As opposed to just discourse or empty promises, this gathering, the largest of its kind to date, is intended to create action on the ground and to provide impetus for the movement against sexual violence in conflict. The UN Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is currently endorsed by two-thirds of all members of the UN, and, while it does send a message that victims of sexual violence in conflict should and will be provided with the opportunity to see justice and perpetrators appropriately charged, it is at the moment merely a piece of paper.
It is simple enough to bring people together for conferences. The real trick is to inspire and create change, to move from talk to action and promises. This is, of course, much easier said than done, but therein lies both the most difficult and rewarding aspect of this scenario, for without such stimulus these conferences may as well not occur.
This will be the largest conference on sexual violence to ever happen – let us hope that all participants, in particular the governments involved, not only take it seriously, but go into this important moment in history with the real intention to create change.
As the Summit approaches, Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada members
will examine issues of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and efforts to combat it, on our blog. For the next 8 days, posts will highlight the situation in fragile, conflict-affected and post-conflict states, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Syria and Zimbabwe. We’re drawing on the expertise and interests of our members to increase awareness and discussion in advance of the Global Summit.
Once the Summit starts, we’ll turn our attention to the proceedings, then wrap-up shortly after its conclusion.
The Campaign, an initiative of the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada, has recently presented its key messages to the Government of Canada calling on the government to:
Pay sustained, robust attention—and make a long-term commitment to—supporting survivors and ending sexual violence in conflict. Leadership requires resources.
Create a global fund to support women’s organizations and women’s human rights defenders working generally on women’s rights and specifically on sexual violence.
Fund the full range of sexual and reproductive health services including regarding pregnancies resulting from rape, without discrimination (as recognized in Security Council Resolution 2122).
Sign the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Ensure that the commitments made by the Government of Canada through the Canada’s National Action Plan for the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (NAP) be fully implemented, and that women’s organizations in Canada be included as allies in this process.
Appoint a high-level champion for ending sexual violence in conflict that can liaise between government departments and civil society, and monitor the implementation of the NAP.
As a nation with a legacy of peacekeeping and diplomacy, Canada is expected to be a world leader in the plight to bring an end to this global atrocity. Help us send a strong send a strong message to the Canadian government to turn their commitment into concrete action.
Use social media to amplify the voices of activists, women’s organizations and survivors who are looking to the Canadian government to align with their efforts.
One of these is the upcoming premiere of Seeds of Hope by award-winning BBC/Al Jazeera filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies. On May 28, the film will be screened at the Mayfair Theatre (1074 Bank St.) in Ottawa at 6:30pm and followed by a panel discussion on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Seeds of Hope is feature-length documentary that explores how one woman shines a beacon of hope for survivors of rape in the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Masika Katsuva, herself a survivor, has built a centre providing medical, practical and psychological support which has helped over 6,000 women and children. Together, they cultivate crops of maize and beans, and share their experiences, to heal and rebuild their lives and to plant their seeds of hope.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies, Senator Mobina Jaffer and Nobel Women’s Initiative Executive Director Liz Bernstein, and will be moderated by CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld.
The evening is presented by the British High Commission in Ottawa and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict ahead of the UK’s Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 10-13, 2014.
The Progress Reports can be somewhat long and difficult to work through, so we’re hoping that these analyses contribute to a better understanding of what Canada has achieved and how results relating to women, peace and security could be improved in the future. The contributions in the report also reflect on the C-NAP as a policy, planning and accountability instrument.
There is recognition of the work done by the Government of Canada:
“It was good to note achievements like Canada’s advocacy contributing to the UN Strategic Framework on WPS and the development and implementation of the UN-executed Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements as well as other initiatives like supporting five women of the Afghan Women’s Network participating in the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in December 2011.”
“It is noted that over the reporting periods the Government of Canada has supported a number of women’s organizations and networks in different countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Burma, Libya and Jordan, as well as the broader Great Lakes Region. The Government of Canada also states to have actively advocated for all Security Council missions and field visits to meet with women’s organizations on the ground.”
“The snapshots from peacekeepers in the field are engaging, and the brief descriptions of various programs conducted throughout the world to improve the lot of women are catchy and exciting.”
“We would like to applaud the government and Minister Baird for the statements in support of ending violence against women in conflict. We appreciate seeing the listing of departmental initiatives, funded projects and activities, and we note that Canada has funded some important work on women, peace and security around the world, including support for the crucial work of the Women’s League of Burma and a national conference on 1325 in South Sudan.”