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On March 7, SGI co-organized a panel discussion complementing the theme of the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57). Under the theme the "Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls," CSW57 took place at the UN Headquarters in New York from March 4-15.
The panel discussion, titled "Victory Over Violence: Women Leading Through Education," was held at the Armenian Convention Center in New York. The event began with a screening of an episode from the film A Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education, which was jointly produced by SGI, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The episode focused on a woman in Turkey affected by domestic violence who had benefited from human rights education.
On the panel were Deniz Kaynak, publication officer of Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR) -New Ways, the organization in Turkey that assisted the woman portrayed in the film; Jessica Greer Morris, executive director of Girl Be Heard, an organization in New York that uses theater as a means of empowering young women; Iatamze Verulashvili, founder and director of the Women's Center in Tbilisi, Georgia; and Hiro Sakurai of the SGI UN Liaison Office in New York who introduced SGI-USA's youth campaign Victory Over Violence.
Panelists emphasized the key importance of education to increase awareness of their rights among women. The need for grassroots support networks for victims of violence outside major cities and for forums where victims of sexual violence could connect within their communities was also highlighted. A short monologue depicting a personal experience of surviving abuse was also performed by Betsy Perez, a participant in the Girl Be Heard program. Discussions continued in small groups, and one outcome that emerged was the suggestion that the promotion of gender equality in early childhood education was another way to address violence against women. related article SGI Promotes Education and Youth Leadership at Geneva NGO Forum on Women's Rights From November 3-5, the Geneva NGO Forum--Beijing+20 ECE Regional Review was held at the UN Office at Geneva on the theme "Act, Advance, Achieve, Women's Rights."
Closing remarks were made by former UN Under-Secretary-General Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury. He emphasized that promoting the equality of women and men must be the focus in efforts to address violence against women. He also called for equal representation of women in decision-making of all levels, as is stressed in UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
SGI also co-facilitated a Conversation Circle on Peace and Security/Violence against Women on March 4 at the Church Center for the United Nations. It aimed to encourage dialogue, networking and collaboration between groups working to implement UN frameworks and agreements to empower women and achieve gender equality. Small group discussions followed the initial conversation circle which involved some 70 people.
Discussions centered on the draft of the agreed conclusions of CSW57 and the sharing of personal experiences related to the themes of peace, security and violence against women. Representatives of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), the NGO Working Group (NGOWG) on Women, Peace and Security and SGI co-facilitated the Conversation Circle.
[Adapted from a report from SGI United Nations Liaison Office, NY; photos courtesy of NGO Committee on the Status of Women, NY (NGO CSW/NY), and SGI United Nations Liaison Office, NY]
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