Blog Archives

101 Years of Progress: International Women’s Day 2012

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!

-Smriti K.

Introducing International Women’s Day 2012

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s when it was originally celebrated as International Working Women’s Day. It is recognized on March 8th every year and honors women’s economic, political, and social achievements.

Gender equality is a huge focus for the UN community, with Millennium Development Goal #3 specifically designed to empower women and girls, and dozens of the agencies and entities focused on gender-based initiatives.  In fact, this year honors the official one year anniversary of the creation of UN Women, a more powerful UN entity designed to help spread gender equality and women’s rights empowerment.

International Women’s Day is near and dear to UNA-GB, as we have celebrated it with an annual film screening and panel for the past few years.  This screening is the biggest event of our Women’s Forum, which was created in 2006 to raise awareness about women’s issues in developing countries and engage men and women in Boston on solutions.  You can learn more about this year’s screening below, and make sure to check out last year’s blog post on our screening event.

We hope you can join us at some (or all!) of the events listed below.  We will continue to update the blog as we learn of more events, so check back!  It’s important that we continue to work together towards eliminating discrimination and improving the lives of women all across the world.

International Women’s Day Film Screening and Panel

War Redefined with Series Producer Abigail E. Disney

When: Monday, March 5; 5:30 – 8:30 PM
Where:
MCLE Auditorium, 10 Winter Pl, Boston

Don’t miss UNA-GB’s annual International Women’s Day Celebration, featuring a film screening of War Redefined, the last of the Women, War & Peace series, produced by series executive producer Abigail E. Disney.  A panel discussion on the role of women in peace building and war will follow the film, featuring Abigail E. Disney, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Dr. Amani El Jack and Sahana Dharmapuri.  This is an incredibly timely topic, with 3 women peace-builders winning the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Obama Administration’s December announcement of the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and Secretary Clinton’s recent comments on the lack of women at high-level security talks.

War Redefined reframes our understanding of modern warfare through probing conversations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International; globalization expert Moisés Naím; and Cynthia Enloe of Clark University, among others.

RSVP at http://iwd2012warredefined.eventbrite.com/

Along with hosting our annual International Women’s Day film screening and celebration, UNA-GB is also co-sponsoring some incredible International Women’s Day Events in Boston:

Ending Violence Against Women: Pathways to Power, Resilience and Leadership
International Women’s Day Breakfast

When: Thursday, March 8; 7:30-9:30 AM
Where: 
Simmons College, Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, Boston

Join UNA-GB and dozens of organizations around Boston in celebrating the city’s 15th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast. Panel will include Purnima Mane, CEO and President of Pathfinder International, Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley, Audrey Porter of My Life My Choice and Ann Fleck Henderson from Simmons College.
RSVP at http://iwd2012.eventbrite.com/

Women for Women International’s Boston “Join Us at the Bridge” Event

When: March 8, 10am-12pm
Where:
Massachusetts Avenue Bridge Boston

Stand up with women around the world, honoring the strength of women working for equality, justice, and peace.

RSVP at http://joinmeonthebridge.org/events/massachusetts-ave-bridge

 Feeding Boston, Changing the World:  International Women’s Day 2012

When:  Saturday, March 10, 2012, 6-9pm
Where: 
Ballroom, Curry Student Center, Northeastern University
What
:  Panel discussion followed by a dinner celebration
Free and open to the public.  Spaces limited.  RSVP here.  

This International Women’s Day, Boston’s Oxfam Action Corps invites you to honor women who work the land, feed their families, and plow the way forward to more sustainable agricultural economies here and abroad.

 

Additional International Women’s Day Events around Boston:

End Impunity for Sexual Violence against Women and Girls

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 5:00PM-7:30PM

Where: Old South Meeting House

In recognition of Int’l Women’s Day, this conference will take a critical look at international impunity for sexual violence and issue a resounding call to end it.

Latina Women’s Conference
Extraordinary Women fighting for Migration Justice

Where: MA State House
When:
Friday, March 9th, 2012 9:30- am- 3:00pm

Hosted by: Women in Solidarity Committee, whose network of Women in Solidarity is growing. 300 Latina women participated in 2011. Latina women advocated last year to opposed secure community program and create a community forum to reflect on violence and immigration issues.  Their goal is to create space for Latinas por el Cambio and expanded their reach to other places.  They founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers.
http://reddemujeres12.eventbrite.com/

Celebrate International Women’s Day Event at Gallery Kayafas

When: Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 7pm – 8:30pm

Where: Gallery Kayafas, 37 Thayer St. @450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118

Learn about AI’s work defending women’s rights featuring Zainab Abdullah, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan who has recently returned from researching honor killings in Pakistan. She will be joined by Beena Sarwar, a leading Pakistani journalist and democracy, human rights, and peace advocate. Hosted by the Back Bay Amnesty Group. RSVP to Alexandra Prim by 3/5/12. Space is limited. Learn more.

Celebrate International Women’s Day at the Eritrean Community Center

Where: 590 Shawmut Ave, Boston
When:
Saturday, March 10th, 8-10pm

The Eritrean Community Center of Greater Boston works to promote social and cultural interactions among Eritrean-Americans as well as area residents and friends for mutual understanding and awareness, integration, economic self-sufficiency, Eritrean heritage, and youth leadership.

Click here

2012 International Women’s Day:

Rally & March

When: March 10, 12 PM

Where: Meet at the Boston Common at the Gazebo

Meet to kick of the rally and then we’ll take it to the streets with guest speakers at Court Street, State Street MBTA, and State House. All individuals and groups are encouraged to bring a banner or signs, instruments, and other creative forms of expression and march together in struggle for living wage jobs, universal healthcare and childcare for all.

Benefit Show

Where: Midway Café 3496 Washington St, Jamaica Plain 02130

When: March 10, 7 PM

Benefiting The Prison Birth Project & Girls Rock Campaign Boston  $5 at the door, 21+ event

To register email InternationalWomensDayBoston@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/events/245509598867806/

Harvard Kennedy School’s International Women’s Day Celebration 

When: March 8, 2012

Where: HKS campus, various locations

8:30 – 10:00am, Breakfast for faculty, students and staff

Allison Dining Room, Taubman building, 5th floor

The Women and Public Policy Program is hosting a breakfast with HKS Academic Dean, Iris Bohnet, women faculty from across Harvard, students, staff and other members of our community. All are welcome!

11:40am – 1:00pm, WAPPP Seminar: Women’s Health and Health System Reform: The Route to Transformational Development?

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, 102

Health system reform in the United States and globally holds the promise of improving the health and well-being of women and a major opportunity for development, particularlyin the developing world. Dr. Johnson will explore the intersection of health system reform and the opportunities for transformational development through improvements in women’s health status, workforce development, and advancing women’s rights.

6:00 – 8:00pm, Film Screening: Iron Jawed Angels

WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman Building, 102

“Iron Jawed Angels” tells the remarkable and little-known story of a group of passionate and dynamic young women who put their lives on the line to fight for American women’s right to vote.

http://hvrd.me/AuzJ1b

To learn more about even more events happening in your area, check out the International Women’s Day websiteLet us know if you find any other events in the Boston area to celebrate International Women’s Day, so that we can update this blog to help people stay connected and aware of how to get involved locally!

-Alyson R.

Beyond the Arab Spring: Struggle for Women Rights Continues

On October 24 the world will celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.  As we near this anniversary it is important to revisit the key missions of the United Nations, which centers around finding solutions to critical global challenges.

In 2010 the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concluded with the adoption of a global action plan, which laid out Eight Millennium Development Goals, ranging from extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/Aids. Another one of the goals that has many ties to the rest is MDG 3, which focuses on Gender Equality.  Achieving equal rights for women and girls is a big focus on the global stage currently, and recent headline news reflects this.

Islamic states, Saudi Arabia and Iran have all recently been criticized for their records with women’s rights. In the recent UN Watch Testimony to UN Human Rights, Iran and Saudi Arabia were listed as countries where women are deprived of their human rights.

The legal system of The Islamic Republic of Iran discriminates against women. Similarly, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women cannot drive and women are denied the right to vote and be elected to high political positions. Women, who don’t have the right to drive, however may gain the right to vote.

Recently, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced women will have the right to vote in local elections in 2015 and become members of the advisory Shura council. Two days after this announcement a court sentenced a woman to 10 whiplashes for violating the kingdom’s religious rules prohibiting women from driving.  Usually police stop female drivers, and after they have them sign a pledge not to drive anymore, let them go. This is the first time when legal punishment has been ordered for the violation of driving ban in Saudi Arabia. The court acted after a women’s campaign launched on Facebook and Twitter emboldened by the Arab Spring that inspired women to get behind the wheel and drive. These contradictions are the results of an endless fight between the country’s conservatives and those who want to improve women’s situation.

The issue recalls a long time fight that still continues in Afghanistan. In 1928 King Amanulah and his wife introduced new reforms, which included: the abolition of burqa, mixed schools for boys and girls, and the country’s mullahs.  Later, the country’s conservatives and mujahideen began attacking the government.  Presently, the country’s conservatives continue rising up against reforms – which would give basic human rights to women in Afghanistan.

The presence of women in Afghan parliament is a show of democracy. In fact, women holding high-ranking political positions do not have the authorities provided by their positions. Women struggle to play a significant political role and they are continually excluded from peace and security processes as well as solving important issues. The most members of the parliament are warlords, the ethnic militias who fought against each other from 1992 to 1996, killing thousands of civilians. Human Rights Watch published a report called “Blood stained Hand” which referred to warlords as “the world’s most serious human rights offenders.”

Now the Afghan government is willing to sacrifice women’s rights in order to compromise with Taliban. According to Oxfam –  women’s rights are at risk in Afghanistan.  When the international troops withdraw, the government will continue its peace negotiations with Taliban, which will deprive women from some of their basic human rights, which they have regained in the past 10 years with the opening of schools for girls. The spread of insurgency, violence and a corrupted government have left, and will continue to lead, people with no hope of peace.

In Saudi Arabia, the voting rights itself can be a show.  The country’s political system is not different from totalitarian regimes that have been overthrown by the Arab Spring revolution. Saudi Arabia was established in 1932 by King Abd-al-Aziz who united the country under his family’s rule.  After his death in 1953 the political power has been in the hands of the royal family and thousands of its princes.  For centuries the country has been isolated from the rest of the world and censored by the ruling monarchy. Now, through modern technologies, especially social media, people started have begun to realize that Islam has been used to impose the dynasty’s rules  and to exploit the nation’s people.

The conversation about women’s rights in the Middle East, and throughout the entire globe, is an important one that we need to continue having.  Our Women’s Forum focuses on many of these issues and will likely have some events coming up in the spring around women in the Middle East in particular so stay tuned!

In the near time, you can come celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations with UNA-GB and help us keep the conversation going.  One direct way to do this is to help support the next generation of global leaders learn about these important issues, with the UN Day Model UN mini-simulation at the Massachusetts State House on October 24 -where middle and high school students will debate Gender Inequality focusing on women’s education and employment opportunities worldwide.   You can also hear a powerful UN advocate and female leader, Gillian Sorensen speak at our annual UN Day Luncheon on October 28.  Tickets are on sale now!

Also, if you are more interested in focusing specifically on women’s equality join our Women’s Forum and come to our many interesting events held throughout the year!

-Muzhgan Rasul

A Needed Voice For Women

It’s Monday! Here’s this week’s post for our Get Educated, One Blog At A Time blog series! This week you can read about gender equality and women’s rights in the Middle East. Also, check out our past blog posts from the series, including: “A Historical Moment For Genocide”, “Two Sides To Invest”, “An Undefined Grasp Of Failure”, “A Necessary Priority”, “A Reform For The World”, “The Rural Challenge” and “Help Starts Young”

The issues of female rights and gender equality in the Middle East exist as challenges the UN, activists, citizens, and many others are currently trying to correct. Most Middle Eastern countries follow the Islamic religion, laying the foundation for what some have interpreted as female obedience and submission to men. These countries have expanded upon and even created rules for women that mimic religious fanaticism. As Middle Eastern/Arab countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq are now preoccupied with the issue of the Arab Springs and the political and social changes engulfing their country, women’s rights are being pushed to the backburner as insignificant worries. Nevertheless, gender equality remains an important issue that needs to be addressed.

The absence of gender equality in the Middle East is apparent in social restrictions, cultural regulations, politics, and lack of economic rights and opportunity that women experience in this region everyday. According to the laws of Islam, the separation of genders is necessary because women have the ability to tempt men through improper behavior. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women and men are not allowed to use/occupy the public library at the same time. Also, females are required to dress “modestly” in many of these countries so as to conceal their bodies for their husband and prevent temptation: women in both Saudi Arabia and the Kashmir region in India have been threatened, beaten, and unfairly treated for not wearing the burqa, a garment that covers the entire body and leaves little holes for the eyes. In terms of politics, women are restricted from roles of power and authority that are believed to belong to men. Laws protecting women from physical abuse and sexual abuse within a marriage are rare. Relating to Middle Eastern women’s inability to hold positions of power, economic opportunities such as entrepreneurship and leading a company are almost impossible dreams.

UN Documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stand as milestones for the efforts international gender equality. Both documents have councils that are in charge of monitoring the progress of those countries that have ratified them with regards to gender equality. Ensuring that each individual country is making progressive strides towards female empowerment are the committees’ primary concerns. While the UDHR states rights as “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and “everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”, CEDAW is aimed at specifically ensuring female empowerment, equality, and opportunities worldwide. While gender inequality is still very much a reality of our world today, countries like Kuwait (gave women the right to vote and run for office in 2005) and Bahrain (now allows for the appointment of female judges) are making significant strides towards ending this injustice and promoting the equality we each deserve, gender aside.

-Amanda