Syrian Women's Forum for Peace (SWFP)

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DDA partners with SWFP to support women working for peace in Syria

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Peace in Syria might finally be possible, if women are included

After close to half a million deaths estimated in Syria and with no end to violence in sight, we all want to see peace. Extremist groups continue to gain ground but Syrian women have also been quietly making great progress in recent years as community leaders and builders of peace.

Many see these brilliant women as the key to lasting peace. In fact, there is a 35% higher chance of it when women are involved. Yet, to date, few have been meaningfully included in Syrian peace talks – which have always collapsed within days and have always been led by only men, with women sometimes given an informal ‘advisory’ role.

I founded the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace (SWFP) to build a movement for lasting peace. We urgently need to hold a Syrian Women’s Summit to bring women together and to enable female leaders from all sides of the political divide to share our vision for the future of this war-torn nation. I hope you will consider making a contribution to help sponsor this Summit. By doing so, you will be making a much-needed investment in peace.

Syrian women discuss peace-building © SWFP

This could be a pivotal moment for the future of all Syrian people, but we need your support. Please give what you can to SWFP to help ensure that women are part of all peace-building in Syria and that we can finally return to our normal lives.

This might be our only chance.

Yours sincerely,

Mouna Ghanem
Founder, SWFP


For more on this topic, please read Jessica Neuwirth’s op-ed in the Toronto Star on ‘Why are women not included in peace-building efforts?’  

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What #MeToo Means To Sex Trafficking Victims

Following an explosive New York Times article on sexual assault in Hollywood in just a few days millions of victims of sexual violence and harassment around the world have raised their voices to say #MeToo.

Those who have endured sexual violence know that it can silence you. For those trafficked into the sex trade – the majority of whom are women and girls – staying quiet about the abuse they so regularly endure can be a matter of life and death.

Many of our front line partners are building a strong global movement to change laws, policies, and practices so that we can finally end sex trafficking. In South Africa, Embrace Dignity has helped young women like Mickey Meji to find their voice after exiting the sex trade. She is now a major force behind fixing the country’s harmful laws on this issue.

Mickey Meji, Embrace Dignity

In Latvia, MARTA is rehabilitating girls and women like Inga. She needed emergency shelter to protect her from a violent pimp who forced her into prostitution after fathering her child. We also support SPACE International, a global group of empowered sex trade survivors such as Rachel Moran who are changing hearts and minds throughout the world.

Yet, little to no funding is getting to these brilliant women activists who are risking their lives to protect others. We hope you will donate what you can to help us make sure that some of the most vulnerable and sexually abused women and girls in the world finally get justice.

The dam has finally been broken. We can no longer stay silent.

Sincerely,
 
Jessica Neuwirth
Director  

Support Equality Fund to End Sex Trafficking

Read more about Embrace Dignity, MARTA, SPACE International

The ‘rape capital of the world’? We women in Congo don’t see it that way

“We do not see ourselves as the “rape capital of the world”. Instead, I agree with Liberia’s Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, who called my nation “the world capital of sisterhood and solidarity” – Justine Bihamba, Synergie des Femmes, DRC.

Read the op-ed in ‘The Guardian

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After decades of war, help brave Congolese women lay groundwork for peace

The Congolese Women’s Forum for Peace and Security in Kinshasa, which brought together 65 women from all 26 provinces in the DRC, was coordinated by Synergie des Femmes with support from Dr. Denis Mukwege and Panzi Foundation. It was broadcast on Facebook to over 640,000 viewers. After decades of devastating war these brave women made ground-breaking plans for peace in a country where an estimated 400,000 women are raped every year.

In the past few days this new coalition for peace has already made major progress. In the Kasai region, militant groups have caused the deaths of an estimated 3,000 people this year. As a result of the Forum, six women from the new coalition were invited to join peace talks which they had been previously excluded from. There they were given an opportunity to address the hundreds of men gathered on the urgent need for peace. This is a first step, but they want to do more!

We need your help to raise urgently needed funding for these women to carry out a nationwide plan for peace. Local women leaders will start by recruiting community allies to build a strong movement. They will work to ensure that women are given equal political representation and they will work to bring peace to their war torn country.

This is a massive undertaking. The Democratic Republic of Congo is still torn by violence. Your donation will help Congolese women ensure a more peaceful future, which would be life-changing for millions of women and girls.

Sincerely,

Jessica Neuwirth
Director

Support Congolese women peacemakers

65 Congolese women have come together for the first time to plan a more peaceful future for the DRC but need funding to move forward. Watch our video with Meryl Streep, Leymah Gbowee, Lena Dunham, Margot Wallström, Dr. Denis Mukwege, Navi Pillay and Gloria Steinem.

Afghan women’s shelter needs your help to stay open

I wrote to you in March about the emergency women’s shelter that the Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA) has been running for 13 years. With your help we were able to keep the shelter open and source some new temporary funding.
However, we are back at crisis point. For safety reasons, we have been forced to unexpectedly move the shelter, which means we have yet another urgent shortage of funds. We are now busy getting another building ready for women and girls like Zarmina, who was only 2 years old when her mother sold her off to a 22-year-old Taliban member. She came to us deeply traumatized and if she is forced to return to her village, she will be stoned to death.

This is a life and death situation. Each year, between 180-220 women and girls have found protection in our shelter – often fleeing sexual or domestic violence, child marriage or sex trafficking.

Woman fleeing violence at HAWCA_s facility in Kabul_ _AP Photo_Rahmat Gul_
Woman fleeing violence at HAWCA’s facility in Kabul
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Your donation will give us the lifeline we need to finish getting the new shelter ready and to keep it open.

Thank you for anything you can do to help us.

Yours sincerely,

Najia Karimi
Executive Director, HAWCA

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Breaking the silence in the world capital of female genital mutilation

Last year, I met 15 year-old Istar, who had been married off to a 70 year-old man in Eastern Somalia. He paid 10 camels and a gun for her. Istar had been subjected to infibulation.

As happens with many girls who have undergone this type of FGM, her new husband was unable to penetrate her during sex. He used a traditional dagger to cut her open. But he did it with so much force that the dagger went deep, affecting the vagina walls and cutting into her cervix.

Read the CNN op-ed

 

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Dr. Mukwege’s statement on June 19, International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Statement of Dr. Denis Mukwege on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Bukavu  (19 June 2017) – As sexual violence continues to be committed on a large scale worldwide, today’s International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict serves as a reminder that society must eradicate one of the most painful and shameful consequences of war.

In conflicts around the world, from Congo and South Sudan to Syria and Myanmar, rape is  a method of warfare deployed to terrorize and destroy entire populations. Sexual violence creates life-long physical and psychological trauma, destroys family bonds, increases the spread of preventable diseases, and leaves deep and long-standing marks on entire communities.

The violence committed against the bodies of women and men, boys and girls, is the disgrace of the 21st century.

Stand up against sexual violence

It is time to stand up and fight against these crimes at a global level. Building a global movement that prioritizes survivors, civil society members and organizations is critical to eradicate sexual violence.

Today, we also remember the victims and honour the survivors of sexual violence around the world. Their courage and strength in overcoming fear and stigmatization is a great source of inspiration.

Prevent sexual violence through deterrence

This year’s theme of the international day “preventing sexual violence through justice and deterrence,” raises awareness on a critical aspect in the fight against rape as a weapon of war. The prosecution of the crimes not only helps to prevent violence through deterrence. Courts also offer victims an avenue to obtain justice for and acknowledgement of their suffering.

Survivors of sexual violence are increasingly standing up to draw attention to this neglected, global problem and advocate for justice and reparations. We call on governments to become more involved and respond to their call. States have the responsibility and authority to join efforts and enforce the prohibition on the use of sexual violence in conflict.

 

 

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