Ending Violence Against Women, A Dream No Longer Can Be Deferred

Ending Violence Against Women, A Dream No Longer Can Be Deferred
By Elahe Amani

( 16 Days of Global Activism Against Gender Violence- Nov 25th- Dec. 10th )

27 November 2008

While sexual assault and rape in Iraq war remains largely ignored and disregarded, while the incidence of acid attacks and rape of Afghan Women in recent weeks by Taliban forces remains unresolved, while women in Iran still enduring violence, arrest, detention and harassment perpetuated by government in physical space and cyberspace and on November 25th, the website of advocates for changing the discriminatory laws against women in Iran was filtered for the 17th time and while the endless atrocities against women in Congo, Sudan and Rwanda, forced prostitution and trafficking , honor killings, and many other forms of violence against women and girls are widespread, the global civil societies, human rights defenders, peace activists, women’s right activist and feminists embarked on the 16 Day of Global Activism Against Gender Violence on November 25th. As in the words of Pat Humphries that more than 30,000 women and more than a thousand man sang in the NGO Forum at the Beijing Conference “Gonna keep on moving forward, Never turning back!”

November 25th, 2008 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the first day of the 16 Days of Global Activism Against Gender Violence. The campaign will end on Dec 10th which is the International Human Rights day. It is also know as“ White Ribbon Day” in South Africa, UK and Canada. The White Ribbon is a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live with dignity and without fear of violence.

The theme of this year 16 days of Global Activism Against Gender Violence is “Human Rights for Women -Human Rights for All”. The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( 1948-2008 ) is a historic time to recognize the collective work of human rights defenders around the world, secure the international conventions and treaties that make up the human rights framework and reclaim the principles of the 1948 declaration which have taken a great setback by the rise of religious extremism, globalization and militarization. Today, feminist, peace activists and human rights defenders around the world calling on governments as well as global civil societies and demanding to put an end to violence against women. The dream of living in a world with peace, security and respect to human rights can no longer be “ deferred”.

History of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an annual international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. The annual campaign starts from November 25th International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, International Human Rights Day — in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights, and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including December 1st , World AIDS Day, and December 6th , which marks the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The history of November 25th goes back to 25th November 1960, when three sisters Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel, political activists in the Dominican Republic were assassinated in a car accident. They were killed for their involvement in efforts to overthrow the government of Rafael Trujillo. The state violence perpetuated on the Mirabel sisters quickly became symbols of resistance, dignity and inspiration for eliminating violence against women at home and in society. Their lives raised the spirits of all those they encountered and later, after their death, not only those in the Dominican Republic but others around the world.

On July 1981, women from across Latin America came together in Columbia. Appalled by the extent and diversity of violence against women, they agreed to hold an annual day of protest, and they decided to adopt 25th November as the date for this International Day Against Violence Against Women in memory of the Mirabel sisters. In 1991, The first White Ribbon Campaign was launched by a group of men in Canada after the brutal mass shooting of 14 female students at the University of Montreal. In 1996, a year after the 4th UN Women Conference in Beijing, China, the South African National Network on Violence Against Women launched their own White Ribbon Campaign and many South African women’s groups quickly adopted the White Ribbon symbol.

In 1998 the White Ribbon Day was launched in the UK and in December 1999, at the 54 General Assembly session of UN, a resolution adopted and UN officially recognized 25th November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women is a global problem that affects women of all ages, ethnicities, races, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. Women experience gender-based violence at home, in community and at societal level. Women disproportionately experience domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, trafficking in person, rape, and even cyber harassment and stalking.

Women experience violence and injustice perpetuated by state and non state actors. The economic, political, social and religious injustice and impunity is a major barrier to women’s human rights and challenge the dignity that women deserve to enjoy. Women also experience violence that may not clearly fall within the framework of the above referenced paradigms but harm women health, safety and security and is a clear violation of women’s ability to enjoy basic human right. These violations are inclusive but not limited of the early childhood marriage for girl child, female genital mutilation, honor killing, dowry-related violence including bride burning, rape as a weapon of war, female infanticide, enforced sterilization, Acid attacks etc. It is also inclusive of harsh measures by government to disproportional restrictions and censorship on women’s presence in cyber world by filtering women blogs and websites as in the case of Iran.

While globally one in every three women experience violence in their life cycle from childhood to the old, in many societies where peace, democracy and human rights are being threaten by the forces of religious extremism/fundamentalism, militarization, aggression and war, women rights and even women’s body are the battle ground of gaining cultural identity or claiming victory by the forces of aggression and occupation.

The global framework for women’s rights have been manifested in the conventions such as Conventions on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and in documents from other UN conferences such as the Vienna Human Rights Declaration and Program of Action , the Cairo Program of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals . Since 1975, the first UN Women Conference in Mexico City, women globally have demanded meaningful change and inserted their desire in the global framework for women’s rights, to live in a world with dignity and respect, peace and prosperity, equality rights and opportunities. However, despite the fact that governments from United State to Congo, from Iran to Afghanistan, South Africa to Guatemala signed these documents ( some bracketed version of the document ) women are not significantly in a better position due to the lack of new and additional resources, the rise of religious extremism, globalization and militarization. These patterns have created an environment of fear and threat for the gains women at global and local level struggled so hard to manifest in these processes.

One of the most comprehensive and inclusive definitions of “violence against women” was formulated at the Beijing Women Conference in 1995. In the Platform for Action the term has been defined as “ any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”

The generations that shaped the global women’s movement since 1975, the first UN Women Conference and brought issues such as women’s human rights, violence against women, gender equality, women’s role in peace building and other critical issues from margin to the center of global agenda, are now joining the circles of elders. The new and emerging young women are taking the leadership to further the plight of women for gender equality, peace and development. The recent global AWID Forum on Women’s Rights and Development Cape Town, South Africa, the Gender Equality Coalition efforts to address gender equality at the upcoming World Social Forum in Amazon, Brazil, the strong voice of younger people engaged in US election, the young brave women who are writing the history of women’s movement for equality and dignity in Iran and the Afghan and Palestinian young men and women who never gave up the struggle for living a life in peace, security and respect to human rights are beacons of hopes and sources of inspiration for a world that the dream of human rights, dignity, peace and prosperity can no longer be deferred

Original Article:


Junie Mattice speaks out!


Continuing WIN and CAWA’s missions to give all women a voice, particularly our sisters who have not had a forum for their voices,  WIN held an energizing and thought provoking SPEAKOUT on October 7, 2008 at Delancey Street Club Room with MARCUS BOOKS, as part of our Get Out the Vote campaign.  Panelists were Dr. Raye Richardson, Founder/Owner MARCUS BOOKS;  Irene Lu, US Representative Afghan Women’s Network and WIN Board of Directors;  Junie Mattice, Tolowa;  Alicia Wang, Candidate for San FRancisco County Supervisor, Dist. 1; and MC Rose Aguilar, Author and Host of ‘Your Call’ on KALW.
Junie Mattice spoke passionately about Human Rights and the Indigenous people of California. You can read her remarks here:

First I SANG MY WAR SONG… then said:
I am Junie Mattice, a citizen of Tolowa Nation and of the United States , and I have no Human Rights.  Why a war song?  For our husbands, brothers and sons who have lost their path, for battered women and abused children.  All of you, everyone has a healing song passed down by your ancestors.
We all have a culture, this is no melting pot.  We women are the life givers in this country of Euro thought, dominated by man.  This progress of Euro thought created this cement world, a world defying Mother Earth.
Your mothers and grandmothers have retained your ancestor’s culture thru your homes.  The kitchen, cupboards and foods show this culture.
In 500 years of progress, 5 million American Indians have been murdered.  Where is our Holocaust Museum ?  In 1992 the United States Congress did a 7 year study of the California Indian Genocide and documented all and 90,000 plus Non-Federally Recognized California Indians have no Human Rights.  No Rights of Freedom of Religion, rights to protect ancient village sites, sacred sites, cemeteries and massacre graves.  Del Norte County census in 1910 stated only 120 of us Tolowa were left.
Capitalism is okay, greed is not.  Change is good.  We need to change all of our Representatives; Representatives who don’t believe in family first.  We women are the core infrastructure of California .
Environmentalists don’t believe in American Indian sovereignty.  They want to develop people corridors and animal corridors on a fast tract to nirvana.  I say, “Let them introduce grizzly bears to Los Angeles .”
All that is left for American Indians is song and prayer.  With your help of collective prayer we can turn the tide of mans greed.  Power thru collective prayer and voting.  A cousin told me to “Pray for evil to leave your home.”  It works.  Voting works too.
The American Indian is the original “steward” of the land, and then Spain came and destroyed the people of California .  This destruction was continued by the over Landers greed for gold, land, otters, trees, fish, elk, deer, bear, ad nauseaum.
The 1st convention of California was built on “… a thousand drinks and a thousand payoffs…”  Thus the Spanish, Mexicans and over Landers divided “free” lands and created California .  This creation ignored 15,000 plus years of American Indian culture with knowledge of plants, medicine and Mother Earths needs.
California Indians were forcibly rounded up, numbered, deloused, marched, shipped, hair cut, religion and dress denied and language all outlawed.  General John Bidwell and John Sutter created the Indentured Law that placed us into the hands of any Whiteman.  We became the slave trade and 12 year old brides.  We were still indentured after the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the black people.  Even Treaties signed under these conditions have never been honored.
The 1st Governor, Peter Burnett declared, “…a total eradication of nations…”  They cut up pieces of land, shaped and reshaped to the highest bidder.  A surrealistic checkerboard of existence they created for all of us, and with no stable infrastructure.
California is named after a legend of warrior like women, they called Amazon.  This is your legacy; we are the women warriors of today.  We have to stand up and demand to be counted as equals.
This greedy, controlling society is so paranoid, they will try to steal the Presidency again…as California women warriors we cannot let this happen.
Dominate Euro mans thought created this cement society and is the perfect example of “Skinners Rats.”  Thank God women know how to nest.  We have been able to nest under major changes throughout history and survive under any conditions.  But now we need to leave our nests and change our Representation and recreate California using “Honor, common sense and give our children the best education we can.
Let us women drop a pebble into water and create a life of Honor, common sense and education for our children, the rings we create will travel these lands and turn the tide of greed.
Thank you,
Junie Mattice

Congratulations President Elect Obama!

…  and congratulations to all of you who GOT OUT THE VOTE and worked hard the past eight years to keep hope alive and who stayed at your ‘post’ through thick and thin, floods and wars, with and without resources. You were a force behind the tsunami that turned this country around!   We can now move forward. WIN and CAWA have been building and honing the infrastructure for action networks to support a progressive administration, and to now implement the California and US women’s agendas.

We invite you to our website and blog – give us your reactions to the elections – did your candidates win?  What about state initiatives you worked on?  What do you want to do to help the Obama administration?

Watch for our newsletter with opportunities to engage in moving the agendas, locally, nationally and globally.  i.e. CAWA Leadership Summit,  February, 2009;   US Women Connect Caucus and WIN Panels at the UN CSW,  March, 2009.

Enjoy this collage of newspaper headlines that Carol Hansen Grey put together announcing Obama’s victory with his victory speech and more!


Wall Street Takes Welfare it Begrudges to Women

The bailout of Wall Street is particularly galling for women on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, says Mimi Abramovitz. They’ve already spent the past 30 years steadily losing ground without anyone seeming to notice or care.

Today we sit and watch as the high-rolling gamblers and critics of “big government” take welfare. These are many of the same people who thought it was just fine to deprive millions of women of critical resources and let them fend for themselves.

Even before the catastrophic news out of Wall Street in recent days, women have been worried about their economic security.

Last March a Gallup poll found that in the past two years more women than men said that they worry about the economy (64 percent versus 57 percent). The same holds for health care, crime, the environment, drug use, unemployment, hunger and homelessness.

More men are employed by Wall Street and more men have money invested there. That means the male anxiety meter is probably much higher now that they risk losing their jobs, pensions, portfolios and homes. But women’s worries have probably shot up even more.

Women are likely to lead in the economic-anxiety gap because distressing economic events fall harder on people with less. “I don’t play the stock market, but it does affect us. It affects me personally. It affects the little guy,” a female dispatch supervisor of a limo company that serves investment bank employees recently told the New York Times.

The same holds for all the secretaries and housekeepers who keep investment houses clean and running.

Decades of Lost Ground

But what makes the bailout of the fat tomcats so galling is that women at the bottom of the economic ladder have lost ground during the last 30 years, with very few seeming to notice or care.

From F.D.R.’s New Deal in the 1930s to L.B.J.’s Great Society in the 1970s, the expansion of government programs for the middle class and the poor – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, public assistance, as well as health and social services – provided a modest economic backup for women who predominate among recipients.

Great Depression leaders who saw government as the solution to that economic crisis bailed out banks in exchange for tighter regulations to curb speculation. But they also created cash-assistance programs that increased women’s purchasing power and protected them against economic hardship.

Those programs redistributed income downward and expanded the capacity of the federal government to kick-start the economy while cushioning consumers and workers from the vagaries of the market.

Beginning with President Carter in the mid 1970s, our leaders changed their tune, blaming economic woes on “big government.” Successive administrations relaxed the rules on financial markets and cut funding for the safety net.

Benefits Didn’t Trickle Down

Advocates of “less government” promised that benefits would “trickle down” to the rest of us. Instead their laissez-faire strategy weakened government benefits, one of the three interlocking pillars of economic support counted on by thousands of women from all walks of life.

The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that government spending for domestic discretionary programs fell from a high of 4.8 percent of national output, or gross domestic product, in 1978 to 3.4 percent in 2007. That equals billions of dollars in cuts. Except for rising health care costs, spending on entitlement programs – such as Social Security, unemployment insurance and public assistance – also fell from 8.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 1983 to 7 percent in 2007.

During the past eight years, war spending zoomed ahead, bringing us to the present spectacle, where we see U.S. military spending exceeding that of the rest of the world combined.

Meanwhile, Bush tax policies diverted dollars from public services and boosted corporate profits to a record high of almost 14 percent of national income while the share going to wages dropped to its lowest level since 1929. Combined with relaxed government oversight and rampant speculation the way was paved for abusive mortgage practices that turned Wall Street into one big profit bubble waiting to pop.

With these excesses as a backdrop, women saw their other two pillars of economic security weaken as well: marriage to a wage-earner and paid employment.

Falling marriage rates combined with three decades of sagging male breadwinner wages have undercut the capacity of matrimony to provide women with the financial security it once offered.

Wobbling Wages and Work

From 1979 to 2006, the real value of the median weekly wage of men 25 years and older fell steadily to $797 from $807.

The massive entry of women into the work force since World War II – one of the most significant social trends in modern U.S. history – gave them a third pillar of support. But this too is now wobbling.

As male wages stagnated many women went to work – not as a matter of choice, as headlines about women opting in and out might suggest – but just to make ends meet. Between 1970 and 2005 the proportion of married couples with two earners jumped to 62 percent from about 46 percent, Labor Department data show. The U.S Women’s Bureau finds wives’ contribution to family income rose to 35 percent from 26 percent.

But many of today’s 68 million wage-earning women have recently suffered more job losses than men and a larger drop in wages than the general population, according to the Women’s Bureau. In 2006 full-time female workers earned an average of $627 week or about $32,000 a year.

While we watch the spectacle of the government channeling untold billions of taxpayer dollars into failing Wall Street giants the three pillars of economic support for women – the safety net, marriage and wages – continue to crumble.

The public bailout of corporate America may be necessary given the risks of a collapse to the global economy. But why is it that the rich and reckless accept “welfare” for themselves while steadfastly rejecting the same for women in need? It’s time to take a billion here and there to assist the women raising families on too little income to keep a roof over their heads.


Mimi Abramovitz, the Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy at Hunter College School of Social Work, is the author of “Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Policy From Colonial Times to the Present,” the award-winning “Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the U.S.” and co-author of “Taxes Are A Women’s Issue: Reframing the Debate.” She is currently writing “Gender Obligations: The History of Low-Income Women’s Activism Since 1900.”


Blogging for Beginners

Welcome to the Woman Speak Blog,

To start blogging, click on the archives tab and choose a blog.  You can also access the blogs in the categories section. The most recent blogs posted are seen on our homepage but if you would like to see people’s comments, you have to select the blog by clicking on the title.  To leave a comment, click on the comments tab at the end of the blog. Under reply, use your name or choose a “blogger name”. Leave your email address (which will not be posted but required for comment approval) and your website if you want. If you would like to be informed when a new content is posted, feel free to subscribe to our blog by clicking on the posts tab in the top right corner. There, you have the option of adding our blog to your Yahoo or Google homepage.