Pushing the Limits: Young Women's Voices about War, Peace and Power

Monday, January 1, 2007
Human Rights Watch

This report clearly illustrates the connection between the right to one's own body and democratic decision-making. A person unable to claim the right to ones own body is clearly unable to sense the right to achieve self-esteem and dignity, and even less chance of claiming the right to be heard or the ability to influence the surrounding environment. In this report we demonstrate the solutions: experiences from organizing and strengthening teenage girls so that they can use and build on their own strengths, learn to cooperate across all borders and be part of the change urgently required to stop the violence and denial of basic rights. Images of girls or women are often used to illustrate poverty or victims of war. In contrast, analysis and strategies aimed at eradicating poverty or enhancing security tend to focus on men. This tendency is basically explained by the fact that presumably gender-neutral interventions, in areas such as economic reforms and conflict resolution, tend to use men as the norm and point of departure, and thus the benefits are primarily for men. This is a description of existing power structures. Power is established to retain advantages and privileges notably in the form of access to resources and decision- making. To do so, violence and other sanctions are applied both within families and for societies at large.

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Human Rights Watch, Pushing the Limits, 2007