At the Nobel Peace Concert earlier this month Liberian singer Miatta Fahnbulleh sang these words:“The road will be muddy and rough, but we will get there, it will be hard, but we will get there, we know we will.”
I think these words sums up 2011, yes the road is still muddy and rough, but this year we saw people across the globe rising up and speaking out in a way that would have been hard to imagine a year ago. In the context of women, peace, and security some progress was also made. Here are some of the events and achievements of 2011:
The 2011 Jean-Pierre Bemba trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was the first time that sexual violence is central to an ICC case.
Bosnia’s war crimes court sentenced Sasa Baricanin a Bosnian Serb to 18 years in jail for the murder and rape of Muslims in a Sarajevo suburb occupied by Serb forces during the 1992-95 war.
Congolese gynecologist, Dr. Denis Mukwege, was awarded the 2010/2011 King Baudouin International Development Prize for his commitment to helping thousands of women victims of rape and war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sexual violence survivor Iman al-Obaidi received worldwide attention when she spoke out against Ghadafi troops in a Tripoli hotel, giving Libyan women a voice in the middle of chaos and lawlessness.
Three remarkable and brave women, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s right to full participation in peace-building work.
2011 was also the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a day that women around the globe marched and celebrated the achievements of the last century and highlighted the challenges still remaining.
In 2011 The brilliant Eve Ensler founder of V-day wrote the best text I ever read "Over It" on sexual violence. She wrote:
"I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?
You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren't you standing with us? Why aren't you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?"
"We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office. We need people to truly try and imagine -- once and for all -- what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered. We need to let our rage and our compassion connect us so we can change the paradigm of global rape." (The Huffington Post)
The list of achievements and events that took place this year could be made much longer and so many stories could never be told because much of the progress and change is happening far from the eyes of journalists, activists, and politicians.
Everyday progress is made when a woman or a girl decides to break the mold of tradition and speak out, defending her rights. Everyday progress is made when a man or a boy refuses to accept violence against women and women's lack of political influence.
Progress begins with you and me. It begins in the fields, villages, homes, and schools of ordinary people. We must never underestimate the power that passionate and committed individuals have. Like Alice Walker said: "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking, they don't have any"
2011 has been a remarkable year for women's rights, never before have so many people been made aware of gender inequality and violence against women, never before have so many women raised their voices, never before have women, peace, and security received so much attention in the media.
2011 have shown us that anything is possible as long as we believe in ourselves and the cause for which we are fighting. Like Gandhi said " We have to be the change we wish to see."
I hope that you have found the blog useful and will continue to follow it in 2012. Together we will end violence against women and give women a voice in war and peace, one woman at a time, one man at a time, one child at a time.
Happy New Year!
The Women, Peace, and Security Blog