Feminist food for though from the Women Deliver Conference 2016

Dear readers,

I had the privilege to attend the global Women Deliver Conference this year, which covered global gender issues, with topics ranging from reproductive health and rights, feminism, climate change, the sustainable development goals, and many more. I have put together a list for you with some key take-aways/food for thought from the conference. For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

• Women do three times more care work than men; in some countries, more than 10 times;
• 60% of maternal health-related deaths happen in crisis and conflict settings;
• Free education and free meals in schools are crucial for equality – this helped Finland transform into a highly developed nation in a few decades’ time;
• Crucial for gender equality is also: government supported quality daycare, health care and maternal health services – financed through taxation;
• Gender Equality is a main driver of sustainable development and increased well-being for all members of society – we are proceeding, but not fast enough;
• Equal rights and opportunities are the key for a brighter future for humankind;
• Defining Feminism: Feminism is about freedom – freedom and equality, as well as freedom to be yourself; Feminism is about challenging gender stereotypes and gender expectations to reach gender equality;
• Youth delegate: “The world we are seeking has no space for the violent man – we have the power to disrupt every cycle that yields negative results for women and girls! Am I afraid of strong women? No – because my strength is not defined by the weakness of others”;
• Melinda Gates: “Data is sexist…surveys tend to reinforce gender stereotypes. Also, we tend to overlook women’s productive role when we measure “productivity”: i.e. cooking, cleaning and caring – that work underpins any economy around the world”;
• On patriarchy: sexual pleasure is one of the key things relating to self-determination – that’s why it’s so scary to patriarchy, in its strive to control us; pornography today represents the patriarchal mindset of what female pleasure is – if we are going to liberate pleasure, we have to tackle harmful gender norms;
• On SDGs: We should call them the ‘Sustainable Development Girls’ – because girls and women are absolutely central to the whole SDG agenda;
• Where we have not made much progress is in the area of ending violence against women – we must go out to transform the world! Don’t wait for the perfect plan! Walk the talk! Educate, Agitate, Organize – let’s do it!
• Violence against women is directly linked to gender inequality. The way women are portrayed in the media often contributes to detrimental stereotypes, and therefore we have to work with media professionals, since it is through mainstream media that we construct and reinforce ideas and social norms in society. At the moment, brutality and victimization of women tales place in the media with impunity;
• Violence is used to silence women – it cuts across many of the SDGs, and these are interconnected;
• Economic independence of women is important in eradicating violence against women – we need to disrupt power structures, and education is also critical, as well as interventions that address the root causes of violence against women;
• In many regions of the world, women have transformed over the past generations, but men have not -there are pressures on men related to conformity to gender roles, and these pressures are not being problematized or deconstructed;
• Heteronormative gender binaries are legal categories – these categories are used by systems in different ways. For example, in the Arab world, laws are completely gendered;
• Shereen El Feki, author: “Patriarchal and authoritarian regimes like to put people into boxes – then they are much easier to manage”;
• Women will be the agents of their own change, and we all need to support that change!
• To make a positive difference for gender equality, we need to understand our own bias implicit biases that exists because of our privileges;
• Women do not die of diseases that are preventable – women die because we are yet to make the decisions on whether their lives are worth saving or not.
• Men with Power-Panel: To support women and gender equality, men need to think: If it’s without women, it’s not development; if men could get pregnant, we would have the best hospitals – we have to get real, and engage men. As men, we need to do honest soul-searching, because the enemy is within: we can change this with committed leadership. Men have to move from being non-patriarchal to being anti-patriarchal, and contribute in deconstructing the societal structures and norms that tyrannize women;
• “Love” can be used as a cover for coercion, manipulation, inequality and abuse;
• (Apparently) heard in a taxi in NY in 1920: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”.


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OpenText Celebrated International Women’s Day with a video series – check it out!

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Men: Show your commitment to gender equality via the UN Women He For She campaign!

On Saturday September 20, UN Women announced the HeForShe advocacy target to mobilize the first 100,000 men and boys as advocates for gender equality. Two days later, we are already more than halfway to this milestone! This solidarity campaign for gender equality brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all!

The HeForShe website now features a real-time activation map. Thank you in advance for taking your country to the lead within your region and for helping us reach the first 100,000 men at www.HeForShe.org.

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At TED talks: Journalist Meera Vijayann on finding your voice against gender violence

Find your voice against gender violence

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Infographic: The kids aren’t all right

Check out this interesting infographic on children’s lives around the world. How do countries perform at children’s rights? Check it out via the below link:

Produced By Healthcare Administration Degree Programs

Thanks to Cheryl for sharing this!


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What we need in order to reach Gender Equality

What we need in order to reach gender equality, according to gender expert and economist, prof. Gita Sen (Harvard and Indian Institute of Management), speaking in Bangkok on International Women’s Day:

1) Equal access to land and resources, including technology
2) Governments need to effectively address informal sector work and caretaking work, in order to reduce this burden for women
3) Women need bodily autonomy and integrity. If you don’t control your body, you don’t control your life. We need to teach future generations that men are not entitled to women’s bodies or to sex, that all reltionships must be based on equal respect and on equal terms, at all times, and that the responsibility for contraception falls equally on women’s and men’s shoulders.
4) Equality in health and education is also imperative to reach gender equality and equal opportunities in life.
5) Violence against women has to end. It violates human rights and hampers women’s mental and physical health, and their participation in society.
6) We need a political and a legal change. We know from experience that if governments are committed to do something, even when there might be reluctance or sensitivities around it (like collecting taxes, for example), they are still very well able to do it if they commit themselves. So this is what we want to see in the area of gender equality as well! When governments do engage, it can be very powerful.

During the discussion afterwards, the following additional points came up:

Human Rights are the anchor of gender equality and of what we are talking about. We do see some backlashes regularly, but generally, we are moving forward. Whenever power-relations have to be changed, there is backlash and resistance. Gender inequality is not just a ‘social issue’, and therefore hard to be tackled by governments; on the contrary, governments can do a lot; not just pass laws to create legislative frameworks that protect women’s human rights, but allocate funds and monitor what’s happening, i.e. to implement the laws.

We need to urgently address the sense of impunity that is there when it comes to perpetrating violence against women, men’s sense of sexual entitlement, and men’s responsibility for contraception. The law should clearly show, by i.e. successful de facto cases, that there will be accountability. The question is, how do women access justice, and how easy or hard is it? In India, a woman who wishes to denounce sexual harrassment (in Gita’s words), “goes through hell and back – every single one of them”. I.e. what does it cost, for a woman, to have recourse to the law?

What we need are changes that are substatial and normative. We have underestimated the resilience of patriarchy, it’s ability to press the ‘refresh’ button.

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EWL: France is paving the way towards a progressive Europe free from prostitution, says European Women’s Lobby

PRESS RELASE, EWL (European Women’s Lobby)

[Brussels, 5 December 2013] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) warmly welcomes the vote of the French Parliament yesterday, which adopted a law proposal aiming at abolishing the system of prostitution. After two years of debate, French parliamentarians decided to support a new legislation aiming at supporting prostituted persons and considering prostitution as an obstacle to gender equality and a violation of human rights and dignity.

The law will address all actors involved in the system of prostitution, in a comprehensive way. Persons in prostitution won’t be criminalized anymore and on the contrary, will be offered alternatives to exit the system of prostitution. The demand for prostitution is recognized as the main driver of the exploitation, and the purchase of sex will therefore be criminalized. The fight against all forms of procuring and trafficking is strengthened, highlighting the links between prostitution and trafficking. Finally, prevention and education actions will be implemented to raise awareness to the reality of prostitution as a form of violence.

“France is now joining Sweden, Norway and Iceland, whose successful and progressive policies on prostitution are based on the fundamental principles of equality between women and men, human dignity, solidarity and justice. We congratulate the French parliamentarians for their courageous stance against the system of prostitution which exploits the most vulnerable, perpetuates male domination and fuels trafficking in women”, says Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

Together with the 200 NGOs from all over Europe, which have signed the Brussels’ Call ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’, the EWL sees the French developments on prostitution as a sign that mentalities are evolving towards shared values of equality and dignity.

Debates are taking place in other European countries, and several are considering the Nordic model as the best way to implement gender equality, reduce violence against women, and tackle trafficking: the Irish Parliament issued a report recommending the criminalisation of the purchase of sex; the Cypriot Ombudswoman is pointing out to the links between prostitution and trafficking and the role of the demand for prostitution; the Finnish Justice Minister is supporting a full ban on purchasing sex, taking stock of the failure of his legislation to address trafficking when criminalizing only sex buyers from trafficked or exploited women.

“France is sending the clear message that 21st century societies are to be free from systems of prostitution. This is a unique moment for all the women still in prostitution and for all the survivors who have supported this move, and we want to pay tribute to their courage and strength”, says Pierrette Pape, Coordinator of EWL campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’.

The EWL also congratulates the French coalition of women’s organisations, Abolition 2012, which has played a key role in raising awareness on the reality of prostitution at all levels. The next step in France will be the debate in the Senate, and the EWL, together with the 200 signatories of the Brussels’ Call, calls on all senators to confirm the abolitionist stance taken by France yesterday.
Facts and figures on prostitution:

Prostitution is a form of violence against women:

• Between 80 and 95% of persons in prostitution have suffered some form of violence before entering the system of prostitution (rape, incest, pedophilia), 62% of women in prostitution report having been raped.
• 68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as victims of torture.
• According to Interpol, a pimp earns 110 000 euros per year per prostituted person.
• Nevada, where procuring is decriminalised, sees the highest rates of rape compared to all US states.
• For 10% of girls and 37% of boys interviewed in Denmark, it is normal to receive money or gifts in exchange of a blow job.

Prostitution and trafficking:

• Globally, women constitute 85% of the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation (prostitution).
• Globally, 79% of reported trafficking in human beings is for sexual exploitation (prostitution).
• In Europe, 62% of trafficking in human being is for sexual exploitation (prostitution). Women constitute 80% of victims of trafficking.
• According to the UN, trafficking in human beings is the second biggest source of illicit profits for criminals after drugs trade.

Prostitution in Sweden and the Netherlands:

• According to the Dutch Ministry of Justice’s study ‘Daalder’, there has been no significant improvement in the situation of persons in prostitution and the use of sedatives has increased.
• According to the same study, in the Netherlands, options for leaving the industry were in high demand, while only 6% of municipalities offer assistance.
• The Dutch National Police Force’s study on the sector of legalised prostitution found that between 50-90% of the women in licensed prostitution “work involuntarily”.
• In Sweden, the number of persons exploited in street prostitution has halved since 1999, while it tripled in Denmark and Norway for the same period.
• After ten years of implementation of the Swedish legislation, 70% of the population express full support for the law.
• In 1996, 13.6% of Swedish men said they had bought someone for prostitution purposes. In 2008, the figure had dropped to 7.8%.

For more information, interviews, background or visual materials, please contact Elvira Buijink, Communications and Media Officer, European Women’s Lobby; Tel: +32 2210 04 40; buijink@womenlobby.org, and see http://www.womenlobby.org.

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