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oD 50.50 Editorial highlights 2015

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Nobel Women's Initiative

"It is not just about hope and ideas, it's about action...Our duty is to have a dream, but work everyday for reality" Shirin Ebadi

The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Laureates. The women are united in bringing together women activists and scholars from around the world in an effort to build a culture of peace, justice and equality.

oD 50.50 has been covering these international gatherings since 2007 in articles written by participants and 50.50 authors. View the full list of articles or browse by yearly coverage.

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A life of hope lived in defiance of violence: Rebecca Masika Katsuva

“They think when they’re raped that their lives are shattered. But we’d like them to know that it’s not the end of the world" - Rebecca Masika Katsuva. (1966 - 2016)

Nobel Women’s Initiative at 10: When We Are Bold

“It is time to stand up, sisters, and do some of the most unthinkable things. We have the power to turn our upsidedown world right.” – Leymah Gbowee

Gloria Steinem: toward a feminist foreign policy

Feminism, when you look at it as Gloria Steinem does, as the recognition of the full humanity and full equality of both men and women, is peace work

Whose work was the inspiration for the first nuke-free country?

New Zealand was the first country in the world to pass national nuclear-free legislation. Marilyn Waring reflects on how Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence culminated in the passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The distance travelled: Beijing, Hillary, and women's rights

Hillary Rodham Clinton will need to listen to the voices of women working at grassroots on the frontline, and be prepared to use her power, should she win, to defend the human rights defenders.

Hope's song: my companion in life's journey

On my way from Zimbabwe to Amsterdam I shared a seat with a man called Musi. He was curious about how I became a feminist and wondered if I was not borrowing western ideology...

Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security

It feels as if the entire world has been given over to the most perverse notions of 'safety'  that are really about death and destruction, cruelty and conflict, grandiosity and greed. 

Iraq's female citizens: prisoners of war

Iraqi woman human rights defender Yanar Mohammed spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference about grass-roots responses to the atrocities women are facing under ISIS.

Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”

Sabeen Mahmud alleviated intellectual poverty until the day she was murdered, 24 April 2015. In an interview with Karima Bennoune in 2010 Mahmud explained why she founded a politico-cultural space in Karachi.

Women human rights defenders: reigniting the embers

The profile of today’s front line activist is different to that of the freedom fighter of old. We need to see her in her wholeness. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in the Netherlands.

Mairead Maguire: breaking the silence on Palestine

Palestinian women human rights defenders and peace makers, in resisting the injustices being perpetrated upon their people, deserve our support and we must each do what we can to break the silence.

A tribute to Joan Kagezi: the murder of a human rights defender

Joan Kagezi was a lead prosecutor in high profile cases in Uganda, including against a former LRA commander and those accused of terrorism. She was shot dead in front of her children last month.

Defending the Defenders: a daunting challenge

Women human rights defenders are under attack. The Nobel Women's Initiative conference convenes today to deepen the understanding of the risks, and to develop strategies to strengthen efforts to defend the defenders.

At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders

Every small act that stands up to patriarchy or to inequality, whether it is asking to go to school, or refusing to marry the man her father chooses, is an act of women's human rights defense.

Women human rights defenders: protecting each other

With the continued failure of the UN to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders twenty years after it was passed, women human rights defenders are still their own best support and protection network.   

Awaiting justice: Indigenous resistance in the tar sands of Canada

The Nation of the Lubicon Cree is on the frontlines of environmental destruction, as it challenges the forces behind resource extraction and environmental and cultural genocide, and seeks justice for all.

"It starts with us": Breaking one of Canada's best kept secrets

A coalition of women human rights defenders in Canada is demanding an end to state complicity, and a culture of impunity in the genocidal violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people.

Iranian women human rights defenders: challenges and opportunities

If President Rouhani honours his promises and 'de-securitises' the general atmosphere, the work of women human rights defenders could lead to significant and tangible change towards ensuring human rights for Iranian citizens.

Shelters without walls: women building protective infrastructures against rape

Women from Colombia, Syria, Nicaragua and Iraq are implementing multi-layered prevention strategies in their communities against rape being used as a weapon of war, offering immediate protection and countering stigma.

Hope as a survival strategy for Defensoras in Honduras

We're living in an undeclared war, staring into the eyes of death daily. People who don’t know the kind of insecurity women human rights defenders confront every day can’t imagine how hope helps us to survive.

Hidden women human rights defenders in the UK

Without recognising the work of women who seek to protect human rights domestically, the UK government risks seeing the activist’s role as a stage of international development rather than as a core function of democracy. 

CSW: the vital need to defend women human rights defenders

We deserve that you put aside your ideological, political and religious differences and fully recognize and affirm the human rights of women and girls and gender justice. Nothing less. Lydia Alpizar speaking at the UN CSW

Women defenders of human rights: the good, the great and the gutsy

Harriet Wistrich is a beacon in the darkness that threatens to engulf the British legal system today with massive cuts in legal aid, and the prevailing culture of disbelief of asylum seekers and women escaping violence.

Claiming rights, facing fire: young feminist activists

The increased violence against young women human rights defenders needs to be matched by funders prepared to respond more directly to the priorities identified by young people. Ruby Johnson says shifting the framework of how funders work with young people is essential.

Our duty to the stranger: Remembering Helen Bamber

Although Helen Bamber has been celebrated as an ‘iconic’ human rights defender, the most fitting way to honour her is to redirect our attention to the marginalised and silenced people to whom she devoted her life. We don’t have to look hard to find them.

Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma

‘How can we get peace and democracy when we still have domestic wars and when everyday people are dying?’ Jessica Nhkum spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast about the importance of documenting human rights violations, injustices and inequality on the ground in Burma

Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process

There is a backlash against women’s agency in Northern Ireland in a number of different ways, all of which impact on the ability of women to participate fully in initiatives intended to deal with the legacy of the past and support the transition out of conflict.

Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee was recently invited to Tripoli to deliver a speech on the role of women in transforming conflict and leading reconciliation in Libya. When she saw who was in the audience, she changed her prepared speech...

From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights

Patriarchy, militarism and neoliberalism have created a matrix in which women and women’s rights can never flourish because none of them place human values and human dignity at their core. Heather McRobie reflects on the conversations at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast.

Japan's peace pledge: a question of sovereignty?

Japan adopted its war-renouncing constitution following World War II, with Article 9 as a promise to itself and a pledge to the world never to repeat its mistakes.

Militarism and non-state actors: ‘the other invasion’

'What they call transnational development companies. For us they represent death and destruction’, yet when it comes to the pursuit of justice through law, too often activists are on the wrong side. Jennifer Allsopp reports from Belfast at the Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference.

What sex means for world peace

Speaking at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference, Valerie Hudson argues that best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. Little analysed in international relations theory, state security and women’s security are inextricably linked.

Challenging militarized masculinities

It is not that ‘masculinity’ generates war, as the question has been put, but rather that the process of militarization both draws on and exaggerates the bipolarization of gender identities in extremis, says Amina Mama 

Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government

The lack of institutional concern for epidemic levels of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt is part of the larger neglect of the issue of gender equality by the post-revolutionary powers, says Heather McRobie. 

"We want peace. We’re tired of war"

"If we live violence every day, how can we work for the development of our country so that we can benefit from human rights like other countries and like other women?"  - Julienne Lusenge speaking about her work as a women's human rights defender in the DRC

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