Ending violence against women is something everyone can agree on and shouldn't be controversial. Astonishingly, some Republicans in Congress held up the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for more than a year because it has protections for Native Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and immigrant women without documents. President Obama just signed VAWA into law yesterday. This Senate-version of the bill was voted down by 138 Republicans in the House. Today, unions across the world are celebrating International Women's Day and raising awareness about violence against women and girls.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling for international agreement and action around ending violence against women and girls. The ITUC is the main international trade union organization representing 175 million workers in 156 countries and territories and has 315 national affiliates. Ending violence is a topic of the 57th session of the United Nations (U.N.) Commission on the Status of Women taking place in New York from March 4–15.
Last year, the U.N. commission failed, for the first time in its history, to reach any conclusions about the issue of violence because of conservative governments, who questioned every idea of gender equality. The ITUC wants to make sure the U.N. commission sends a strong message to all governments regarding their responsibility for eliminating violence against women and girls.
The ITUC writes in a statement:
On the occasion of this International Women’s Day, the ITUC pays tribute to all women’s rights defenders who are at the front line of the struggle for gender equality, democracy, social justice and peace building….Across the globe, countless female activists speak up, take actions and organize themselves and others to make this world a better place for women. They are trade unionists fighting for labor rights, mothers demanding gender justice for their daughters, wives and sisters responding to gender-based violence or community activists speaking up in defense of land, water and shelter. By challenging unequal gender relations, many of these women become targets of male violence.
Women across the world, from Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia to Turkey, Mexico and Central America, are making tremendous gains in workplace and civil rights battles but at a cost of increasing violence, illegal arrests and rape.
The ITUC paid special tribute to Malala Yousafza, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl.
Malala was shot in the head [last October] by a Taliban [member] because of her relentless advocacy for girls’ right to education. Truly, an educated female population is a bigger threat to the Taliban than the best-trained army. Luckily Malala survived the attack and so will her fight for universal education in Pakistan.
The international organization urges the global community and national authorities to recognize the “specific vulnerability of women’s rights defenders and to provide the necessary protection and space they need to build a healthy society.”