Category Archives: Government

Two months on…

How time flies. It’s now two months since the end of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, so what’s happened since?

On returning there has been a flurry of feeding back highlights, key points to consider, consultations with the C of E head office. This is alongside blogging for Restored and doing my normal job. Noting that I need to lead by example, I have met with my MP, Dr Vince Cable, asking him to find out how the UK government plans to take forward the agreed conclusions. I have to admit Dr Cable was humble and said “We’ll do the homework you’ve set us and get back to you”. It took me a month to get the meeting with him  but I am hoping to hear back from him sooner. I have also been using to meet with my own vicar at St Stephen’s Church in Twickenham. That’s been harder than getting an appointment to see my MP due to clashing diaries. I will hopefully meet him in June to discuss what we as a church can do.

I have also done a media interview with Maria Rodrigues Toth on her Woman to Woman show due to go out tomorrow, Friday, at 11am. This was a great opportunity to highlight the issues and also what the church can do. Noting the work of Restored and the free resources available on the website http://www.restorederelationships.org.

I have presented initial findings and recommendations to the Mission and Public Affairs Council in the C of E. I still need to write a formal report for their consideration. The MPA meeting provided a good discussion, not only on what the church is doing locally, but also what can  be done in the future. I will also be conducting a side event at the General Synod in York in July on the issue.

There is still much to do. This week alone we have seen men convicted of raping young women in Oxford. Today there are newspaper reports of a premiership footballer being accused of rape. There is still much work to be done. You would no doubt expect me to do something but I can’t do this alone. I am one voice in the crowd. It can get lost in the noise of society. It needs us all to speak up and speak out if we are to make a sustained change in our culture and society until violence against women has been eradicated.

What will you do?

We Will Speak Out – International Women’s Day 2013

IDW March 2013

This will be an International Women’s Day that I will remember for a long time to come. Not just because I shook the hand of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but also because of the sense of a step change in seeing violence against women ended. From the number of faith organizations engaged here at the CSW, which has  increased considerably since 2010, but also the level of welcome that people of faith have received.

My day started with a workshop in conjunction with Terrie Robinson of the Anglican Communion looking at a church response to violence against women. Entitled ‘We Will Speak Out: Churches ending violence against women’ we aimed to communicate what action the global Anglican communion was taking to end violence against women (VAW) and also, more specifically, what the Church of England is doing.

Terrie started out by looking at the Primates letter from the meeting on Dublin, Ireland in 2011, which states ‘our churches must accept responsibility for our own part in perpetuating oppressive attitudes towards women. In penitence and faith we must move forward in such a way that our churches truly become a living witness to our belief that both women and men are made in the image of God.’ This was followed up with the ACC resolution 15-7 on gender based and domestic violence agreed in November 2012. This, among other points, says the Anglican Communion ‘ endorses and encourages Anglican engagement worldwide with the We Will Speak Out coalition of churches and Christian agencies against sexual violence.’  It goes on to encourage theological colleges to train clergy and ministers on the ‘natured dynamics of gender based violence’ and the theological basis for ending violence against women. It furthermore encourages leaders to engage in campaigns to end violence against women.

My part was to speak out about the Church of England’s action on this issue. Siting the 2004 Synod motion which ‘urges all dioceses to consider ways in which they could (i) work in partnership with other agencies, co-operating sensitively with those serving minority communities, to provide the resources needed by victims and their families; (ii) speak out against the evil of domestic violence; and (iii) work for justice and safety in the homes of this nation.’ This resulted in the publication of Pastoral guidelines in 2006 to help churches respond to the issue of domestic abuse.

Practical examples of churches engaging in ending domestic abuse vary across England. For example my own church, St Stephen’s Twickenham, have had a few of the volunteer staff trained by Restored. We have also put up posters in the toilets for women to access help and support, along with me speaking at two services on the 25th November, the start of the global 16 days of activism to end violence against women. A church in Carlisle is running training for churches across the diocese on addressing domestic abuse and linking in with the local services provided. Each church trained has a ‘champion’ who raises the issue an acts as a point person for women to contact. There are simple things that can be done that can make a big difference. Restored’s church pack is a useful starting point and all the copies at the workshop went very quickly. It seems there isa  real thirst for practical tools to respond.

Having dumped our bags at ‘815’ (815 second avenue, the Episcopal Church centre that hosts the Anglican Communion and Ecumenical Women during the CSW, and does it so very well), we headed to the UN for the International Women’s Day march. It was snowing, very cold and wet. On arrival we were given tabards to wear as part of the march. We head off being led by Susan Sarandon to a street near by where we heard speeches from Christie Turlington-Barnes, Mrs Ban, among others. Susan Sarandon read out a letter from Malala (the girl from Pakistan who was shot on her way to school) which encouraged us all to stand up for the rights of girls. A well-timed call as some nations are trying to remove the language of ‘girls’ from the agreed resolutions.

Then Ban Ki-moon came on the platform. Everyone cheered. He is such a respected man by so many of us in working to end violence against women. He has taken action from his inception as UN Secretary General, to highlight the issue of violence against women. He established the baseline data and then moved into action. He encouraged the setting up Say No – UNite which calls on us all to take action to end violence against women, along with his network of male leaders to make a stand to end violence against women. Mr Ban did this at a time when engaging men was nowhere near as popular as it is today. Not surprising he is so well respected.

Cold, wet and soggy after the rally with sopping wet feet, I began to leave the march. As I came to the side of the platform Mr Ban was coming down the steps. I suddenly felt like a teenager at a gig with my hero standing so close. I made my way to the front and shook his hand and said thank you for all that he was doing. Thank you was all I could think of at the time. Thank you for standing with us. Thank you for leading the way for high profile men to make a stand to end violence against women and say no more. Maybe the simple heartfelt thank you was enough. Of course, it’s moment I will be recalling to my friends and family for a long time to come and long after they become bored of hearing the tale!

Restored has a Christian men’s campaign to end violence against women called ‘First Man Standing‘. It already has a good few hundred men signed up around the world committed to speaking up and out about ending violence against women. It’s linked with Christian Vision for Men (CVM) in the UK and also the White Ribbon Campaign UK. So if like Ban Ki-moon you’d like to join in the campaign to end violence against women, sign up here.

Days like International Women’s Day are needed. Needed to highlight the progress made but also the work still to be done. Here’s hoping that next year there will be less women abused and killed due to intimate partner violence. And here’s to a future free from violence.

Draft Agreed Conclusions

Lots of work on the UN CSW takes place in advance to make the most of the time actually together at the CSW. Today the UK Government Equalities Office have sent a link to the draft agreed conclusions for the CSW. They can be accessed here http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw57/CSW57_Draft_AC_proposal_presented_by_CSW_Bureau_8_February_2013.pdf

 

UN Language

These draft conclusions have already been under negotiation. Agreed UN language (helpful short 2 page guide can be found here http://www.gadnetwork.org.uk/storage/csw/Key%20Language.pdf) is being negotiated to be kept at its current strength and not regressed. This is a key issue for a number of UK NGO’s after last years CSW failed to agree on a conclusion document. This was cited due to ‘conservative groups’. There has been strong background work undertaken this year to ensure that there are agreed conclusions this year.

I guess we will wait and see.

 

Key Messages from the C of E to the UN Commission on the Status of Women

These key messages were formed in consultation with the Mission and Public Affairs Committee of the Church Of England.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) taking place from the 4th – 15th March 2013 has a priority theme of preventing and ending violence against women. The CSW is a key lobbying opportunity for the Church of England to ensure key messages are included in agreed conclusions coming out of the session for governments to heed and implement.

Key Messages from the Church of England:

1. Strategically include Churches and Christian Faith Based organisations, especially the role of the local church, in addressing gender based violence (GBV) & violence against women and girls (VAWG) so as to develop a holistic and multi stakeholder response.

Asks governments to ensure capacity development at the local level in raising awareness alongside supporting survivors of violence. Noting that the church is often the point in the community where survivors turn for help and sometimes the only community service available. The Archbishops (and many Bishops) in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi are already actively engaged in working through supporting survivors of violence linking with UNAIDS with support from the We Will Speak Out Coalition.  Church and faith communities have also been working together in Bosnia on the whole range of sexual violence. The church leadership at a national level needs to be informed on proposed actions to share with the local Bishops and churches so they can be prepared to support survivors of violence.

Note: There is diversity within national and local churches on certain issues surrounding women and girls. The Church of England has zero tolerance for violence against women and girls.

Example Resources: Restored has produced a pack for churches on ending domestic abuse http://www.restoredrelationships.org/resources/info/51/


2. Challenging men’s attitudes and actions as well as including men in the response to work alongside women to end violence against women.

The Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) article 5 ‘requires State parties to modify social and cultural patterns of men and women to eliminate practices based on the idea of sex role stereotyping or the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes’

a. Asks the UN to reaffirm the implementation of CEDAW and call on governments to actively pursue implementation of article 5.

Calls upon governments, churches, faith organisations, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and other relevant actors in civil society to undertake the following actions:

b. Encourage education and awareness raising of impact of sex-role stereotyping on the family and wider community of restricting every individual, both men and women, from realising their full potential in life and work to stop this stereotyping

c. Support men to prevent VAWG and challenging other men to stop violence

d. Educate, resource and support local church leaders on gender equality and preventing VAWG

e. Restore the balance of women and men working together for gender equality. Men working alongside women.

f. Recognise that men are victims of violence and need support services

g. Promote positive models of masculinities that embrace equality and foster gender justice

Restored’s First Man Standing Campaign asks men to respect all women, challenge other men’s attitudes and actions and join in the cause of ending violence against women by signing up to the White ribbon pledge. http://www.restoredrelationships.org/firstmanstanding/pledge/


3. Commit to Capacity development for local community organisations e.g the church

The Church of England supports the UK Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI)that  will further enable women to choose whether to go forward with prosecutions.

Asks governments to support  local community organisations and churches to be trained and equipped to respond to stand alongside and support survivors of violence. Noting that there are community organisations and NGO’s already working in this area that could train locally or nationally given the resources to do this.

Noting that the Church of England is committed to developing a culture of openness in the churches to combat impunity, challenge stigma, shame and silence around the issues of violence against women and girls, recognising that violence against women and girls needs to be addressed within the church.


4. Address the wider issue of objectification and commodification of women & gender inequality

One of the underlying causes of sexual violence is treating women as sex objects and not as equals. The Church of England calls on governments to implement their commitments under CEDAW, the Convention for the Elimination for all forms of Discrimination Against Women, especially article 5 which ‘requires State parties to modify social and cultural patterns of men and women to eliminate practices based on the idea of sex role stereotyping or the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes’.


5. End impunity for perpetrators by enforcing legal frameworks and training the judiciary and national police

Asks governments to,

a. Create, where necessary, legislation outlawing all forms of VAWG in the private and public spheres including harmful traditional practices

b. Ensure survivors of violence have safe & fair access to justice

c. Ensure survivors are actively supported throughout the justice system

d. Ensure convictions are implemented in line with the law and judgement given


6. Ensure proper, safe provision for survivors of violence

Urges governments to,

a. Provide proper, safe, support and fund programmes to support survivors of violence

b. Provide accessible information in the appropriate language or accessible communication method on how survivor’s can access support and justice

c. Ensure that all involved in enforcement of the law are fully sensitised and trained in handling issues of VAWG


7. Ensure the education system mainstreams the equal value and worth of boys and girls throughout the schools system.

Requests governments to,

a. Educate boys and girls at an early age on the equality and dignity of all human beings as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

b. Conduct age appropriate classes on healthy relationships and conducting healthy relationships

b. Education on what violence is, how to identify it, make positive choices and get help when things go wrong.


8. Establish baseline data on levels of and types of violence against women and girls in order to identify the scale of the problem and fill the gaps in data where they currently exist.
Recognising the work already undertaken under the UN Secretary General’s database on violence against women and girls and the UNiTE campaign, calls on governments to record and publish data on violence against women and girls.

9. Encourage governments, private sector, faith organisations, civil society and other actors, to support the UK’s Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and end impunity for perpetrators within their own nation states.
Requests governments to

  1. Ensure that local and national churches and faith based organisations are included in the response.
  2. Implement CEDAW
  3. Implement a programme of cultural change to ensure the equal value of women, men, boys and girls.


10. Address the issue of shame based violence (so called Honour-Based Violence) on a national level.
Urges governments to

a. Provide appropriate services for survivors of shame based violence

b. Address the shame based practices that lead to violence against women and girls

c. Work with local and national faith based organisations in the response to shame based violence

Questions:

What are your thoughts on these key messages?

Is there anything you would have liked to have seen included?

Do any of these questions resonate with your local church?