Women’s rights activists Yanar Mohammed (Iraq) and Eva Abu Halaweh (Jordan) visisted Sweden this week. Here discussing violence against women during a panel in the Swedish parliament. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Karin Råghall
Another week at work has passed. It’s just that it was not “just another week”.
It was a week when I got to meet activists from South Sudan, Georgia, DR Congo, Liberia, Colombia, Iraq and Jordan – here in Stockholm. I guess I don’t need to say that this doesn’t happen every week.
I only met our guests shortly. But it was enough for me to start thinking about how fantastic it is to meet people from different parts of the world; who all have a vision of a world where people conceived as “women” are not seen as second class citizens.
Once again another International Women’s Day has come and gone, but the struggles, hardships and difficulties yet persist. Even though women have got fundamental human rights like their male counterparts, however, women and girls are every so often in many societies excluded from political decision making, policy formulation and essential public activities. Besides, this segment of the population in most countries, all too often are denied access to land ownership, right to acquire quality education and deprived of getting equal pay for equal work. Women and girls are still underrated and belittled usually stereotype of being weak and empty vessels. Moreover, many women and girls still live in societies where gender-based violence, forced teenage marriage, as well as sexual exploitation and abuse continue to increase on a daily basis.
More to the point, gender gap at all levels in society is generally very high as indicated in the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report released on October 23rd by the World Economic Forum. It is without doubt that in most countries, women and girls even at this time lack access to justice, financial services, employment opportunities, water supply, farmland and effective, efficient and affordable health care delivery services. Moreover, for far too long harmful traditional, cultural and religious practices further worsen the condition of females and subject them to all sorts of unwholesome way of life that contravene their dignity and worth as human beings. These and many more factors affecting women and girls put them in disadvantage situation to have the chance to achieve their full potential and measure of happiness.
One of CLA’s messages; Papa & Mama Rape is not a family matter. Report it.
Liberia has since the end of the civil war in 2003 continued to experience high levels of violence against women and children. There is a lack of reliable numbers yet what is clear is that largest majority of victims of sexual violence are between 5-16 years old. Victims are stigmatized and few cases are reported to the authorities. The impunity perpetrators experience is pervasive yet there are those who tirelessly work for victim’s rights and to end violence against women and girls.
Center for Liberian Assistance (CLA) is one of the few safe-homes for girls in Monrovia. Not only do they provide shelter for girls in need they also provide a safe space where young girls from the Paynesville area receive information about their sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR). In a society where parents do not speak of sex with their children, few youth friendly spaces were SRHR can be discussed exist, and teen pregnancy stands at 38%, CLA provides an essential service for girls in Paynesville on the outskirts of Monrovia.
Jag är återigen i Libera, denna gång för att vara med på ett utbyte mellan aktivister från Södra kaukasus och Liberia. Fyra aktivister som arbetar med fredsfrågor i sina hemländer Georgien, Armenien och Azerbadjzjan ska under en vecka träffa liberianska kvinnor som alla är engagerade i fredsrörelsen i Liberia för att utbyta erfarenheter, diskutera samarbeten och lära av varandra.
Men jag tjuvstartade och kom ett par dagar innan för att hinna träffa gamla vänner och göra några besök utanför utbytesprogrammet. Så idag var jag till Centre for Liberian Assistance vars ledare Hawa alltid är rolig att lyssna på och diskutera med – hon saknar inte åsikter och är absolut inte rädd att sticka ut hakan! Det var söndag och unga tjejer som bor runt om i området i utkanten av Monrovia kommer till centret för att få undervisning – idag pratade man om vänskap och kamratskap.