Join Us in March, Side Events at the 57th Commission on the Status of Women
The United Nations Event Is from March 4-15
Each year, thousands of women from around the world gather at the United Nations (U.N.) during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to “evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.” This year, the 57th session, CSW will focus on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
United Methodist Women will participate in CSW-57, as in previous years, by bringing an international delegation that will work with ecumenical and secular partners in both education and advocacy to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. In addition, the delegation will work with United Methodist Women to strengthen grass-roots advocacy and build relationships, networks and skills so that we may more effectively involve ourselves in bettering the lives of women and girls around the world.
Advocate on International Women’s Day, March 8
To commemorate International Women's Day, United Methodist Women is co-organizing a march to advocate that states respond, protect, and prevent violence against women and girls. If you are in New York City, join us for a local march on March 8th, 2013 at 10 a.m to 12:00 p.m., gather at First Ave. and 42nd St. (Co-organizers include Association for Women's Rights in Development, Center for Women's Global Leadership, and the Women & Global Migration Working Group.)
This march calls on states to take concrete steps to:
- End impunity.
- Fund Gender Equality and Human Rights Instead of Militarism.
- Protect Women Human Rights Defenders.
Organizations are invited to co-sponsor the march and to carry out their own marches and actions in their own cities and towns. Co-sponsorship involves endorsing this call, putting your name on the flyer and doing outreach to your networks. No costs are involved. The deadline for co-sponsorships is February 28th, 2012. To co-sponsor and participate please contact:
- Carol Barton, United Methodist Women.
- Natalia Cardona, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).
- Savi Bisnath, Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
United Methodist Women’s Side Events
United Methodist Women organized and co-sponsored seven side events to open conversations about specific justice areas and perspectives related to violence against women around the world. All events take place at the Church Center for the United Nations and are free and open to the public.
Tuesday, March 5
10:30am – 12:00pm: Violence, Economics and War: From Theory to Practice
Location: CCUN, 2nd Floor
12:30pm – 2:00pm: Faiths Response to Domestic Violence
Location: CCUN, 2nd Floor
Wednesday, March 6
12:30am – 2:00pm: Violence Against Women: What do Race & Class Have to do With It?
Location: CCUN 2nd Floor
2:30pm – 4:00pm: Women's Leadership to End the Korean War
Location: CCUN, Boss Room, 8th Floor (Co-sponsored)
Thursday, March 7
12:30am – 2:00pm: Violence against Migrant Women and the Human Rights Framework
Location: CCUN, 2nd Floor
12:30pm – 2:00pm: Girls: Challenges and Responses...Making Our Voices Heard
Location: CCUN, Hardin Room, 11th Floor (Co-sponsored)
Friday, March 8
12:30pm – 2:00pm: Overcoming the Pain of Abuse & Violence against Women and Girls
Location: CCUN, Chapel, 1st Floor (Co-sponsored)
United Methodist Women on Violence Against Women
United Methodist Women interprets violence against women and girls as cultural violence, economic violence, domestic violence, gender-based sexual violence and the lack of institutional support to prevent and eliminate violence. We believe it is of paramount importance to recognize poverty and extreme poverty as a form of violence against women and girls.
United Methodist Women is working to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls through education, service and advocacy for systemic change. We work to equip women and girls to be leaders in communities, agencies, workplaces, governments and churches and to working for justice through compassionate service and advocacy to change unfair policies and systems. We focus on sexual and gender-based violence in war and conflict, domestic violence, violence against migrant women and uprooted populations and victims of human trafficking. In addition, we work to address systemic and structural causes of violence and women and girls’ human rights violations through advocacy around just debt, trade, economic, environmental and energy policies.
Around the world, we raise awareness, build capacity and provide shelters and psychological rehabilitation for survivors of violence.
- In the United States, a domestic violence initiative engages United Methodist women and men in educating peers and changing behaviors and supports the television documentary I Believe You.
- In Kenya, Lebanon and Liberia, we support awareness-raising projects, shelters and postwar rehabilitation services for survivors of trafficking.
- In India, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines and Vietnam we have projects including peace courts, training/workshops, crisis shelter, support for survivors of sexual exploitation (sex workers, internally displaced persons and migrants), psychological services and development of abuse guidelines.
- In Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Uruguay we have projects aimed at domestic violence education services for survivors of violence.
View the full statement of United Methodist Women on the 57th session of U.N. Commission on the Status of Women below.
Statement submitted by The United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries, a nongovernmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women
The United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries is a global mission agency with 11 million members, 800,000 of whom are directly involved in justice for women through its women’s division, United Methodist Women. This division supports programs related to women, children and youth in more than 100 countries, and their work with grassroots women leaders and women’s organizations in the United States and globally provides firsthand understanding of current realities and needs on violence against women. United Methodist Women urgently calls for the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Violence against women hurts everyone, not just women.
While the Beijing Platform for Action notes that violence against women and girls occurs in both public and private spheres, it recognizes that States have the responsibility to ensure women and girls’ safety from violence through legislation, enforcement, education and training “whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.” States are called to comply with the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which provides that states should develop preventive approaches and “all those measures of a legal, political, administrative and cultural nature that promote the protection of women against any form of violence,” and they are urged to ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women. As CSW meets to discuss how to end violence against women and girls the focus should be on the responsibility of State actors to end this violence.
The world must react with alarm when a 14-year-old Pakistani girl is shot for seeking to attend school and when hundreds of women are raped in the Congo. Physical violence must be condemned. At the same time, social, economic and political structures institutionalize and legitimize violence that often goes unobserved and unpunished. Structural violence includes:
- Economic systems that condemn millions to poverty, including extreme poverty, particularly marginalized racial and ethnic communities.
- Structural racism that systematically denies access to education, housing, jobs and resources for whole populations.
- Criminalization and mass incarceration as tools that disproportionately target marginalized racial and ethnic communities and migrants.
- Cultural practices that continue to give men power over women and girls, including the interpretation of religious traditions in ways that control and degrade women.
- Energy, industrial and agricultural practices that exacerbate climate change, leading to displacement and conditions for physical violence against women and girls.
- Concentration and privatization of food production, lack of control over world food prices, and lack of food sovereignty leading to displacement, loss of livelihoods, impoverishment, “debt suicides” and physical violence.
- Resource extraction and land grabbing by transnational corporations and their State partners leading to the displacement of marginalized communities, conflict and militarization.
- Militarization and war, including local police militarization of specific racial and ethnic communities, civil conflicts, resource wars, military intervention and occupation.
While efforts to combat specific cases of physical violence and to address the needs of survivors are essential, these cases will not end until States and broader society work to dismantle these systems of structural violence. Changes in attitudes and societal norms are necessary but insufficient. We need change in the structures that create conditions in which this violence occurs.
United Methodist Women’s Global Engagement
United Methodist Women is responding through education, service and advocacy for systemic change.
- A domestic violence initiative in the United States engages United Methodist women and men in educating peers and changing behaviors and supports the television documentary I Believe You.
- Through the Women and Global Migration Working Group we advocate for policy to address causes of migration and the rights of female migrants. We challenge the denial of services and resources to women in irregular status, including shelters and recourse to justice as well as abuse of women in detention.
- Our human trafficking initiative has trained leaders in the United States to take action in their communities, involving over 2,000 women.
- We advocate at the global level and support women in conflict-affected countries as they seek to protect women and girls’ rights, increase women’s participation in decision making and strengthen the capacity of women to secure their rights in reconstruction processes through legal mechanisms such as UNSCR 1325.
- We advocate in the United States and internationally for just debt, trade, economic and energy policies.
What United Methodist Women Calls For
Education, awareness raising and services to survivors of violence must be accompanied by States’ engagement in prevention through systemic change. The narrow focus on projects and best practices must be coupled with State commitments to:
- Implement equitable and sustainable macro-economic and trade policy.
- Curb the role of transnational corporations in land-grabbing and resource extraction.
- Practice sustainable production, consumption and energy policy.
- Address economic inequality through job creation, training, taxation and social spending.
- Affirm the human rights of all, regardless of status.
Intersectional Policy Approach
State economic and social policies must address the intersection of women’s oppressions—including race, ethnicity, class, language, religion, sexual orientation and national status. Generic policies that do not address the particular realities of women and girls who experience multiple oppressions leave these women and girls out. This includes, among others, indigenous women, African diaspora, migrant women, lesbians, disabled women, rural women, widows, young and old women, and women of religious minorities.
Gender must be both a stand-alone development goal and a cross-cutting theme in all development goals in the post-2015 agenda. “Development” is not about increased GNP at any cost but about human development, which includes gender equality, women’s empowerment and respect for human dignity. The Beijing Platform recognizes that violence against women is an obstacle to development, peace and equality. To achieve development goals States must actively work toward: ending violence against women and girls, peace and end to militarism and the fulfillment of women’s economic, social and cultural rights.
Many practices in North and South that violate women’s human rights are considered culturally acceptable. Rape, incest and domestic violence occur on a regular basis. In some communities female infanticide or neglect of a female child is commonplace, or girls are forced into early marriage. Abuse by employers, police and prison officials is also common. Too often both men and women are taught to see violence as an appropriate way to resolve disputes. States must:
- Affirm a culture of peace as alternative to conflict—from the home and community to the military.
- Legislate, educate and enforce to end all traditional practices that perpetuate violence against women and to end the violence.
Women are often the poorest of the poor and are especially vulnerable to violence. Desperate to make ends meet and feed their families or flee from an abusive partner they accept low wages and high risks. Some work nights and are vulnerable to violence in transit. Some turn to prostitution, often with violent consequences. Women migrating for jobs within and across borders may become more vulnerable to abuse and rape by their employers. Lured by jobs, many end up in servitude or as a sex slave. States must provide women and girls:
- Access to an equal and non-gender-biased education that leads to decent work.
- Equal access to social services and resources.
- Protection from abusive employers and legal recourse.
Appropriate Legislation and Consistent Enforcement
Many nations have failed to adopt or implement legislation to end violence against women. States must:
- Involve more women in decision-making processes.
- Work actively to prevent and punish violence against women in both public and private spheres and strengthen judicial systems to hold perpetrators accountable.
- Legally address violence against women as a human rights violation. Understand the global nature of conflict within nations and share responsibility. Implementing UNSRC 1325 goes beyond plans by nations in conflict. Developed country policies often fuel conflicts elsewhere. States must link investment and trade policy to women’s human rights, monitoring the impact of policies on women and girls.
When systemic violence and cultural bias leads to physical violence, women and girls often have little recourse with friends, family members, the police or the justice system. States and local government must:
- Support shelters and legal aid for survivors.
- Train police and hospital workers who work with survivors.
- Make resources available for education and assistance to women survivors of violence in all their diversity.
United Methodist Women will continue to build global alliances and work with partners towards a world free from violence against women and girls.