From Inclusion To Transformation: #FeministFutures & The AWID Forum
By WILPF/PeaceWomen Director Abigail Ruane
Participants write ‘yes’ in their native language in support of the Colombian peace agreement referendum (Photo: Orla Sheridan)
“There is no such a thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”
-- Audre Lorde
Two weeks ago, WILPF facilitated a delegation of 19 women from 8 countries – including DRC, Chad, Syria, Cameroon, Nigeria, India, Colombia, and the UK – to the 2016 AWID Forum in Brazil. There, we cultivated solidarity among our global sisterhood. We shared our messages about the importance of disarmament and peace for feminist futures. And we contributed to six events including a feminist playbook for peace and launched our #MoveTheMoney interactive toolkit on feminist financing (read more below!)
This year’s AWID Forum was a significant space for the feminist movement and for social justice movements worldwide. It took on the important task of creating space for leaders across different social justice movements – including with activists on disability rights, indigenous rights, sex workers rights, labour, racial justice, and LGBTQI and trans rights – to connect, share, learn, and build networks and communities against colonialism and for solidarity in order to synergise action that creates a better world for all.
This mobilising space built on the historical gains of the feminist movement has taken the lead in both expanding access to human rights for women and redefining what were traditionally the “rights of man” to reflect women’s lives and experiences.
At a time where feminist activists have successfully mobilised to across regions and experiences to address violence against women as a violation of women’s human rights, this meeting was a bold and important step that provided an opportunity to take activism to the next level: to create space for social justice activists of diverse backgrounds to come together and recognise that none of us are free, until all of us are free; to build a common ground for a nonviolent world for all; to strengthen resistance against all forms of oppression – whether based on gender, race, ethnicity, class, socio-economic status, ability, nationality, or otherwise; and to cultivate collaborative action for justice, inclusion, nonviolence, and peace.
However, the forum also highlighted the challenges of expanding the circle of inclusion while still maintaining deeply rooted gender analysis. By bringing together such diverse movements, the AWID Forum created space to share experiences about violence and oppression across a range of intersectional contexts. However, it can never just be about “adding women.” Moving from the personal to the political requires continuing to strengthen feminist analysis and practical collaborative strategies.
As we move forward as WILPF, I will personally will look for ways to more effectively leverage work across movements, from connecting Women, Peace and Security activism to militarisation of the police; from gender and peace budgeting to funding “reasonable accommodation” for disabled women; and from cultures of charity to justice.
Is it possible to build a non-violence movement across diverse social justice movements so as to overthrow patriarchal and militaristic institutions for peace and justice?
Yes we can. But we are not there yet.
This forum set the stage for collective action. Now, it is up to us. As we take the next steps, let us expand our circles of solidarity in a way that is both broad and deep for transformative change.
By Grace Jennings-Edquist
WILPF Secretary-General Madeleiene Rees and WILPF/PeaceWomen Director Abigail Ruane address delegates at the Launch of the Financing Toolkit (Photo: Orla Sheridan)
WILPF produced the toolkit to address the striking disparity between military funding and peace and gender equality funding across the globe. In 2015, there was a global military expenditure of $1.6 trillion. Meanwhile, only two percent of aid to fragile states in 2012-2013 targeted gender equality as a principal objective.
The toolkit shows that instead of funding war, the United Nations and member states should invest in feminist financing, including gender-responsive budgeting, transparency in defence budgets, national action plans on women, peace, and security, and civil society-inclusive UN funds.
The toolkit includes a range of materials - including a motion graphics explainer video available in five languages - intended to boost action on women, peace and security financing.
Case studies, fact sheets and social media graphics are also available to download as part of the toolkit, which is intended to stimulate advocacy among non-governmental actors and push the United Nations and national governments to shift their funding focus.
Join us in spreading the word that it is time to #MoveTheMoney from war to gender equality and peace!
Find WILPF/PeaceWomen’s Women, Peace and Security Financing Toolkit at www.peacewomen.org/WPS-Financing
By Farida Ismail
(Image: Nela Abey/WILPF/PeaceWomen)
On 19 September, 2016 in the margins of the 71st UN General Assembly General Debate, the United Nations General Assembly hosted the High-Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants. The high-level summit marks the first time when world leaders at the heads of state level came together to address the international response to refugee crisis.
At the summit, member states focused on the importance of public services, value of humanitarian response and respect for human rights. However, less than 20% of the speakers were using gendered language. Speakers also largely missed the opportunity to prioritise the need to strengthen disarmament efforts, conflict prevention and women’s participation as potential ways to approach the crisis.
Member states adopted the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants acknowledged a shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees and migrants in a humane, sensitive, compassionate and people-centred manner and agreed to a set of commitments for action. The Declaration included important elements, including the commitment to protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants and to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence. However, WILPF joins other members of civil society in calling for member states to go from words to action by developing national-level frameworks to implement the Declaration.
For a more detailed analysis of the Summit on Refugees and Migrants here
Find the Joint Statement on Women and Girls towards the Global Refugee and Migrant Summit here.
Detailed summaries of the events and discussions at the UN General Assembly can be accessed here. Stay tuned for WILPF/PeaceWomen’s analysis of the General Debate!
Panelists and event organisers at the WILPF-supported event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations (Photo: Sarah Tunnell/WILPF/PeaceWomen)
As part of WILPF’s ongoing effort to amplify the voices of grassroots women to global policy spaces for action, WILPF co-sponsored an event with CARE International and the Women's Refugee Commission on September 20, entitled “Women and Girl’s Perspectives on the Refugee and Migrant Summit”. Hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, it featured speakers from governments of Mexico and Canada, and women peace activists from Bosnia, Denmark, the UK, and Lebanon. The discussion focused on the particular challenges faced by displaced women and girls, policy gaps in camps and resettlement states, and how the international community can best respond to improve the lives of women and girl refugees.
Sabah Al Hallak of the Syrian Women’s League brought the panel’s attention to weaknesses in the current policies and practices of Lebanon and other governments in protecting and assisting Syrian women and girls, especially around legal barriers to education in Lebanon. She advocated for governments such as Lebanon to provide official documentation to refugees free of charge, and to consider variables such as language and the distance students must travel to school when providing educational services.
The testimonies offered by the event panellists provided insight into how the international community can incorporate a gender perspective into its policies and practices for women and girls. As Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Canada, stated at the event, “Women and girls are strong agents of change, they are agents of peace, and a key part of any movement.”
Read the full event summary here.
By Naimah Hakim
Rally in Lagos, Nigeria, calling for the rescue of abducted school girls (Photo: UN Photo)
Chapter nine of the Global Study on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 examines the complex relationship between gender and violent extremism. From Daesh/ISIS to Boko Haram, rises in violent extremism often result in systematic attacks on the rights of women and girls, including rights to education, access to public life, and protections from targeted sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Media coverage around violent extremism often portrays women as victims, rather than as powerful agents of change. The Global Study calls for strengthened action to prevent, rather than just combat, violent extremism by strengthening investments and action for gender equitable human rights and development as well as independent support for women led civil society, that is delinked from counter-terrorism agendas.
Facts and Figures:
Women are often on the front lines of preventing and countering violent extremism. However, where women’s advocacy becomes too closely associated with a government’s counter terrorism agenda, the risk of backlash against women’s rights defenders increases (Global Study 2015, 226).
The response to violent extremism and acts of terror has been primarily through the use of force. However, in many countries, counter-terrorism legislation and newfound security practices deeply compromise women’s rights and international humanitarian law (Global Study 2015, 227)
Protect women’s and girls’ rights at all times and ensure that efforts to counter violent extremism strategies do not stereotype, instrumentalize or securitize women and girls (Global Study 2015, 231).
Work with local women and institutions to engage women at all levels, and allow local women autonomy and leadership in determining their priorities and strategies in countering extremism (Global Study 2015, 231).
Develop gender-sensitive disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration programs that address the specific needs of women and girls. Draw upon the lessons learned from disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) initiatives under the women, peace and security agenda (Global Study 2015, 231).