference to “hold to the path of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.” The effects of climate change are undeniably being felt by billions of people around the world, especially those already living in the most impoverished, vulnerable parts of the globe. For people living in Small Island Countries, the impacts of climate change are daily realities as they watch their homes gradually submerge in water.

In his opening remarks at the COP23, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres5 described climate change “as the defining threat of our time.” It is therefore, our duty — to each other and to future generations — is to raise the ambition to combat it.”

The conference ended on Friday, November 17, with participants expressing a renewed sense of urgency and the need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

Read more;

United Nations Climate Change Conference: http://bit.ly/2yr0tFB

Draft Outcome Document: http://bit.ly/2yY1RvC

 

 

SPOTLIGHT ON GLOBAL ISSUES: PARTICIPATE IN UN MEETINGS IN 2018

3Through the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur NGO Office, interested persons are able to participate in major UN meetings. There is no fee to attend these UN sessions, but participants are responsible for their housing, food, and transportation while attending the meeting. Funds are available to assist Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Latin America and Africa. If you are interested in attending a major UN meeting in New York in 2018, contact Sister Grace Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at SNDatUN@sndden.org.  You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at http://webtv.un.org/. Below are some of the major UN sessions taking place in from January – April, 2018.

 

  • January 29 – February 7, 2018: 56th Commission on Social Development (New York). “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All” is  the priority theme for the 2018 policy cycle. http://bit.ly/2iJixzV
  • March 12 – 23, 2018: 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (New York).
    Theme: Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls.” http://bit.ly/2AEUBoN
  • April 16 – 27, 2018: 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)  Theme: “Indigenous Peoples’ Collective Rights to Lands, Territories and Resources. http://bit.ly/2yXQtEa

LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND: END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

1The United Nations General Assembly, in resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women on December 20, 1991. In 1998, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women is a violation of human rights. However, sadly, it is still the most pervasive form of discrimination.  Violence against women is a consequence of persisting inequalities between men and women, through which discrimination thrives. Women around the world continue to face violence and discrimination within classrooms, boardrooms, and on battlefields. Some of the prevalent forms of violence suffered by women and girls are intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and child marriage.

Violence against women and girls is preventable, and the elimination of such violence is 2essential for building a healthy, peaceful society. However, as noted in the UN Secretary General’s 2017 report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.”

Ending gender-based violence and inequality requires the concerted effort of individuals, families, civil society organizations, community, and religious authorities. After all, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”  As rightly put by UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”

Read more:

UN Women website: http://bit.ly/2hIfTy3

Learn about 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The theme for the 2017 campaign is “Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education.” Also download the toolkit on gender-based violence in education from this link; http://bit.ly/2zjgyOd

Explore the facts: Violence Against Women; http://bit.ly/2irh0iJ

SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR WORKING: TOWARDS THE EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL WOMEN IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

4By Isabelle Izika and Marie-Josephine Ibanda, SNDdeN: The contribution of women to the socio-economic development of their communities, especially in developing countries, is a well-established fact.  As the former UN Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon pointed out, this contribution is based on an education that frees and empowers women. However, in some parts of the world, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this reality remains but a slogan for women living in rural areas. Thanks to the missionary efforts of Sisters of Notre Dame de

Sr. Marie-Josephine and members of GSEC      Namur (SNDdeN), and that of other Religious Congregations who have dedicated over a century to educating women and girls, preparing them to take their necessary roles in society as agents of development.  The first educated women in the DRC were products of schools administered by Catholic Religious Women. Until this day, in the rural province of Kwango, best schools, where girls can receive quality education and formation, are those run by Religious Congregations, including Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Unfortunately, despite their level of education or professional training, women from this 5region of the DRC are still under-represented in the public sector, except in the teaching and healthcare professions, which are often not well paid. As a result, many women who do not feel attracted to either the teaching or healthcare profession end up in the informal sector (often subsistence agriculture). The income these women generate is barely sufficient for the enormous financial responsibilities they undertake in their families.  According to a recent survey conducted by SNDdeN among students in in many of the schools they administered in the DRC, nearly 90% of the students, especially girls, are financially supported by their mothers. This reality is barely acknowledged and valued.

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Member of GSEC receiving her savings

In an effort to offer some relief to the ever-increasing financial constraints many of these women face daily, and also to create a forum where they can come together for mutual support on other life issues, SNDdeN in the parishes of Pelende and Kitenda began an initiative known as “Groupe de Solidarité, d’Epargne et de Crédit (GSEC)” (Group of Solidarity, Saving and Credit). The women organize themselves in groups of 25 people at most. Each group elects a directing committee composed of a president, a secretary, a cashier-treasurer and three tellers. They have regular encounters according to the internal rules defined by the group. During these encounters, each person brings her saving into the solidarity cash box according to the sum fixed by the group. After several encounters, each woman at a given time asks for a credit to begin an activity that will generate income. This credit will be given with an interest rate and a date for repayment fixed by the group. The solidarity cash box allows them to intervene in extreme cases of illness or death in the family. It also provides means for paying their children’s school fees promptly.

 

In addition to financial activities, the women who are members of the GSEC get informed and inform each other about other subjects such as; hygiene, reproductive health, good manners, food security, and many more.

 

THE CALL TO END POVERTY: A PATH TOWARD PEACEFUL AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES

2Extreme poverty is a violation of human rights. On December 22, 1992, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, in resolution 47/196, declared October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The theme for 2017 celebration is, “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive society.” The observance of October 17 was inspired by the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski; founder of International Movement ATD Fourth World, a nongovernmental organization that aims to eradicate extreme poverty through human rights based approach. Since the adoption of this resolution, some progress has been made toward global poverty eradication. Yet, significant work towards this goal remains.

There are sufficient resources in the world for fair allocation to every individual, yet3 millions of people live in extreme poverty. This occurrence is because only a handful of the world’s population controls the bulk of the world’s resources, leaving the majority of the world’s population in poverty. A recent report by Oxfam International clearly illustrates this sad situation.  According to this report published by Oxfam in January 2017 titled, An Economy for the 99%, eight men own the same wealth as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. This is simply not acceptable! As stated by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, to the UN General Assembly in 2016, “a world where 1% of humanity controls as much wealth as the bottom 99% will never be stable.”

In 2015, world leaders under the auspices of the United Nations made a commitment to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, with the eradication of poverty as its first goal.

Read more:

UNSG message on poverty:  https://youtu.be/GQ_ehELVScY

An Economy for the 99%: http://bit.ly/2jXPgES

Poverty is Political: These 3 Things Will Help Us Eliminate It: http://bit.ly/2yzT31B