This report focuses on the role of religious actors and religious considerations in the SDG agenda, particularly as they pertain to gender equality, peaceful coexistence and security considerations. The perspectives, ideas and initiatives discussed in these pages bring together experiences and policy analysis shared from the different realities of Donors, UN agencies and Faith-Based NGOs. The narratives build on and inform policies — required at a time when religion is predominantly viewed as an emerging challenge.
Gathering honest and critical thinking by women and men of faith and human rights actors, the new Women, Faith, and Human Rights report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Church of Sweden has the following goals:
- To contribute to a broader and deeper understanding of the relation between faith and human rights, particularly around issues of SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights] and population dynamics.
- To challenge the notion that there per definition is a conflict between faith and human rights in general and women’s rights in particular.
- To make the positions of faith-based women in leadership visible and to convey their experiences and views to UN missions and UN agencies.
- To inspire women in leadership to build networks that add an important voice to the global women’s movement engaged in active UN advocacy around gender equality and women and girls’ rights.
News from Medical Mission Sisters Worldwide, reprinted with permission:
[On July 15] during the UN High Level Political Forum, we held up pictures of murdered and imprisoned women human rights activists on our laptops to capture the attention of the decision makers by bringing grassroots to the UN.
Another Environmental Rights Activist, Lesbia Y Urquia, was murdered in Honduras four months after the shooting of Berta Caceres. Both women had spent years campaigning against a giant dam.
“We can remind the delegates we are discussing sustainability and we have obligations to colonized Peoples to DECOLONIZE! Decolonization is recognized by the UN as a means of implementing peace since 1945! Many indigenous women’s organizations are violently attacked by the UN Members in the name of protecting these dominant NGOs. Full decolonization will ensure that no one is left behind. Decolonization means we have representative government and our blessings, or ‘resources’ including our lives, will not be taken from us.” –Lori, an indigenous woman and my colleague at the UN
I am happy to note the issue was discussed in the Sisters of Earth convention in Santa Cruz, San Francisco. It says governments and industries are still taking land from indigenous people, largely destroying ecosystems for profit. For example, while Spain no longer controls South America, “the way of thinking and feeling about the land did not change,” said Medical Mission Sr. Birgit Weiler, Peru. The concepts that individuals can own land and that good use of land is to extract resources from it “are colonial mindsets very present still today.” Yes, Lori is right, it is high time to decolonize.
True peace is possible only when justice prevails over profits!
–Celine Paramunda MMS
Via Democracy Now:
In an unprecedented move, a group of congressmembers are calling on the United States to suspend all military aid to Honduras until the country addresses its gross human rights violations. On Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Congressmember Hank Johnson of Georgia introduced the bill in Congress demanding the U.S. halt all funds to Honduras for their police and military operations, including funds for equipment and training. The United States currently provides hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Honduras through the Northern Triangle’s Alliance for Prosperity Plan. The legislation is named after indigenous and environmental leader Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in Honduras in March.
A former Honduran soldier says murdered environmentalist Berta Cáceres appeared on a hit list distributed to U.S.-trained special forces in Honduras months before she was assassinated.
Via Global One:
Global One supported by Eid Charity has piloted a first of its kind Islamic Farming project that combines a rich Islamic tradition of innovative agriculture and conservation techniques with Islam’s core environmental principles to improve food sovereignty, livelihood opportunities, and the increased learning and participation of women in this sector in Kenya, East Africa.
Do you know these amazing women? Click the image for a video about ten inspiring Muslim women that every person should know.
From the World Rainforest Movement:
The “Green Economy” does not mean transforming the current economy into a non-harmful one that respects forests and recognizes the importance of the people who depend on them. On the contrary, its proponents seek something very different. The forests of the “Green Economy” reinforce the colonial notion of “preserving” a collection of species that must remain untouched by humans. Denying the role that people have played in forest conservation over thousands of years especially impacts women. It is precisely women who have played a key role in the conservation and traditional use of forests, the transmission of traditional knowledge, and the provision of food, water and medicine for their communities. They also have a leading role in resistance struggles to defend their territories.
UN Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Implementation of the Global Goals: Contributions from the Mothers of Values to Create Awareness for the Economic, Social and Environmental Dimensions in the Gender Perspective and Women and Girls Empowerment
March 23, 2016 @ 8:30am
SA Auditorium, 221 East 52nd Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue, New York, USA
- Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, Community Mayor of Harlem, Ambassador of Goodwill to Africa
- Mr. Peter Smith, Chief Administrative Officer to the United Nations for Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)
Mother of the Day and Key Speaker:
- Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Hon. Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development
- Grove Harris, Acting Executive Director, Temple of Understanding
- Justina Okogun, Executive Director, OO Safewomb International Foundation (OOSAIF)
- “All Nations Unite to Advance Women and Girls: SDGs a Panacea”
- Claudine Mukamabano, Executive Director, Why Do I Exist
- “The Power of Social Media and its Benefit to Women and Girls”
- Grove Harris, Acting Executive Director, Temple of Understanding
- “Women, Water and Development for Justice”
[This letter is reprinted with permission from WEDO, the Women’s Environment & Development Organization.]
As many of you are aware, on March 3, 2016, Berta Cáceres, feminist & indigenous woman human rights defender (WHRD), was brutally murdered while sleeping in her home in Intibucá. She co-founded and directed the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), which was resisting the construction of DESA’s AguaZarca hydroelectric dam. On March 15, Nelson García, another COPINH member, was gunned down in his home in Honduras.
Just over a week ago, on March 17, WEDO joined hundreds of women’s rights groups, activists and allies, and Berta’s family — utilizing the moment of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women– to demand justice for her murder. Protests included demands for the protection and security for her family and COPINH members and the immediate halt to plans for the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric dam in Rio Blanco, Honduras by rallying in front of the Honduran Mission to the UN in New York. Berta’s death highlights the desperate need to end impunity for threats and attacks against all human rights defenders and enact laws for their protection.
Bertha Isabel Zuniga Cáceres, the daughter of slain activist Berta Cáceres, called on the government of Honduras to identify the culprit “not just for the assassination of Berta, but for the assassination of many activists.” Despite the efforts of the Honduran government to end their movement for justice, Bertha said, “We will not give up and we will not stop.” The crowd echoed this statement, unanimously chanting, “Berta no no se murió; se multiplicó.”
The following day, Bertha delivered a passionate call for justice to the United Nations.
In addition to Berta’s daughter, speakers at the rally included Lilian Esperanza López, Berta’s colleague from the COPHIN; Yessica Trinidad, the Coordinator of the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Honduras; Daysi Flores Hernandez, the Honduras Coordinator for JASS Mesoamerica; Áine O’Connor, a member of the Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the United Nations for the Sisters of Mercy; and Bai Ali Indayla, a Bangsamoro (Moro) activist from Maguindanao, Philippines.
The rally was one of many actions and mobilizations that took place in New York and across the world demanding an end to the culture of repression and impunity.
Democracy Now also covered the rally, and provided an in-depth look at the struggles in Honduras and of the COPINH here.
This struggle is not over, click the following links for ongoing information on demands/action:
- Berta Caceres, the Murdered Honduran Activist, Did Not Die. She Multiplied.
- Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos: Justice for the murder of Berta Caceres, feminist & indigenous woman human rights defender
- M4: Accion Urgente: solicitamos la proteccion de Gustavo Castro, herido durante el asesinato de Berta Caceres
- Bank Track: Agua Zarca dam
WEDO stands in solidarity with human rights and environmental defenders around the world– demanding justice, working for a peaceful and healthy planet for all. We must all continue to bring light to these struggles, and be persistent in our advocacy.