Amnesty International Applauds Re-Introduction of International Violence Against Women Act

Amnesty International

(Amnesty USA, Washington, D.C.) Cristina Finch, policy director for women’s human rights at Amnesty International USA, made the following comments today in response to the re-introduction in the U.S. House of the International Violence Against Women Act:

“Women and girls around the world deserve to live free from fear and harm. This legislation is key to achieving that goal. The International Violence Against Women Act would coordinate and improve the U.S. government’s efforts to stop this global scourge by making it a priority in diplomatic and foreign assistance initiatives. This will help to ensure that the United States lives up to its international responsibility to end violence against women and girls. We applaud reintroduction of the legislation and urge Congress to show its commitment to the human rights of women and girls by passing the bill.”

IVAWA would create a comprehensive, integrated approach to protect and support survivors of violence, hold perpetrators accountable, and support efforts to change public attitudes that condone violence. The bill would create a five-year strategy and fund programs to prevent and combat violence and incorporate new ways to combat violence in programs that currently exist. The bill would enable the U.S. government to develop a faster and more efficient response to violence against women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict-related situations.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence, both in times of peace and in times of war, at the hands of the state and in their communities and homes. Around the world at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime; often with impunity. States have the obligation to prevent, protect against and punish violence against women. Yet such violence is often ignored and rarely punished. Too often no one is held accountable for these crimes.

Whether combating sexual violence against Indigenous women in the United States or supporting the right of girls in Afghanistan to be educated free from violence, Amnesty International works to hold all states and perpetrators accountable and put an end to violence against women.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Continue reading


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Message on the 101st International Women’s Day

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Gender equality and the empowerment of women are gaining ground worldwide.  There are more women Heads of State or Government than ever, and the highest proportion of women serving as Government ministers.  Women are exercising ever greater influence in business.  More girls are going to school, and are growing up healthier and better equipped to realize their potential.

Despite this momentum, there is a long way to go before women and girls can be said to enjoy the fundamental rights, freedom and dignity that are their birthright and that will guarantee their well-being.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world’s rural areas. Rural women and girls — to whom this year’s International Women’s Day is devoted — make up one quarter of the global population, yet routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator, from income and education to health to participation in decision-making.

Numbering almost half a billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, rural women are a major part of the agricultural labour force. They perform most of the unpaid care work in rural areas.  Yet rural women continue to be held back in fulfilling their potential.  If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise by 4 per cent, strengthening food and nutrition security and relieving as many as 150 million people from hunger.  Rural women, if given the chance, could also help end the hidden development tragedy of stunting, which affects almost 200 million children worldwide.

Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but entire communities and nations.  Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have significantly more malnourished children.  It makes no sense that women farmers receive only 5 per cent of agricultural extension services.  Investing in rural women is a smart investment in a nation’s development.

The plight of the world’s rural women and girls mirrors that of women and girls throughout society — from the persistence of the glass ceiling to pervasive violence at home, at work and in conflict; from the prioritization of sons for education to the hundreds of thousands of women who die each year in the act of giving life for want of basic obstetric care.  Even those countries with the best records still maintain disparity in what women and men are paid for the same work, and see continuing under-representation of women in political and business decision-making.

On this International Women’s Day, I urge Governments, civil society and the private sector to commit to gender equality and the empowerment of women — as a fundamental human right and a force for the benefit of all.  The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource.

Message of Michelle Bachelet Executive Director of UN Women on International Women’s Day 2012

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This International Women’s Day, I join women around the globe in solidarity for human rights, dignity and equality. This sense of mission drives me and millions of people around the world to pursue justice and inclusion. Looking back at the first year of UN Women, I applaud every individual, government and organization working for women’s empowerment and gender equality. I promise the highest commitment moving forward. The creation of UN Women has coincided with deep changes in our world –from rising protests against inequality to uprisings for freedom and democracy in the Arab world.

These events have strengthened my conviction that a sustainable future can only be reached by women, men and young people enjoying equality together.From the government that changes its laws, to the enterprise that provides decent work and equal pay, to the parents that teach their daughter and son that all human beings should be treated the same, equality depends on each of us.

During the past century, since the observance of the first International Women’s Day, we have witnessed a transformation in women’s legal rights, educational achievements, and participation in public life. In all regions, countries have expanded women’s legal entitlements. Women have taken many steps forward. More women are exercising leadership in politics and business, more girls are going to school, and more women survive childbirth and can plan their families.

Yet while tremendous progress has been made, no country can claim to be entirely free from gender-based discrimination. This inequality can be seen in persistent gender wage gaps and unequal opportunities, in low representation of women in leadership in public office and the private sector, in child marriage and missing girls due to son preference, and in continuing violence against women in all its forms.

Nowhere are disparities and barriers greater than in rural areas for women and girls. Rural women and girls comprise one in four people worldwide. They work long hours with little or no pay and produce a large proportion of the food grown, especially in subsistence agriculture. They are farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders, and their contributions sustain their families, communities, nations and all of us.

Yet they face some of the worst inequities in access to social services and land and other productive assets. And this deprives them and the world of the realization of their full potential, which brings me to my main point on this International Women’s Day. No enduring solution to the major changes of our day—from climate change to political and economic instability—can be solved without the full empowerment and participation of the world’s women. We simply can no longer afford to leave women out.

Women’s full and equal participation in the political and economic arena is fundamental to democracy and justice, which people are demanding. Equal rights and opportunity underpin healthy economies and societies.

Providing women farmers with equal access to resources would result in 100 to 150 million fewer hungry people. Providing women with income, land rights and credit would mean fewer malnourished children. Studies show that higher levels of gender equality correlate positively with higher levels of per capita gross national product. Opening economic opportunities to women would significantly raise economic growth and reduce poverty.

The time is now.

Every human being has the right to live in peace and dignity. Every human being has the right to shape their future and the futures of their countries. That is the call for equality that I hear wherever I go. For this reason UN Women will place special focus this year on advancing women’s economic empowerment and political participation and leadership. We look forward to continued strong partnership with women, men and young people and with governments, civil society and the private sector.

Today on International Women’s Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to women’s rights and move forward with courage and determination. Let us defend human rights, the inherent dignity and worth of the human person, and the equal rights of men and women.

Message by Juan Somavia Director-General of the ILO on the occasion of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8th March of each year. This year’s event focuses on recognizing the important contribution of rural women across the world to the well-being of their families and communities and in sustaining societies and economies.

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day by recognizing the important contribution of rural women across the world to the well-being of their families and communities and in sustaining societies and economies. We call for action to ensure that all rural women can live and work in dignity.

Women comprise around 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, and more than 70 per cent of the labour force in some agriculture-intensive economies. Working as farmers, wage labourers, and entrepreneurs, rural women also take on a disproportionate share of the responsibility of caring for children and the elderly. Through these multiple roles rural women have a fundamental part to play in achieving rural development.

Rural women are paid less than men and often lag behind in access to education, training, technologies and mobility. They also work longer days than men, taking both paid and unpaid work into consideration. Much of their work remains unrecognized because it is not remunerated and confined to the domestic sphere. With a continuing economic crisis it is expected that in most countries women’s unpaid work is likely to increase, diminishing their ability to engage in productive activities.

Rural women everywhere face gender-related constraints that limit their access to decent work as well as their productivity. Enhancement of women’s productive capacity depends on better access to decent jobs and control over productive resources. If they are given the opportunity to realize their full potential all stand to benefit.

It is time for change and it is timely to recall that there is a decent work route out of poverty.

With gender equality a guiding principle, the ILO promotes decent work for all. Promoting respect for fundamental principles and rights at work and social dialogue, promoting employment creation and enterprise development, and improving access to social protection, the ILO supports rural women’s fight to live in dignity, through access to more and better jobs.

This agenda empowers, it is a pathway to sustainable development. With integrated action, it enables women and men to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Applied to the rural economy what does it take?

  • Respecting freedom from discrimination as a fundamental right supported by all policies affecting the rural sector;
  • With freedom of association, organization gives strength and voice to rural women;
  • Ensuring that equity and equality begin early with action to keep girls as well as boys in school up to the minimum age for entry into employment – respecting the right to freedom from child labour;
  • Enhancing women’s capacity to engage in productive work – through education and training, opening up their access to productive resources and expanding employment opportunities including through support for rural enterprises, infrastructural development and in promoting rural green jobs;
  • Building social protection floors gives a basic level of security – it also empowers and helps to sustain local economies;
  • Organization in cooperatives, associations and unions also provides channels for productive activity and the delivery of services; and
  • Pursuing integrated local development strategies that are gender sensitive and supportive of decent work.

A decent work approach can go a long way towards closing the gender gap in agriculture and enabling rural women to work out of poverty. The impact would be great. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates for example that reducing the poverty gap would reduce the number of undernourished people worldwide by as much as 100 to150 million.

There is much good experience to draw upon and scale up, backed by international support in policy and practice.

On this day, I applaud rural women and ask everyone to recognize their contributions. It is time to unleash the full potential of rural women so that they can take their proper place in efforts to achieve a fair and equitable global economy.

President Obama’s Proclamation on 2012 Women’s History Month


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As Americans, ours is a legacy of bold independence and passionate belief in fairness and justice for all. For generations, this intrepid spirit has driven women pioneers to challenge injustices and shatter ceilings in pursuit of full and enduring equality. During Women’s History Month, we commemorate their struggles, celebrate centuries of progress, and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the rights, security, and dignity of women in America and around the world.

We see the arc of the American story in the dynamic women who shaped our present and the groundbreaking girls who will steer our future. Forty-one years ago, when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt confronted President John F. Kennedy about the lack of women in government, he appointed her the head of a commission to address the status of women in America and the discrimination they routinely faced. Though the former First Lady passed away before the commission finished its work, its report would spur action across our country and galvanize a movement toward true gender parity. Our Nation stands stronger for that righteous struggle, and last March my Administration was proud to release the first comprehensive Federal report on the status of American women since President Kennedy’s commission in 1963. Today, women serve as leaders throughout industry, civil society, and government, and their outstanding achievements affirm to our daughters and sons that no dream is beyond their reach.

While we have made great strides toward equality, we cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society. With the leadership of the White House Council on Women and Girls, my Administration is advancing gender equality by promoting workplace flexibility, striving to bring more women into math and science professions, and fighting for equal pay for equal work. We are combating violence against women by revising an antiquated definition of rape and harnessing the latest technology to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault. From securing women’s health and safety to leveling the playing field and ensuring women have full and fair access to opportunity in the 21st century, we are making deep and lasting investments in the future of all Americans.

Because the peace and security of nations around the globe depend upon the education and advancement of women and girls, my Administration has placed their perspectives and needs at the heart of our foreign policy. Last December, I released the first United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to help ensure women play an equal role in peace-building worldwide. By fully integrating women’s voices into peace processes and our work to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and deliver humanitarian assistance, the United States is bringing effective support to women in areas of conflict and improving the chances for lasting peace. In the months ahead, my Administration will continue to collaborate with domestic and international partners on new initiatives to bring economic and political opportunity to women at home and abroad.

During Women’s History Month, we recall that the pioneering legacy of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers is revealed not only in our museums and history books, but also in the fierce determination and limitless potential of our daughters and granddaughters. As we make headway on the crucial issues of our time, let the courageous vision championed by women of past generations inspire us to defend the dreams and opportunities of those to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2012 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2012, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women. I also invite all Americans to visit to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


English: Barack Obama, President of the United...

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