Sweden Highlights Gender Equality and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security at the General Assembly's General Debate

Friday, September 26, 2003


Since the last newsletter, a number of items have been added to the list, including:

-A public hearing on “Iraqi Women” being organized by the European Parliamentary Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities;
-Recent remarks by UNIFEM on women activists in the current climate of insecurity;
-A recent visit by Minister Nisrin Barwari, the only woman appointed to the new Iraqi cabinet, to Washington, D.C.

For the updated list, click here.

To ensure that this list remains up-to-date and accurate, PeaceWomen welcomes your input. To provide input, contact sarahshteir@peacewomen.org.
2. 1325 NEWS

Visit our updated news pages on Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel-Palestine and Liberia

Top UNIFEM Official Warns Women in Iraq are Intimidated
September 24, 2003 – (UN Wire) Fearful for their safety and unnerved by last weekend's attack on a high-ranking female official, Iraqi women activists are retreating from the public sphere and choosing to keep their work low-profile, U.N. Development Fund for Women Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer said yesterday.

Ugandan Women Join the Peace Wagon, as Rebels Wreak Havoc
September 24, 2003 - (IPS) Rosemary Nyeko is a bitter woman. She remembers how rebels ruined her life when they burned her house in northern Uganda last year.

Nepal/Bhutan: Refugee Women Face Abuses: UNHCR, Governments Must Take Action at ExCom
September 24, 2003 – (HRW) Bhutanese refugee women in Nepal encounter gender-based violence and systematic discrimination in access to aid, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. For the full report, click here.

Acehnese Refugees Forced into Sex Slavery
September 23, 2003 – (The Jakarta Post) At least 1,000 female Acehnese refugees, who fled to neighboring North Sumatra because of war in their homeland, have been forced to become sex workers but the police are doing nothing about it, activists say.

UNHCR Updates Guidelines To Fight Violence Against Women
September 22, 2003 – (UN Wire) The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday released revised guidelines for fighting sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women and children, focusing on issues such as the trafficking of women and girls, domestic violence, female genital mutilation and sexual harassment.

Catholic Women's League Fiji Takes Peace Vigil Initiative to the Yasawas
September 17, 2003 (femLINKpacific) From Thursday (18 September 2003) there will be a flurry of activity at the Lautoka Wharf as representative of parishes from across Fiji, come together for the annual general meeting of the Catholic Women's League Fiji which this year will be staged at Nasomolevu, Vuaki, Yasawa, the home village of the 'League's spiritual adviser, Archbishop Petero Mataca.

Sex Workers Get Vocational Training
September 15, 2003 – (IRIN) Sex Workers in the Central African Republic completed on Saturday a five-day training session on starting and managing alternative revenue-generating activities, in an effort to help curb HIV/AIDS infection.

Are the Wrong People Trying to Solve the Middle East Crisis?
September 15, 2003 – (The Guardian) Shortly before 10am, UK time, last Saturday, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister, resigned. In his four months in the job, Abbas had signed the roadmap document, the latest initiative in the attempt to bring peace to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. But in the past month, like all of its predecessors, the plan had begun to fray and disintegrate in the face of violence, chaos and bitter recrimination. Abbas's despairing departure suggested that yet another Middle East "peace process" was about to trundle into the buffers.

"Honor Killings" In Pakistan Reach 631 This Year, Group Says
September 15, 2003 – (UN Wire) A human rights organization in Pakistan said today that at least 631 women and girls in the country have died in "honor killings" by male relatives since the beginning of the year, Associated Press reports.

Turkish, Armenian Women Weave New Borders
September 12, 2003 – (WeNews) A group of Turkish and Armenian women are trying to ease the strained political relationship between their two countries. Their efforts began two years ago and are now increasing in scope.

For more 1325 news, click here.

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Palestinian Women Mobilizing and “Trapped” Bhutanese Refugee Women

International Women's Peace Service and Human Rights Watch both recently released new reports, excerpts of which are included below:

Palestinian Women Mobilizing to Resist Apartheid Wall
International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), House Report No. 43
September 14, 2003

A powerful force is organizing resistance to the construction of the Apartheid Wall – Palestinian women! Palestinian women have always been active in resisting the Occupation. Now they are organizing to resist the construction of the Apartheid Wall.

Palestinian Women Demonstrate Against the Wall in Tulkarem

On Sept. 6, Palestinian women in Tulkarem organized a demonstration of more than 200 Palestinian, Israeli, and international women to protest against the Apartheid Wall and the Occupation.

The demonstration was organized by the newly formed “Women's Wall Defense Committee” in Tulkarem, together with Israeli women peace activists and international activists from International Women's Peace Service (IWPS), the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and a delegation of U.S. peace activists from “Code Pink.”

IWPS and the Code Pink delegation traveled together to Tulkarem, stopping on the way to visit the villages of A-Ras and Jbarra, which have many families in common, now separated by the Wall. We met about 200 Palestinian women in Tulkarem and marched together to the Apartheid Wall at the village of Irtah. The Apartheid Wall along the border between Tulkarem and Israel is a monstrous-looking gray concrete wall with sinister round watchtowers like Darth Vader's mask. If the wall is completed as planned, the entire city of Tulkarem (41,000 inhabitants) will be completely imprisoned inside the Wall.

When we reached the gate, we could see about 250 Israeli activists (both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis), waiting at the checkpoint about 50 meters ahead of us. As we approached the gate, the soldiers got out of their jeeps and came towards the demonstrators. One soldier threw several tear gas canisters into the crowd on the Palestinian side of the gate. The demonstration did not retreat. Women continued protesting at the gate, chanting and waving hand-made signs and banners. Finally, the women convinced the soldiers to let 20 Israeli women through the gate to join with the Palestinian demonstration for a few minutes.
When the Israeli women came through to the Palestinian side of the gate, the Palestinian women welcomed them like long-lost friends, with hugs, kisses, and tears, and absorbed them into the crowd. An Israeli woman made a speech in Arabic and sang a song, then the Palestinian women sang the Palestinian national anthem. The Palestinian women invited the Israeli women to come to their houses for a visit, but the soldiers were already ordering the Israeli women to go back to the other side of the checkpoint…

For the full analysis, click here.

Please see accompanying photos at http://www.womenspeacepalestine.org/iwpsreports.htm

For more information about International Women's Peace Service in Hares, email iwps@palnet.com.

To receive IWPS reports email iwps-pal-reports-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.


Trapped by Inequality: Bhutanese Refugee Women in Nepal
Human Rights Watch
September 24, 2003


Sometimes I was beaten so badly I bled. My husband took a second wife. I didn't agree—. He said, “if you don't allow me to take a second wife, then the ration card is in my name, and I'll take everything.” I have asked my husband for the health card and ration card and they don't give it to me—. I have not gotten approval to get a separate ration card.

—Interview with Geeta M. (not her real name), Bhutanese refugee camps, Nepal, March 26, 2003

Bhutanese women who are living as refugees in Nepal, many for more than a decade, confront not only the hardship of life in refugee camps, but also the injustice of gender-based violence and discrimination. Refugee women and girls have reported rape, sexual assault, polygamy, trafficking, domestic violence, and child marriage in the camps. Women suffering domestic violence are unable to obtain safety or their full share of humanitarian aid because of discriminatory refugee registration procedures and inadequate protection measures. The registration system also prevents married refugee women from applying for repatriation or rations independently and prohibits them from registering children not fathered by a refugee.

More than one hundred thousand Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees live in seven refugee camps jointly administered by Nepal and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in southeastern Nepal. The refugees fled or were forcibly evicted from their homes in Bhutan in the early 1990s, when the Bhutanese government introduced highly discriminatory citizenship policies targeting the ethnic Nepalese population. For twelve years, the government of Bhutan has asserted that the refugees are not Bhutanese nationals or are voluntary migrants who relinquished their citizenship when they left Bhutan. The governments of Bhutan and Nepal finally initiated a process for verifying and categorizing refugees in 2001. This process has drawn international criticism for lacking transparency, excluding UNHCR, and failing to assess refugees' claims to Bhutanese citizenship fairly.

In the camps, UNHCR and the government of Nepal have failed to protect refugee women's rights adequately. A key source of this failure is the continued use of a registration and ration distribution system based on household cards listed under the name of the male household head. Human Rights Watch interviewed Bhutanese refugee women who had suffered domestic violence and who, despite having separated from their husbands, were not able to obtain their own ration cards. Most instead made ad hoc arrangements with the refugee camp management to collect their food rations separately, thus relying on the mercy of the management rather than a system fair to women. These women encountered problems accessing rations meant to be shared within one household such as stoves, blankets, and soap. They were unable to obtain separate housing, leaving them to find refuge with other family members in already overcrowded huts or to create makeshift arrangements with partitions.

Following investigations of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers in refugee camps in West Africa, several cases of sexual exploitation involving refugee aid workers surfaced in Nepal in October 2002. A subsequent investigation led to findings indicating negligence by UNHCR and the government of Nepal in preventing and responding to widespread and long-standing gender-based violence in the camps. Victims encountered inadequate support services and a male-dominated refugee camp leadership that often ignored gender-based violence or meted out harmful settlements.

For the full report, click here.

To read the report on the HRW website, click here.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, click here.

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Sweden Highlights Gender Equality and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security at the General Assembly's General Debate
Statement by H.E. Jan O. Karlsson, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy of Sweden
September 25, 2003, UN Headquarters, New York

The General Assembly begins each session with a General Debate during which representatives of UN member states, often heads of state and government, express their opinions on the most pressing international issues.

This year's General Debate began on September 23rd and will conclude on October 3rd.

On September 25, the representative of Sweden, H.E. Jan O. Karlsson, in his statement to the General Assembly, highlighted, among other things, the absence of women in decision-making bodies within the UN system and around the world, and the importance of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Below are excerpts of his statement:

Mr. President,

In the early morning hours of September 11, 2003, our Foreign Minister Anna Lindh died, murdered in a senseless crime.

One of Sweden's most prominent and respected leaders is gone. We have lost a part of our future.

She spoke for the oppressed, for the victims of human rights violations. She worked for international peace and justice, and for multilateral co-operation.

The voice of Anna Lindh has been silenced. But her burning conviction echoes with us.

...Mr. President,

In 2001 Anna Lindh's 11 years old son David accompanied her to the UN. Upon entering the General Assembly he asked: "Mom, where are all the women?"
He saw what many of us seem blind to. There are too few women here, as in many decision-making bodies around the world.

Gender equality is about making use of all our human resources.

Women are strong, but are made vulnerable through legal, economic and social discrimination.

Women are made victims, of violence in war, of abuse at home, of trafficking, of sexual exploitation. For these women, gender equality is a question of life and death.

Women's equal rights to education, to a professional career, to participate in politics, are not a threat to men. The absence of these rights is a threat to the progress of mankind.

Mr. President,

Peace operations require joint efforts to be successful. The co-operation between the UN and regional organizations, such as the recent experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the EU-led police mission in the Western Balkans and the military operation in Macedonia, are examples of this. We will continue developing the co-operation between the UN and the EU and welcome the Political Declaration on crisis management.

Many painful lessons can be drawn from the violent conflicts in West Africa. Sweden welcomes the large and broadly based UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia. The international community must support the UN and ECOWAS in finding sustainable solutions for the entire region. The European Union is trying to strengthen such a partnership through the work of Hans Dahlgren, its Special Representative to the Mano River Union countries.

Women are crucial to peace and reconciliation. I welcome that gender perspectives are now incorporated into mandates and activities of all peacekeeping missions. The number of women in peace operations, at all levels, must increase. The implementation of Security Council resolution 1325, and a strengthening of the UN capacity in this field, is vital...

For his full statement, clickhere.

To read other countries' statements, and for the provisional list of speakers, click here.

For background information on the General Assembly, click here.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, click here.

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Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones
Co-edited by Wenona Giles, Malathi de Alwis, Edith Klein, Neluka Silva
with Maja Korac, Djurdja Knezevic, Zarana Papic (advisory editors)
The Women in Conflict Zones Network
between the lines
September 2003

“Feminists Under Fire is about women living and working in conflict zones. Focusing on the civil wars in Sri Lanka and the former Yugoslavia, diverse authors face the problems of nationalism, ethnic conflict, and militarized violence. They explore commonalities and differences between the two regions, and consequences for women, their societies, and feminist politics.

Women are neither simply victimized nor empowered by war; their experiences are more complicated. While they suffer from war-related violence and upheaval, some women living in traditional societies find that war releases them from constricting hierarchies. Others find it reinforces conventional gender roles. This ambivalence needs to be examined and understood.

In addition to such concerns the collection addresses issues of domestic violence, rape, intermarriage, victimization, feminist organizing and anti-war activism, women's self-help organization, and political resistance.”

Wenona Giles is Associate Professor and Chair, School of Social Sciences- Atkinson, York University, Toronto. Malathi de Alwis is Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Visiting Associate Professor, New School for Social Research, New York. Edith Klein is Resident Fellow, Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto. Neluka Silva is Professor and Head, Department of English, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

To order this book, and for information about a book launch in Toronto, Canada, click here.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, click here.

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Conflict, Peace and Security: What have we learned and where are we going? A symposium organized by the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security
October 22, 2003, Ottawa, Canada
Deadline for proposals: October 10, 2003

The Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security has organized this symposium in cooperation with the Gender and Peacebuilding Working Group of the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee (CPCC), the International Development and Research Centre and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This year's symposium will include: an examination of Security Council Resolution 1325 as an advocacy tool; a panel discussion on lessons learned from Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts; and concurrent break out sessions on various topics to exchange ideas, share expertise and experience, and table recommendations for "where are we going". In addition, the organizers are currently looking for proposals for the afternoon discussion groups.
Registration forms and agenda are posted on the CPCC website at http://www.peacebuild.ca. Go to the WHAT'S NEW page and follow the links.
For more information, contact: Suzanne Taylor-Forbes, Coordinator of the Gender and Peacebuilding Working Group of the CPCC at Tel: 613-241-4846, Fax: 613-241-4846 or suzanne@peacebuild.ca.

International Day Against the Apartheid Wall: Women Mobilize
November 9, 2003, Israel-Palestine

“The olive harvest, which begins in early October in the Salfeet area, is one of the most important times of year for Palestinian families…This year's harvest is fraught with new danger, because of the Wall. In areas where the Wall is completed or being constructed, families do not know if they will be able to go to their land or not. The Salfeet communities are united and determined to exercise their rights to pick their olives, and international activists are also mobilizing to support them. The Salfeet Women's Committee Against the Wall calls on women all over the world to join them in the struggle against the Wall. Those who can are invited to come participate in the olive harvest campaign. November 9, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, has been declared by Palestinian organizations the International Day Against the Apartheid Wall. We call for creative women's actions against the Wall on that day in solidarity with the Palestinian women's movement to end apartheid.” For more information, email: iwpsvolunteers@yahoo.co.uk.

Global Exchange Trip to Cuba: Women's Voices: International Conference "Women in the 21st Century"
November 20-30, 2003, Cuba

Global Exchange has organized this trip to Cuba to meet women, hear about their daily lives, and discuss the issues confronting Cuban women such as health, education, violence, discrimination, sovereignty, peace, and the Cuban Revolution. The trip will include visits to family medical practices, women's clinics, and daycare centers while meeting with community and religious leaders, intellectuals, educators, students, writers, artists, doctors, and midwives. Please note this trip is only for women. This trip includes admission to the 5th International Conference "Women in the 21st Century" which will take place from November 24 to 28, 2003, at the University of Havana. The conference is sponsored by the Federation of Cuban Women. For more information, contact ceanna@globalexchange.org.

For the complete calendar items as well as more calendar events, click here.

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This edition of the 1325 PeaceWomen E-News Features:

1. Initiatives to Address Women's Active Participation in Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Iraq: Update
2. 1325 News
3. Feature Reports: From International Women's Peace Service and Human Rights Watch
4. Feature Statement: Sweden Highlights Gender Equality and UNSC Resolution 1325 at the General Assembly's General Debate
5. Feature Resource: Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones
6. Calendar Events