Current World YWCA News
The Nagasaki Peace Messengers made their annual visit to Geneva, Switzerland this week to present their petition demanding nuclear disarmament at the United Nations. So far they have collected over one million signatures from around the world. The Nagasaki Peace Messengers visited the World YWCA office and have been making this journey for the last fifteen years as every year they are invited to speak in Geneva at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, to relate the horrific crime against humanity that occurred in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 at the hands of the United State of America and the ongoing harmful effects of the atomic bomb.
The YWCA of Armenia is part of the World YWCA’s developing group associations and will hopefully become a full member association of the World YWCA at the World Council 2015. As a country Armenia has a rich history, land locked between Turkey and Azerbaijan, it has been part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century and then the Soviet Union. The country gained full independence from Russia in 1991, but not without major disputes. Due to the closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, the country suffers from economic isolation. Therefore, poverty and unemployment are persistent and at the start of 2013, 30% of the population was still living below the poverty line.
As a new 72 hour ceasefire between Hamas and the State of Israel is underway the World YWCA calls for immediate action to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and end the Israeli occupation. The Palestinian people and all affected by this conflict need a lasting solution that can demonstrate accountability and a revival of a human rights framework that has disappeared. The war on Gaza has violated the fundamental human rights and the shelling of civilians in United Nations (UN) shelter has undermined the legal understanding of, and the respect for humanitarian international law and protection of those who seek refugee under the UN flag. To date since the recent attack of Gaza by Israel, 1,939 Palestinians including 452 children and 235 women have been killed. Israel has suffered the loss of 66 soldiers killed in combat.
The city of Bangalore has been in the spotlight recently for a surge of reported sexual brutality, the most heinous being the rape of a six year old girl within the school premises. Citizens marched out into the streets enraged as the atrocity of the occurrence was far too much to bear for the millions of parents, teachers, care givers and activists.
Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa is the world's deadliest to date. According to the UN, 887 people have died as health officials in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone struggle to control the virus. Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Subsequent stages include vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - both internal and external bleeding.
Violence against women (VAW) in the family otherwise known as domestic violence exists throughout the world and over 70 YWCA member associations work directly on VAW. Women from all social levels and backgrounds fall victim to this form of gender-based violence. The YWCA of Belarus is one association that works tirelessly on the issue and has contributed to their country UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) shadow report.
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.
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.