Friday, December 30, 2016

Cities opportunities

“Cities are the world’s engines for business and innovation. With good management they can provide jobs, hope and growth, while building sustainability.” With sixty percent of their area still to be built before 2030, cities represent unparalleled opportunity to forge a new urban era where people can find freedom, inspiration, prosperity, health and security. They represent a unique chance to make the right infrastructure and planning choices to overcome many of the mistakes of the past and to make our cities and communities truly regenerative and resilient.

We see emerging trends of public, private, and civil society organizations working together to improve quality of life and livelihoods. We see these organizations leveraging resources to improve urban services. These and other efforts undoubtedly improve the lives of the people they touch. But, in the end, these approaches do not address basic structural problems nor do they offer answers appropriately scaled for tomorrow’s challenges. To do so requires rethinking the very organization of a city and envisioning its future. For this reason we need to forge a new urban paradigm for the city we need.

While the city we need must recognize local contexts, cultures, and customs, it is founded on two key conditions: the respect of public and private uses of land, and a well-coordinated system of systems. If a city is to function properly, it needs to coordinate very diverse agendas related to land use, housing, energy, water, waste, mobility, health and education, economic development, and the promotion of gender equality, cultural vitality and social inclusion.

● New predictive planning and modeling tools based on systems approaches provide an unprecedented means for all stakeholder groups and city authorities to better understand the complex social, economic and political interconnections inherent in urban systems. These tools and approaches enable decision makers and  urban inhabitants to use systems thinking and systems-based approaches to avoid unintended consequences of policy actions, to greatly enhance the effectiveness of decision making and achieve efficiencies in resource allocation and use;

● Systems approaches can further help realize a heretofore impossible dream: that of bridging short-term economic goals with longer-term policies and strategies that focus on shared prosperity and better health, safety and wellbeing of all of a city’s inhabitants;

● New understanding and awareness of the importance of place making and building a sense of identity that places public space at the forefront of urban development, as a means of greening the city, strengthening a sense of security and providing opportunities for enhanced social interaction and diverse forms of expression;

● The digital revolution offers new opportunities for the efficiency and responsiveness of urban services. It offers new ways and means for the inhabitants of the city to engage with public authorities in decisions affecting their quality of life and livelihoods. It helps avoid mistakes of the past in, for example, the failure to consider gender and age-sensitive needs and priorities in urban planning and design. It provides opportunities for innovative and collaborative economic models and social contracts that enhance social solidarity and social cohesion;

● An important opportunity lies in changing the paradigm from a centralized production approach, in which citizens are only users of a provided service, to participative and collaborative models of production that empower people and communities to become coproducers of energy, public goods and services.

● Participatory models of production of public goods and services also offer new opportunities for cities to take full advantage of the “green economy” by creating new business models, new industries at all scales and new employment opportunities and decent work.

● Growing awareness of the risks of climate change and the unsustainable models of production, consumption and development offer new prospects for the regenerative city and the circular economy. This goes beyond the concepts of reusing and recycling to restoring and replenishing the natural systems that support urban life. It allows for a different relationship between urban and rural areas and offers a new prospect for urban and peri-urban agriculture and the foundations for the truly ecological and resilient city.

To build The City We Need in the 21st century, our new urban paradigm will be guided by a set of principles. These principles are presented below and are accompanied by key drivers of change.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016


We, Urban Thinkers of the World Urban Campaign, here present a new urban paradigm for the 21st century. Committed to sustainable urbanization for a better future, we share our vision with the world before the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). This vision builds on the Habitat Agenda, the 2030 Development Agenda, and the outcomes of COP 21, in which we have participated actively.

The City We Need (TCWN) 2.0 is a manifesto prepared through the contributions of more than 7596 men and women from 113 countries and 2251 organizations1, representing fourteen (14) constituent groups: Local and subnational authorities, Research and Academia, Civil Society Organizations, Grassroots organizations, Women, Parliamentarians, Children and youth, Business and industries, Foundations and philanthropies, Professionals, Trade Unions and Workers, Farmers, Indigenous people and the Media.2

This global consultation and consensus building process has been made possible through a series of 26 Urban Thinkers Campuses organized by the World Urban Campaign3 from 29 June 2015 to 20 February 2016.

The recommendations made by the Urban Thinkers Campuses were compiled and distilled by a Drafting Committee which concluded its work on 12 March 2016.

This document was then adopted unanimously by the World Urban Campaign Steering Committee on 16 March 2016 in Prague/Czech Republic.

We, the partners of the World Urban Campaign acknowledge the Urban Thinkers Campus as an unprecedented consensus-building process. This process was designed to give a voice to the above mentioned representative groups through a decentralized model in order to define a joint position towards a United Nations Conference.

We request member states and the international community to consider our common vision driven by principles and drivers of change in order to craft the New Urban Agenda to be delivered at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).


As we declared in the 2012 Manifesto for Cities4 and further reiterate here: “the battle for a more sustainable future will be won or lost in cities.”

How we plan, build, and manage our cities today will determine the outcome of our efforts to achieve a sustainable and harmonious development tomorrow. Well-planned cities allow all residents the opportunity to have safe, healthy, and productive lives. Well-designed cities present nations with major opportunities to promote social inclusion, resilience, and prosperity.

The world is at a crossroads. In the next few decades, urban dwellers will double in number, reaching nearly three-quarters of world’s population. More than 60 percent of the built environment needed to accommodate these new urban dwellers by 2030 has yet to be constructed.


So what will our cities be like? Past and current trends provide some important lessons about what to avoid:

● Outdated and poorly defined roles, responsibilities and mandates between different tiers of government and different public agencies leading to unhealthy competition for resources, overlapping jurisdictions and uncoordinated regulatory frameworks;

● Poor planning, often using outdated and rigid planning approaches that are surpassed by reality leading to urban sprawl, congestion, pollution and the wasteful use of land, water and energy exacerbating climate change;

● Lack of transparency and accountability in city planning and decision making leading to lack of trust on behalf of civil society and business in the leadership of local authorities and public agencies;

● Unsustainable pressures on the carrying capacity of natural supporting systems leading to destruction of ecosystems and vulnerability

● Exclusionary approaches to urban development causing the formation of slums and informal settlements and the lack of access by the urban poor to public goods and services;

● Irresponsible land use and construction that increase vulnerability to natural and humanmade disasters causing loss of life and assets and damage to public and private property;

● Poorly regulated real estate markets that create speculative bubbles and financial crises and further exacerbate lack of security of tenure and access to affordable housing;
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Monday, December 26, 2016

The necessity of gender sensitivity in programmatic policy

This exploratory study shows that there are several promising practices to prevent violence in relationships and the transference of violence issues to the next generations. Yet, at the same time, we are dealing with a practical field where interventions and policy specifically geared towards (early, primary or universal) prevention are still in their infancy. During the last four decades, in which the attention paid to domestic violence and child abuse has grown, that attention has been mainly concentrated on measures to provide shelter, protection and support. Thus, more attention needs to be paid to primary prevention. A comparison with a number of foreign interventions within the EU has shown that, frequently, a coherent theoretical foundation is still lacking. Projects are sometimes started up, based on practical knowledge, but without a scientific foundation. While building a more solid basis for these projects, it is also important to do this from a gender-sensitive perspective, that is, with an eye for the different levels at which social and cultural inequalities between women and men occur, and how these may influence operative elements in the approach. According to the experts, it is important to make a distinction between different levels while reflecting on the projects. Firstly, the question is whether there is a view on gender equality. Secondly, the question is which means are used to reach a wide audience with this view. A third question is: do the people involved in the approach’s execution endorse this view? A precondition for a sound execution is that teachers, professionals (or volunteers) are trained to execute the intervention professionally and effectively. Regarding the question of ‘what works’, the bottleneck is that empirical research that may provide insight into this is still in its infancy. However, the interventions that have been the subject of empirical research offer inspiring examples of how it can be done. For instance, the effect studies on the projects concentrated on a change in awareness and attitude among adolescents (Greece, Sweden) with respect to the representation of boys/masculinity and girls/femininity and, more specifically, the unacceptability of violence, show positive effects. Despite the limitations, it is hopeful that the study has shown a number of very promising examples, and that examples from other EU countries may serve as an inspiration. It would be regrettable if it would no longer be possible to structurally continue promising projects because they have been anchored insufficiently in (municipal) policy and the necessary funding. The national government and municipalities have an important task in the development of a sustainable prevention policy, focused on breaking through the intergenerational transference of violence by means of a programmatic approach, making it possible to offer different interventions at different levels in one, coherent package. The problem is serious in both dimension and nature, and effective action is therefore urgently needed. The aim of this report is to provide some insights that are relevant for the developmental process towards more effectiveness. It is to be hoped that, with a clear framework established by the national government, the municipalities will continue to take up the challenge of being in charge, for the benefit of the quality, continuity and effectiveness of prevention policy.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Geeta Madhavan first woman PhD in Law on International Terrorism

As a foremost expert on international terror Dr Geeta Madhavan’s expert 
opinion is sought on various panels and working groups preparing policy 
papers on counter terrorism, piracy and extremism.

Chennai (Women’s Feature Service) - Dr Geeta Madhavan’s class is usually packed to capacity: just as it was when I was a student, hanging onto her every word. She was my first initiation into law - and continues to be the same for many, many aspirants in the field. But here’s what’s different about her. Dr Madhavan, the country’s first woman PhD in Law on International Terrorism, likes to teach as well as take on major challenges – think nations fighting it out over land; think terrorism and attempts to punish it with legalese; think laws governing the high seas… When she had decided to focus her research study on international terrorism way back in the late 1980s, everyone had been surprised; after all, this wasn’t something that India was contending with at the time. Two decades later, she is one of the select few lawyers who have an in-depth understanding of terrorism, maritime laws, extradition, human rights and refugees rehabilitation.

Dr. Madhavan always loved history; she grew up reading about the two World Wars and their aftermath. That paved the way for a keen interest in international law. “After completing my undergraduate studies in English Literature, I opted to do law as my ambition was to pursue a career in the Foreign Service. It was a dream nurtured by my father right from my school days. However, while pursuing my LLB degree in Bangalore I became completely hooked to studying law; international law in particular. Eventually, although I did sit for the Civil Services exam, I also became an advocate and set up my practice at the Madras High Court. As the same time, I signed up for ML in International Law at the Madras University. It was while I was working on my dissertation topic, international drug trafficking and control, that I came across terrorism,” she reveals, during a free-wheeling chat.

In those days, she may have read about the spread of violence and terrorism in Ireland and Palestine, but this phenomenon instantly grabbed Madhavan’s attention. “It was happening in places far away from India and there was no real interest here around this, but I did want to know more and so I went on reading about it. I clearly remember that it was only after the assassination of Rajeev Gandhi in 1991 that we started giving greater importance to international terrorism. This tragedy marked the entry of international terror in the country. The little work done on the subject and the meagre material available on it motivated me to delve deeper and I decided to do my doctorate in it,” she elaborates. Having chosen what most considered an “off-beat path” Madhavan’s choice left many surprised, “Several people advised me to do a PhD on something that would be monetarily beneficial but my heart was set on pursuing this significant issue.” 

Her detailed research and writings were very well-received. In 1997, she was conferred with an award from The Hague Academy of International Law for her Advanced Doctoral Research. “I was the only Asian to have got this honour that year and one among three in the world. After years of hard work, even as I ran a home, looked after my little son and taught as a guest faculty for the ML students in the International Law department at the Madras University, I received my PhD in 2000,” she recalls with a smile.

After her “path-breaking” research at home, she steadily gained a reputation abroad as well. In fact, after the devastating 9/11 terror attacks her opinion as an “an expert on international terrorism” was sought by several international television channels and other news outlets. “Since then, I have been travelling, writing on terrorism and its various aspects. Later, I established a very successful think tank in Chennai as well,” she shares.

In time, India’s unique geographical position and its strategic importance in the Indian Ocean region also drew Madhavan to explore the maritime threats before the country. With our long and vulnerable coastline, I felt a shift in terrorism from the seas was inevitable. Unfortunately, these fears came true with the 26/11 assault. Today, I’m always on the job as terrorism has become virulent; hardly any nation has been left untouched,” she points out.    

Apart from conducting her own research, Madhavan is committed to passing on her knowledge and encouraging young people to take up a career in law. She painstakingly trains young people, giving them copious reading materials besides holding long-drawn interactive sessions – things that she had found lacking when she was in their place. She shares, “I have a passion for the law and I got into teaching it because of it. When someone reaches out to me to study I feel it’s my duty to make it worth their while. Teaching post graduate law students at the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University is very fulfilling. I am proud to say that many of my students are in leading legal institutions in India and across the globe.”

Between her home, her teaching assignment and her work as an extraordinary expert on a threat that has changed the way the world lives today and perceives violence and security, Madhavan has to maintain a delicate balance, one she has been able to strike thanks to her family’s staunch support. “The last eight years have been extremely hectic. I have been a part of several international working groups, preparing policy papers on varied subjects related to terrorism and maritime issues including counter terrorism, piracy and extremism. Balancing home and work and travel has always been tough but it’s also been very enjoyable because I am passionate about what I do. My husband has been extremely supportive, not only in keeping things going at home while I am away but also standing by me when I’m overwhelmed with work. I think if one has a spouse who takes pride in your work then your journey becomes that much easier and rewarding,” she says. 

Of course, her packed schedule doesn’t keep her away from her interests. Says Geeta, “I write poetry and enjoy blogging whenever I can!” Incidentally, these days, she is putting together her collection of poems besides a book on terrorism, both of which are slated to be published by the end of this year.  

Ask Dr. Geeta Madhavan if she has any words of advice for those who may aspire to follow in her footsteps, and she keeps it simple. “Find your niche: whatever it maybe, not just law – dance, music, art– anything! And once you have that figured out, focus on it with all your heart. There is no point doing anything that does not give you happiness. Pursue your passion, and everything else will follow!”

By Kirthi Jayakumar

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Research method, Scope of the research, Structure of the report and Terminology 5/5

Research was carried out between  August 2009 and March 2010. This consisted of a review of existing research and statistics about violence against women in the UK, public policy approaches in the field, studies of gendered violence in student communities in other countries such as the United States, and surveys of attitudes towards victims of crime.
Between November 2009 and January 2010, NUS asked women students in both further and higher education to complete an online survey about their perceptions of safety and their experiences of harassment, stalking, financial abuse, violence and sexual assault. The survey was developed after extensive research into best practice with regard to surveys of violence against women (further information about this is provided in Appendix A) and in particular draws on questions used in the National College
Women Sexual Victimization Study.7 It was also developed in consultation with a number of organisations and individuals with expertise in the area, including, but not limited to, Refuge, Women’s Aid,
Rape Crisis and Amnesty International UK. 2058 valid responses to the survey were received. Partial responses were accepted and, as a result, percentages given throughout the report refer to the base for that question, which differs depending on the question. The demographic profile of survey participants is provided in Appendix B, and base rates for each question are listed in Appendix A.
Quantative data from the survey were analysed using SPSS, and the qualitative data were coded by hand. A group of critical readers provided advice and feedback on the analysis of data and presentation of findings.

Scope of the research
The survey covers both further and higher education, including women currently studying in higher education institutions, colleges, work-based learning, sixth-form colleges and adult learning providers. Women studying in all four countries of the UK, including international students, and aged between 16 and 60, participated in the survey.
The survey included questions about:
• perceptions of safety;
• unwanted verbal and physical sexual harassment;
• control over finances needed to be a student;
• control over choice of course or institution;
• stalking;
• physical violence;
• sexual assault.
Students were not asked about any experiences prior to their becoming a student, since the intent was to take a snapshot of current students’ experiences in their present place of study. Neither were students asked about emotional or psychological abuse. Nonetheless, a number of participants did use open text boxes to tell us about such experiences. Details about question wording and definitions are provided in Appendix A.
The survey did not ask about violence experienced by male students. Whilst we recognise that male students have a heightened risk of being a victim of violent crime, and can be subject to the full range of behaviour surveyed in this research, the primary aim of this research was to explore women students' experiences, focusing particularly, although not exclusively, on men's behaviour towards women and the impact of gendered violence on women.
This report outlines headline findings from the survey. Further analysis will be carried out on the data to explore differences between experiences for women from different backgrounds, including women from different ethnic groups, women of different sexual orientations, trans women and disabled women. This will be published in due course.

Structure of the report
Following a summary of the key findings and recommendations, the analysis of survey findings is
presented in six chapters. In these chapters we consider:
• women students' perceptions of safety;
• the prevalence of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault against women students;
• the profile of offenders – who perpetrates violence against women students;
• factors influencing reporting – which crimes women report to their institution and the police; reasons for not reporting; experiences of reporting;
• the consequences of violence for women students;
• recommendations to support women victims and prevent further violence.
The appendices include a list of headline survey questions, details of the survey participant profile,
response rates for individual questions, and information about the survey design.

Violence against women is a global phenomenon which affects women from all sections of society and of all ages. Violence against women can be defined in a number of different ways, but is generally understood as gendered violence experienced by women, which can include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, as well as threatening, coercive and controlling behaviour. In this survey, we asked questions about verbal and non-verbal harassment, stalking, physical violence, financial abuse and sexual assault experienced by women students, and whether
that behaviour was perpetrated by men or women.
Throughout this report we use the term victim to describe respondents who reported being subject to
harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault. We use this term as it is the most widely-used term in the criminal justice system, whilst recognising that many women who have experienced different forms of harassment and violence against women may not describe themselves in these terms, and that some prefer to describe themselves as survivors.
There is no strict definition of the term sexual harassment, but it is commonly understood to describe unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. In this report, we use the expression to describe the behaviours listed in Appendix A, which are those we asked students to tell us about.

The terms perpetrator and offender are used interchangeably throughout the report to describe the
person responsible for incidents reported by students.
Institution is used to refer to educational institutions or learning providers in the further and higher education sectors.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Introduction and Background 4/5

This report outlines findings from a survey carried out by the National Union of Students exploring the prevalence and nature of harassment, stalking, financial control, control over course and institution choice, and physical and sexual violence faced by women students. The UK-wide study provides a snapshot of the experiences of women students today. It includes information about survey respondents’ experiences of harassment and violence, the extent to which these crimes were reported and to whom, the profile of offenders, and the impact of such incidences on women students’ health, relationships and education.
The study covers full-time and part-time students in both further and higher education. Both UK  domiciled and international students took part, and surveys were completed by students studying in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


The British Crime Survey has consistently shown that young women aged 16–24 have a heightened risk of being a victim of violent crime compared with older women. It has also shown that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women, and that sexual partner violence in young people’s relationships is alltoo common.1
These figures, in addition to the publication of research suggesting a hardening of attitudes towards victims of sexual assault,2 were the background to this research exploring the experiences of women in further and higher education today. We wanted to find out from women students themselves what their experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault were.
We wanted to know what the consequences of suc experiences were for students, and whether they were reporting them to the police and to people within their institution. And we wanted to know what they thought could be done to support women students who have been victims of such crimes, and to end violence against women.
In the public policy environment, there is ongoing work to address violence against women and girls in all its forms. At the beginning of 2010 the Government published its strategy to end violence against women and girls, the result of a year-long consultation which engaged thousands of people.3 Alongside the strategy, a number of reviews commissioned by the government are underway to consider particular aspects of the problem. At the end of 2009, Sara Payne published her review of the criminal justice system's response to rape victims.4 In February 2010 Dr Papadopoulos published an independent review on the sexualisation of young people;5 and Baroness Stern published findings from a review of the way that rape complaints are handled in March 2010.6
We hope that, by illuminating the specific circumstances in which student women experience the range of behaviours included in our survey, this research will be a useful contribution to an ongoing debate about how to end violence against women.
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Friday, December 16, 2016

Key Recommendations 3/5

Our vision is of an education system in which all further and higher education students can participate confidently, without the restraint of harassment and fear of violence.
We believe that institutions and students’ unions have a key role to play in ending violence against women in education and in that regard we make two key recommendations. These recommendations have been developed as a result of our analysis of the survey responses. The detail of these recommendations, and further recommendations, can be found in the last chapter of this report.

A ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to harassment and violence
Our research shows that high numbers of women students face ‘everyday’, low-level harassment and intrusive behaviour. We believe that an environment in which sexual harassment is tolerated is one in which more serious forms of violence are less likely to be dealt with effectively. We recommend therefore that institutions and students' unions should adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to non-verbal and verbal sexual harassment.
Such an approach would:
•send out a strong signal to both staff and students that such behaviour is unacceptable both within and outside of the learning environment; and,
•create an environment in which women students are able to participate with dignity and confidence.
This approach is a standard which should underpin a comprehensive, cross-institutional policy against violence and harassment of women students, as described in the following recommendation.

An institutional policy to tackle violence against women

There are numerous ways in which institutions and students’ unions can work together to prevent further violence and harassment, to ensure that women students access the support services they need should they become victims, and to encourage reporting. We recommend that institutions, in partnership with students’ unions, should develop a comprehensive policy which would set out the measures they will undertake to tackle violence against women students.

This policy should:
•set out how the institution and students' union will develop and implement activities to change attitudes and raise awareness of violence;
•enable students and staff to recognise and effectively deal with violence and harassment against women students;
•discuss how to best utilise peer support in tackling violence and harassment;
•contain plans for improving campus design and security so as to help students feel safe;
•outline how the institution will work with relevant agencies to ensure that students access the support services that they need;
•contain steps explaining how reporting will be encouraged;
•set out how the institution will respond to violence against women perpetrated by its own students.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Egypt - UN Experts Condemn Egypt Clampdown on the Women’s Rights Movement

GENEVA (15 December 2016) – A group of United Nations experts* has strongly condemned Egypt for escalating its action against women human rights defenders and women rights groups as part of a continuing clampdown on civil society.
“The Government’s actions are preventing women human rights defenders from conducting their legitimate activities and professions, and are leaving thousands of women in need of support and security,” the experts said. “The noose is tightening around the women’s rights movement, and this is having a direct and considerable impact on human rights.”
The experts highlighted the arrest of lawyer Azza Soliman, a prominent human rights defender who founded the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA).  She was detained on 7 December and questioned by an investigative judge over the highly controversial case 173/2011, which centers on foreign funding of non-governmental organizations in Egypt.
“The arrest and investigation of Azza Soliman demonstrates that the repression of Egypt’s human rights movement has escalated to a higher level,” the experts said with concern. “Ms. Soliman is a central figure in the country’s independent women’s rights movement. Targeting her sends a strong negative signal from the Government about its hostile position towards women’s rights defenders.”
“The Government must immediately repeal all repressive measures against human rights defenders, including travel bans and legislation that criminalizes legitimate activities, as they are not in compliance with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law,” they added.
Despite being freed on bail, Ms. Soliman still faces charges of having received foreign funding that may “harm the state interest”, having established an entity that conducts activities similar to that of associations’ activities and tax evasion.
The group of experts stressed that the action against Ms. Soliman was not an isolated case.
“We are highly concerned that other human rights defenders have been charged with similar offences in recent months,” they noted. “Hundreds of other human rights defenders are living under the threat of persecution and imprisonment. Many are being prevented from travelling and are seeing their assets or those of their organisations frozen.”
The experts highlighted that during a court session on 12 December concerning the decision to freeze Azza Soliman’s assets and those of her law firm, a request was made to take similar action against several other human rights defenders. These included another woman human rights defender, Mozn Hassan - who is already subject to a travel ban - and her organization Nazra for Feminist Studies.
On 14 December, the North Cairo Court confirmed the decision to freeze Azza Soliman’s assets and those of her law firm, while it postponed the verdict issuance for the asset freeze of Mozn Hassan and her organization to 11 January 2017.
“The continuous persecution of women human rights defenders such as Azza Soliman and Mozn Hassan through the investigation of case 173/2011 establishes and reinforces a pattern of systematic repression of the Egyptian women’s rights movement, aiming to silence and intimidate those working tirelessly for justice, human rights and equality,” the experts said.
(*) The experts: Ms. Alda Facio, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Ms. Dubravka  Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Key Findings 2/5

This research was carried out between August 2009 and March 2010. During this time NUS conducted a literature review and a national online survey of 2058 women students’ experiences of harassment, financial control, control over their course and institution choices, stalking, violence, and sexual assault. Only current students were asked to fill in the survey, and questions were only asked about students’ experiences whilst studying at their current institution. This report summarises the headline findings from this research.

Women students’ perceptions of safety
•More than one third of respondents reported that they sometimes felt unsafe when visiting their university or college buildings in the evening. This is in notable contrast to perceptions of safety during the day when 97 per cent of students always or mostly felt safe.
•Women were most likely to feel unsafe in the evening at their institution because of concerns that they were likely to be harassed or intimidated.
•Students in halls of residences reported feeling unsafe because of concerns with security breaches.

Prevalence of violence and harassment
•Women students reported experiences of a range of unwanted behaviour during their time as a student, ranging from ‘everyday’ verbal and non-verbal harassment, to serious episodes of stalking, physical and sexual assault.
•One in seven survey respondents has experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student.
•Over two thirds of respondents (68 per cent) have experienced some kind of verbal or non-verbal
harassment in and around their institution. This kind of behaviour – which includes groping, flashing and unwanted sexual comments – has become almost ‘everyday’ for some women students.
•12 per cent of respondents reported being subject to stalking.
•More than one in ten has been a victim of serious physical violence.
•16 per cent have experienced unwanted kissing, touching or molesting during their time as a student,
the majority of which has taken place in public.
•Seven per cent have been subject to a serious sexual assault, the majority of which occurred in
somebody’s home.
•One in ten victims of serious sexual assault was given alcohol or drugs against their will before the attack.
•A small number of student women (two per cent) reported that their finances have been controlled by family members or a partner, or that their educational choices have been influenced using threats or violence.

Profile of perpetrators
•The majority of perpetrators of stalking, sexual assault and physical violence were already known to
the victim.
•Men were the majority of perpetrators of stalking (89 per cent) and physical violence (73 per cent).
•Students were the majority of perpetrators in most categories, the majority of whom were studying at the same institution as the respondent. The exception to this rule was in the category of physical violence where just under half of offenders were students (48 per cent).
•Respondents were most likely to report that the perpetrator was a student at the same institution in the case of stalking; 60 per cent were students and 49 per cent of those were at the same institution.

Reporting levels and factors influencing reporting
•Reporting levels were low across all categories surveyed. Respondents were most likely to report
stalking to somebody at the institution (21 per cent), and victims of serious physical violence were most likely to report the incident to the police (17 per cent).
•Students who had been subjected to a less serious sexual assault were least likely to report either to the police or to the institution (two per cent).
•The most common reason overall for not reportingwas that students did not feel that what had
happened was serious enough to report.
•The most common reason for not reporting serious sexual assault was that the victim felt ashamed or
embarrassed; 43 per cent also thought they would be blamed for what had happened, and one in three
thought they would not be believed.
•Women students in all categories were most likely to report or discuss what had happened to them with friends or family; 80 per cent of stalking victims had done so.
•More than four in ten victims of serious sexual assault had told nobody about what had happened
to them.

The impact of stalking, violence and sexual assault on women students
•Respondents reported a range of different consequences of violence, stalking and sexual assault on their health, experience of learning, confidence and relationships, with the most common consequence in any category being deterioration of mental health.
•Experiences of stalking, violence and sexual assault can negatively affect a student’s education; one in four victims of serious sexual assault stated that their studies had been affected by the incident, and one in seven victims of serious physical assault reported that their attendance had suffered.
•Approximately one quarter of stalking victims reported that the obsessive behaviour they had been
subjected to had affected their mental health, studies and relationships. Furthermore, students in this
category were more likely to report concerns if the behaviour had persisted for more than three months.
•Women who have been victims of serious sexual assault reported the most significant impact in nearly every area. Just under two thirds (63 per cent) said that their relationships had been affected,
approximately half (49 per cent) reported issues with their mental health, and more than one in ten (12 per cent) said there had been consequences to their physical health. 13 per cent had considered leaving their course.
•Women students also commonly reported a loss of confidence, and feeling increased fear as a consequence of being a victim of violence.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

A study of women students’ experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault 1 / 5


Welcome to Hidden Marks the first ever nationwide report into women students’ experience of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault.
We decided to undertake this research because women aged 16–24 have a higher risk of experiencing domestic violence, but there appeared to be little awareness of this amongst students. We wanted
to find out from women students themselves about their
experiences. We wanted to understand what was happening on campus, in halls of residences, and in students' unions, and we wanted to hear how women students felt about it.
In this report we provide a snapshot of the harassment and violence that a national sample of women students have faced whilst they have been at their current institution. The picture that we have revealed is disturbing. 14 per cent have experienced serious physical or sexual assault. 68 per cent have been subject to verbal or physical sexual harassment. Nearly one in four has experienced unwanted sexual contact.
Many women students struggle to get through their course without coming into to contact with harassment or violence in one form or another. Whether it is being harassed in the students' union bar, or abuse in intimate relationships, this report reveals a serious problem that needs urgent action.
It is a problem that is made worse by the lack of support received by the women students who face violence. There is very little little awareness of whether institutions provide any services to support women, and nearly a third of students don't even discuss the issue of violence against women with their friends. Very few students reported their experiences, either to their institution or to the police. In the category of serious sexual assault only 10 per cent reported it to the police, and more than four in ten told no one about the attack.
At the moment, women students are too often being forced to pick themselves up and carry on, without any help or support from their institution. Many women students are left feeling alone, and feeling like they are to blame for the violence committed against them.
This report is a wake-up call. We must act now to to break the silence: violence against women students is widespread, serious, and is hampering women's ability to learn. This report is just the start of the work that the NUS Women’s Campaign will be undertaking to tackle violence against women students. But we can’t end the violence alone.
Institutions, students’ unions and students have a pressing responsibility to take immediate action to tackle the problem. In this report, we call for institutions and students' unions to work together to do two key things. First, we ask that they develop a comprehensive institutional policy to tackle violence against women. Second, that they adopt a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to harassment and violence.
All students have the right to live and study in an environment of dignity and respect, free from the fear of harassment or violence. We look forward to working with government, institutions and students’ unions to make this a reality.
Olivia Bailey
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Prayer of the Mothers" Song Honors Thousands of Jewish & Arab Women Marching for Peace

“Prayer of the Mothers,” is a song by singer-songwriter Yael Deckelbaum, which mixes in a message from Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, celebrating the “Women Wage Peace” movement.

The movement began during the summer of 2014’s Israeli-Gaza conflict, Operation Protective Edge, in which 73 Israelis and 2,200 Palestinians were killed in 50 days of fighting.

On October 4, 2016, the peace movement began the two week  “March of Hope.” In those two weeks thousands of Jewish and Arab Israeli women marched from the north of Israel to Jerusalem calling for a peace agreement that will be respectful, non-violent and accepted by both sides.
The march culminated on October 19th with over 4,000 women holding a joint Jewish-Muslim prayer for peace in Qasr el Yahud, on the northern end of the Dead Sea. That same evening the group gathered 15,000 of its members for a protest outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem in call for action.

In the video, Leymah Gbowee, who received the peace prize for rallying women to help  end of the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003, offers a blessing for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and call for continuing the struggle to achieve that peace. "Peace is possible when women of integrity and faith stand up for the futures of their children," said Gbowee.
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Thursday, December 8, 2016

The positive impact of gender mainstreaming in academia and research institutions VII/VII

Based on the findings from the national fieldwork at EU Member State level, the following main impact drivers for effective gender mainstreaming in research and higher education institutions were identified:
• Senior leadership and management support
 • A well-equipped and well-located gender equality body
• Involvement of different categories of stakeholders (inside and outside the organisation) • Embedment into existing structures and management procedures
• Setting clear targets and practical objectives
• Flexibility and resilience
 • Availability of sex-disaggregated data
 • Developing competences
• Monitoring and evaluation practices

Promoting institutional changes to achieve gender equality brings benefits at different levels, such as in terms of decision-making procedures, career management schemes, research evaluation procedures, stakeholder cooperation, and research performance. This project concluded that gender equality is understood as essential to the further development in research as well as contributing to the organisation’s competitive edge, as regards attracting talents, securing funding, enhancing research quality and the validity of its potential applications. The benefits of gender equality change in research and higher education institutions relate to the organisations’ visions of a sustainable society and sustainable growth through research and education.

Nevertheless, more efforts are still needed to provide evidence of impact of gender equality initiatives in research and higher education institutions. Institutional changes to achieve gender equality and bringing a gender dimension in research content require a longer timeframe to measure their effectiveness. Both short-term and long-term impacts should be pursued to ensure the mobilisation o f research and higher education institutions over time and to make qualitative and quantitative evidence more noticeable. The development of thorough monitoring and evaluation strategies is therefore crucial to link more systematically qualitative and quantitative improvements to the positive impact of gender mainstreaming and show evidence and benefit of the adopted approaches and transformation.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Good practices promoting the integration of gender equality into academia and research institutions VI/VII

During the research phase of the present project, one to three examples of interesting measures that contribute to promote gender equality in research and higher education institutions were identified in each of the EU Member States. The goal was to set concrete examples that can inspire the work of others throughout the EU. From the 57 examples identified across the EU Member States, 31 practices with potential were chosen. In an expert consultation meeting held in Vilnius in November 2015, 10 ‘good practices’ were selected. The process to select the good practices comprised: 
• Identification of relevant examples at EU Member State level against EIGE’s basic criteria to assess good practices • Consulting stakeholders in an online discussion to define additional qualitative criteria to assess practices with potential • Definition draft qualitative criteria based on the insights gathered at the online discussion • Pre-selection of practices with potential • Organisation of a peer review meeting to decide on a final set of qualitative criteria to assess and select good practices • Re-working the good practices selected at the peer review meeting

The selected good practices provide insightful and detailed information about initiatives aiming at:
• Raising awareness and building competences of staff involved in recruitment and selection processes • Ensuring a balanced representation of women and men in decision-making structures • Rewarding the integration of a gender dimension in research and teaching • Monitoring and evaluating the institution’s progress towards achieving gender equality • Coordinating and providing support to implement gender equality actions in the institution • Promoting a gender-integrated leadership programme • Fostering gender-sensitive practices to support career progression.
More information about the identified practices can be found on the GEAR action toolbox.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Core concepts for Gender Mainstreaming Academia

Women and men shall have equal power to shape society and their own lives. This is the overall objective of the Swedish government’s gender equality policy, ratified by the Swedish Parliament. The term gender equality was introduced in the 1960s in Sweden in order to differentiate between (in)equality based on gender and other inequalities. Gender equality can be said to occur when women and men have the same opportunities, rights and responsibilities in all areas of life. 

National gender equality objectives 

The overall objective of the Swedish government's gender equality policy is equal power for women and men to shape society and their own lives. Four sub-goals have also been formulated: 
1. Equal distribution of power and influence. Women and men shall have the same rights and opportunities to be active citizens and be able to form the terms for decision-making.
 2. Economic equality between the sexes. Women and men shall have the same opportunities and conditions with regard to education and paid work that provide them with the means to achieve lifelong economic independence. 
3. Equal distribution of unpaid care and household work. Women and men shall take the same responsibility for household work and shall have the same opportunities to give and receive care on equal terms. 
4. Men’s violence against women must stop. Women and men, girls and boys shall have the same rights and opportunities in terms of physical integrity.
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Gender Equality Plan V/VII

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Gender Equality Plans in research and higher education institutions in the EU IV/VII

According to the inventory carried out in the framework of this project, over 1,100 research and higher education institutions were implementing Gender Equality Plans in 2015. It is estimated that in total over approximately 1,500 Gender Equality Plans were being implemented in the EU back then. This is because in some institutions, individual departments and research institutes also implement Gender Equality Plans.
Gender Equality Plans are more common in countries where legislation include them as specific legal provisions (see Figure 3). Although they may be set in place in the form of binding legal provisions, Gender Equality Plans are generally categorised as soft policy instruments at the EU level. Despite them being compulsory by law, subsequent processes and measures of adoption and implementation do not entail the same binding nature. This poses challenges to the effective implementation of Gender Equality Plans and hence to the promotion of gender equality in research and higher education institutions.
Internal organisational features have a great impact on the implementation of Gender Equality Plans, such as the resources available, top-management support, capacity to mobilise stakeholders and the different components of the university, as well as decision-making and potential resistances to change. The very objectives of gender equality measures implemented in research and higher education institutions vary depending not only on the status of gender equality within the organisation, but also on its funding, national and international profile, needs in terms of recruitment, audiences and specialisation.
Despite different institutional settings and features, the Gender Equality Plans implemented in research and higher education institutions share some common aspects. The Gender Equality Plans that were more thoroughly analysed for the purpose of this project generally address equality in recruitment, appraisal, career management and access to management positions. On the other hand, a greater or lesser focus is put on work-life balance and other related issues such as building a gender equality culture, preventing sexist language, etc.
Awareness-raising actions are usually planned as part of Gender Equality Plans, although only rarely as part of a broader capacity-building and knowledge transfer strategy. Fighting sexual harassment and gender-based violence, integrating a gender perspective in research and curricula, as well as tackling intersecting inequalities, seem to receive little attention or do not appear to be present at all in many Gender Equality Plans. The lack of monitoring and evaluation instruments, the absence of timelines for implementation and the lack of institutional, human and financial resources to make Plans sustainable are other common features identified.
The Gender Equality Plans developed or enhanced as part of EU-funded institutional change projects are of a distinctive nature. Due to the highly competitive nature and pre-requisites of EU calls, research and higher education institutions applying for EU funding are compelled to build far-reaching, holistic strategies, and to contribute cumulatively to enhance knowledge on gender in research in order to achieve the three objectives set by the European Commission. Evidences of such a qualitative difference were reported for instance in Italy, France or the Netherlands. Additionally, the human and financial resources these EU-funded Gender Equality Plans rely upon enhance their capacity to carry out sophisticated diagnoses and design complex measures, and allow the dissemination of their outputs. The EU-funded institutional change projects and respective Gender Equality Plans also contribute to shaping a community of practitioners driven by common interests, who reveal to be able to act beyond their community.

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