Current World YWCA News
The 2014 International AIDS Conference might have come to an end, but the work to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and increase support for all young women living with or affected by HIV will ramp up with renewed energy and focus! Fifteen remarkable young women represented the World YWCA at AIDS 2014 and were led by Hendrica Okondo, World YWCA Programme Manager for Sexual and Health and Rights.
On July 22, 2014 the first Girl Summit took place in London, England, co-hosted by the UK Government and UNICEF, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. In England and Wales alone, an estimated 66,000 women are living with the consequences of FGM/C – an illegal cultural practice where girls’ genitalia are cut - with more than 20,000 at risk each year. UN figures estimate that 125 million women and girls worldwide have been cut – and that at least 30 million more will be at risk over the next decade.
In the last decade, numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions have been passed, to strengthen international law, mandating the rights of women to participate in peace negotiations and to ensure that other important measures incorporate women in peace and security matters worldwide. These resolutions and steps are based on the ground-breaking adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325) in October 2000, which transformed the perception of women as peace builders and decision-makers rather than as victims of armed conflict.
YWCA Australia welcomed the World YWCA delegation to the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia this week. The conference runs 20-25 July, 2014 and is the most important gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV, health professionals and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. Hannah Gissane, from the YWCA of Australia shared “We were joined by young women from across the globe, each bringing amazing insights, stories and reflections on their lives and the work they do in the communities with their YWCAs.”
Dame Ester contracted the HIV virus from a blood transfusion after giving birth to her second child. Though her husband knew how she had become infected, he left her – the stigma of living with a person that is HIV positive was too much to bear. Today Dame Ester lives alone with her two children; she has been abandoned by her husband who left her for another woman. However, he still comes home to bring his dirty laundry for washing and to eat. Since she became HIV positive Dame Ester has lost all security in her day-to-day life and her dignity too.
Monday 30 June, 2014 marked the opening of the 58th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), held at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
On the coast of Uruguay, in the country’s 7th most populated city, lies Maldonado and the YWCA of Maldonado has celebrated its 50th year of existence! On September 21, 1963, a group of women from the YWCA of Montevideo came to Maldonado out of concern for the local women there, in order to set up a YWCA. Since then and for the last 50 years the YWCA of Maldonado has been serving its community. On-going work since its inception until today has been to help and support mothers and their new-born babies in hospitals and collaborating and supporting nursing homes and centres for people living with disabilities.
From June 23 to 26, 2014, the World YWCA has been invited to represent one of the three foreign non-governmental organisations experts to join the 2nd National report on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) hosted by the government of Taiwan in Taipei. Though Taiwan is not a member of the U.N., it has made CEDAW into domestic law by enacting the Enforcement Act of CEDAW on June 8, 2011. Effective since January 1, 2012, this act makes the CEDAW’s provisions and general recommendations legally enforceable in Taiwan without exception, this represents Taiwan’s vow and determination to the world to safeguard and protect women’s rights.
On Tuesday July 1st, 2014 the Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu sadly confirmed that the three missing Israeli teenage settlers, Yisahi Frenkel, Naftali, Eyal Yifrach and Gil-Ad Shaer had all been found dead in a makeshift grave close to their home Hebron in Palestine. Since their disappearance, the state of Israeli under President Netanyahu’s leadership launched a search and rescue mission for the teenage boys including a siege of Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine. Evidently, this siege included raiding and destroying the homes of Palestinians, hundreds of raids and assaults on media stations, refugee camps, and even charitable societies and the arrests of 370 people including members of Hamas, members of Parliament, and released prisoners from the Shalit exchange.
On Thursday 26th June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on “The Protection of the Family”. The resolution calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to draft a report on the status of “the family” and requests a panel discussion on “the issue of the protection of the family” at the September session. The resolution states that the Human Rights Council should undertake its role in addressing the means and ways of protection entitled to the family as underlined in by Human Rights law, and to contribute to exploring the link between family’s well-being and better protection and promotion of the internationally agreed and recognized human rights. The resolution was tabled by a group of 13 states including China, Egypt, Russia and Uganda. It found support by 26 countries, while 14 countries voted against.