November 28, 2007, the League of Women voters held their annual United Nations briefing. The American Association of University Women of New York State is one of five other sponsoring organizations. This year's topic was the Effects of War on Women Around the World. About 150 people attended the Briefing- 30 AAUW member-10 more were members of AAUW /LWV.
I was unable to attend. My thanks to Nancy Mion who sent me these notes:
NGO (non-governmental organizations) member’s representatives attend weekly briefings, attend meetings and give reports when requested. AAUW‘s rep is past Vice Chair of the Working Group on Girls
The face of war has changed. In 1900-5% of casualties were civilians; in 2000-75% of the casualties were civilians. In wars today everyone is a combatant.
Sylvia Hordosh, from the UN Division for the Advancement of Women is involved with the implementation of CEDAW (Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Agains Women--almost all nations except the US have signed it). If you want to know what is happening world wide go to www.un.org/womenwath . There is unequal power between men and women. Women have been excluded from efforts to resolve conflicts. Yet, they are viewed as the passive peacemakers.
Women are gravely affected by conflicts. They are displayed, become heads of households, lose their resources since they often cannot own land or anything. They try to hold it together, but often are punished after the conflict is settled because of what they had to do to do this.
Women are exposed to violence and abuse. They are preyed upon. They lose protection and freedom of movement; they are forced into marriages, forced to become combatants in army and militia. They are forced to have abortions, forced to be pregnant; they are detained and raped. The rape is not for pleasure but for control. When violence against women increases it is a sign of impending military conflict... It escalates during the war. But continues after the conflict has died down...
Women are underrepresented in power structures. They are left out of decision making that affect all especially them. . At talks going on now about the Middle East in Baltimore there are 40 delegates. Only 3 are women. Women have played key roles in debarments. Women form parties for power base. They are asked to prove that they have this base. Men are not asked to do that.
The 192 member states of the UN are doing 4 things to stop this. They are using Dept. of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian arm, Political Arm and Post Conflict Reconstruction
Since 2000 the UN has made a major change. Policies have been enacted that women be included, quotas have been established for women’s involvement. Women’s financial needs have been acknowledged. More women have become heads of state and even Departments of Defense. However it is not fair that they are held to higher standards then men. Women are mandated on UN peace-keeping missions..
Regarding violence against women: women need to talk to women and to talk to men especially those who support women.