#16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence – 25th November – 10 December (annually)

Wednesday 25 November 2020 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and marks the first day  of the 16 Days of Activism.

The 16 days begins with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends with International Human Rights Day on 10 December– highlighting that violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights.

Where this all started…..  On 25 November 1960, sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, three political activists who actively opposed the cruelty and systematic violence of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, were clubbed to death and dumped at the bottom of a cliff by Trujillo’s secret police.

The Mirabal sisters became symbols of the feminist resistance, and in commemoration of their deaths 25 November was declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Latin America in 1980. This international day was formally recognised by the United Nations in 1999.

In June 1991, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), alongside participants of the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence and Human Rights, called for a global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

During the 16 Days of Activism, people around the world will unite to raise awareness about gender-based violence, challenge discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women for good.

UNGA 3rd Committee Resolution on women and girls’ rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights

[Source International Planned Parenthood Federation]

3rd Committee Session UNGA

The United Nations General Assembly Third Committee is one of six main committees at the General Assembly of the United Nations. It deals with human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters. The Third Committee meets every year in early October and aims to finish its work by the end of November.

The Third Committee is a critical intergovernmental space with the full membership of the United Nations (UN), which agrees on normative standards and frameworks on human rights, gender and sexual and reproductive health and rights. IPPF closely followed the negotiations on intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, child early and forced marriage (CEFM), women and girls and Covid-19, intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), efforts to end obstetric fistula and trafficking of women and girls.

Despite attempts to weaken and/or risk the longstanding agreements made in Cairo, Beijing and in the Agenda 2030, the vast majority of the UN membership supported the adoption of the texts as negotiated.

The Member States showed resounding commitment to upholding the principles of gender equality, preventing and combating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), fulfilling women and girls’ rights, including SRHR, as demonstrated in the adoption of all gender-related resolutions and in the six separate cross-regional statements delivered on behalf of about 70 countries at the adoption sessions of the Committee.

Member States adopted  language that acknowledged the impact of Covid-19 on increased levels of violence, CEFM and ensured coordinated and strong responses in responding to the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of women and girls specifically during the pandemic. The resolution addressing the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls makes fundamental calls for Governments to ensure women and girls’ access to justice, SRHR and comprehensive sexuality education, while recognizing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as the most prevalent and least visible form of violence against women across all social strata across the world.

Gone too Soon – Vale Dr Netatua Prescott Taufatofua

Vale Dr Netatua Prescott Taufatofua          photo credit loop pacific

Dr Netatua Prescott Taufatofua, a distinguished Tongan scientist, passed away suddenly in Nuku’alofa, Tonga on 11 November.  She was a beloved and well respected leader in the community and Country, especially among the women of Kolomotu’a who have been energized by her vision and leadership.

Netatua is well known for her work regionally and internationally, but Dr. Netatua most valued her local contribution to Tonga, not only in her projects and consulting work with the World Bank, but also her engagement with the Government of Tonga.

Among her many achievements, last year she was selected to be one of an elite group of 15 international experts who make up the World Meteorological Organization Scientific Advisory Panel (WMOSAP).   Running as a political candidate she narrowly lost (by 16 votes) the  2019 Tongatapu 1 By-Election against Siaosi Pohiva. This was after the death of former Prime Minister, the late ‘Akilisi Pohiva, who died in September that year.

I met Netatua when she was Director of Climate Change Division at the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment (SPREP) with head office in Apia, Samoa. She was a vibrant,  inspiring and strong Pacific Voice, working her magic at international discussions regarding action against Climate Change to create opportunities for dialogue and action. She was a strong and inspirational leader, who truly understood the power of community connections and shared her passions and knowledge in such a way that everyone felt all the richer for being in her presence.

Our deepest condolences go to her husband, Dr Pita Taufatofua, her children Siosi’ana and Filimone, her family, friends and communities in Tonga and across the world.  Your legacy lives on in all those you inspired along the way.  Gone too soon.

Vale Dr Netatua Prescott Taufatofua

CEDAW Committee Updates (Nov 2020)


APWW wishes to congratulate the incoming and re-elected CEDAW Committee Members.  We acknowledge the outstanding support of candidates from the Asia Pacific Region,  Ms Bandana Rana (Nepal) and Ms Rosario G Manalo (Philippines) for their re-election to the  committee.  We   welcome incoming CEDAW members  Ms Natasha Stott-Despoja AO, (Australia)  and Ms Xia Jie (China).    APWW looks forward to working with you and other committee members as you progress through your office.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  The CEDAW Committee consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world.

Bandana Rana
Rosario G Manalo
Natasha Stott Despoja AO
Xia Jie






The CEDAW Committee Elections took place on the 9 Nov 2020. The following 11 candidates out of 18 nominees were elected / re-elected:

Nicole Ameline,(France), Marion Bethel (Bahamas), Leticia Bonifaz Alfonzo (Mexico), Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen (Netherlands), Hilary Gbedmemah (Ghana), Nahla Haida El Addal (Lebanon), Dalia Leinarte (Lithuania), Rosario G Manalo (Philippine), Bandana Rana (Nepal), Natasha Stott-Despojer (Australia), Jie Xia (China)

The new members of the Committee are

Leticia Bonifaz Alfonzo (Mexico),  Natasha Stott -Despojer (Australia),  Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen (Netherlands) and Jie Xia (China).



GENERATION EQUALITY : Mexico announces the Generation Equality Forum confirmed dates

Mexico, October 15, 2020

Mexico announces the Generation Equality Forum confirmed dates

The Forum will take place in Mexico City in March 2021

The activities will continue in Paris, France, in June 2021

Given current COVID-19 restrictions, travel bans and costs to fly – how should we mobilise in the Asia and Pacific region?  What are your thoughts…




The women, peace and security (WPS) agenda is anchored in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) with strategic objectives and actions outlined under “Women and armed conflict”, and with specific reference to women in crisis situations and young women. Following the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on WPS, nine additional Security Council resolutions on WPS have been adopted, as well as CEDAW General Recommendation 30 (2013) on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post conflict situations.

In the context of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and Generation Equality Forum, as well as the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325, a WPS-HA Compact will harness the existing extensive normative framework on WPS and HA and accompanying institutional and coordinating mechanisms, to action and realise commitments on WPS and humanitarian action. The Compact will put in place a voluntary multi-stakeholder monitoring and accountability process engaging key global, regional and national players to help narrow the gap between aspirations and concrete actions on WPS and humanitarian action, while ensuring that existing global and regional processes are harnessed for national and local engagement and action.

More information and Concept Note click here


APWWmeet Series 2020 – Beijing+25 in the time of COVID19 Webinar

As part of the Asia Pacific Women’s Watch (APWW) APWWmeet Series 2020 this forum focussed on the ongoing gender impact of COVID-19 in the Asia and Pacific.

Across the Pacific and Asia, women and girls in all their diversity are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Existing gender inequalities are exacerbated during a crisis, with the result that women and girls are not only undertaking more unpaid domestic work, are less able to access essential health services, are more vulnerable to economic hardships, are experiencing ever-rising rates of violence, sexual abuse and control from their husbands, partners and families/kinship groups, and they are not at the table in designing the national pandemic strategies. Women in all their diversity are losing ground to previous gains and are experiencing shrinking democratic spaces. The impacts of COVID-19 restrictions are creating a disproportionate impact on members of our society due to our delay in creating equitable societies.

The Video of the event  and more information can be found here 

GENERATION EQUALITY – Global Committee Members


The Civil Society Advisory Group for Generation Equality (CSAG) was chosen through a civil society-led process that was completely independent of the UN. It was open to all organisations working on gender equality and women’s human rights. The final decision made on the composition of the CSAG was produced by the selection committee on the basis of careful consideration and considerable debate.

The 5-person Selection Committee was made up of individuals who volunteered for this task in response to a repeated call, made in a series of emails and conference calls managed by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, New York (NGO-CSW/NY) about the Beijing Plus 25 process, in June 2019.

From 136 applicants the following applicants were chosen:


  • Hakima Abbas  – Association of Women in Development (AWID)
  • Shannon Kowalski     –  International Women’s Health Coalition

Regional (Asia Pacific)

  • Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls   – Shifting the Power Coalition & Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
  • Sivananthi Thanenthiran  – ARROW (Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women)

Regional (Africa)

  • Memory Kachambwa   – FEMNET – African Women’s Development and Communication Network
  • Kuwonu Afiwa Kafui    – Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF)

Regional (Europe)

  • Sophie Beria    – YouAct – European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  • Xenia Kellner   – Young Feminist Europe

Regional (Middle East and North Africa)

  • Fatma Khafagy    –  Egyptian Feminist Union
  • Gharsanay Ibnul Ameen  –  Youth Empowerment and Leadership Organization

Regional (Latin America)

  • Mabel Bianco –  Foundation for Studies and Research on Women (Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer, FEIM)
  • Gia Gaspard Taylor   – Network of Rural Women Producers – Trinidad and Tobago


  • Bertha Cecilia Garcia Cienfuegos   –  Asociación Regional Mujeres Ingenieras
  • Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh     –  Women for a Change
  • Jessica Stern    –  OutRight Action International
  • Chidi King   – International Trade Union Confederation
  • Phelister Abdalla   –  Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA)
  • Sascha Gabizon    – Women Engage for a Common Future
  • Jeanne Hefez    – Ipas
  • Naiara Leite Costa  – Articulação de Organizações de Mulheres Negras Brasileiras
  • Houry Geudelekian     –  NGO-CSW NY

For Advisory Group Bios click here



Vale – Lee Hyo-jae – Peace activist and researcher into the Korean “comfort women” from WWII

Vale Lee Hyo Jae
photo credit NY Times

Professor Lee, who died on 4th Oct. 2020 at the age of 95 years, At her death she was a professor emeritus of sociology at the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul, where she inspired generations of young women. She founded the sociology department at Ewha in 1956. She began teaching the school’s first course in women’s studies in 1977, which led to the development of South Korea’s first graduate level women’s studies program.

Ms Lee was a remarkable woman and an inspirational ground breaker who pushed against social convention to fight for justice and equality her whole life.   In the 1940’s, when she was a young woman, her parents brought her to Seoul for an arranged marriage, but Ms. Lee ran away, believing marriage would interfere with her ambitions. She never married.  In 1945 she travelled with her sister, Hyo-suk

to the USA for a college education.  Despite not speaking English they sought assistance to attend the University of Alabama and Ms Lee went onto earn a bachelors degree from Alabama and a Masters degree in Sociology from Colombia University before returning to South Korea in 1957.

She founded the sociology department at Ewha the following year. She began teaching the school’s first course in women’s studies in 1977, which led to the development of South Korea’s first graduate level women’s studies program. Professor Lee was a prominent activist and a founder of women’s studies programs. Many of her students became leading feminists and rose to key positions in liberal governments.

Professor Lee turned down a number of offers to enter politics, preferring her roles as a teacher and an activist. In her later years, she helped found the Miracle Library, a national network of libraries aimed at children and teens in rural areas.

Professor Lee was lauded her bravery for taking up the cause of human rights and democratisation in a dictatorial era.  She was especially passionate about the cause of the “comfort women.” who were taken for use as sex slaves during World War II. As many as 200,000 women from Korea and other Asian countries were conscripted as sex slaves for Japanese troops beginning in the 1930s.  After decades of denial, the Japanese government in 1992 acknowledged its involvement, and South Korea and Japan reached a settlement in 2015 that involved an apology from the Japanese government and $8.3 million to provide care for the surviving women, who numbered around 45 at the time.

Restorative justice for ‘Comfort women’ was only one of many causes taken up by Professor Lee, one of South Korea’s foremost activists on behalf of women’s rights and democracy.  She helped abolish South Korea’s patriarchal naming system, a reform that allowed people to use two surnames to reflect their heritage from both parents, not just the father’s. She helped establish a requirement that half of a party’s candidates running for the National Assembly be women. She pushed for equal pay for equal work.

In 1995 Professor Lee was among a group of 30 female activists, including Gloria Steinem and the Nobel Peace laureates Leymah Gbowee and Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, who received international attention for making a rare trip  across the Demilitarized Zone separating the North and South to promote disarmament and peace between the two countries, which are technically still at war.

After her death, President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, “In the dark times when the stars were brighter, she was one of the most brilliant.” He posthumously awarded her a national medal, an honour she declined in 1996 because the same medal was being given to someone whom she believed to be a government agent planted in the women’s movement.

We thank and honour you for your work, your leadership and for who you were in this world Lee Hyo-jae and hold you in the spirit of the feminist sisterhood.

Our condolences to your family, friends, colleagues and community.

Vale Lee Hyo-jae

ARROW Statement – The time is now to accelerate the realisation of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls!


APWW Endorsed Statement by ARROW

Twenty-five years ago this month, at the occasion of the Fourth World Conference on Women, representatives of governments and activists from across the globe came together to produce the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Through this instrumental outcome document, the platform gave us commitments in twelve critical areas of concern, envisioning gender equality in all dimensions, and a world where each woman and girl can exercise their freedoms and choices and realise all their rights.

Twenty-five years on, no country has fully realised this agenda, and many are far from reaching the goal of achieving gender equality. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges, it has exposed the existing multidimensional inequalities, reinforced long standing gender inequality with an increased severity and disproportionately impacting women and girls.  In Asia and the Pacific alone there has been an increase in unpaid care and domestic work, job and income loss, the effects of the lockdown have been seen on gender-based violence related risk, forced marriage and interrupted access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.[i]

Women today in all their diversities remain marginalised and denied their human rights. Even before COVID-19, patriarchal, militaristic, and authoritarian governments were rising across the region leading to increased attacks on feminists and women and environmental human rights defenders. Women and girls continue to be made systemically invisible in decision making spaces including decisions regarding their own bodies which has made it impossible to uphold sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all.

Gender equality does not just require addressing discrimination against women and girls, but also dismantling existing structures, social norms and institutions that replicate and promote the binary of femininity and masculinity, and centering people’s freedom, safety and dignity. The principles and actions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are more relevant and important today than ever if we want to build back better.

At this pivotal juncture, we urge member states to recommit to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to ensure acceleration of actions to achieve gender equality in a measurable and meaningful way for all women and girls

Full Statement click here 

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