Women and Children

The Situation

Violence Against Women and Girls

Gender-based violence against women – female infanticide, sexual trafficking and exploitation, dowry killings and domestic violence – causes more death and disability among women in the 15 to 44 age group than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. [Center for Women Policy Studies, 2003]

Over the past 30 years, 30 million women and children have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. [United Nations, 2003]

An estimated 130 million women worldwide have undergone Female Genital Mutilation and 2 million more are mutilated every year. 98% of Somali women have been mutilated. [Center for Reproductive Rights, 2004]

Up to 47% of women report that their first sexual intercourse was forced. [World Health Organization, 2002]

Health Status

More than half a million women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth every year. 99% of these deaths occur in the developing world.
[World Health Organization, 2004]

Of the estimated 40 million people worldwide living with HIV, about 2/3 are in sub- Saharan Africa, and young women are 2.5 times more likely to be infected as their male counterparts.[BBC News, 2003]

Access to Education

Of an estimated 115 million children who currently do not attend primary school, girls make up 57%. [United Nations, 2003]

A recent study shows that increases in women’s education made the greatest contribution to reducing the rate of child malnutrition, accounting for 43% of the total reduction. [United Nations Population Fund, 2002]

Political Power

In 2003, at least 54 countries had discriminatory laws against women. [Amnesty International, 2003]

Women hold only 6.4% of the seats in Arab states’ Parliaments, 14.4% of seats in sub- Saharan African, 17.6% of seats in Europe and 18.5% of seats in the Americas. [Women’s Learning Partnership, 2002]

Economic Status

Only 1% of the world’s assets are in the name of women. [Women’s Learning Partnership, 2003]

2.1 billion women live on less than two dollars a day, and 330 million women live on less than a dollar a day. [Center for Women Policy Studies, 2003]

In the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, only 40 women per 100 men are economically active in the formal economy. [US News Center, 2004]


Trafficking in Women and Children

Trafficking of human beings is a crime against humanity which requires a response, particularly from those who want to stand in solidarity with the most needy in our world. The international community has declared trafficking as a crime and countries are at various stages of implementing legislation to enshrine the UN Protocol which defines trafficking as:

‘Trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

(Article 3, UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime)

 Not For Sale_

Trafficking Information

The JPIC Commission of the Union of the Superiors General (USG/UISG) has produced an Information and Workshop Kit on this issue.

I Am Miriam, an anti-human trafficking video hosted on the Against Humanity website

Dressed to Kill?

It is a little known fact that men and women, boys and girls are trafficked to work in the cotton industry. It is also a fact that most people do not consider this when buying their clothes. Lured in by

fashionable clothes do we stop and think about how the cotton is spun, dyed and woven in factories? Likewise are businesses aware of the unethical and at times criminal behavior of their suppliers? A report by LexisNexis® and STOP THE TRAFFIK to investigate the link between cotton and human trafficking. Dressed_to_kill

The Girls from Albania

In the tiny and poor village of Fushara in northern Albania, the girls are disappearing. Frane Bicaku’s teenage daughter Valentina, vanished from their home nearly a year ago. She hasn’t been heard of since.

Gjin Lieshi lost two daughters – one was 15 and the other 17. He says that they were taken by two men who promised to marry them. Instead the girls wound up as teenage prostitutes on the streets of Italy, smuggled there by the Albanian mafia. It happens almost every day in Albania, in just about every town and village. “They are kidnapped mostly” said Lydia Bici of the International Catholic Migration Commission. “The minors are kidnapped mostly from discos and bars and even from schools.” In some of the villages families have stopped sending their teenage girls to school fearing that they could be kidnapped and taken to a world they cannot imagine.

“A majority of the women who are trafficked are under 18 years old” says Sophie Mosko of Save The Children. “They’re demanded younger and younger in the sex trade because there’s less fear of AIDS.” There are now about 30,000 Albanian prostitutes walking the streets of Europe. In a country of only about 3 million people, that is almost one percent of the Albanian population. It is believed that most of these prostitutes were trafficked into Europe as children.

Two years ago 15 year old Mariana Lieshi was lured away from her home by a local shop owner who said that he wanted to take her to Italy to marry her. For three weeks her parents heard nothing. Then they received a horrifying letter in which Mariana told her parents she had first been driven to the northern Albania city of Skhoder, where the man who had said that he wanted to marry her said that there would be no marriage. His true plan was to sell her as a prostitute. When she resisted he took out a knife and forced her to go with them. Like most of the future prostitutes smuggled out of Albania, Mariana was taken to the southern port city of Vlore, the epicentre of the country’s smuggling industry. From there it is only approximately 70 miles across the Adriatic Sea, a journey the traffickers can cover in less than 2 hours in high speed boats. According to the Albanian police the boats carry more than 40 people at a time.

When they reach Italy the girls are sold to the pimp. Their value is then determined by their age, beauty and experience. “A young virgin-like girl by the time she gets to Italy could be worth as much as $10,000” said Degan Ali of the International Organization for Migration. “She’s a real investment.” One former prostitute who was kidnapped at the age of 17 said that even though she made about $500 a night her pimp took it all. One night he found money tucked in her underwear and having drugged her he beat her until she was unconscious.

With Mariana trapped in Italy, back in Albania tragedy was striking the Lieshi family once again. Mariana’s 17 year old sister was also kidnapped and this time a third sister, Marta, told the police who did it. Shortly after that, her father says, Mariana was brutally killed. Her dismembered body was found in a bag by the river. The killers have never been caught.

(ABCNEWS.com, 21 May 2002)

What is Trafficking?

Trafficking is twenty-first century slavery. Trafficking in persons is the illegal trade in human beings through abduction, the use of threat of force, deception, fraud or “sale” for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labour. It involves transporting people, primarily women and children, within and across borders. Trafficking exists in every country. Vulnerable women and children, and sometimes men, are trafficked to work in every facet of the sex industry, in domestic roles, in restaurants, in factories, in fields and in sweat shops. In some cases they are even sold for body parts.

An accepted international definition of trafficking is found in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children supplementing the Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime which says:

a. “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at the minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;

b. the consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;

c. the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;

d. “Child” shall mean any person less than eighteen years of age.

(Article 3)

The promise of an improved economic situation, a way of supporting parents and families in villages and of escape from situations of conflict, lures people from impoverished and low-income households in rural areas and urban slums to become the easy prey of traffickers.

The Global Reality

Every year up to 4 million persons, mainly women and children, are trafficked across international borders
More than 2 million girls aged between 5 and 15 are coerced, sold or trafficked into the illegal sex market
Well over $10 billion (US) a year is generated from sex trade and trafficking
In developing countries with economies in transition young women are entrapped in the slave trade each year
In the last 30 years, trafficking in women and children in Asia for sexual exploitation has victimised over 30 million people
Trafficking in human persons is the fastest growing form of transnational crime – it is the second most lucrative form of illegal trade, after drugs and before arms.

(Taken from the Religious Congregations’ Anti Trafficking Working Group Proposal to ACLRI, June 2005)

Trafficking of women and girls is one of the largest commercial enterprises in the world. Trafficking and slavery are linked to other crimes – drug trafficking, human smuggling, rape, torture and money laundering. The FBI reports that, in the USA alone, trafficking and slavery generate $9.5 billion a year.

The Causes of Trafficking

Looking at both the supply and demand factors that foster the growth of trafficking can identify some of the causes of trafficking. Such causes can be further categorised into different aspects of life such as socio-cultural, economic and political.
Supply Side Demand Side

Illiteracy, and inadequate educational and employment opportunities as well as lack of gender perspective in education.
Patriarchy, which is the main cause for the discrimination of women and girl-children.
Erosion of traditional family values, and the pursuit of consumerism encourages the sale of women and children.
Racial discrimination, racism and related intolerance which makes the women from such communities more vulnerable to trafficking.
The media and new technologies which through advertising and the commercialisation of sex, present women’s bodies as objects solely for sexual pleasure.


Male attitudes and perceptions of women in society, and women’s unequal socio-economic status.
Pornography and its role in the growth in demand for sex. This is coupled with an ever increasing use of the internet as its vehicle and as a means for traffickers to market women and children.
Patriarchy resulting in the unequal power relations between men and women and in the discrimination of women.
Consumerist behaviour with the commodification and commercialisation of sex leading to the consideration of women’s bodies as commodities and objects of sexual pleasure.


Economic disparities within countries, and between countries and regions which is the primary cause for the growth in trafficking in women.
Feminisation of poverty because women constitute 70% of the world’s poor and they support their families through precarious employment in the growing informal sector.
Globalisation and its differential impact on women through economic restructuring and transition with cuts on social spending which affect women.
Economic liberalisation which relaxes controls, opens borders between countries, facilitating population mobility and illegal migration.
A lucrative business with high monetary returns because women are sold and resold a number of times. At the same time there are less dangers of being apprehended and this attracts crime syndicates.
Downfall of communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe and the difficulties in relation to an economy in transition.


Demand by employers for an unskilled and cheap labour market. Women’s labour is usually in low status work in the domestic and entertainment spheres and in the informal sector.
An expanding commercial sex industry and increased demand for sex. The variety of ways it merchandises women and children are: prostitution, sex trafficking, sex tourism, mail-order bride, strip clubs, topless bars and so on. The growth in the child sexual exploitation is due to male client preferences for younger women and girls because of the fear of HIV infection.
Development policies promoting tourism, and patterns of development that depend on temporary migrant workers.


Feminisation of International Migration as women enter the labour market, together with the lack of regulation for labour migration which provides increased opportunities and channels for trafficking.
Civil and military conflicts push people to flee their countries. Of the 25 million refugees in the world 80% are women and children. They become an easy prey in the hands of the traffickers.
The growth of transnational crime, and the expansion of drug trafficking networks act as mechanisms for other forms of exploitation.
Weak law enforcement mechanisms and measures to penalise offenders.
Corruption by police, law enforcers, officials and peacemakers.


Military bases both past and present have created an enormous prostitution infrastructure.
Unequal and exploitative political and economic relations dictated by the North which results in the deterioration of conditions of life in the South.
Restrictive migration policies which have decreased the possibilities for regular migration.
Sales of arms and the increase of armed conflict within and between countries with the consequent increase of displaced people and refugees who fall victims to traffickers.
Weak law enforcement mechanisms and measures to penalise offenders.

(Taken from the Trafficking in Women and Children Information and Workshop Kit, produced by the JPIC Commission of the Union of the Superiors General, pages 17-18)

Trafficking Mechanisms and Techniques

Trafficking Networks

are widespread, complex, operate underground and are often out of the reach of the legal system
are constantly changing and often follow migration patterns
are difficult to identify – traffickers are adept at avoiding detection and escaping arrest
are hidden – because those trafficked are illegal migrants, they remain silent and undiscovered for fear of reprisals from traffickers, and deportation
have extensive complicity of corrupt State officials
are facilitated by technological advances such as telephone, fax, internet, expanding the scope of international transactions and use new communications and information technologies through which they can easily buy, sell and exchange millions of images and videos
are organised information networks between mafias operating in countries of origin, transit and destination.

Key agents

Many persons are involved in the trafficking business, from the initial recruitment and procurement of women and children, to their widespread movement across borders. They include:

agents in the trafficking networks
tour operators and travel agencies (“front” businesses)
employment agents
foremen and trafficking gangs
crime syndicates with bases in many countries
bar madams, local women recruiters
parents, relatives and friends
school teachers
villagers and village headmen
“mamasans”, brothel owners
pimps and procurers
customers, clients, bar owners
corrupt officials (e.g. police, customs, immigration, peace keepers, border patrollers).

Some trafficking techniques

local contacts: traffickers enlist the help of local persons and villagers to identify vulnerable families. They make contacts with unsuspecting women and children around bus and train stations
direct sale: women and children are sold to traffickers by parents or other family members
deceit: unscrupulous agents deceive parents, lure women and girls with false promises of well-paid work in cities or marriages to rich partners
debt bondage: economic incentives to parents and arrangements which bind children and young women into sex-slavery or other exploitative forms of labour, though details of these debt terms are ill defined
kidnap: criminal gangs or middlemen kidnap women and children, force them to work against their will, and often sell them to brothels
falsification of documents: false documents and passports make it difficult to identify and trace trafficked persons
bribes: commonly paid to various officials or police to procure false documents, or at border crossings
transportation: women and children are transported by foot, motorcycles, mini-buses and pick-up vans, and boats.

(Taken from the Trafficking in Women and Children Information and Workshop Kit, produced by the JPIC Commission of the Union of the Superiors General, pages 20-21)

International Conference on Trafficking

Letter from John Paul II

In a recent letter to Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran on the occasion of the International Conference “Twenty-first Century Slavery – The Human Rights Dimension to Trafficking in Human Beings”, Pope John Paul II said the following:

The trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offence against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. Already the Second Vatican Council had pointed to “slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, and disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than free and responsible persons”, as “infamies” which “poison human society, debase their perpetrators” and constitute “a supreme dishonour to the Creator” (Gaudium et Spes #27). Such situations are an affront to fundamental values that are shared by all cultures and peoples, values rooted in the very nature of the human person.

(Taken from the Trafficking in Women and Children Information and Workshop Kit, produced by the JPIC Commission of the Union of the Superiors General, page 26)

Prayer for an End to Trafficking

O God, our words cannot express
what our minds can barely comprehend
and our hearts feel
when we hear of women and girls deceived
and transported to unknown places
for purposes of sexual exploitation and abuse
because of human greed and profit
at this time in our world.
Our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry
that their dignity and rights are being transgressed
through threats, deception and force.
We cry out against the degrading practice of trafficking
and pray for it to end.
Strengthen the fragile-spirited and broken-hearted.
Make real your promises to fill these sisters
with a love that is tender and good
and send the exploiters away empty-handed.
Give us the wisdom and courage
to stand in solidarity with them
that together we will find ways
to the freedom that is your gift to all of us.

(School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), Trafficking Reflection Booklet, Canadian Province, page 10)

Declaration of the Religious Women participating in Congress 2008

“Women Religious in Network Against Trafficking in Persons”
International Union of Superiors General

Organized in Rome 2 – 6 June 2008 by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the International Organization for Migrants (IOM)

We 47 participant members of 29 Religious Congregations representing the National, Regional and International networks in more than 30 countries, have come together to share experiences, discuss, reflect and pray about our delicate mission of counter trafficking in persons.

We denounce the crime of Trafficking in persons and
proclaim it as a grave offense against the dignity of the person and
a serious violation of human rights.

As religious women in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who suffer the consequences of this evil we will not remain silent.

We strongly condemn this crime, addressing ourselves first of all to the Governments of the countries of origin, transit and destination in which our sisters and brothers are sold and rendered objects of this modern form of slavery.

We call on governments to be responsible not only to make laws against trafficking and to protect the victims, but also to implement these laws at all levels and to allocate adequate resources to combat this crime. It is their responsibility to activate national and international networks capable of effectively counteracting this trafficking in persons.

We urge Catholic Episcopal Conferences, National Conferences of Religious and Catholic and non Catholic communities, to take a stance and commit themselves with renewed energy for the defense of the rights of these sisters and brothers and to denounce all forms of trafficking.

To network with other social, civilian, religious and political organizations.

To strengthen existing efforts and initiatives
To maximize resources for the prevention, protection, assistance, awareness-raising and condemnation of trafficking in persons
To continue to develop educative programs that awaken the consciousness of people to this phenomenon.

We know that only by working in collaboration and solidarity will we be able to confront the structural causes that generate trafficking.

This mission obliges us to take a prophetic stance that requires of us continuous conversion and change of mentality.

We renew our commitment to promote the dignity of every person as a response to Christ’s words:

“I have come that they may have life, life in its fullness” (John 10:10)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights - 1948

Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948. The articles that are applicable to the issue of trafficking in women and children are:

Article 4
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude, slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Information and Workshop Kit

Copies of the Trafficking in Women and Children Information and Workshop Kit can be purchased from:

JPIC Commission of the USG/UISG
Via Aurelia 476, cp9099 (Aurelio)
00100 Rome Italy

Email: jpic@mclink.it

Cost of the Kit: 8 Euro plus postage

Related Websites

International Conventions

The United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, 1949 (Entry into force: 31 July 1951)

The Convention consolidates other international agreements concluded on this issue since 1904. The main objective of the Convention is to provide effective measures against all forms of trafficking in women and the exploitation of prostitution. For the first time in an international instrument, the Convention declares prostitution and the traffic in persons to be incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and to endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community.

The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995

The fourth critical area of concern “Violence Against Women” has an objective specifically reserved for trafficking in women for prostitution followed by the definition of actions to be taken by the different actors. The objective and the corresponding actions recommended are as follows:

Strategic objective D.3
Eliminate trafficking in women and assist victims of violence due to prostitution and trafficking.

Actions to be taken
130. By governments of countries of origin, transit and destination, regional and international organisations, as appropriate:

  1. Consider the ratification and enforcement of international conventions on trafficking in persons and on slavery;
  2. Take appropriate measures to address the root factors, including external factors, that encourage trafficking in women and girls for prostitution and other forms of commercialized sex, forced marriages and forced labour, in order to eliminate trafficking in women, including by strengthening existing legislation with a view to providing better protection of the rights of women and girls and to punishing the perpetrators, through both criminal and civil measures;
  3. Step up cooperation and concerted action by all the relevant law enforcement authorities and institutions with a view to dismantling national, regional and international networks in trafficking;
  4. Allocate resources to provide comprehensive programmes designed to heal and rehabilitate into society victims of trafficking, including through job training, legal assistance and confidential health care, and take measures to cooperate with nongovernmental organisations to provide for the social, medical and psychological care of the victims of trafficking;
  5. Develop educational and training programmes and policies and consider enacting legislation aimed to preventing sex tourism and trafficking, giving special emphasis to the protection of young women and children.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989 (Entry into force: 2 September 1990)

The most relevent articles of the Convention concerning trafficking in children especially girls for sexual exploitation are:

Article 34
States Parties undertake to protect the Child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

  1. The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
  2. The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
  3. The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

Article 35
States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.

Article 39
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflict. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.


Downloads & Resources

Clinching the gender-responsive implemenation of the 2030 Agenda

Sustainable Development Goals through the Gender Lens

Empowering Girls by Joe Morrow, IPA Volunteer

Empowering Girls
By Joe Morrow, IPA Volunteer

Joe MorrowAt the Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing in 1995, a platform for action to tackle gender inequality was adopted by the 189 states that were UN members at the time. This was a watershed moment for women’s rights in the UN as it signalled a renewed political focus and commitment to improving the lives of women the world over. It was not only important for women, however, as the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) brought the issues of the ‘Girl Child’ onto the international stage for the first time. Through vigorous advocacy from civil society organisations, the BPfA expressly mentioned girls in addition to women throughout the document, and section L of the document was devoted to the ‘girl child’. This was a recognition of the particular challenges that girls face, related to but distinct from many of the inequalities affecting women, and raised the consciousness of the member states on the need to mainstream these concerns throughout domestic and international policy.

Central to the effort to bring the particular challenges facing girls was the formation of and advocacy by the Working Group on Girls (WGG). The WGG is a coalition of over 80 national and international non-governmental organizations with representation at the United Nations dedicated to promoting the human rights of the girl child in all areas and stages of her life, advancing the inclusion and status of girls and assisting them to develop their full potential as women. The activities of the WGG support the following aims: 

  • Advocating for the ongoing inclusion and development of girls’ rights in the work of the United Nations system and structures and in international agreements;
  • Promoting the active participation of girls as agents of change in their own lives, families, communities and societies
  • Ensuring that member states successfully implement their commitments to implementing girls’ rights, through monitoring national action plans, policy statements, program development, and resource allocation

International Presentation Association is a proud and active member of the WGG. As part of our advocacy, we follow the work and publications of commissions, high level meetings, the Third Committee of the General Assembly and UN agencies. We then facilitate and share fact sheets on the potentialities and also the risks that are unique to girls, communicate our input to resolutions of the Third Committee members, work of the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as UN agencies who focus on women and children in order to make girls more visible. Further to this, we attempt early contact with key members of the UN and UN agencies, visits key permanent missions, suggesting language via e-mail and engage in discussion with UN agencies about the need to recognize the unique needs and contributions of girls to society.

The importance of mainstreaming girls concerns through the work of the UN cannot be overstated. Girls often face an intersection of multiple forms of discrimination, the only way to combat this is to bring the discrimination to light and empower girls to take command of their destiny. Empowered girls today will become the leaders of a more equitable and inclusive society tomorrow.


Fostering Regional and Feminist Solidarities for Justice

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action-Summary

Women and the Church

Mary Coloe pbvmOn 3 September 2010 Mary Coloe pbvm delivered the Inaugural Morgan Howe Memorial Address in Brisbane Australia. Click here to read Mary’s address: “A matter of justice and necessity”: Women’s Participation: A Prophetic Challenge to the Contemporary Church.

Call to Action & Prevention Kit - Women's World Summit Foundation

preventionWomen’s World Summit Foundation is offering the Call to Action & Prevention Kit which includes a list of 19 abuse themes, which need urgent prevention measures, as well as information and ideas for action.

Researchers Create Validated Tool to Identify Victims of Human Trafficking

Developed over the last seven yearssalvery in collaboration with 11 victim service organizations, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Trafficking Victim Identification Tool has been tested with a diverse sample of potential victims of trafficking and found reliable in predicting labor and sex trafficking. The tool is divided into a long and short version, both statistically reliable.

Demilitarisation and Disarmament Are Essential Components for Achieving Gender Equality

You Get What you Pay ForAchieving gender equality requires examining root causes of inequality and finding ways to overcome them. One cause of inequality is militarism. Excessive global military spending feeds into a vicious cycle of societal instability, creating an unsuitable environment to pursue gender equality. We get what we pay for. An overtly strong military presence creates insecurity. Thus demilitarisation and disarmament are essential components for achieving gender equality. Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom Publication

Way of the Cross: Liliana’s Story

way of the crossLiliana’s Story: A Reflection on the Trafficking of Human Persons

Way of the Cross: Reflection of Trafficking

“The trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offence against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights.” John Paul II

Women in the World Today

book cover

Women in the World Today: This book is based on the 12 critical areas of concern identified at the Beijing Conference.

When a Girl Becomes Pregnant

pregant girl

When a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future change radically, and rarely for the better. Her education may end, her job prospects evaporate, and her vulnerabilities to poverty, exclusion and dependency multiply.

Motherhood in Childhood

Happy Women's Day


Locals prepare for the visit of Savior Kasukuwere, the ZANU-PF minister overseeing the process known as indigenization, at the Manjolo Primary School where he will present villagers with checks totaling $100,000 for local programs in Binga, Zimbabwe, April 14, 2012. President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, are pushing for a new law requiring black Zimbabweans to own 51 percent of shares of foreign companies operating within the country. This law may challenge the unstable economy, which is still in the midst of recovery after introducing the American dollar to combat hyperinflation. Questions remain about whether the new law will create the jobs it promises or simply transfer power from the white shareholders to locals. As it pushes toward elections, ZANU-PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe for the past three decades, is actively endorsing a program of taking money from big corporations in the country and dispersing it among the people in an attempt to share the country's wealth more equitably.Why happy? Why a women’s day when women are around all through the year hollering to keep the world on track from being consumed by a profit oriented economy that has commodified God’s wonderful creation including their own bodies? Every day and every hour women and girls are crying out for recognition of their dignity as human persons equal in stature, and rights as well as equal or equal contributors to a sustainable system and a care economy. Rallies and marches, meetings and gatherings, speeches and celebrations, all for a voice and visibility!

The 58th Commission on the Status of Women is another occasion where women power from all corners of the world will be on display at the United Nations in its colorful and multifaceted expressions making it loud and clear what women and girls are force to contend. Six thousand persons from across the globe have registered and there are nearly 500 side events!

Now, 2014-2015 is a significant period in history and moments of creating history. Is the world moving towards a new consciousness? I see the springtime of hope buried in the bitterness of winter still around. In 2015, the millennium development goals will converge into sustainable development goals and all roads at the UN lead towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Many processes are in place as we head towards 2015. So far, nine sessions of the open working groups have been convened under the capable leadership of Mr. Csaba Kõrösi, permanent representative of Hungary, and Mr. Macharia Kamau, permanent representative of Kenya to operationalise the SDGs to create “The World We Want” through an inclusive process, taking in the voices of the civil society and other actors. The period for taking stock is over and the next three sessions until July will be tethering it in and teasing out the targets and indicators that will hopefully lead to succinct goals -“progress on gender equality fuels progress across the entire United Nations agenda.”

It looks as if the whole world is giving input into the process, though the reality may be that the larger world is busy struggling to survive, totally unaware even of the passage of the MDGs! What is significant though is the fact that more than the NGOs are convinced that a greater participation of women is an imperative to hold the world equally on its three pillars of economic, social and environmental sustainability. What is extremely energizing and hopeful is the rising youth power! The quantum leap is already here! It looks like they will settle for nothing less than a just, equitable social system that is inclusive, intergenerational and takes care of the earth community.

What is the significance of all these for PBVM IPA life and mission?

We are at the crossroads of history of IPA identity. Direction statements and commitments have prepared us to make the shift we need to in our thinking and involvement and many have already made the shift towards systemic change. The call of the hour is to get back to the heart of who we really are as a gospel people, and center our energies towards interpreting the charism of Nano in the current reality and radically living it, collaborating with the UN towards a sustainable world.

Our institutions can be agents of this new consciousness that will   lead our young generation away from competition, rivalry and power struggles towards equality, compassion and collaboration and human rights. Our academic institutions can be instrumental in preparing the young generation of leaders.

Our leadership ministries and structures need to be empowering and enabling for every member of IPA to be equal and joyful partners in the creation of this new society.

We need to make advocacy our strong point at the national levels by recognizing that as an integral part of our IPA commitment. We must be willing to empower and to release at least one person for full time national level advocacy with governments, and by forging networks and inter-congregational and inter-agency collaborations. Along with this grassroots’ need to focus on enabling communities to recognize their own resources, human and otherwise, to bring about the change they desire and to be equal partners in the realization of a just and sustainable  society.

We have power – personal, institutional and spiritual! We need to use it so that “all may have life and life in abundance,” especially women, girls and the marginalized.

Elsa Muttathu, PBVM, NGO at the United Nations