This year's CSW (1-12 March 2010) reviewed the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. IANSA women linked small arms control with the Beijing Platform of Action and the Beijing Declaration through the following cross-cutting themes: violence against Women; women and armed conflict; women in power and decision-making; and the human rights of women.

In Harm's Way: Girls in Settings of Endemic Armed Violence

CSW 2010 event flyer

On 9 March 2010, the IANSA Women's Network held a joint event with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, and the Mission of Norway to the UN. 'In Harm's Way: Girls in Settings of Endemic Armed Violence' brought together IANSA members from Colombia, DRC, Guyana, and the USA.

Panelists

Chair: Ms Clare Hutchinson of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations/PBPS;

  • Ms Mona Juul: Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of Norway
  • Ms Rebecca Gerome: The Advocacy Project, Colombia/France
  • Niles, Samantha & Phoebe: Little Red Schoolhouse & Elisabeth Irwin High School, USA
  • Ms Glynis Alonzo-Beaton: YWCA, Guyana
  • Ms Bibiane Aningina Tshefu, Women as Partners for Peace in Africa, DRC
  • Mr Daniel Prins: UN Office for Disarmament Affairs

CSW 2010 - SamanthaMiddle School students from the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School

Advocacy through film

The following films were screened during the event. Made in 2009 by Peace Fellows of The Advocacy Project in Colombia and the DRC, these films contain testimony from women and girls about the impact of small arms in their lives.

Colombia: Living in fear: The impact of small arms on girls
Colombia's estimated 4 million guns aid and exacerbate the violence that women and girls face in the conflict and in the home. Adriana Hernandez, Kelly Bedoya Cabezas, Martha Restrepo and Maria Gladys Noguera share their experiences and speak about the impact of small arms in their lives.
Video by Rebecca Gerome
Partner: IANSA/Colectivo Mujeres Pazificas
Location: Cali, Medellin, Tulua - Colombia.

DRC: SOS Femmes en Danger
Partof a mini-documentary on the work of SOS Femmes en Danger, a grassroots organisation dedicated to helping women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Video: Ned Meerdink and Walter James
Partner: SOS Femmes en Danger
Location: South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Guns: the unending cycle of violence

By Sarah Masters, published in openDemocracy, 12 March 2010

"Somewhere in Colombia, a girl is hiding. Somewhere in Colombia, a woman is silently enduring her husband’s beatings. Somewhere in Colombia, an adolescent girl is being raped in front of her community. Somewhere in Colombia, a woman’s tears are being silenced. What do all these stories have in common? One word. Guns."

To a packed audience, Rebecca Gerome of The Advocacy Project, opened the event In Harm's Way: Girls in Settings of Endemic Armed Violence organised by the IANSA Women's Network, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, and the Mission of Norway to the UN.

Chaired by Clare Hutchinson of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations/PBPS, the event highlighted the impact of armed violence on women and girls, violence which is particularly brutal in many conflict zones, as well as countries where it has reached a chronic level, including many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ambassador Mona Juul, Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, reaffirming her government’s commitment in dealing with armed violence, outlined how the burdens caused by armed violence are simply unacceptable – both from a moral, humanitarian and legal viewpoint. She called for greater understanding about what feeds armed violence, and the reasons why people pick up arms. A key part of this will be a High-level Conference on Armed Violence and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Oslo in April 2010.

In a striking example of how gun violence affects all countries and communities, Samantha, Phoebe, and Niles, Eighth Graders at the Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City, shared their experiences. They have met with survivors and campaigners working to reduce and prevent gun violence, and questioned why gun violence is portrayed as normal and unavoidable. Using statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention they shockingly revealed that 3,184 children and teens died from gunfire in the USA in 2006 alone. Samantha explained that this means one young life was lost every two hours and 45 minutes, almost nine every day, 61 every week.

They talked of meeting families and individuals that have been affected by guns, and showed videos of women such as Devina Perez of the ‘Put Down the Guns’ organization. Devina was shot at point blank range in a New York City train station, targeted as part of a gang initiation; Yvette Forehand, mother of a murdered son, explained how she started the Rory A. Forehand Foundation in his memory, to provide educational and recreational activities in a safe environment; and Gloria Cruz who established the Bronx Chapter of the Million Mom March after her niece was shot and killed at a Labor Day picnic.

In her speech, Glynis Alonzo-Beaton of the YWCA – Guyana, linked the issue directly to the Beijing Platform for Action. She commented on how familiar we are with the most obvious consequences of armed violence – death, injury and disability – but how the impacts are far reaching and go beyond the victim involved to his or her family, friends and wider community. In addition to physical risk and harm, the presence of guns encourages violent rather than peaceful resolution of problems; exacerbates community tensions, and increases the threshold of violence; negates measures to build confidence and security; is an obstacle to development; discourages investment and tourism; and contributes to human rights violations. Although this all seems insurmountable, Glynis reminded everyone that the change starts with us. This is why the YWCA is responding to the impact of gun violence on girls and young women through programmes and initiatives to empower them and support their role as peace educators within their families and communities.

Bibiane Aningina Tshefu of Women as Partners for Peace in Africa in the DRC put it bluntly, “It is clear. Guns facilitate the destruction of more than 50% of the Congolese population.” She made concrete suggestions on immediate action to stem the flow of weapons into the country. She called upon government forces to stop selling guns to non-state armed groups; that the soon to be negotiated Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) must stop supplies from entering countries bordering the DRC so that they cannot be diverted to the country; and that an ATT must not allow international transfers of weapons and ammunition where there is a significant risk of sexual and gender-based violence, or grave violations of human rights.

In his closing remarks, Daniel Prins of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs stressed how a people-centred view of security is necessary for national, regional and global stability with the participation of women as a key component.

Despite the different countries and contexts of the speakers, their words paralleled each other in describing how armed violence in the home and community, armed conflict, and the availability and misuse of guns feed each other in an unending cycle. The speakers stressed how these are not simple issues with easy solutions but that this cannot justify apathy, silence, and inaction. They identified ways forward including data collection on gun possession and its links to violence against women in order to formulate and implement successful public policies to address the phenomenon. They are also demanded action to end impunity for armed violence against women and girls; and gun violence prevention through a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty. Finally, they agreed that gender equality and empowerment of women - the third Millennium Development Goal – cannot be achieved without eliminating gun violence against women.

Originally published by openDemocracy, 12 March 2010
Original link: http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-masters/guns-unending-cycle-of-v...

2010 Commission on Status of Women - Outcomes

For more than 3,500 civil society representatives and hundreds of government delegates who traveled to New York for this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), it was an occasion to mark large and small victories over the last 15 years and to focus on the challenges that remain.

It has been 15 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were adopted, concluding one of the most influential global meetings ever held – the Fourth World Conference on Women. During its two-week session from 1-12 March, the CSW focused on assessing what has been achieved since the Beijing Conference, on sharing experiences and good practices and outlining priority actions. In addition, nearly 100 side events were organized by UN agencies, NGOs, the private sector and governments.

The following four areas of priority importance to women were discussed by the Commission:

  • Maternal mortality
  • Violence against women
  • Role of women in decision-making
  • New gender entity

Violence against women is a pandemic behind closed doors – it is calculated that up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime. It not only inflicts personal suffering, but “undermines development, generates instability, and makes peace in society much harder to achieve,” as noted by the Secretary-General at a panel discussion at this month’s Commission.

Margot Wallström, his newly appointed Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict, departs for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in April. On her return, she will report to the Security Council.

In the meantime, action on the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign has moved to the regional and national levels, with particular emphasis on the first of the campaign’s five goals – the adoption and implementation of national laws on violence against women.

Through the adoption of seven resolutions at the conclusion of its 54th session, the Commission on the Status of Women:

  • Urged Governments – with the support of civil society and the private sector – to take all steps to empower women and girls to protect themselves against HIV infection;
  • Called upon all parties to armed conflict to release women and children taken hostage, and reaffirmed that hostage-taking is an illegal act aimed at destroying human rights;
  • Urged continued special attention to the promotion and protection of the human rights of Palestinian women and girls;
  • Called upon Member States to take all necessary measures – including enacting and enforcing legislation – to address and eliminate harmful traditional practices, especially female genital mutilation;
  • Urged States to develop and implement specific policies and programmes to promote economic empowerment, including through enhancing women’s access to full and productive employment and accelerating women’s full participation in economic decision-making;
  • Urged global and national leaders to generate the political will, resources, commitment, cooperation and technical assistance urgently required to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, and improve maternal and newborn health;
  • Welcomed the General Assembly resolution on establishing a new UN entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Policy Papers
Ms Rebecca Gerome: The Advocacy Project, Colombia/France (21728 bytes)
Niles, Samantha & Phoebe: Little Red Schoolhouse & Elisabeth Irwin High School, USA (21005 bytes)
Ms Glynis Alonzo-Beaton: YWCA, Guyana (22425 bytes)
Ms Bibiane Aningina Tshefu, Women as Partners for Peace in Africa, DRC (17676 bytes)
Ambassador Mona Juul of Norway (68559 bytes)