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World YWCA Week Without Violence 2011 - “Women in Peace Building”

World YWCA Week Without Violence 2011- “Women in Peace Building”

World YWCA Statement on the Week Without Violence - October 17-23, 2011

October 17, 2011 - Today marks the beginning of the YWCA Week Without Violence under the theme “Women Building Peace”. For decades, the World YWCA movement has taken action in communities, schools, workplaces and public forums to raise awareness of violence against women, its widespread existence, and its impact on families and societies. Around the world, the YWCA is well-known for providing safe spaces for women and girls experiencing violence and empowering women socially and economically to exercise their right to freedom from violence.

Currently YWCAs in 77 countries are providing services and advocacy on violence against women – this includes work with women in conflict settings, counselling and support services and legal services . More than 50 countries participate in the annual YWCA Week Without Violence, which is designed to mobilise local communities to condemn violence in all its forms and promote peaceful resolution of conflict. Protection against violence is the core business of the YWCA.

“Violence affects all aspects of women’s lives and it compromises the dignity, security and wellbeing of women in every corner of the globe, stripping them of their basic human rights. Conflict and crisis further jeopardise the wellbeing of women by placing them in situations that exacerbate existing inequalities in relation to women’s personal security, bodily integrity, health and violation of their socio-economic, civil and political rights,” said World YWCA General Secretary, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, in launching the 2011 YWCA Week Without Violence.  Gumbonzvanda called on the YWCA movement to continue the focus of the 27th World Council of ‘Women Creating A Safe World’, by advocating for the safety of women and girls, particularly in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Since its inception, the World YWCA has responded to issues of conflict and war, and their impact on the lives of women and girls. The YWCA’s work on peace with justice, both at the grassroots level and in the international arena, has engaged women in peace-building and conflict resolution processes, as well as documented women’s experiences and efforts in times of conflict and in the transition to peace and reconstruction. The World YWCA is currently partnering with Y Global and Fokus to promote women’s leadership in peace-building efforts in Palestine, the Sudan and Sri Lanka.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security has given much hope for women’s groups working in conflict zones, for the first time recognising their work at the highest level. More than a decade has passed since the resolution was adopted in October 2000 and it is clear that the numbers of women engaged in peace building efforts is growing. “The YWCA movement is inspired by this recognition of the important role of women in peace building, especially as we continue working on women’s human rights and promoting women’s leadership in seeking peace, justice and healing throughout the world,” said Gumbonzvanda. The UNSC has subsequently built upon Resolution 1325 with UNSCR 1820, 1888, 1889, and most recently, 1960 – bringing women’s issues to the centre stage of nations worldwide.

Throughout the YWCA Week Without Violence,  the World YWCA calls upon YWCA members and partners worldwide to reflect together and explore ways in which we can prevent all forms of violence. “We know that there are many women and men across the world living in crisis situations and we need to demand concrete action to put an end to the ongoing strife in our communities. No action or voice is too small and if we join these together, we can be an active part of the solution. Women around the world must be part of dialogue, peace-building, mediation, finding solutions and contributing to the implementation of commitments made at the international level. We need to remember the relationship between democracy, governance, human rights and violence against women,” said Gumbonzvanda. “The YWCA’s core manta is leadership for women, but leadership for what? During this week let us think about ways in which we can strive for a world free of violence that supports survivors with access to justice and services. We must also advocate for enabling legislation and continue to demand government accountability to women’s rights,” said Gumbonzvanda.

 As women around the world observe the YWCA Week without Violence, the World YWCA movement calls for:

  • Greater investment in women and girls to have the knowledge, information and skills necessary for prevention of violence and peace building;
  • Increased support for programmes and initiatives that empower women and girls to claim their rights to live in a safe world, free from stigma and discrimination;
  • CEDAW monitoring mechanisms to strengthen connections with UNSCR 1325 and integrate a more rigorous approach to women’s rights promotion, protection and fulfillment in situations of conflict and post conflict.

 Get involved - be creative, be innovative and do what you can to contribute to a world free of violence!

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