IWD Blog Series – In Today’s Interview, The Grandmothers Advocacy Network Discuss Some of the Projects They are Working On and The Philosophy that Guides their Work

GRAN-Logo-615x357 (1)

Could you tell us a little about the Grandmothers Advocacy Network?  How would you describe your organization’s overall missions and goals? 

The Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) is a dynamic network of volunteers across Canada. We advocate at local, national, and international levels. We work to engage Canadian and international support for measures that will significantly improve the quality of life for Africa’s grandmothers as they strive to hold their families and communities together in the face of the AIDS pandemic.  GRAN’s advocacy work is grounded on a firm commitment to social justice, equality and human rights.

Our current focus is on:

  • ensuring access to affordable medicine
  • improving access to education
  • ending violence against women and girls

How long has GRAN been operating?

In one form or another, the network has been operating since 2007. In its current form, as an incorporated, not-for-profit civil society organization, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network has been active since 2012.

In terms of Women Peace and Security, is there a particular area or project GRAN is currently working on? If so, could you tell us a little about it?

Yes. We are focussing on violence against women in the context of the mining and trade of conflict minerals in the Great Lakes Region of African and Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM).

We feel we are beginning to make some progress on CEFM and were pleased to have had a very productive meeting with former Foreign Minister John Baird on the issue.

As you know, this year’s International Women’s Day was “Make it Happen” and its main objectives were to celebrate women’s achievements and to call for greater equality. Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is trying to “Make it Happen” (make a difference) in the world, or in their communities, but doesn’t know where to start?

Find a like-minded group of women in your community and join forces with them.

Speaking of joining forces with like-minded people, is there a way for people who are interested in the work GRAN does to get involved? Are you looking for any volunteers? And where are your offices located? Continue reading “IWD Blog Series – In Today’s Interview, The Grandmothers Advocacy Network Discuss Some of the Projects They are Working On and The Philosophy that Guides their Work”

IWD Blog Series – Find out how Diane Redsky, the Executive Director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Inc is working to end Sex Trafficking in Canada.

Diane RedskyName: Diane Redsky

Occupation:  Executive Director, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Inc

Areas of Focus: Women’s equality and the rights of Indigenous people

Number of years working in the field? 20+years

Could you tell us a little about Diane Redsky and the work she is involved in?

Diane Redsky has dedicated the past 15-years to work with experts in Canada and abroad to address the sexual exploitation/trafficking of Canadian women and girls.  Diane led a National Task Force which provided 34 recommendations to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, in 2014, on how to end the Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada.

Could you please share with us a little more about Sex Trafficking in Canada, the risk factors involved and why this particular issue is a pressing concern?

Many Canadians are not aware that sex trafficking of women and girls happens in Canada and is targeted to Canadian women and girls.  The major risk factor of sex trafficking in Canada is being a girl. True equality for women and girls will not be achieved until we eradicate all forms of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

Thank you! Are the recommendations that were provided as part of the Taskforce on Human Trafficking in Canada, publically available? And secondly where can we find out more about the issue of Sex Trafficking in Canada?

Yes. The recommendations were included in reports on Sex Trafficking in Canada which can be found at:  http://www.canadianwomen.org/reports/trafficking Continue reading “IWD Blog Series – Find out how Diane Redsky, the Executive Director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Inc is working to end Sex Trafficking in Canada.”

IWD Blog Series – Find out about Amnesty International’s Ongoing WPS Programs and Projects

Amnesty International

Tell us a little about Amnesty International. How would you describe the overall missions and goals of your organization? 

We campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights.

How long has Amnesty International been in existence?

We have been operating for more than 50 years.

Where are your offices located? And what parts of the world do you work in?

Amnesty International Canada’s National Office is in Ottawa. We also have offices in Toronto, Vancouver, and Halifax, and we have activists all across the country.

To learn more about our work on women’s rights see www.amnesty.ca/women.

How did you commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) this year?

We co-organized “Join the Feminist Party,” Ottawa’s largest celebration of International Women’s Day. Activists in Toronto participated in the annual IWD walk on March 7. In Regina, our activists took part in an awareness-raising photo exhibition. Across the country our supporters took part in local IWD events.

Download our IWD kit to learn more about the priority actions we promoted for IWD (all of these actions run throughout the Spring, so there is still plenty of time to take action!): http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/default/files/iwd_2015_toolkit_0.pdf

Are you currently looking for any volunteers? If so where can they find more information about the volunteer opportunities available? Continue reading “IWD Blog Series – Find out about Amnesty International’s Ongoing WPS Programs and Projects”

IWD BLOG SERIES – Read our Interview with Jessica Chandrashekar, an Academic Activist at York University, as she talks about the Tamil genocide and the importance of solidarity activism.

jessica chandrashekar

Could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

My name is Jessica Chandrashekar and I would describe myself as a social justice academic because my activist work and academic work both inform and ground each other. For several years I have been committed to truth, justice and raising awareness about Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils. I have written in student newspapers, organized events, conducted research, worked with survivors, engaged in solidarity building, as well as refugee advocacy work. Currently I am a doctoral candidate in the Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies program at York University.

 Is there a particular approach or methodology that guides your work?

My work affirms taking a survivor-centric approach to women, peace and security. This means listening and learning from the most marginalized and in the case of my work, Tamils from the North East.  Survivors of violence have valuable knowledge and insight into the multiple forms and nuances of war, genocide and militarization. Any sustainable peace and security program needs to be guided and driven by survivors because they are the most vulnerable and thus the most knowledgeable of what a permanent ‘peace’ would look like. This is why I focus on the relationship between justice, peace and security as it is understood by Tamil women who survived the 2008 – 2009 phase of the genocide.

Building on that last question, are there any projects you are currently working on?

The project that I am currently most focused on would be my dissertation. I use an anti-colonial feminist analysis to examine the Tamil genocide by Sri Lanka. I pay particular attention to the 2008 – present period, while situating my work within a post-colonial genealogy of state violence. My work urges a re-envisioning, and thus re-strategizing, of transitional justice and peacebuilding programs by making central the lived experiences, material realities and socio-political analytical knowledge of Eelam Tamil women survivors.

Why is this an important issue right now, in your opinion?

This issue is important because of the lack of justice and accountability for Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils. The findings of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka, the Channel 4 documentaries, the Tamil Civil Society Forum statement on the UN investigation, and the recent resolution on genocide passed by the Northern Provincial Council exemplify not only the urgency, but on-the-ground demand, for peace and justice.  Yet, the Sri Lankan government successfully pushed for a delay in the report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) that was to be released this March.  Continue reading “IWD BLOG SERIES – Read our Interview with Jessica Chandrashekar, an Academic Activist at York University, as she talks about the Tamil genocide and the importance of solidarity activism.”

IWD Blog Series – Learn what the Nobel Women’s Initiative has been doing to promote gender equality in the field of Women, Peace and Security.

Tell us a little about the Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI). How would you describe the organization’s overall mission or goals?

The Nobel Women’s Initiative is an organization that was founded in 2005 by Nobel Peace Laureates: Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire. The make-up of the Laureates at NWI has changed over time; the current Laureates engaged in NWI projects and programs are: Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman.

We use the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and the prestige of the six courageous women peace laureates to magnify the power and visibility of women working around the world for peace,  justice and equality.

Although our offices are located in Canada, we work with women rights activists and peace activists from across the world.

That’s a fascinating approach! It brings to mind a quote by Gloria Steinem about using one’s torch to light other people’s torches. How do you increase the advocates’ visibility?

We achieve this through three main strategies:

  • Convening: We bring together diverse women’s groups, academics, key decision makers and the media to build new networks and promote collaboration.
  • Shaping the conversation: We articulate a broadly accessible analysis of the impact of conflict, violence, inequity and climate change on women. We emphasize solutions proposed by women’s movements. We share a vision of what a nonviolent, just and equal world looks like.
  • Spotlighting and promoting: We create media and public awareness of the powerful work being done by women activists and movements—and help bring women’s messages to the world.

Continue reading “IWD Blog Series – Learn what the Nobel Women’s Initiative has been doing to promote gender equality in the field of Women, Peace and Security.”