Young Women’s Voices Taken to Heights

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Madam Amina J. Mohammed, special advisor of the Secretary- General on the Post-2015 development planning and Kgothatso Mokoena

By Kgothatso Mokoena, World YWCA Programme Associate.  Kgothatso recently attended the consultation meeting on the High Level Panel 2015 held at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Below she shares her experience. 

A Discussion on the Post -2015 Agenda on High level Panel Report

In partnership with the Post -2015 Development planning team of the Secretary General , UN –non-governmental liaison services is facilitated a   civil society consultation in Geneva to  take a critical analysis  from their  perspective on four reports submitted to the  UN Secretary General;

1.    High level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post -2015 Development agenda (Post-2015 HLP)
2.    UN Sustainable Development Solutions network (SDSN)
3.    UN Global compact (UNGC)
4.    UN development Group (UNDG) “ The global Conversation begins”

These reports will serves as the Secretary General’s input to the UN Secretary report to the September 2013 General assembly special event on the Millennium development Goal (MDG’s) and the Post -2015 Development agenda. It was thus an official platform for civil society to provide analysis of the findings of these reports and to propose alternative approaches.

World YWCA was part of this consultative meeting on the HLP 2015 , which discussed the following issues intensively
•    Allocation of Resources
Questions : the participants raised  questions about the  heavy focus on private sector and how will  the new development agenda be financed given the  on-going global economic crisis  . Another question was the criteria for resource allocation and implication for regions such as sub Saharan  Africa, where 90% of poverty is anticipated, and who   have limited access to global markets. The last was a concern about the increasing reliance of the UN on High Level Panel which don’t include CSO , making the  inter-governmental processes  out of reach for  marginalised and excluded groups..
•    Private Public Partnerships.
Civil societies were encouraged to strengthen their linkages between the Private Business sector and  the development  agenda, and though the  various  initiatives exist ,  to develop a coherent strategy for including all as the  slogan for process is leave no one behind.. It was suggested there’s  a urgent need for good innovative programmes which can influence PP partnerships contribute ahuman rights perspective to the post-2015 agenda. A specific  intervention would be the strengthen and expand work being  done ,  with a particular focus  on  social accountability and  increasing opportunities of employment and investment for all citizens in economically unequal countries  .
•    Climate Change
Various questions were raised on how  to  combat climate  change.  It was also noted that  social and environmental  indicators  were weak and there was no direct link to their implication  for peace ,in countries where conflicts are driven by  limited access to resources such as water and carbon fuels.

The answer was there is commitment  for capacity building of CSOs in these contexts to be more involved in linking peace building to sustainable development . There will be a conscious allocation of resources to an ecosystem based approach to disaster management and investment in local adaptation capacities to counter climate change and conflict driven by social exclusion from natural resources.

Being one of the very few young women in the meeting, I was rather disappointed that less was said on Women’s human rights  and nothing on youth , in particular young women in poor urban settings,  rural  villages and conflict zones . I had hoped that at this stage HLP report will put emphasis on;
•    Investing in young women’s education and training particularly the over 15 million that are out of school and already married.
•    Measures to be taken to protect the  economic and social rights  of these young women , particularly  rights to  identity and property , without which they cannot vote , open a bank account or own land , this defeats the  objective  of the HLP  Report of  ensuring  that no one goes hungry no more.
•     Climate change and  environmental  degradation has a profound impact on these young women as they are responsible for  providing water  and fuel for the household , and are often  caught up  in the conflict  for natural resources ,  raped and abducted  forced to be wives of combatants .
•     Efforts must be made to include their voices in any discussion on sustainable development, peace building and climate change.

The UN Women paper advocating for a transformative stand-alone goal on  gender equality, women ‘s rights and women’s empowerment   was  as key resource for the Post-2015 HLP report 2013, and provided critical content for the gender goal , which highlights the importance of ending child marriages , but in  conclusion  I believe that much still needs to be done before September, to include the needs and voices of all young women  and particularly those  who are already married or are in difficult  circumstances and socially excluded  at community  level.

I felt it was my responsibility as an activist and Young women Champion to share on the World YWCA “the Future Young Women Wants” document , which captures the voices of young women from our movement  which is in 120 countries and reaches young owmen in over 22,000 communities, I highlight some of the key  recommendations  suggested for inclusion in  the Post-2015 agenda:
•    Women access to land/ Natural Recourses
•    Women and young women participation in decision making
•    Recognition on the roles and responsibilities of women participating in Peace processes
•    Women and young women’s role in development and policy review dialogue
•    Youth development:  employment, training and education opportunities.
•    Special attention to be given on Climate change and Justice Issues.

Copy of the “Future Young women wants” was then handed to Madam Amina J. Mohammed, special advisor of the Secretary- General on the Post-2015 development planning.

Would like to thank the World YWCA for their continuum efforts to provide  spaces for young women to participate  in such high  level policy making platforms and their commitment to support care and nurture for  us as future Leaders

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The Thin Line Between Violence and Art

World YWCA Programme Officer Communications, Marcia Banasko Marcia addresses the exploitation of women in advertisements and mass media. Her veiws are taken from the original publiciation on Girls Globe 

When it comes to sexualisation in the media, often people respond with – “sex sells.” Although sex may sell, I often wonder at what cost? Who is footing the bill? The answer: everyone.

Sexual exploitation in advertisements affects the whole of society in one way or another.

However, women bear most of the costs and, as a result, our mental health and well-being suffers. Although much has been said on the sexualisation of women and girls in the media, sexual violence, particularly in fashion advertising, must be addressed.

In 2007, Dolce and Gabbana (D&G) published the advert below:

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Image Courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

Many women’s rights groups and advertising watchdogs have argued that the advertisement above clearly symbolises gang-rape. Held down against her will, the woman in the image falls victim to her male oppressor while an additional three men look on eagerly, seemingly awaiting their turn. Gang-rape is a horrifying and grotesque human rights violation from which no one should ever have to suffer. Why then, is it perfectly acceptable to normalise gang rape and use it as a concept in advertisements and marketing campaigns? In response to the global public outrage, D&G withdrew the advertisement from all its publications. However, D&G insisted the image was not meant to be controversial but simply represented an erotic dream.

The fashion industry continues to push the boundaries of what is new, edgy and original. Some argue that fashion advertising is art and therefore should not be taken literally, yet I beg to differ. Take this 2012 winter collection titled ‘Shameless’ from the Dutch company Suit Supply:

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Image Courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

The advertisements above suggest that, by buying a Suit Supply suit, women will allow men to do whatever they desire, including sex, touching and groping and peering at our vagina’s. Suit Supply’s advertisements not only represent women as sexual slaves, but also imply that men buy suits to enhance their sexual appeal solely to women, thereby ignoring the entire homosexual population.

Some advertisements are ridiculous, stupid and extremely offensive, others are indescribable:

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Considered ‘fine art’ by the fashion world, marketing executives marvelled at the degrading advertisements.

 Studies show that such violent images negatively impact adolescents’ self-esteem and confidence. The continuous bombardment of violent  images on television, magazines and the internet reinforce negative gender stereotypes and normalise violence and the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

Whether deemed fine art or fashion, it is wrong and unacceptable.

The Southern European Summer University Experience!

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Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu

Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu is a programme associate at the World YWCA.  She was a participant at the the Southern European Summer University, a conference initiative for youth based organisations

The Southern European Summer University (SESU) is a youth training and consultation process that was held in Alghero (Sardinia), Italy from the 29th of July to the 3rd of August.

Hosted by the Italian National Youth Forum – Forum Nazionale dei Giovani (FNG), and designed to bring together representatives from European National Youth Councils and International Non Governmental Youth Organisations (NGYOs), SESU’s main fields of collaboration were advocacy, youth work, development, international and global cooperation

The experience of working with a regional youth platform, especially one that is as well structured as the European Youth Forum (YJF) was entirely new to me. The youth forum is an extraordinary platform for involvement, representation, empowerment, recognition and encouragement of young people across Europe. It works in collaboration with members from National Youth Councils, from member countries in Europe as well as International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations.

Before coming to Europe, I had not been acquainted with my own regional youth platform in Asia, but after an inspiring 4 days of discussions, I am determined to initiate participation as soon as I  return to India. The YFJ sets itself up as a fine model of institutionalisation and youth involvement. In my time in Sardinia, I observed various deliberations around procedures of the YJF, roles of the YFJ’s board of management and its rules of procedure around membership of youth organisations.

The SESU also had working groups on two other youth based institutions, the Advisory Council and European youth programmes, in particular the Erasmus Programme.

FNG did a phenomenal job in organising the SESU, and the commitment of their pool of trainers was inspiring. I hope the YJF continues to work on its present objectives but also explores the possibility of the platform setting itself as a case in point for other regions in the world. The role of organisations like the YWCA as a member of the platform is crucial in this area, because the YJF has good practices and well structured democratic governance, which would be ideal to disseminate. Through the YWCA, the platform could be used as an exhibit or even an opportunity for training towards youth based organisations in the world.

EXPERIENCIAS QUE ENSEÑAN: MI VISITA A LA YWCA DE CANBERRA

Silvina Mariel Gerbaldo fue participante la World YWCA Internacional Liderazgo Instituto, Bangkok, Thailand. Ella es de YWCA Córdoba, Argentina

Antes de mi participación en el Instituto Internacional de Liderazgo de la YWCA Mundial, realizado en Bangkok en Mayo pasado tuve la oportunidad de visitar la YWCA de Canberra en mi camino a Tailandia.

Mis días en Canberra resultaron una experiencia increíble visitando los diferentes programas de la YWCA y conociendo su funcionamiento. Desde el primer día me impresionó la cantidad y calidez de la gente que trabaja allí solidariamente, la oficina propia que poseen, la distribución y organización del trabajo y, especialmente, los exitosos programas que desarrollan.

Realmente me sentí bienvenida por todas las integrantes de la YWCA Canberra.  Hubo tiempo de reuniones con el directorio,  el personal y las voluntarias  donde pudimos intercambiar y compartir realidades de países tan diferentes como lo son Argentina, Chile y Australia. DSCI0026

En mi país el cien por ciento del trabajo es voluntario por lo que muchas veces tenemos problemas urgentes por resolver pero lo que aprendí en Canberra es cómo generar fuentes de autosostenimiento, generar recursos a través de las alianzas con el Gobierno y otros agentes de la sociedad civil y cómo abarcar a toda la comunidad con diferentes programas enfocados en las edades y necesidades de cada comunidad.

Entre otros programas conocí el Plan de Acción para la Reconciliación donde se hace foco en las diversas comunidades aborígenes y los habitantes del Estrecho de Torres con el fin de afianzar relaciones respetuosas y lograr el acceso a diferentes oportunidades.

El Programa The Older Women’s Life Stages,  taller diseñado para que las mujeres adultas exploren los cambios que se van dando en los distintos aspectos de sus vidas, ganen herramientas y confianza para ser líderes en sus comunidades y aprendan nuevos caminos para responder a los cambios.

El Programa Great Ydeas Small Grants  provee asistencia financiera a mujeres de Canberra y alrededores para poner en marcha distintos proyectos e ideas que ellas tienen.

Estuve participando de un día de jardinería en Lady Heydon House, la casa que está en los suburbios de Canberra que sirve de hogar para cinco personas de edad otorgándoles la oportunidad de llevar allí una vida más saludable. Estas personas no tienen suficiente sustento económico ni entorno familiar adecuado.

The Leadership Training Course está destinado a jóvenes líderes que quieran desarrollar todo su potencial. Otorga un Diploma en Management y consta de ocho días de talleres donde pueden desarrollar  nuevas herramientas y generar oportunidades. Está destinado a mujeres que se encuentran en la edad temprana de sus carreras o bien ya en posiciones de gerenciamiento, generalmente menores de treinta años.

YWCA Encore  es un programa de 8 semanas en 40 localidades de Australia  para mujeres que han experimentado el cáncer de mamas en algún momento de sus vidas. Consta de ejercicios de relajación, meditación, técnicas, información  y terapias alternativas. También permite que mujeres compartan sus experiencias en un ambiente relajado y contenedor.

El programa de “respeto, comunicación y elección” ayuda a pensar acerca de las relaciones personales para que sean respetuosas y sanas. También desarrollan un programa de prevención de violencia para niños de 9 a 12 años de edad en las escuelas primarias. Para ello utilizan mucho material didáctico, pedagógico e interactivo. Allí se dan las mentorías que sirven a que niñas se transformen en futuras líderes y mentoras.

El servicio para cuidado de niños desde su nacimiento hasta la primaria está brindado por docentes capacitados y empleados part-time los cuales desarrollan actividades para niños antes y después de la escuela. El Family Day Care otorga empleo a sesenta educadores que son formados para el cuidado de niños en sus hogares a tiempo completo. Es un programa muy exitoso que se viene desarrollando en diferentes escuelas.

Pero lo que más me sorprendió y admiré profundamente es el centro comunitario joven de Mura Lanyon que conocí a través de Jan y que  desarrolla diferentes actividades para esa comunidad como deportes, actividades culturales y demás intereses para fomentar la participación de los ciudadanos. Provee de información a la comunidad para realizar trámites, especialistas disponibles para ayudar a niños con problemas de aprendizaje o familiares, sala de esparcimiento para que los niños puedan ir luego de la escuela, actividades al aire libre y gimnasio, un café, sala de eventos, un proyecto de literatura, merienda para niños, una cocina que estará destinada a realizar cursos de aprendizaje de ese oficio, etc. También poseen un servicio de comida gratuita para gente sin recursos. Son donaciones de empresas privadas y hay un equipo de voluntarios que se encargan de hacer la distribución de los alimentos allí en el centro.

Agradezco profundamente a la World YWCA por haberme dado la oportunidad de conocer la fabulosa YWCA Canberra y a los miembros de YWCA Canberra por haberme abierto las puertas de su institución y demostrarme que se pueden hacer muchas cosas cuando hay ideas –grandes o pequeñas-, empuje, liderazgo y organización. Gracias por ser mis mentoras para hacer crecer la YWCA Argentina con nuevos proyectos.

Global Inter-faith and Secular Alliance : domaine d’intervention SRHR

By FALOLOU F. Lucrèce, Volontaire YWCA Bénin

Ce dimanche 7 juillet, s’est tenu un meeting sur « l’extrémisme religieux et la SDSR » dans une des salles de réunion du Palace hôtel. Cette réunion organisée par GISA (Global Inter-faith and Secular Alliance : domaine d’intervention SRHR) s’est focalisée sur la perception des religions, notamment les religions catholique et islamique, en matière de santé sexuelle et reproductifs des jeunes, et notamment des femmes.

Lucrèce

Lucrèce

En effet, la plupart des jeunes, notamment dans les pays en voie de développement, se considèrent religieux. Ainsi, la foi et la spiritualité leur servent de cadre éthique et influencent leurs croyances, leurs pratiques et leurs choix par rapport à la famille, au mariage, à la procréation et à la sexualité. Alors dans ces pays (par exemples le Nigéria), les normes sociales et culturelles imposées par la religion, la tradition et/ou la société ont d’importants effets sur la santé et le droit à la santé des jeunes. Or le droit à la santé est intimement lié aux autres droits de l’homme tels que le droit à l’éducation, à la religion et à l’expression. Alors il est urgent que les politiques et programmes qui soutiennent les droits de santé sexuelle et reproductive des femmes et des jeunes suscitent l’apparition d’approches « interculturelles » pour le bien-être de ces couches vulnérables. C’est donc sur ces notes d’espoir que cette réunion a pris fin.

C’est à la suite de cette réunion, qu’à démarrer la cérémonie officielle d’ouverture de la conférence internationale sur les droits de l’homme de la CIPD au delà de 2014. Les sponsors officiels  de cette conférence ont été représentés à la cérémonie officielle d’ouverture en tant que conférenciers principaux de la séance par:

–         Mme Renée Jones-Bos, secrétaire général du ministère des Affaires étrangères des Pays-Bas ;

–         Le professeur Babatunde Osotimehin, Directeur exécutif du FNUAP ;

–         Mme Navi Pillay, Haut commissaire de l’ONU pour les droits de l’homme.

Au cours de leurs différentes interventions, chaque conférencier a surtout mis l’accent sur l’importance de l’intégration de la santé sexuelle et reproductive dans les politiques et les programmes de développement. L’accent a été également mis sur la promotion et la protection des droits fondamentaux de toutes les femmes, notamment celui de maîtriser leur sexualité et de décider librement de tout ce qui s’y rapporte, comme leur santé en matière de sexualité et de procréation, sans subir de contrainte, de discrimination ou de violence.

De même, ces conférenciers ont fait un rappel des différents progrès qui ont été accomplis dans la mise en œuvre du programme d’action dans toutes les régions du monde. En effet, il s’agit de stratégies et de programmes conçus par les pays  pour promouvoir la santé et les droits en matière de sexualité et de procréation ; ce faisant, des avancées réelles et substantielles ont été obtenus.  Il s’agit notamment de la diminution du taux de nouvelles infections VIH dans de nombreux pays, de la réduction globale de 50% de la mortalité maternelle et de l’augmentation de l’utilisation des moyens de contraception modernes. Toutefois, il reste beaucoup à faire pour réaliser le programme de la CIPD car,  selon le professeur Babatunde Osotimehin, bon nombres de petites filles sont privées de leur droits à l’éducation, tombent enceintes très tôt, sont victimes de la fistule obstétricale, n’ont pas accès aux services de PF, de santé sexuelle et reproductive, bon nombres de femmes meurent en couches, etc. Alors, il est indispensable de mettre le droit en matière de la SRHR et de PF au cœur de l’agenda de développement pour le bien-être des femmes et des adolescents. En conclusion, le directeur exécutif du FNUAP a rappelé la mission de son organisation qui est celui d’œuvrer en faveur du droit à la santé (…) (annexe). Chacun des panelists a fait allusion à Martin Luther King, précurseur des droits de l’homme qui affirme : « l’injustice est une menace pour la justice ».