On April 24, the Center on Gender, Security and Human Rights presented their final lecture of the year at University of Massachusetts Boston's Campus Center.
Sam Cook, a lawyer and women's right activist, delivered her lecture on “Women, Peace and Security” with a concentration on "Policy's Skewed Focus on Sexual Violence: The Failure of a “Successful” Feminist Intervention?"
Cook is formerly the project director of PeaceWomen, a project of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She has also been the director of communications and research at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Cook discussed Security Council Resolution 1820 (SCR 1820) and the others that have followed up SCR 1325 with an emphasis on sexual violence.
“Avoiding to include the issue [of sexual violence on women] in our talk does not help the case of finding a solution,” Cook said. “It is a matter that needs to be addressed,” claimed Cook. She also mentioned Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, among others, as places reported in the SCR 1820 with a history of widespread sexual violence during periods of political crisis.
The SCR 1820 was the first resolution to recognize sexual violence as a tactic of war. As PeaceWomen's website states, a key provision of the SCR 1820 includes the need for the exclusion of sexual violence crimes from amnesty provisions in the context of conflict resolution processes. The website also states that another key provision is the recognition of the importance of women's full participation in peace and security matters and their role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in post-conflict peacebuilding.
“I have always valued the acuity of Sam's political insight and analysis,” said Dr. Carol Cohn, the director of the center on Gender, Security and Human Rights at UMass Boston.
The center on Gender, Security & Human Rights aims at creating a more peaceful, just and gender equitable world through programs designed to produce cutting edge gender analysis of war and peacebuilding, to transform gender and security research and policy agendas, and to foster innovative education, activism and practice.
Cook invites UMass Boston community members, especially women, to join the conversation relating to gender, security and human rights. She also encourages everyone to try to start influencing policies that affect daily lives and shape our culture and perception.
"Women need to be aware and participate when policymakers are making policies on socio-political issues," Cook said. "Young women need also to refuse to sit down and [be] told what to do all the time," she stated. Cook urges women to take initiative and embrace activism.