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Women's Human Rights

    March 11, 2015

    Iran’s Parliament is in the process of adopting two bills—Bill 446 and Bill 315—that threaten to send Iran back several decades to a precarious time for women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.

    Since 2012, Iran has eliminated funding for the state Family and Population Planning Program, which oversaw the delivery of family planning and reproductive health services, including free condoms and modern contraceptives across the country. These initiatives are part of a misguided plan to accelerate population growth and, if continued, they will leave women and girls in Iran with a future shaped by increased inequality, discrimination, poor health, limited choices, and restricted freedoms.

    March 11, 2015

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner

    Campaigning against laws in Iran which discriminate against women and girls has just gotten a whole lot harder for Bahareh Hedayat and other activists with the Campaign for Equality, as Iran moves to enact laws set to turn Iranian women and girls into baby-making machines. Bahareh is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for her peaceful activism in support of gender equality.

    March 10, 2015

    Women in Iran could face significant restrictions on their use of contraceptives and be further excluded from the labour market unless they have had a child, if two proposed laws are approved, says a new report by Amnesty International published today.

    March 09, 2015

    By Stella Jegher, Amnesty International Switzerland

    This International Women’s Day, we look back 20 years to a historic UN meeting in Beijing that saw world leaders make bold commitments to women’s rights. Stella Jegher, Chair of the Amnesty International Women’s Human Rights Network, sheds light on how Amnesty made a difference to the debate then – and continues to do so now.

    Twenty years ago, in the autumn of 1995, the city of Beijing witnessed a historic moment for women’s rights: People from all over the world travelled to China for the UN's fourth World Conference on Women. Five thousand government delegates from 189 countries, thousands of journalists and over four thousand NGO representatives gathered for the official Conference in Beijing.

    Fifty kilometres away in the town of Houairou, 35,000 people met at the largest ever NGO meeting on women's human rights. As one of the NGOs allowed to attend both meetings, Amnesty was able to bring the demands of women's organizations in Houairou to the UN conference in Beijing.

    March 09, 2015

    By Dr. Renu Adhikari, Nepal

    Yesterday, the world celebrated International Women's Day. Today, world leaders descend on the United Nations in New York to take stock of how much they have achieved in the 20 years since a historic meeting in Beijing, where they promised to protect and promote the rights of women and girls everywhere. Dr Renu Adhikari will be among the many activists in New York. She tells us what progress she’s seen over the last two decades.

    I have worked on women’s rights for the last 24 years in Nepal. I started out working on trafficking and HIV. I had met a girl who had been trafficked and her story made me re-think whether I should continue being a medical doctor or do something in women’s rights. At that time, I had no idea what an NGO was. Still, in 1991 I created the Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) out of my passion for women’s rights.

    March 05, 2015

    Ottawa -  This evening, over 400 people are expected to attend the Ottawa-Gatineau area’s largest International Women’s Day celebration.

    “As feminists we work on serious, often life and death issues, such as violence against women,” said Kelly Bowden from Oxfam. “Tonight we will come together for something more upbeat—to celebrate our achievements and to laugh a little at the same time.”

    Themed “Join the Feminist Party”, the event will include a mock election debate on women’s rights issues moderated by Amal Wahab from Live 88.5FM. “The last time federal political party leaders held a debate on women’s issues was in 1984,” said Jackie Hansen of Amnesty International Canada. “If held today, many of the same issues could be discussed. Tonight our line-up of satirical panelists will imagine what a debate on the issues that matter to women and girls in Canada could look like in 2015.”

    March 03, 2015

    Myanmar’s parliament mustreject or extensively revise a series of proposed laws that would entrench already widespread discrimination and risk fuelling further violence against religious minorities, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said today.

    A package of four lawsdescribed as aimed to “protect race and religion” – currently being debated in parliament – include provisions that are deeply discriminatory on religious and gender grounds. They would force people to seek government approval to convert to a different religion or adopt a new religion and impose a series ofdiscriminatory obligations on non-Buddhist men who marry Buddhist women.

    “Myanmar’s Parliament must reject these grossly discriminatory laws which should never have been tabled in the first place. They play into harmful stereotypes about women and minorities, in particular Muslims, which are often propagated by extremist nationalist groups,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

    January 25, 2015

    By Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program

    The streets are empty. The prisons are full. The fourth anniversary of Egypt’s “25 January Revolution” is passing largely in silence, with many of the young activists who led it now firmly behind bars.

    For many women in Egypt, this Sunday will bring back particularly bitter memories – of a brief moment when it seemed that a better future was finally within reach.

    Women stood alongside men throughout the 2011 uprising. However, in the years since they have faced a rising tide of violence and discrimination.

    And nowhere is safe.

    Shocking testimonies uncovered by Amnesty International show women enduring violence at the hands of their partners, the public and the police.

    Women are not safe at home. One woman told Amnesty International of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband:

    January 21, 2015

    El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly must vote today to overturn horrifying injustice and pardon a woman imprisoned for 30 years after having a miscarriage, said Amnesty International today.

    “Guadalupe” was just 18-years-old when she was imprisoned in 2007. She received a 30 year sentence after authorities suspected she could have actively terminated her pregnancy.  Members already voted on 16 January and “Guadalupe” lost her plea by just one vote. They will vote again today.

    “Today El Salvador has the chance to rectify a terrible injustice perpetrated against this young woman. She has already spent seven long years in prison away from her family and her release cannot come a moment too soon,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International.

    Abortion is totally banned in El Salvador, even if the pregnancy could kill the woman. Some women, mainly those living in poverty, who have a miscarriage are automatically criminalized.

    January 21, 2015

    Recently, the Salvadoran authorities refused to pardon Guadalupe, a young woman currently serving a 30-year jail sentence after suffering a miscarriage. One of her chief advocates is Morena Herrera. Here, the ex-freedom fighter, staunch feminist and sexual and reproductive rights campaigner tells us why El Salvador’s abortion ban needs to go.

    “I was a guerrilla fighter. I was an activist for social change since I was young,” says Morena Herrera. When the civil war ended in 1992 and the Peace Accords were signed, she knew that the fight was far from over.

    “Those accords left big holes when it came to women’s rights,” she says. “I realized I had to fight another way. Women’s rights are human rights and they have to be a priority.”

    Since 2009, Morena has been fighting “another way” through the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, a collective she heads today.

    January 20, 2015

    More than 99 per cent of women in Egypt interviewed for a survey by UN Women in 2013 said that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment. © Melody Patry / Index on Censorship

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 21 January 2015

    Women and girls in Egypt face violence on a disturbing scale both at home and in public, including sexual mob attacks as well as torture in state custody, according to a new briefing by Amnesty International.

    ‘Circles of hell’: Domestic, public and state violence against women in Egypt documents how despite some recent piecemeal reforms, shortfalls in Egyptian laws and entrenched impunity continue to foster a culture of routine sexual and gender-based violence in the country. 

    December 09, 2014

    Two women who were arrested last week for driving their cars to Saudi Arabia have been detained for 25 further days signalling the Kingdom’s unwillingness to end discrimination against women. Amnesty International has consistently called for the ban to be overturned.

    Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested at al-Batha border crossing after attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates on 30 November. Maysaa al-Amoudi was also arrested at the border the next day when she attempted to bring some basic supplies to Loujain al-Hathoul even though she told the authorities she did not intend to drive inside Saudi Arabia.

    “Jailing a woman simply for driving a car is preposterous. These women are prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    November 27, 2014

    By Cindy Ko and Adotei Akwei from Amnesty International USA

    It is time for the Obama administration to ensure implementation of standardized sexual assault policies aimed at helping ensure that Indigenous survivors of sexual violence  can access medical treatment and support services. Indigenous women face disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) compiled statistics that show over one in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped during their lifetimes. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general.

    In order to achieve justice, survivors frequently have to navigate a maze of tribal, state and federal law. These complex jurisdictional rules undermine equality before the law and often allow perpetrators to evade justice. At all levels, law enforcement and justice systems are failing to ensure justice for Indigenous survivors of sexual violence – their cases may not be investigated, vital evidence may not be collected via a “rape kit” and their cases may never be prosecuted.

    November 02, 2014

    Amnesty International UK Press Release

    ‘It’s an outrage that a young woman is being locked up simply for peacefully having her say about how women are discriminated against in Iran’ - Kate Allen

    Responding to reports that the British “volleyball protester” Ghoncheh Ghavami has been jailed for a year for “spreading propaganda against the system” by a court in Iran today, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

    “This is an appalling verdict."

    “It’s an outrage that a young woman is being locked up simply for peacefully having her say about how women are discriminated against in Iran."

    “Ghoncheh is a prisoner of conscience and the Iranian authorities should quash the sentence and release her immediately and unconditionally."

    “The authorities should also investigate allegations that Ghoncheh was subjected to death threats by her interrogators and provide compensation for her arbitrary detention and her prolonged solitary confinement.”

    October 31, 2014

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner

    Events being reported in the Canadian media have launched a national conversation about violence against women. It is a difficult but important conversation about why so many people—mainly but not exclusively women—continue to experience violence, and in particular sexual violence, and very often feel unwilling or unable to report it; as well as why we as a society have failed to stop it.

    In talking about allegations of sexual violence and harassment we are talking about some of our most fundamental human rights that each and every one of us possesses.

    We are talking about our basic human right to live free from rape and other violence.  We are talking about the right to equality. Despite having these rights enshrined in international human rights law and in our own domestic laws, at least one third of women globally experience violence at some point in their lives. This statistic applies whether you live in Canada or Morocco. And women in other countries, as in Canada, are unlikely to report acts of violence or harassment to the authorities.

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