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Learn about, Act on International Violence against Women

As this toolkit points out, “Everyone has a role to play in addressing violence against women.” If you don’t believe you know enough about this issue and the legislation, check out the website resource that has been produced by Amnesty International, and endorsed by Women Graduates-USA (see our logo included.)

Go to the site here.

Filed under: Equality & Human Rights,Gender Status,Global Women's Issues,Trafficking,Women and Violence,Women, Peace & Security

Taking Action, Advocating Change – You Can Do It!

The public policy impact and assistance to make the lives of women and girls better that Women Graduates-USA (WG-USA) member can have does not depend solely upon the national board or committees…it requires all members to take actions from where they are located. Without local branches/chapters to which we can belong (an intentional decision when WG-USA was founded), it requires much more individual initiative to become active. But that still does not mean you should have to work alone.

Here are some of the group with which WG-USA has a working relationship, whether in coalition, or with those groups’ local members: Amnesty International, CEDAW Task Force, Friends of UN Population fund *UNFPA)American Association of University Women (AAUW), United Nations Association-USA and Chapters,Zonta International, UNCIEF, UN Women-USA, Virginia Gildersleeve (VGIF) InternationalFund, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), UN Foundation, International Network on Small Arms (IANSA), Religions for Peace, US Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Nonviolent Peaceforce, The Advocates fo Human Rights, Women’s Actions for New Directions(WAND) and International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWARAW) — to name just a few. surely, you will know others in your community with whom you could join forces in taking actions to support women and girls.

One of the latest actions by some members in Eastern Pennsylvania (led by WG-USA President, Louise McLeod), has been to become a coalition member of the Buck’s County Coalition on Trafficking. The WG-USA members contribute to the Coalition what we have learned about this issue, while our members gain more insight at the “hands-on” level.

Read about their work here. Particularly note the information that they post in regard to federal and state legislation.

Filed under: CEDAW Action,Equality & Human Rights,Girls and Education/UNGEI,Girls Issues,Global Women's Issues,Trafficking,What's New at WG,Women and Economics,Women and Education,Women and Violence,Women, Peace & Security

Support “Safe Harbor” Act to Protect Trafficked Children

From the lead editorial from the StarTribuneMinnesota “Senator Amy Klobachar will introduce ‘major legislation’ that will take the Minnesota ‘Safe Harbor’ model national to help minors sold for sex avoid criminal charges and the help they need.” Women Graduates-USA learned about this Minnesota legislation when the Annual General Meetings was held in Minneapolis in September 2011.

Click here to read the entire editorial that also provides some current statistics on child trafficking such as, “…in 2008, the average age of girls coming through was 16, 17, and 18…now it is between 12 and 14 with some as young as 11.”

Urge your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor the legislation. When the number for the bill is recorded it will be posted on this site.

Filed under: Equality & Human Rights,Girls Issues,Trafficking,US Congress

Summary of WG-USA Advocacy in 2010-2013 Triennium

The Women Graduates-USA (WG-USA) group was an active advocate throughout the triennium on many IFUW priorities. The Board votes to take action when the issue falls within the established program priority themes, and ordinarily has been recommended by the WG Advocacy Committee. In addition, action alerts are sent to all members to take individual actions, usually to make contact with their own Congressional Representative and Senators. During the Annual General meeting (AGM), specific issues in the form of Resolutions are voted upon for further direction for action.

Generally, WG-USA works together in networks with other NGOs on specific issues, although on occasion may work together with only one other organization.

Human Trafficking – WG-USA worked to inform US members and members of the public about the business of human trafficking, a serious and dangerous issue worldwide. Activities were undertaken to create visibility and information about the issue and its effects and presence in the United States, especially in localities where WG-USA members are active. Advocacy action was primarily conducted in coalition with other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). WG-USA signed on to the petition to pass the national Safe Harbor Act and ratification of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Children, as well as sending a petition to President Obama to support the Anti-Slavery Act. Through The United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework for Business and Human Rights, the United Nations Global Initiative to Combat Human Trafficking, and the United Nations Global Compact, there is worldwide acknowledgement that corporations are well-positioned to help prevent commercial sexual exploitation at such events. Therefore, WG-USA signed a letter and urged membership to send letters to Super Bowl sponsors and suppliers to stop sex and labor traffickers from plying their trade during that event, as major sporting events now frequently are the scene of human trafficking. They have done the same for organizers of the World Cup in Brazil.

Immigrants’ Access to Education – WG-USA also advocated for access to education by immigrant/refugee women, with a focus on opposing or supporting federal and state legislation that would deny children of undocumented immigrants access to funding for higher education (The Dream Act, which was defeated at the national level because one provision would have allowed eventual path to citizenship; since then 13 States have passed similar legislation); to promote the teaching of English to recently arrived immigrants and refugees, especially women and children; to encourage young women to pursue educational programs and careers in the international arena; and to promote the teaching of foreign languages in the schools.

Peace – WG-USA monitors federal government on the US State Department Plan of Action designed to implement the UN Resolutions on women, peace and security (SCR 1325 et al). Along with 35 other national NGOs, WG-USA also advocated in Congress for a law that would codify the Plan of Action instead of only being an administration policy which could be eliminated by a new President’s administration. A further focus was given to the implementation strategy of “unarmed civilian peacekeeping” (UCP), a successfully proven model of professionally-trained teams of men and women primarily protecting women and children. UCP is used in internecine conflicts in such places as Sri Lanka, Philippines, South Sudan, South Caucasus and Kyrgyzstan. WG-USA also signed on to a Call to Include Gender in the Arms Trade Treaty drafted by Amnesty International and supported by the Peace Network in which WG-USA is represented.

CEDAW – United States law requires that the US Senate ratify UN Conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Since that time, there has only been two instances when ratification could have been possible, an occurrence that happens when the President and the majority in the Senate are of the same party. Currently, this situation exists, therefore, WG-USA signed on to the Global Solutions petition urging the US Senate to ratify CEDAW.

Violence Against Women – At the invitation of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women Campaign, WG-USA signed on to the UN Women Say NO UNiTE to End Violence against Women petition in support of Malala Yousufzai’s campaign for education for all girls. With the re-introduction in 2013 of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a message was forwarded to WG-USA members urging them to individually contact their Representatives to agree and vote on a Senate version of the VAWA. It passed. The focus for WG-USA is now on the International VAWA agreement.

UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) – Activity was intense at the CSW in 2013, where WG-USA signed statements, sponsored events and joined other events. WG-USA hosted an NGO Side Event on Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping. The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) and Women Graduates-USA sponsored an NGO Side Event on Non-State Torture Victimization, which includes the violence of rape, and is too often not prosecuted and punished. Approximately twenty WG-USA members attended the following events: Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: Effective Practices, sponsored by IFUW; Untying the Knot: Preventing violence against women and girls by ending early marriage, sponsored by Girls Not Brides and World Vision; Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in Schools, sponsored by American Association of University Women and Working Group on Girls; and Global Perspectives on Violence Against Women, sponsored by Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund along with Zonta International and the Huairou Commission.

Partner NGOs – In addition to those mentioned above, these include Friends of UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Amnesty International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), Women’s Network, Religions for Peace, US Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Nonviolent Peaceforce, and The Advocates for Human Rights. WG-USA also collaborates with the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, the CEDAW Task Force, the United Nations Association/USA and International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific).

Filed under: Trafficking,UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG),What's New at WG,Women and Violence,Women, Peace & Security

Solving Violence by Addressing it is as a Social Disease

‘While essential, it is not enough to support victims’ shelters and services and encourage the abused to seek help. We must increase focus on the men who are the perpetrators and the social context in which they act.’ This was written by Cheryl Thomas of Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights.

Cheryl shares her perspective of dealing with violence against women in this article from MinnPost.

Filed under: Gender Status,Global Women's Issues,Trafficking,Women and Violence

South Sudanese Fathers Marry Off Their Daughters for Cows

Girls in South Sudan are seen as a source of wealth by their families by marrying them off in exchange for cows, often as young as 12. Even though South Sudan’s Child Act 2008 sets the minimum age of marriage at 18, and says that anyone contravening this law faces up to seven years in prison, theMinister of Gender and Child Affairs Agnes Kwaje Losuba admitted that it is not enforced.
Women of the Murle ethnic group in South Sudan. The practice of child marriage is still supported in many South Sudanese communities, where girls are seen as a source of wealth because of the bride price families are paid.
Credit: Jared Ferrie/IPS

One father stated he supports child marriage because “he fears his daughters will fall pregnant out of wedlock – something that is abhorred by local cultures here…If her first child is born out of wedlock, whoever marries her later will pay only a few cows.”

For the full story, read it at the InterPress Service website.

Filed under: Equality & Human Rights,Gender Status,Girls Issues,Global Women's Issues,Trafficking,UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG)

VAWA Finally Passes in the Congress – What is next?

UPDATE on International Women’s Day 2013

President Obama signed into law the updated Violence Against Women Act on March 7. Thanks go to everyone who contacted their Congressional Representatives.

Now…let us consider an International VAWA so that all the worlds females are provided with their human rights as human beings. For more on this, read the Kristoff and WuDunn article from the NYT that is also posted on the WG-USA site on January 30, 2013.

Previous Information:
VAWA Will be voted upon in early February – take action today and tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Last week, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)! This bill is very similar to the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Leahy and Crapo last Congress and would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence (see description of legislation below for an explanation of some of the changes).

Senator Leahy has arranged for VAWA to go directly to the Senate floor and Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring VAWA up for a vote in the next week. In order to continue our incredible momentum from last Congress and get VAWA passed right now, we need you to take action TODAY by contacting your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor S. 47. After only 4 working days since introduction, the bill has 50 sponsors including 5 Republicans. Our goal is to get 60 co-sponsors by January 31st so that VAWA passes resoundingly on the Senate floor for a jubilant bipartisan victory. We need to keep the phones ringing starting right now!

Filed under: Trafficking,UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG),US Congress,Women and Violence

Homeland Security Describes their Role in Fighting Trafficking

Recognizing January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month as designated by President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security launched its ‘Blue Campaign’ by Secretary Janet Napolitano. Here is a recent press release:

President Obama has proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to recognize the vital role we can all play in eliminating all forms of human trafficking. And as we begin a new year, we also mark the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a powerful reminder to rededicate ourselves to bringing an end to slavery and human trafficking. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States.

Human trafficking is a horrendous crime and at DHS, we are committed to doing all we can to prevent it. Every year, we initiate hundreds of investigations and make arrests, while providing support for victims through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Victim Assistance Program. To protect victims, we also provide immigration assistance in the form of Continued Presence, T visas and U visas. DHS also works to educate state and local law enforcement and members of the public on how to identify victims of human trafficking and report the crime.

Over two years ago, Secretary Napolitano launched the Blue Campaign to enhance and unify the Department’s anti-human trafficking efforts. Working in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations, the Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring criminals who exploit human lives to justice.

Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking, and together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern-day slavery. And while we pay close attention today and this month, we must continue this fight every day. I encourage all of you to take a few minutes to review some of the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it.

Thank you for your continued efforts to combat human trafficking. To learn more about human trafficking, how to identify victims, and report suspected cases of human trafficking, please visit us here or visit our Facebook page.

Thank you!

Alice Hill
Senior Counselor to the Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Filed under: Global Women's Issues,Trafficking,US Government,Women and Violence

Obama Makes Historic Commitment to Fight Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. (September 25, 2012) – The following is a statement by Polaris Project Executive Director Bradley Myles following President Obama’s remarks on human trafficking in New York today:

“Today, President Obama rightly declared that fighting modern slavery is one of the great human rights battles of our era in a speech detailing a number of concrete measures to help identify victims of human trafficking and reduce this crime and human rights abuse throughout the United States and globally.

“Importantly the President’s words help to shift the paradigm from
treating trafficked persons as criminals to seeing them as crime
vict­ims to be protected. This is a core belief here at Polaris Project and we welcome all efforts to ensure that victims of human trafficking are treated with dignity and respect and are provided with comprehensive social services.

“We support the President’s plan to ensure that government contractors do not engage in human trafficking and forced labor, to increase training and tools for law enforcement and prosecutors, and to promote greater collaboration among federal agencies. These initiatives will have a significant impact. Additionally we echo President Obama’s call to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) and urge Congress to move forward quickly to approve this measure which has previously been reauthorized three times by bipartisan majorities.

The current Senate bill, S. 1301, has 52 cosponsors.

“We know first-hand that victims all over the United States need support to leave their trafficking situation and rebuild their lives. Thousands of victims have called the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline on their own behalf to request help. This national hotline is one of our country’s best tools to identify and reach victims and connect them to the services they need.

“President Obama has made it clear that his Administration wants to make these survivors a top priority. His speech and policy announcements represent a turning point in the fight against human trafficking which clearly signal that this is a real problem here in our country. We do not face an insurmountable challenge, but we must heed this call and redouble our efforts to create a world without modern slavery. With the help of business leaders, community members, law enforcement, and federal and state officials, we can come together to support victims of trafficking and eradicate this crime from our communities.”

Human Trafficking Resource Center.

The Polaris Project

Filed under: Global Women's Issues,Trafficking,US State Dept - Foreign Policy,Women and Violence

Officials and NGOs Fight Against Child Trafficking in Minnesota

Minnesota is ranked by the FBI as 13th in the nation as a center of human trafficking of children. The Twin Cities local news station, KARE11 by reporter Tricia Volpe, examined the situation in this news item broadcast February 15, 2012.

Filed under: Girls Issues,Trafficking,UN Millenium Development Goals (MDG)

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