Ugandan Women Light Torch for Peace

Today a group of Ugandan women began a five-day journey from the capital city of Kampala to the Sudanese city Juba, to support peace negotiations between their government and the Lord's Resistance Army.

Since 1987 the LRA has been fighting the Ugandan government for state control. In 1994 the conflict turned regional as both Sudan and Uganda lent support to armed rebellions in each other's states. The conflict has received little attention in the western media, despite an estimated 12,000 deaths due to violence and the resulting malnutrition caused by political chaos. Since July, the LRA and the Ugandan governments have been engaged in peace talks and resulted in a September ceasefire.

Hope Mwesigye, a Ugandan minister, is joining the women's delegation because she believes that women can help resolve one of the continent's oldest conflicts.

 “I am confident that the Juba peace talks will yield positive results. But of course also as women, we have said that it’s high time that everybody came together irrespective of sex, irrespective of gender relations, irrespective of religion, irrespective of where one comes from, that we could also show our commitment to the process, and by everybody else showing commitment to the process, we hope that we can achieve peace,” Mwesigye said.
 

Women in the House!

Yesterday's U.S. elections brought several key victories for women's rights. As the Democratic party regained control of the House of Representatives — for the first time in 12 years — Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is expected to become the first female speaker of the House! Control of the Senate is still undecided, as Democrats and Republicans watch two close races in Virginia and Montana .

This is one American step in the direction of Liberia and Chile, which have elected women as heads of state in the last year.

South Dakota failed to pass an encompassing piece of legislation which would have banned nearly all abortions in the state. And across the country, pro-choice advocates gained a number of allies.

Internationally the election is seen as a rejection of Bush politics.

 

Will South Dakota Follow in Nicaragua’s Footsteps?

Last month Nicaragua voted to outlaw all abortions under any circumstances. The statewide ballot initiative in South Dakota that would severely restrict abortion stops short of a total ban by making an exception only to save a woman’s life. But if the proposal passes today, women in South Dakota will have more in common with women in Nicaragua than they would with women in neighboring Minnesota a half hour’s drive away.

This would be a public health disaster. Statistics prove that when women's reproductive rights are protected and they have access to safe and legal contraception, reproductive health care and abortion, the actual rates of abortion are much lower than they are in countries where women do not have such rights.

Recently, the Colombian Constitutional Court voted to legalize abortion in cases of rape and incest, and to save the life of the woman when the fetus is expected to die after birth due to severe fetal abnormalities. But most Latin American countries have extremely restrictive abortion laws, usually allowing only the termination of a pregnancy to save a woman’s life or protect her physical health. El Salvador, Chile and, now, Nicaragua, have further undermined women's human rights by banning abortion in all circumstances.

Women’s groups across the region are working together to promote a deeper understanding of how such coercive measures only increase the burden on women and their children. The Global Fund for Women's 19 years of experience in funding and supporting women's human rights shows that the most effective way to decrease the number of abortions is to support efforts to ensure gender equality and justice for women in all aspects of their lives, including education and information about sexuality and reproductive technology.

In a country such as Nicaragua, where, according to The Guardian, a third of new mothers are aged 16 or younger and women cite domestic abuse as one of their biggest problems, this ruling is an invitation for women to break the law and endanger themselves further. A lot is at stake for South Dakotan women on November 7th.  Latin America’s abortion policy is not a precedent to be followed but a red flag to groups like the Global Fund for Women working for women’s rights across the world.

 

Women and War

How does war affect women's lives? Beyond the headlines and the history books, how do women cope with the horrors of war?

If you're looking for stories of women's experiences, two online projects are documenting them. Imagining Ourselves, a project of Global Fund grantee, The International Museum of Women, has launched their newest exhibit, War and Dialogue. The exhibit features stories written by young women in Iraq, India, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan and the United States. The interactive exhibit invites you to join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Women Living with War is another site collecting both women's stories and visual art commenting on war. Lebanese author of Women of Sand and Myrrh, Hanan al-Shaykh writes,

I ought to refuse to scrub the floor or prepare the food, make the bed or water the plant pots. I should let everything in the place die a slow death, and my father and mother would also do better if they stopped eating and living, for why should life continue inside the home when everything outside is collapsing? The apartment itself should fall down, too. Then it could be seen how war pervades the whole of Lebanon.

 

 

$1.6 Million Granted in October 2006

The Global Fund for Women is pleased to announce our autumn grants! After evaluating hundreds of proposals, we have awarded $1.6 million to 125 women's rights organizations in 58 countries. With 59 new grantees this fall, we wanted to highlight some of these remarkable organizations.

Read more »
 
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