Today, Thursday, March 8, the world celebrates the 101st anniversary of the International Women’s Day, honoring the lives of all women and girls. Here at UNA-GB, we kicked off the celebrations a little early with our annual film screening and panel discussion on Monday, March 5th. We had more than 100 members of the community come together for War Redefined, the final film in the Women, War & Peace series. The film was followed by an enthusiastic and informative conversation among our wonderful panelists: The series executive producer Abigail E. Disney, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Amani El Jack and Sahana Dharmapuri. Take a look here for some pictures of our event.
War Redefined challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace constitute a man’s sphere. The film features insightful conversations with Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic, the founder of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi, globalization expert Moisés Naím, and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University.
Today, many more wars are fought within countries with failing states compared to wars fought across borders. The proliferation of the use of small arms in the aftermath of the Cold War has transformed the landscape of war. War is no longer fought among the uniformed military forces of two or more countries. In this post-Cold War era, civilians have become the primary victims of war, with women being the foremost targets, and suffering unprecedented casualty rates.
One of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against women during and in the aftermath of wars is sexual violence. Rape and other forms of sexual violence have become major strategies used in modern wars. War Redefined portrays how millions of women and children have been victimized in civil wars ranging from Bosnia to Rwanda. This has brought into sharp relief the concept of human security as contrasted with national security. Even though women and children constitute the overwhelming number of the victims of war, people tasked with peacemaking have traditionally been men.
Recognizing this paradox, United Nations Security Council in the year 2000 passed Resolution 1325 which called for peace agreements to take into account the special needs of women and girls, to support women’s peace initiatives, and implement international humanitarian and human rights law concerning rights of women and girls. The resolution further urged all parties to take action to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, and to respect their special needs in humanitarian and refugee emergencies.
Accordingly, War Redefined portrays how the United States military has begun to task women soldiers to work closely with Afghani women to address their needs such as health care and food security. Humanity is slowly but surely recognizing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s observation that “Women are the real architects of society.” Women can only achieve security, happiness and true liberation when they themselves take the initiative, and raise their voices against inequality and violence. Only then will the world come to celebrate the Women’s Day in its full glory.
The conversation held on Monday between the panelists and the audience was rousing, provactive and inspiring – I look forward to seeing how the Boston community continues to engage with gender justice and equity issues!
HAPPY 101st INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY! Click here for our blog post detailing additional events around Boston – there are still some to come!
A lot of focus was on the global leaders of our future throughout this week as the week started with the UN high-level meeting dedicated to the development of youth. The theme of the meeting was “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”, just in time as the International Year of Youth is coming to an end this summer.
Along with the topic of youth, came a new report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at a side event of the UN high-level meeting, the report titled “Securing the Future Today“. This report and discussion focused on the youth’s actions to fight against the disease of AIDS. This will be a step in the right direction for our future, and the future goals in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as goal #6 focuses on the global fight against the disease, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases including malaria.
Disease was also a big topic this week, as millions of children received the measles vaccination in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The UN World Health Organization helped in coordinating this great achievement, as there has been a measles epidemic that many people have lost their lives to and the funding was needed to make this event a great success. In efforts to globally fight against more diseases, the UN marked July 27th World Hepatitis Day as a day to recognize the fight and prevention of the disease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the soccer team FC Barcelona have joined this week in the fight against disease to create a campaign against polio, called “More than a Goal. End Polio”. With a said 1 percent left in the fight against the disease and its eradication, the organizations are determined to put an end to it.
Along with disease, comes the support of resources and nutrition throughout the world so that people can survive with access to basic needs and children can develop and prosper. The crisis in the Horn of Africa continued this week as the drought is causing a lack of water and therefore threat of nutrition to people throughout the continent’s nations. More support is needed, as there are also many children suffering from this crisis, causing malnutrition and this threatening their survival in the crisis for all, with a said $1.4 billion in funding appealed by the UN to support the cause.
Efforts continue to assist globally in the fights against disease, malnutrition, resources and overall the availability of safe living conditions around the world. Support and funding is needed to continue to allow for these wonderful projects to develop and you can get involved in the action! In time for August 2nd, you can contact Congress representatives to share your voice towards the budget cuts that will unfortunately help support programs like these, specifically programs that help support women and girls throughout the world have availability to resources.
Join in the support and action to help the people of today in any way you can and the global leaders of tomorrow in our youth today!