NEW YORK — After Japan’s first domestic violence law took effect in 2001, Ayako Ohno realized that such violence also was a violation of a woman’s human rights.
Since then, she has worked through the Tokyo YWCA to help domestic violence survivors. Today, she brings her experience and expertise to the United Nations as one of several thousand participants in this year’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Ohno and seven other women are part of a delegation sponsored by United Methodist Women who will spend the next week focusing on education and advocacy around the theme of the commission’s 57th session — to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls.
UMW has a long association with the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
Last year, the organization brought in nine international participants to join the discussion of the challenges facing rural women.
The UMW delegates will join other religious representatives in a daylong March 2 orientation for CWS-57 sponsored by Ecumenical Women, an international coalition of church denominations and ecumenical organizations with nongovernmental status at the U.N.
Ecumenical Women also has prepared a new edition of Ecumenical Women’s Guide to Advocacy to help “equip a movement of women and men who will transform their churches and societies to be places where girls and boys, men and women, have access to resources and opportunities to reach their greatest potential.”
Side events and march
UMW is among the many nongovernmental groups co-sponsoring CWS-57 “parallel” or “side” events at the United Methodist-owned Church Center for the United Nations. Their delegation members will speak and participate in the sponsored March 5-8 events.
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society also will co-sponsor a March 8 side event on “Overcoming the Pain of Abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls.” Amee Paparella, a Church and Society staff member, will be a panelist.
UMW also has helped organize a 10 a.m. march near the U.N. to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8, ending with a brief rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. A brief performance by South Asian Women will focus on recent visibility of rape in India.
Up to 300 people are expected to march, Carol Barton, a UMW executive, told United Methodist News Service. Co-organizers include the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Center for Women’s Global Leadership and the Women and Global Migration Working Group.
As outlined in the call for participation put forth by the organizers, the march will focus on protection and support of human rights for women.
“The march is about holding governments accountable for commitments they have made internationally to protect women and girls from violence,” Barton said. “One of their responsibilities is to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. When violators go unpunished, states are condoning that violence and creating a climate where violence will continue to happen.”
UMW has submitted its own statement to CSW-57, which points out that education and services to survivors of violence and raising awareness of their situation must be accompanied by systemic changes in society to prevent such violence.
“The world must react with alarm when a 14-year-old Pakistani girl is shot for seeking to attend school and when hundreds of women are raped in the Congo,” the statement says. “Physical violence must be condemned. At the same time, social, economic and political structures institutionalize and legitimize violence that often goes unobserved and unpunished.”
In addition to Ohno, members of the UMW delegation to CSW-57 are Rusudan Kalichava , Republic of Georgia, executive director and co-founder of Association ATINATI, a grassroots organization; Kazadi Musau Betty, Democratic Republic of Congo, secretary of the United Methodist Central Congo Conference; and Suzuyo Takazato, Japan, social worker with victims and survivors of sexual violence and sex workers in Okinawa.
Also, Junko Miyamoto, Japan, secretary for the sexuality and human rights division of Kyofukai, a women’s organization; Rose Otero, Philippines, representative of the Batis Center for Women, a non-governmental organization assisting returned Filipino women migrant workers and human trafficking victims; Nelly del Cid, Honduras, program coordinator for Weaver of Dreams, which trains facilitators of grassroots organizations in alternatives to violence; and Gyung-Lan Jung , Korea, co-representative of Women Making Peace, which focuses on reunification and peace on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere.
Linda Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at http://twitter.com/umcscribe. .News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or [email protected].
United Methodist News Service coverage of previous sessions of the Commission on Status of Women