Friday, January 16, 2004

January 12-30, UN Headquarters, New York, USA

The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women began its 30th session at United Nations Headquarters this week. The Committee is the expert treaty body that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol. It consists of 23 members who serve as experts in their personal capacity. (For a list of the members of the Committee, visit: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/members.htm)

During the current three-week session, the Committee will review the reports - submitted in accordance with article 18 of the Convention - of the following States Parties:

Belarus; Bhutan; Ethiopia; Germany; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Nepal; and Nigeria.

In pre-sessional working groups, no more than five members of the Committee, representing different geographical regions, create a list of issues and questions based on their review of the country's report. In turn, they send the list of issues and questions to the country in question. All of the questions might or not might not be answered by the government before their review session before the Committee. The Committee can ask the same questions of the government, as well as any other questions that might arise from consideration of the report or the questions posed by the pre-sessional working group.

NGO Participation

In advance of the Committee's session, international organizations and national and local NGOs from the countries under review can submit shadow reports to the Committee. These organizations can request the before-mentioned questions to their respective government from the Committee, so as to direct their shadow report toward the outlined concerns.

Once a week during the session, NGOs have the opportunity to present oral reports based on their shadow reports.

WILPF representatives, including Marion Boeker, WILPF-Germany, are monitoring the Committee's proceedings. Marion, who is representing KOK, the Federal Association Against Trafficking in Women and Violence Against Women in the Migration Process (Potsdam, Germany), has coordinated a collection of shadow reports from German NGOs and will present an oral statement before the Committee on Monday, 19 January 2004. The Committee is scheduled to begin the question and answer review of the report of the government of Germany on Wednesday, 21 January 2004.

Suggested Reading

-Ms. Carolyn Hannan, Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), in her opening statement to the Committee, spoke about the work of the Committee and DAW over the past six months. To read her statement, visit: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw30/CH-stmt.htm

-Ms. Angela King, the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, in her statement to the Committee, addressed the connection between CEDAW and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the recent work of her office, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, including preparations for the CSW. To read her statement, visit:

For more information on CEDAW, visit the DAW website at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/.

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March 1-12, 2004, United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA

Upcoming Expert Group Meeting on Theme #2

‘The Role of Women in Electoral Processes in Post-Conflict Countries'
Organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
January 19-22, 2004, UN, New York, USA

For information on the EGM, including the Aide Memoire, visit: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/meetings/2004/EGMelectoral/index.html

Preparatory Interactive Roundtable on Theme #2

No Women, No Peace!
Sustainable Peace, Human Security, and Gender Equality
Moving the International Security Agenda Forward
January 23, 2004, 1- 2:45pm, UN, New York, USA

The NGO Committee on the Status of Women, which includes its sub-group, the NGO Taskforce on Theme #2, in collaboration with the Division on the Advancement of Women (DAW), will host an interactive roundtable based on Theme #2, in order to raise awareness among NGOs, the UN system and governments about the upcoming session of the Commission.

The Roundtable will be moderated by Ms. Angela King, Assistant Secretary-General, and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women (OSAGI). Speakers, from civil society, government, academia, and the UN system, have been asked to offer action-oriented, forward-thinking recommendations for the achievement of women's equal participation in a variety of areas, including humanitarian processes, formal peace negotiations, disarmament and peace education.

NGO Taskforce on Theme #2: Existing Language Document

The NGO Taskforce on Theme #2 has developed a compilation of existing language – both agreed and non-agreed by UN Member States on the CSW theme - women's equal participation in conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building. The document is a compilation of language from such documents as UNSC Resolution 1325, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

The compilation is intended to serve as an advocacy tool for CSW participants to use in preparation for CSW and during the language negotiations over the 2-week session, as well as a general resource for all those interested in, and whose work involves the issues included under Theme #2.

The draft existing language compilation is available on PeaceWomen. It will be changing frequently, so please check back as to the status of the document.

If you would like to provide input, email kara@peacewomen.org

NGO Toolbox

The NGO Taskforce on Theme #2 is preparing an NGO ‘toolbox' to hand out at the NGO Consultation, preceding the CSW, and to make available throughout the two-week session. This toolbox is intended to serve as an education, advocacy, and lobby tool for NGOs while at the CSW and post-CSW, when participants continue their work at home.

We are hoping this toolbox will include, among other things:

-Existing Language Document
-A compilation of women's experiences participating in formal and informal peace processes - demonstrating where their participation has made a difference in peace processes and to serve as models for action/organizing. Experiences to highlight could include: the Mano River Women's Peace Network – MARWOPNET (who will be attending CSW); Guatemala; Northern Ireland; South Africa
-Overview of the Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan of the Department for Disarmament Affairs (DDA)
-List of available translations of UNSC Resolution 1325 available on www.PeaceWomen.org and 1325 Translation flier (initiative of the PeaceWomen Project)
-US Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's US House Resolution 432 on women, peace and security
-The Golden Tulip Declaration of Liberian Women Attending the Peace Talks in Accra, Ghana

In addition to the toolbox, which can only hold so many documents, the WILPF UN Office, in addition to the CSW NGO resource room, will serve as a repository for a women, peace and security resources. Please visit our office at 777 UN Plaza in order to pick up the documents that you need.
We invite your suggestions on other women, peace and security documents that should be made available throughout the CSW.

For more information about the upcoming CSW, CLICK HERE.

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January 14, 2004 – (Deutsche Presse Agentur) Israel will alter the way Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip are treated at army checkpoints after a Palestinian woman killed three Israeli soldiers and herself Wednesday at a checkpoint when she detonated explosives.

January 13, 2004 – (UN Wire) The number of Afghan women who have registered to vote in the country's national elections later this year has increased, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan announced yesterday.

January 12, 2004 – (UN) An expert human rights panel opened a three-week session today at United Nations Headquarters in New York aimed at scrutinizing how women are faring in eight countries - Bhutan, Belarus, Ethiopia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Nigeria and Nepal.

January 11, 2004 – (BBC) It is just after dawn and a group of Tamil Tiger fighters lines up in front of the flagpole at a camp in rebel-controlled northern Sri Lanka.

January 6, 2004 - Women participating in the International Human Rights March for Women in Israel and Palestine are outraged by the military destruction which has recently taken place against the civilian population in the West Bank and Gaza . On Wednesday, January 7, we intend to take our March to our embassies in Tel Aviv. We will present a letter to our ambassadors calling on our governments to demand the Israeli government immediately end military action and to expedite the delivery of urgently needed food and medical supplies in the areas hit by the military and/or suffering due to closures.

January 2, 2004 – (IRIN) Awa Michel, a short dark robust woman in her mid 30's, busies herself cooking rice and fish soup over two coal pots outside her house in Cote d'Ivoire's northern city of Korhogo.

January 2004 – (femLINKpacific) Includes fem'TALK 1325: Defence and Security is women's business too says the Fiji Women, Peace and Security Committee.

December 28, 2003 – (NYT) Last March, Debbie Siyangapi took the pulpit in an Anglican church here in Zimbabwe's second-largest city and confessed her darkest secret to several hundred worshipers. Within an hour, she had donned a nun's habit as a disguise and slipped out of the church through a side entrance, literally fleeing for her safety, said Ms. Siyangapi and human rights groups that are now sheltering her.

For more country-specific women, peace and security news, CLICK HERE

For more international women, peace and security news, CLICK HERE

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Women's Participation and Leadership: Vital to Democratic Governance
Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of UNIFEM
Summit on the Americas, Monterrey, Mexico
January 13, 2004

Excellencies, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to be here this morning and grateful to have the opportunity to talk to you about the critically important issues of governance and women's participation in order to obtain better outcomes for development, peace and security.

The issues of democratic governance assumes enormous significance in the current debate on how to shape a more secure future for all. The concern has increased because of the growing realization that conventional development and governance approaches have failed to achieve desired ends -- the elimination of poverty and inequality and the provision of world peace. There is a greater desire to consider ways in which power has been exercised in the management of economic and political processes for development and in addressing the emerging issues and threats to human survival.

Today, it is widely accepted that the full participation of all citizens, both men and women, is the best way to build and sustain democracies, reduce conflict and achieve human development. Comprising over 50 per cent of the world's population, women are essential to addressing the pressing challenges we face today: achieving the Millennium Development Goals, creating more accountable institutions of governance, ensuring more equitable resource allocation, combating HIV/AIDS and guaranteeing peace and security. The issues affecting women are not only women's issues…they have profound implications for all of humanity. Yet everywhere, women continue to be under-represented -- as leaders and problem solvers, decision-makers or elected officials. Many discriminatory laws and practices still prevent women from playing a role in shaping the policies that affect their lives. Also, many women still do not have full understanding of their rights, nor knowledge of how to participate in complex economic and political processes nor how to hold their leaders accountable. And in spite of their potential to offer innovative solutions, especially in a time of crisis, they are rarely those to whom nations turn first.

There is an urgent need for the leadership and participation of women if we are to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Three realities increasingly define our world, presenting new challenges for governments and the international community: globalization, fragmentation and insecurity, and problems without borders…

For the full statement, CLICK HERE.


CEDAW Chairperson Applauds New Afghan Constitution
January 8, 2004, UN Headquarters, New York, USA

The following statement was issued by Ms. Feride Acar, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):

“On Sunday, 4 January 2004, the Constitutional Loya Jirga of Afghanistan approved a new Constitution for the country. This agreement marks a historic milestone for the Afghan people who have overcome decades of conflict and political chaos in working towards the creation of a stable and democratic State. There is additional cause for celebration: the newly approved Constitution explicitly guarantees that men and women have equal rights and duties before the law. This is a significant victory for women and girls in Afghanistan who barely three years ago were completely excluded from all spheres of life and faced systematic violations of their human rights on a daily basis.

“Gender equality is a crucial factor not only in achieving sustainable peace but also in ensuring respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in all societies. Enshrining the principle of gender equality within the Constitution is a vital starting point for the transformation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. It legitimizes the important role played by women and girls in Afghanistan in reshaping their future and in rebuilding their country.

“As the international human rights treaty that addresses most comprehensively women's equality with men and non-discrimination in the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and any other field, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has a vital role to play in promoting and realizing the goal of gender equality. Afghanistan acceded to the Convention on 5 March 2003, without reservations. As Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, I congratulate the delegates to the Constitutional Loya Jirga for their courage, vision and commitment to the equal rights and duties of women and men. I will work to ensure the Committee's continued encouragement and support for the full and effective implementation of the Convention in Afghanistan.

“As we celebrate the dawn of a new era for Afghanistan, I congratulate the Afghan people, and especially its women, for this incredible achievement.”

For the text on PeaceWomen.org, CLICK HERE.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, CLICK HERE .

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Everyday Victims: Civilians in the Burundi War
Human Rights Watch, December 2003

This report, covering the period from April through mid-November 2003, documents the many ways civilians have suffered as a result of the fighting between Burundi's government forces and rebel forces, including killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction, displacement and forced labor. Below are excerpts from Chapter VII on Rape:

Women in combat zones in Burundi have suffered increasingly from rape, a growing problem already in early 2003. In the province of Bubanza, where the population suffered the consequences of repeated military operations and thousands were displaced, one witness from the hill Rugazi said that rape had become so frequent that women did not dare step outside their houses. The governor of Kayanza province complained in late June of rapes committed in Kabarore and Muruta communes and Governor Isaac Bujaba of Ruyigi said that rape had become a new weapon used against the civilian population.

…One young mother, half-hiding behind her cloth, as if she felt the need for protection, told a Human Rights Watch researcher how extensive rape had become on her hill of Muyange, in the Ruyigi province. In a subdued voice she said she knew one pregnant woman and an eighteen-year-old girl who had both been raped recently. “They also raped a woman who was carrying her little baby on her back,” she added. The witness told of an acquaintance whom rebels caught and raped in her own home and in front of her husband who was himself beaten. Then the rebels looted all their belongings. “I know that older women have been raped too,” she said, “although I don't know any such women myself.”
An old woman said:

This phenomenon of rape has become very serious. It affects all women without distinction, even the very young and pregnant women. If armed men go through the area, any woman becomes a target. We have to go sleep in the forest, which means we have less strength to cultivate our fields. It has been two years since we have been able to cultivate the way we are used to doing.

She concluded with despair, “There is no more authority in Burundi.”

For the full chapter, visit: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/burundi1203/7.htm#_Toc59011441

For the full report, including footnotes, visit: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/burundi1203/index.htm

Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) has produced an analysis of rape in Burundi, “Focus on Rape,” which is available on PeaceWomen.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, CLICK HERE .

1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005
Association for 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize
Launched in March 2003, Switzerland

“Since 1901, 80 men, 20 organizations and 11 women have received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2005, 100 years after the first woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Bertha von Suttner, 1000 women shall be recipients of the prize. Their work shall thereby be acknowledged and remunerated. The valuable and exemplary nature of their work will be confirmed by their nomination for this esteemed prize.

With the project 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005, existing peace networks and women's networks will be strengthened and new ones created. The documentation will be available worldwide to schools and universities, and there can be a further academic exchange and evaluation of the material.

The project 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 is a contribution to Switzerland's global promotion of peace efforts.

In brief: Our goal is that the work for peace by women worldwide become conspicuous, comprehensible, convincing and communicable. In this way women and men in conflict situations will be encouraged to commit themselves to peaceful solutions.”

For more information about this initiative, visit: http://www.1000peacewomen.org/eng/html/index.html

For more women, peace and security initiatives – in country, regional, global and international, CLICK HERE.

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1. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 30th Session Begins
2. Commission on the Status of Women 48th Session: Update
3. Women, Peace and Security News
4. Feature Statements: CEDAW Chairperson Applauds New Afghan Constitution and UNIFEM's Executive Director Addresses the Summit on the Americas
5. Feature Report: Everyday Victims: Civilians in the Burundi War
6. Feature Initiative: 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005