South Korean “comfort women” being abused again. Time for honesty not revisionist history.

“Japan has leveled insults at them rather than offering an apology,” South Korean President Park Gyeun-hye told visiting US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month.

This sounds all too familiar. Revisionist history. Blame the victims. If they wait long enough, they’ll all die and this will be over. Not.

Let’s be vocal about our support of these women.  If the situation was reversed, what would Japan expect from South Korea? How about standing in the “other’s” shoes for a while. Respect and honor for all people.

Comfort women

Peter Ford/The Christian Science Monitor

The abuse of “comfort women” has proved a particularly painful memory, not least because for nearly half a century it was repressed. Only in 1990 did the first South Korean women lift the veil of shame they had drawn over Japan’s forcible recruitment of an estimated 200,000 young women and girls to serve in military brothels.

Just 56 of the 239 women who publicly acknowledged their experiences are still alive.

The controversy has grown since Shinzo Abe became Japanese prime minister last February. Six years ago, during his first term as prime minister, he argued that there was no evidence that any of the “comfort women” had been coerced into prostitution. That contradicted the earlier finding of an official Japanese commission, and caused an outcry around Asia.

Read the article at: Korea to Japan: Time running out for ‘comfort women’ resolution

Updated: Guide to Global and Transnational Women’s Activism from Rutgers

Great guide!

Global and Transnational Women’s Activism from Rutgers University.

Transnational as well as country specific sites, organized by continent. Contains documents, publications, statistics, and much more from Women’s Activists around the world.

Very fine collection. Many thanks to Kayo Denda, Women’s Studies Librarian at Rutgers.

How often do you think about human rights? from CWGL at Rutgers

The Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University challenges all of us to be involved in our world. Great post below.

How often do you think about human rights?

Understanding the human rights perspective is critical to respecting and defending the rights of all people worldwide regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and identity. As individuals and communities, we (rights holders) have a responsibility to hold our governments (duty bearers) accountable to upholding human rights. Wherever you are and however you identify, your human rights are inalienable.

Although human rights have not been fully realized around the world there has been progress as a result of global social movements demanding justice and an end to impunity as well as the international human rights framework. The human rights framework is both a legally binding mechanism as well as an ethical lens for respecting each other’s humanity.

As an ethical lens, human rights has been intrinsically valued in all societies and has a long history dating back well before founding of the United Nations. We can read about human rights concepts in various religious texts, throughout the renaissance, and the age of enlightenment. Human rights are associated with international relations as well as domestic affairs.

Human rights are internationally agreed universal standards. These legal norms are articulated in United Nations treaties including, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The first point (Article 1) that the UDHR makes is that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Although the UDHR was written about six decades ago, its relevance is enduring. Many of the ideas address concerns and critical issues that people continue to face globally in in the 21st century. Issues regarding inhuman punishment (Art. 5), discrimination (Art. 7), property ownership (Art. 17), equal pay for equal work (Art. 23/2), and access to education (Art. 26/1) are pertinent matters in countries South and North of the equator. However, go to any country in the world and I am certain that you will find at least one article from the UDHR that has not been met. Which begs the questions: since not one country has a clean human rights record, shouldn’t we think about human rights more often?

I use the royal “we” which includes not just you and me, but governments as well (which the last time I checked are made up of people). Bottom line is, international treaties are signed and ratified at the discretion of governments. Once a human rights treaty/convention is ratified by a United Nations Member State, the State has a legal obligation to apply the content to its national law, and government representatives have a responsibility to ensure that human rights are progressively realized.

More specifically, States have an obligation under international human rights law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including economic and social rights of people within their jurisdiction. This is particularly relevant given the current financial crisis. For example, when businesses (e.g., banks or corporations, etc.) threaten and/or erode basic human rights, such as the right to food or the right to water and sanitation, the government is obligated to step in to protect those rights.

So we think we know human rights, but when was the last time you thought about it? Did you think about it when you read about 46.2 million people living in poverty in the U.S.?  Or the lack of regulations governing the trade in arms and their impacts on women and children? What about the racial and ethnic discrimination that has caused numerous genocides globally? Do you ever consider the waysgovernment expenditure or revenue impacts our human rights? How about the fact that around the world, one woman dies every 90 seconds from complications of pregnancy or childbirth?

Have you thought about human rights lately? Email me to let me know.
by Margot Baruch, Program Coordinator, Economic and Social Rights

See original post at

Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM): Is your project really improving women’s lives?

Working since 2002, GEM has provided groups working on improving the lives of women and children with ways to evaluate the effectiveness of their initiatives. In Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin American, GEM has assisted organizations which are working  to change gender power relations and help women fully participate in economic development while providing them with means to care for their families and themselves. See the video below and get more documentation at their web site.

Bravo, GEM!

Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM)

By LC for APCNews

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 08 February 2012

The APC has been refining its Gender Evaluation Metholodolgy (GEM) since it was first elaborated in 2001. GEM can help you determine whether your project or initiative is really improving the lives of women and promoting positive change in the community you are working in.

Visit GEM’s new site, where you can find basic information about this innovative methodology and the team behind it, tips and answers to frequent questions, read about lessons learnt, stories of change it produced and even download guides and other materials.


11-14-2011 Transgender Day of Remembrance at UConn Rainbow Center

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Monday, November 14, 2011

Come join us at the Rainbow Center (Rm 403 of the Student Union) to celebrate Trans-awareness and honor those who have been lost to violence aimed at the Transgender community.

12:00-1:30PM Trans People’s Perspectives Panel (Pizza and Salad lunch served)

The transgender community is often a target of violence and hate crimes because of society’s prejudicial views. Over the years, many have been lost to the prejudiced violence surrounding the transgender community. Transgender Day of Remembrance allows us to honor those who have been killed and raise awareness of the prevalence of this targeted violence. In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance at UConn, a panel of transgender people will offer their perspective on current issues and aspects of their personal lives.

2:00-3:30PM : Clocked Film Showing (Light refreshments served)

Clocked is a film that tells the story of transgender activism based on personal stories and reflections. There will be a brief discussion following the movie, in which we will talk about the messages the movie conveys as well as what we can do as a community to be allies to the transgender community and help to stop injustice.

Sponsored by the Rainbow Center, Health Education & Women’s Center

The World’s Abortion Laws: An Interactive Map from CRR

Can I Get an Abortion Here? The Abortion Rights Map of the World
posted by Amanda Hess

When does human life begin, and a woman’s reproductive rights end? Depending on a woman’s location in the world, the answer can depend on her age, mental health, and socioeconomic status. Governments around the world have instituted a complex network of restrictions and exceptions in an attempt to negotiate the abortion question. Now, the Center for Reproductive Rightshas compiled them all in an interactive map of the world’s abortion laws.

Tool around CRR’s map of the world, and you’ll find countries coded red (abortion is banned except possibly to save the mother’s life), green (abortion is not restricted based on the justification behind the procedure), and shaded somewhere in-between (exceptions exist based on a woman’s health, age, or socioeconomic status). Click further and you’ll find that many countries have instituted abortion restrictions and exceptions rarely discussed in the United States.

From “About the Map”:

Since 1998, the Center for Reproductive Rights has producedThe World’s Abortion Laws map to visually compare the legal status of induced abortion in different countries-and to advocate for greater progress in ensuring access to safe and legal abortion services for all women worldwide.

The legal status of abortion is an important indicator of women’s ability to enjoy their reproductive rights. Legal restrictions on abortion often cause high levels of illegal and unsafe abortion, and there is a proven link between unsafe abortion and maternal mortality.

We offer this publication as a resource for human rights advocates working on abortion law reform-and as a means of both tracking progress and identifying the challenges that must still be overcome.


Countries worldwide are liberalizing their abortion laws

Between 1950 and 1985, nearly all industrialized countries-and several others-liberalized their abortion laws.  In 1994, 179 governments signed the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, signalling their commitment to prevent unsafe abortion. Since this important milestone, more than 25 countries worldwide have liberalized their abortion laws-while only a handful have tightened legal restrictions on abortion.

Read more at “About the Map“.

To view the map: The World’s Abortion Laws: Home.

100 years of activism and change – International Women’s Day

First celebrated in 1911, International Women’s day gives us all a time to think about the women of the world who have been working locally, nationally, and globally to create better, fairer, healthier, more educated lives for all people on the planet.

UN Women was formed in July, 2010. The video below, created by UN Women, celebrates women’s activism, accomplishments, and continuing efforts spanning these 100 years.

Women’s Rights are inextricably linked to Human Rights.  The 1979 UN Treaty “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” (CEDAW, or the Treaty for the Rights of Women)  defines discrimination against women as any “distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of marital status, on the basis of equality between men and women, of human rights or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.”  One-hundred and eighty five countries worldwide so far have ratified this treaty — but not the United States. Amnesty International states:

The United States is among a small minority of countries that have not yet ratified CEDAW, including Iran and Sudan. The United States has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the Western Hemisphere and the only industrialized democracy that has not ratified this treaty.

Women’s organizations are taking this year’s International Women’s Day to call for action from our President and Senate. The National Organization of Women (NOW) is calling on Congress and President Obama to vigorously defend the health and dignity of women everywhere. Along with many other organizations, they are calling for the long-overdue U.S. ratification of CEDAW — the most complete international agreement on basic human rights for women.

The right to equal education is one of the fundamental principles of CEDAW. Research has shown that as the lives of women improve, countries become more prosperous. Keeping 50% of the population uneducated or unable to work and improve themselves keeps areas of the world in poverty.

More access to education of women has resulted in decreasing infant mortality rates across many countries. Yes, slight in some cases, but the two are inextricably linked. This chart linked below (created at Gapminder World) shows, in the two axes : Mean years in school (women of reproductive age 15 to 44) by Infant mortality (per 1,000 births). Be sure to click the “Play” button at the bottom to see the effect over time. You’ll see a lot of movement in most countries. War-ravaged Afghanistan on the far left has seen little improvement. Not surprising.

Increases in Women’s Education affect Infant Mortality rates

Every day is International Women’s Day. As women’s lives improve, the lives of men and children will improve as well. Yes, progress is being made — sometimes two steps forward and one back, sometimes the opposite — but it takes efforts all year long all over the world. We can all make a difference.

Reposted from my original post on

First Event in Series: Combating the Prison Industrial Complex

Testimonial Truth and Action: Panel Presentation with Wally Lamb, Brenda Medina, Kathy Wyatt, and LaResse Harvey

DATE: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
TIME: 4:00 pm
PLACE: Bishop Center, Room 7, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Book signing and Reception to follow

Wally Lamb

This panel presentation, featuring writers from nationally recognized author Wally Lamb’s collections: Couldn’t Keep It to Myself. Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution (Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters) and I’ll FlyAway: Further Testimonies from the Women of York  Prison, is part of a series titled “Combating the Prison Industrial Complex: Testimonial Truth and Action.”

Lamb book on women in prison

Meet the authors

If, as scholars and critics have aptly noted, the contemporary U.S. landscape is increasingly marked and marred by an ever-growing prison industry, then this series of readings, screenings, and panels attempts to bring context, raise awareness, and prompt action for an expansive problem. From women to men, from straight populations to LGBT demographics, inclusive of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans, the changing face of prisons reflects a crisis of human rights. As Angela Davis, a longtime activist/scholar, reminds, “Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings.” Even so, “Combating the Prison Industrial Complex: Testimonial Truth and Action” signals a mode of resistance, and the program features stories from those who have not been broken:  former inmates, prison rights advocates, and cultural activists.

Free and open to the public.

Book donations for the York Prison Library would be greatly appreciated.

For further info or special accommodations call 860-486-3997

This series brings together the Puerto Rican/Latino Studies Institute, Women’s Studies Program, Institute for African American Studies, Asian American Studies Institute, Rainbow Center, and student groups.

Sponsoring Institutes

Here’s How to Avoid Roses That Support Violent Labor Abuses This Valentine’s Day – Culture – GOOD

One good thing a day.”

New to me. Seems like a great place for socially conscious thoughts and actions and — like the article below — socially conscious purchasing. I’ll keep my eye on this on and sign up for their daily email alert. Copied the entire post below or link to the Good entry.

Here’s How to Avoid Roses That Support Violent Labor Abuses This Valentine’s Day

  • February 9, 2011 • 2:00 pm PST

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and that means a spike in American flower sales. Unfortunately, despite their romantic connotations, a lot of flowers sold in America have ugly, cruel, and, occasionally, violent origins.

In Ecuador and Colombia, for instance, which furnish a large bulk of America’s flowers, many flower farm workers—most of them female—are subjected to sexual harassment, poor wages, and unsafe working conditions. One worker interviewed for Frontline documentary about flower abuses said her employers used to fumigate greenhouses while she and her colleagues were still inside. They also refused to pay her when she became pregnant.

On Kenyan flower farms, workers have reported being forced to work 12-hour days for less than a dollar in wages. Others say they’ve been raped while on their dangerous, dark routes to work at five in the morning.

On Kenyan flower farms, workers have reported being forced to work 12-hour days for less than a dollar in wages. Others say they’ve been raped while on their dangerous, dark routes to work at five in the morning.

What makes these abuses particularly upsetting is that they needn’t exist. There are many fair-trade flower producers in business around the world, and they’re creating sustainable flowers while offering workers competitive wages, daycare programs, and safety. The problem is getting major flower distributors to sell them.

Currently, 1-800-Flowers offers not a single fair-trade stem, nor will the company tell activists where its wares originate. And a search of FTD’s website also returns nothing fair-trade certified.

This Valentine’s Day, if you want to make sure your token of affection doesn’t also support violence against women in the third world, try getting roses from one of these companies, which stamp all their flowers with the “fair-trade certified” seal: One World FlowersWorld FlowersInbloom Group

Help spread the love.

Culture Editor

photo (cc) via Flickr user Andrea Guerra

Also see Calling All Conscious Crafters: Put a Cap on Infant Mortality

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits – Monthly Review

Water is a basic human need. There is no life without it.  The UN and other humanitarian organizations have worked years to bring critical consciousness to those of us who have rarely if ever been without water. For many, the availability of water every day is invisible, as expected as sunrise. And if we’re out, we think nothing of stopping at a convenience store and purchasing it.

In an article from the Monthly Review by Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Baskent University, she illuminates in very clear and understandable language the impacts of the commercialization and privatization of water. The US/EU economics vs. the UN and Human Rights. Public vs. Private. And the extreme effects this is having on the women and their families — those who live in the poorest countries.

  • 884,000,000 people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water
  • More than 2.6 billion people (or 40 percent of the global population) do not have access to basic sanitation services
  • Every year, 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases
  • Diarrhea caused by lack of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and poor health and nutritional status, is the second most important cause of death among children under five
  • Around 1.5 million children die of diarrhea each year
  • Every twenty seconds, a child dies from a water-borne disease such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, guinea worm, and hepatitis

Water is now, first and foremost, a commodity, and the public ownership of water is the major block to the massive profits that can be gained through privatization by large neo-liberal conglomerates who see water as the “twentieth century oil.”

After a bottled water company opened a plant in Java/Indonesia in 2002, it consumed such a high amount of spring water, only twenty meters away from the region’s main water source, that farmers had less and less irrigation water, and their wells started to run dry. Several farmers lost their livelihood and had to stop farming. Coca-Cola, after exploiting the groundwater reserves, turned parts of Kerala/India into a desert. Entire rivers have been sold in India. (emphasis mine)

Read this excellent article by Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Baskent University (Ankara/Turkey).

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits – Monthly Review January 2010, v62 n8.

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