July Updates

Monday, July 11, 2011

This 127 edition of PeaceWomen ENews features women, peace and security news, events and resources from peacewomen.org. The last PeaceWomen ENews focused on situation in Pakistan.

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WILPF is preparing for our upcoming international Congress, where members from around the world will be gathering in San José, Costa Rica from July 30 until August 6 2011. This will be the last Congress before WILPF celebrates our 100th Anniversary in 2015, where we will meet in the Hague. The Congress agenda is packed and PeaceWomen will present our work, commitments and objectives to members. The following edition of the PeaceWomen Enews will focus on updates from the Congress.

Before the Congress, WILPF will participate in the upcoming CEDAW session, taking place from 11 to 29 July 2011, where we will monitor country reports, and attend the Day of Discussion on the proposed general recommendation. For further details see below or here.

Featured this month in the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG) update (below), is our joint statement condemning the recent attacks in the Fizi area of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WILPF, as a member organization of the NGOWG, has joined with partners to make the statement and call on all stakeholders to meet their responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of all Congolese civilians.

I also recently attended the launch of the UN Women Report "Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice". The report, released on 6 July 2011, recognizes the positive progress made – 139 countries and territories now guarantee gender equality in their constitutions, for example – but also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their home and working lives. Please read more about the Report here.

Also at United Nations (UN) Headquarters the third preparatory committee of the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiating conference is meeting 11-15 July 2011 in New York. Reaching Critical Will will continue to report and analyse the process on our joint NGO blog and through our daily PDF digest, the ATT Monitor. Also find documents and background information on our ATT web page.

CEDAW General Recommendation on Women in Situations of Armed Conflict and Post-Conflict

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is holding its upcoming, 49th session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 11-29 July 2011.

The Committee will hold a half-day general discussion and exchange of views on women in armed conflict and post conflict situations in an open meeting during its 49th session. The objective of this discussion is to gather input from various stakeholders for the purpose of elaborating a general recommendation by the Committee on the subject. The specialized agencies and other U.N. bodies, as well as non-governmental organizations, are encouraged to participate in the discussion and to prepare informal background papers as appropriate. More detailed information will be posted shortly here.

July 18: CEDAW Day of Discussion at the at the 49th session of the CEDAW (10:00 am to 1:00 pm)

WILPF has been part of a coalition working on this General Recommendation since 1997 including: IWRAW Asia Pacific, Women and Media Collective-Sri Lanka, Development Alternatives for Women (DAWN) and Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). We hope to share documents on this process in the coming days.

The Committee will begin its consideration of country reports on Tuesday 12 July 2011, with Costa Rica. The following meetings will consider reports submitted by Zambia, Italy, Ethiopia, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Djibouti, and Singapore. For a detailed schedule of the meetings, please see here.

PeaceWomen will be monitoring the session and will be providing relevant information, documents and resources on the CEDAW section of our website.

NGOWG Update

In response to the campaign of mass rape occurring on 10 - 12 of June 2011, in South Kivu town of Fizi, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG) drafted a statement, calling for the immediate attention and action of Security Council member states and heads of UN agencies, including DPKO, DPA, UN Women, and UN Action.

Specifically the NGOWG believes that the UN's current investigations into the attacks in the Fizi area must not become yet another “lessons learned” exercise, destined to gather dust in unread UN manuals and archives. This is a pivotal moment to implement measures old and new that will guarantee non-repetition of such attacks. Prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations must be conducted into these crimes in accordance with international standards and, where there is sufficient admissible evidence, the perpetrators must be brought to justice in a process that ensures protection of victims and witnesses and foresees the provision of health services to the victims.

The wider culture of impunity for this and other crimes must be ended through a comprehensive reform of the judicial system and the security sector. In addition, the international community – including the Security Council, the UN system, and donor countries – must invest all available political, technical and financial resources in leveraging the DRC executive, judiciary and legislature to meet their responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of all Congolese.

Please download the full statement, here.

In addition, the NGOWG has released the July 2011 version of its Monthly Action Points (MAP) on Women, Peace and Security for the UN Security Council. For July, in which Germany has the Security Council presidency, the MAP provides recommendations on country situations including: Afghanistan, Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, South Sudan, West Africa and Sierra Leone. The July MAP also discusses current developments in the Council's implementation of its Women, Peace and Security commitments.

Please download the full MAP here.

UN Women Update

Annual Executive Board Meeting and Strategic Plan

UN Women is governed by an Executive Board that oversees the organization's operational activities based on policy directions set by the UN General Assembly, ECOSOC and the Commission on the Status of Women. The Board engages with the executive boards of other UN development agencies to coordinate work on gender across the UN system.

The Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board, took place from the 27–30 June 2011. The Gender Equality Architecture Reform (GEAR) Campaign, a network of over 300 women's rights, development, human rights and social justice groups around the world that worked for over four years with UN member states and the UN Secretariat to help create UN Women, made a statement to the UN Women Executive Board during its Annual Session drawing attention to a number of concerns.

Further, highlighting the significance of UN Women's first Strategic Plan, the foundational document, according to GEAR, "spells out the vision, workplan and programmatic activities for the new entity globally, the strategic plan is an important step towards the development of a global agenda that will advance human rights, development, peace and security for all women."

Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice

Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice is UN Women's first major report, following the organization's launch in early 2011. The report, released on 6 July 2011, recognizes the positive progress made – 139 countries and territories now guarantee gender equality in their constitutions, for example – but also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their home and working lives.

To ensure justice becomes a reality for all women, UN Women calls on governments to:

  • Repeal laws that discriminate against women, and ensure that legislation protects women from violence and inequality in the home and the workplace.
  • Support innovative justice services, including one-stop shops, legal aid and specialized courts, to ensure women can access the justice to which they are entitled.
  • Put women on the frontline of justice delivery. As police, judges, legislators and activists, women in every region are making a difference and bringing about change.
  • Invest in justice systems that can respond to women's needs. Donors spend US$4.2 billion annually on aid for justice reform, but only 5% of this spending specifically targets women and girls.

“With half the world's population at stake, the findings of this report are a powerful call to action. The foundations for justice for women have been laid: in 1911, just two countries in the world allowed women to vote – now that right is virtually universal. But full equality demands that women become men's true equals in the eyes of the law – in their home and working lives, and in the public sphere,” said Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.

For the official press release, see here.

Launch: Make Every Woman Count

PeaceWomen would like to draw attention to the launch of "Make Every Woman Count".

"Make Every Woman Count" (MEWC) actively promotes the empowerment and rights of African women and girls by raising awareness of the African Women's Decade (AWD) and by providing timely and accurate informational resources on our website. The MEWC website aims to be a comprehensive resource to, not only document the plight of women in Africa and highlight the African Women's Decade, but to empower women by providing various resources ranging from grants to scholarships (all located under resources). Make Every Woman Count has focused its work on 5 priority areas that are vital to women's rights and gender equality: Human Rights of Women; Women, Peace & Security; Violence Against Women; Political Participation; Economic Empowerment; HIV/AIDS & Reproductives Health."

"At MEWC, we believe that the African Women's Decade is an opportunity to highlight the difficulties women in Africa encounter, but it is also an occasion to celebrate the hard work and courage of African women and girls. This decade marks a new era for African women, where African governments must put their promises into action by creating effective programs and policies in order to empower girls and women's in Africa."

Security Council Monitor

Last month's Open Debate, on The Impact of HIV/AIDS on International Peace and Security took place on June 7th 2011.

The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1983 (2011) building on the Council's first HIV/AIDS Resolution 1308, which was adopted in 2000. The Council highlighted the key role of peacekeeping troops in educating civilian populations about contracting HIV/AIDS and various means for prevention. Specifically, a number of Council members noted that peacekeeping troops must be trained to effectively respond to cases of sexual violence against women. Sexual exploitation and abuse of women in conflict is highly prevalent and continues to serve as a catalyst for the spreading of HIV/AIDS. The disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on women was reiterated by the majority of speakers, as was emphasizing the significant role women have in the peace-building process and the need to eradicate sexual violence against women as a tactic of war. For a full analysis on the Debate please see here.

This month's Open Debates, on Children and Armed Conflict and Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Impact of Climate Change will take place on July 12th 2011 and July 20th 2011, respectively.

Please check our website for a full analysis of these debates, on our Security Council Monitor.


Under Security Council Monitor, we have created a new sub-section "About Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Security Council" to provide some further background information.

WILPF Update


WILPF News Alert on the flotilla to Gaza: Humanitarian Aid versus International Politics, the need to ensure the US Audacity of Hope is allowed to proceed

WILPF is showing its support and solidarity to the US flotilla travelling to Gaza. Specifically, WILPF would like to pay tribute to those who are on the flotilla and in particular to Hedy Epstein (87), the oldest member of the flotilla travelers. She is a WILPF member, holocaust survivor from St. Louis, MO. Others include; Alice Walker, Kathy Kelly, Medea Benjamin, and Ann Wright.

WILPF should give them every support in all ways open to us. Lobby your government, write directly to the Greek embassy in your country, get information into the media. Those on the flotilla should know that we are watching and supporting them in all ways possible.

  • The latest information and updates about the US boat Audacity of Hope, including a call for joint public action, can be found here.

  • Flotilla-member Alice Walker is documenting the current events through essays and poems which can be found on the following website.



On July 30 until August 6 2011, WILPF Congress will be gathering in San José, Costa Rica

In 1915, at the height of the First World War, 1300 women from a wide range of countries and cultures came together in the Hague, brought together by a mutual horror of the consequences of war and a desire to live in peace. They formed the International Congress of Women to study, make known and eliminate the causes of war. Now known as the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the group continues to work for peace by pushing an agenda of disarmament and increased inclusion of women in all decision-making aspects of peace and security. In 2015 we will meet in Hague again, to celebrate our 100th Anniversary. For us to be able to have a real celebration, we need to work hard in the years to come.

The program of the Congress can be found here

If you would like to follow this year's international Congress, check out the blog, here

For questions, please contact the coordinator of the conference at congress@wilpf.ch