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Partnership Against Violence and Harassment of Girls

British Council South Africa in partnership with Women'sNet, University of the
North, University of Fort Hare and Crisp, have set up a new website listing services to share information on how to tackle the issue of violence and harassment of girls, the project is funded by UNICEF. Further information can be accessed at :-womensnet

The website has three main sections:

  • Institutions providing a service to either organisations and the
    non-profit sector and/or to girls and youth directly (listed by
    province)
  • Financial Resources Page: providers of financial assistance to
    civil society organisations
  • Information Resources Page: research on girls and young women and
    related to gender violence (listed by category)

For those organisations, institutions and individuals who need to
access a service for a girl or young woman in need, this website is
essential. Services are listed by province, and each entry includes
information about the organisation, the services it offers and it's
contact details.

Now available the new Network Newsletter no 25 'Gender and the justice system'

MP's Exchange Scheme. Val Davey and Helen Jackson have both participated in the exchange scheme for MP's from East and Central Africa. You can read more about their experiences on their return visits to Malawi and Zambia here:

Also see: Hansard Report


Reporting back from the Commission on the Status of Women: March 2003 New York

Professor Liz Kelly from the Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University reports back from the 47th session of CSW.

‘I attended the first week of the CSW in New York to make a presentation in the side event organised by the Women's National Commission - the event was billed 'You Can't Beat a Woman: High and low tech ways of combating violence against Women to provide a link the two themes for this years' CSW - violence and IT.

This was the first time I have been at any UN event on women, and making sense of what was going on, the various processes was a demanding task in itself! Luckily the UK NGO delegation was very well organised and briefed by WNC - meeting every morning and then again with the official delegation in the evening. There was also a slightly unreal atmosphere, since the CSW was taking place in the same building as the briefings from weapons inspectors and the Security Council before the war against Iraq began. There were hundreds of TV cameras and reporters, few of whom had any interest in the worlds' women.

The side event
There were many side events organised during the sessions, some by governments, other by NGOs and some for regional and issue based caucuses. Far more of these events focused on violence than on IT. Given the choice, and the fact that the Swedish government was hosting an event on trafficking at the same time as the WNC session, it was all the more impressive that 90 people from 28 countries attended the UK session.

Annette Lawson opened the presentations on the work of the Women's Aid Federation, England (WAFE), including the groundbreaking Womenspeak, an online consultation between survivors of domestic violence and women parliamentarians organised by the Hansard Society in 2001, and a capacity building link between WAFE and the shelter federation in Russia. The second presentation was by the Mother's Union, presented by Abigail Tukulu from South Africa. She discussed the role of faith based groups in tackling gender violence more generally and talked about a workbook the Mother's Union have developed which addresses all forms of violence against women and forms the basis for empowering group work in many countries. My presentation focused on the work CWASU has done with the British Council, international seminars, consultancy work, resource directories and briefing documents.

The discussion in the workshop was wide-ranging, with issues being raised about how to make men accountable for violence to the practice of self-defence for women and girls - which many participants were unaware of. The official delegation for the UK later told us that they were extremely impressed by the workshop - the presentations, the attendance and especially that it was full of practical ideas which were not limited to the UK.

The CSW process and outcomes
Whilst on one level it is to be regretted that no agreed text on violence against women came out of the CSW, the draft text that had been prepared was extremely weak, and represented a move backward rather than forwards. It was weakly worded, made a little reference to domestic violence and then focused almost entirely on trafficking. Other forms of violence - rape, sexual abuse of girls, sexual harassment, harmful cultural practices - were totally forgotten. The opposition to the document was very strong from the EU delegation and a non-aligned group comprising New Zealand, Australia, Canada Switzerland and Norway; they appear to have concluded that it was better to have nothing than to have a document that was less strong than what is in the Beijing Platform for Action and Beijing +5. For further information on this see conference report from the European Women’s Lobby at European Women's Lobby.

This is a very rare outcome, and has only happened once before in a meeting dealing with HIV/AIDS. It reveals the extent to which the seeming international consensus on violence against women is not as deep as it appears, that there are fault lines between states and between states and NGOs of prostitution and sexual exploitation.

Given the focus on trafficking it is bizarre that the term 'forced prostitution' was used since this is not the language in the Convention on Organised Crime, agreed in Palermo in 2000.

Violence against women connects to all aspects of women and girls' lives and long-standing disagreements about women's status and gender equality get played out in these contexts. The inability of the UN to maintain its own definition of gender violence (which unfortunately conflates forms of violence with the contexts they occur in) and its vision to eliminate it remains a stumbling block.

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