As we speak, a resolution is being negotiated at the General Assembly in New York on the protection of women human rights defenders (WHRDs). This is the first time women defenders have been the focus of a draft resolution at the United Nations. Such an initiative is the result of activists’ work over many years raising awareness about the challenges, risks and attacks faced by women human rights defenders and their specific protection needs. The resolution would provide much needed recognition of WHRDs and their work, and would be an important tool in urging States to create enabling environments in which WHRDs can carry out their activities, free from intimidation, threats or attacks.
1. Many countries are witnessing a significantly disproportionate rate of increase of women being incarcerated, compared to their male counterparts. Globally, women and girls constitute a minority of the prison population as a whole, and it is estimated that they represent between 2 and 9 per cent of the total population. Throughout the world, women prisoners face similar human rights violations
relating to the causes that led to their imprisonment, the conditions they face in prison and the consequences of their incarceration.
29 October 2013 – Harmful practices inflicted on women and girls can never be justified in the name of freedom of religion or belief, an independent United Nations human rights expert told a General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues today.
“Countless women are exposed to complex forms of human rights violations based on both religion or belief and their sex,” said Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
The expert’s latest report, which he presented to the Third Committee, focused on two human rights, namely freedom of religion or belief and gender equality. “My main message is that there is much more room for synergies between those two rights than people generally assume,” he told reporters after his presentation.
“Often you find the assumption that, you go either for religion or for gender emancipation and you can’t really combine the two, which I would find not only wrong but dangerous.”
83. Several respondents found that some traditional values were closely related to human dignity and human rights, provided the basis and background of universal rights, and supported their promotion and protection. Examples were provided as best practices in the application of traditional values while promoting and protecting human rights and upholding human dignity by both States and other stakeholders.
84. Some respondents were of the view that traditional values could be invoked to justify the status quo and undermine the rights of the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups. They noted that traditional values were at times misused to justify human rights violations especially with regard to freedom of belief, women’s rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. It was underlined by many that traditional values could never be used to justify violations of universal human rights or as a basis for discrimination in any form.
18 October 2013 – The United Nations Security Council and senior UN officials today issued a strong call on the international community to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peacebuilding.
Unanimously adopting a new resolution this morning, the Security Council reaffirmed that sustainable peace hinges on an approach that integrates “political, security, development, and human rights, including gender equality,” concerns and urged Member States and UN entities to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security issues, and committed to increase focus on their adequate access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings.
Our ultimate goal is to end the brutal practice of stoning. In the short-term - this November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - we aim to galvanize a critical mass of 10,000 supporters worldwide to sign our petition online on Change.org. The petition functions as a mobilizing platform articulating our analysis of stoning as a persistent form of violence against women and our agenda. Targeting the UN human rights system with stage one, this in turn feeds into our medium-term aim – to successfully advocate for a UN resolution against stoning. In the medium-to-long term, the campaign’s goal is to ban stoning in countries where it still exists in law and criminalize those who engage in this heinous practice worldwide.
In order to achieve medium and long-term aims, we will engage in a separate lobbying strategy at the United Nations. This process will be integrated into the campaign on the ground.
At the conclusion of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, UN Women welcomes the outcome of the meeting. The Agreed Conclusions are a testimony to the commitment of Member States to do the right thing, to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. In the last two weeks during the meeting in New York, and in the lead-up to this session, we witnessed global engagement and mobilization, high-profile advocacy by civil society, and determined leadership by many Member States. Expectations of the world’s women and girls were extremely high for this session of the Commission.