Thursday, March 7, 2013

Support for advocates: factsheets on agreements and language

International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) and partners have pulled together fact-sheets on violence against women and girls and the CSW. The information can be of great value for those advocating for gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights, recognition of harmful traditional practices, etc, etc. 

The fact-sheets cover the following topics:
·        Violence Against Women and Girls
·        Violence Against Women and Girls - gender equality
·        Violence Against Women and the post-2015 framework
·        Young Women and Violence
·        Harmful Traditional Practices
·        International Human Rights Standards

Evidence is provided, including statistics, of the severity of the issues that are at stake:
Violence affects one in three women globally and is one of the most widespread abuses of human rights worldwide. It is a leading cause of death and disability among women of all ages. In some parts of the world, the risks of different types of gender-based violence are even higher. In Colombia for example, a woman is killed by a current or former partner every six days. In Somalia, 98% of women have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting. In AmharaEthiopia, 50% of girls are married by the time they are 15 years old.

On the relationship between (sexual) violence and health: Violence against women, including sexual violence, is also the cause of many sexual and reproductive health problems. Girls and women often lack access to contraception and safe abortion forced pregnancy, and are targeted for violence once they become pregnant. Women who experience violence are significantly less likely to access natal care, which increases rates of maternal and child mortality. Violence undermines the ability of women and girls to control if, with whom, when, and under what circumstances they have sex, increasing rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. In some places, up to one third of women report that their first sexual experience was forced.

The fact-sheets also provide an overview of international agreements and key agreed language which can be used in the negotiations. For example to clarify what is meant by “gender equality”: The World Health Organization defines sex as “the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.” Gender is defined as the “socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” Gender is chiefly about the characteristics and roles that societies attribute to women and men. Gender is not predetermined” – it is constructed by societies.

An explicit call is made to keep reference to “harmful traditional practices” in the Agreed Conclusions: The use of the word ‘traditional’ in the context of harmful traditional practices has become very controversial in recent years, with some governments at CSW 55 seeking a deletion of the word ‘traditional’. We advocate keeping the full term “harmful traditional practices” as it acknowledges that these practices are often defended on the basis of tradition, and are frequently social norms. However, neither culture, tradition, religion nor superstition can be used to justify harmful practices which constitute rights violations and violence. States should resist any pressure which asserts tradition, culture, religion or superstition above human rights. The Beijing Platform for Action recognised the role of culture and tradition, and states agreed to “refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination as set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.”

Please feel free to use and disseminate. You can download them here.

= Joni van de Sand = 

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