Making Laws Work to End Violence Against Women and Girls, Bucharest, Romania, June 12 – 14, 2017: Post-Conference Report

Introduction

Making Laws Work to End Violence Against Women and Girls, held in Bucharest Romania June 12 – 14, 2017, provided a platform for approximately 160 parliamentarians, NGO representatives, and government officials from 22 countries in Eastern and Central Europe to share best practices in implementing violence against women laws. The organizers of the conference were Global Rights for Women, Vital Voices, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Romanian Parliament. The Romanian NGO, Anais, was our local partner in carrying out the conference. The conference produced an Outcome Document that summarized the main strategies for achieving progress, emphasizing the need for collaboration and a victim-centered response.

Read the full report.

Post-ConferenceReport

GRW Signs Joint Gender Community Statement on U.S. Foreign Assistance

 

Global Rights for Women (GRW), along with more than 100 organizations in the gender community, calls on Congress to support a robust U.S. foreign assistance budget. Each year when Congress budgets and appropriates federal spending to provide for our common prosperity and security, it makes important decisions about American values and reflects those values to the nation and the world. Typically, this includes investing in the long-held and cherished American tradition of supporting vulnerable people at home and abroad, including the most marginalized, with the critical assistance they need to build healthy, self-sufficient lives. Increasingly, the U.S. has shown bold leadership supporting women and girls to achieve their full potential, including those that make up 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty. Continue reading

U made the right call and sent an important message

Written by Helen Rubenstein and originally published in the Star Tribune on Thursday, January 5th, 2017:

Handling of the episode signals a strong stand against sexual assault on campus.

The University of Minnesota did the right thing by firing head football coach Tracy Claeys. Though university leaders have focused on benefits to the football program in recent media interviews, the most important message the firing sends is that the university is taking a strong stand against sexual assault on campus.

Even before Tuesday’s announcement, the university had responded forcefully to the horrific actions by multiple Gopher football players on Sept. 2 of last year. Building on the thorough and fair-minded investigation by the university’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) office and the termination of Coach Claeys, the university can continue to show leadership in creating a campus environment that respects women’s human right to be free from sexual violence.

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In Whose Best Interest? Custody and Parenting Time Decisions in the Context of Family Violence

One in nine children are exposed to physical or psychological violence between their parents each year.  Exposure to intimate partner violence may include witnessing the violence firsthand, seeing a parent’s injuries afterward or overhearing a parent verbally abuse the other parent.

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Justice for Children

When children are exposed to intimate partner violence, the effects are profound.  Studies have found that children who witness domestic violence often experience negative health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and have difficulty in school.  Further, when intimate partner violence is normalized within a household, children face an increased likelihood of engaging in violent behavior in their adult lives.  Children may even become victims themselves, as there is a well-established connection between intimate partner violence and child abuse.

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The Women, Peace and Security Act: A Significant Step Forward For Sustainable Global Peace

peace-and-equalityIn a significant step forward for effective global peace building, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act on Tuesday, November 15th. The act promotes the meaningful participation of women in peace negotiations with the goal of preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict.

Four years in the making, the bipartisan legislation acknowledges the critical role that women play in national security and foreign policy. Historically, women have been excluded from or underrepresented at the negotiation table in the U.S. and around the world, and extensive research exists to show that this has likely prevented progress in fostering sustainable peace. For example, a 2015 publication by the International Peace Institute entitled “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes” reported that when negotiations include women, peace agreements are 35 percent more likely to be successful for a period of 15 years or longer.

This type of evidence helped fuel the creation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which has existed since 2011 and is aligned with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). However, the WPS Act, if passed by the Senate, would establish legislation to ensure that the plan is fully implemented. Essentially, it would turn our action plan into law. Continue reading

The Darkness of Traumatic Brain Injuries: Not Just for Football Anymore

Headaches. Dizziness. Memory loss. Confusion. Irritability. Depression. Aggression.sadness-woman-looking-down

When imagining the people that experience these symptoms, who comes to mind? Based on current events, and potentially life experiences, you’d likely say football players. That was certainly the first group that came to my mind, as I played in college and am an avid fan well aware of the troubling information uncovered connecting the sad stories of many retired NFL players diagnosed with CTE resulting from brain injuries suffered during their playing days. You might also include boxers and/or soldiers in your answer. And all of those answers are correct.  Experts are finally taking note that, for each group, such symptoms may not appear right away but likely are the result of trauma from repeated blows to the head. But the experts’ findings are also true for another group largely forgotten in this discussion and left in the dark.

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GRW in Sarajevo and Berlin

In the last month Global Rights for Women has met with dozens of women from Europe and Central Asia who are all pursuing the goal of ending violence against women. In October we were consultants to a United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF) conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Then we traveled to Berlin for the Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) network’s annual conference. It was wonderful to share in the energy and inspiration of the global sisterhood.

At the UNTF conference NGO representatives and others gathered to report on the outcome of grants they received to promote a multi-sectoral response to violence against women. A multi-sectoral response simply means that those who are charged with responding to violence against women collaborate in their efforts to ensure that victims are protected, their needs are met and that perpetrators are held accountable. The participants in a multi-sectoral response may include police, prosecutors, courts, social and healthcare services, and NGO victim advocates. The collaboration can take many forms, from simple referral networks to Coordinated Community Response (CCR), the comprehensive method developed in Minnesota in the 1980’s.

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Breaking the Silence

Though the work of Global Rights for Women focuses on systems change and legal form, we believe that in order to do our work effectively, we have to be continuously connected to the voices and experiences of survivors. In a four-part series on trauma-informed skills, Twin Cities, Minnesota advocate and survivor Sarah Super shares her insights on how we can be trauma-sensitive in our support of survivors of gender-based violence. Read on for the final installment in Sarah’s series. Click here for Parts One, Two and Three in the series.

Survivors of sexual violence surround each of us. I didn’t learn this until I was raped. Before I was sexually assaulted, I could not name one survivor I knew. No one had talked to me about their own experiences of surviving sexual violence, so I assumed sexual violence wasn’t a lived reality for my friends and family.

But I was wrong. In the first six weeks after being raped, I learned firsthand that silence surrounds and protects sexual violence. And I learned why sexual assault was something very few people felt safe talking about: from the failure of our criminal justice system to hold perpetrators accountable to the shame and stigma our community casts on sexual assault victims to the lack of trauma-informed allies. In my own experience, I was discouraged from talking about what happened to me for fear that it would risk the outcome of the court process. I was shamed that I had chosen a rapist for a boyfriend, as one person told me. My life was dissected in attempts to analyze and prepare for whatever defense my rapist’s team of attorneys and supporters might come up with.

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A Reflection on Event with Gloria Steinem

Last week, Global Rights for Women celebrated our 2nd anniversary with over 500 friends – old and new – at the Hilton Minneapolis. We were thrilled to have the support of various community partners and to raise money to support our international work to end violence against women and girls.
We were thrilled to be joined by Gloria Steinem, who shared her perspective on the pandemic of violence against women. Her wisdom and insights motivates and regularly informs and inspires our work. If you missed the conversation, check out the live recording on our Facebook Page.
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Our vision is a world without violence. This is a time of great change and progress for women in our world. We value your partnership as we embrace this opportunity. Thank you for being a part of our community and working with us!

Everyone Suffers When Violence Keeps Girls Out of School

Malagasy School girlsAround the world children are returning to or starting school for the first time. For many families the beginning of the school year is a time of hope and excitement.  Children are looking forward to meeting new friends, learning and trying new activities. What we so often forget amongst the bustle of new school supplies and first day pictures is that millions of children all around the world go without an education.

2013 estimates indicate that 59 million children did not have access to an elementary school education, over half of these children are girls. Lack of education has long term detrimental effects on everything from the ability to find and secure work to child and maternal health. A good education is critical to the development of children and to the sustainable development of societies. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said; “There is no tool more effective for development than the education of girls.”
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