There are NO excuses. Violence against women is a matter of inequality between women and men. Teacher unions have a key role to play in combating gender-based violent attitudes and EI renews its commitments for human rights and equality between women and men.
2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the proclamation by the United Nations of 25 November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women; the 20- year existence of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the 30-year existence of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the international human rights treaty for women adopted in 1979.
The Conventions CEDAW and CRC for women’s and children’s rights advance gender equality. They are complementary and reinforcing. The CRC provides that the rights protected apply equally to boys and girls and grants protection to women, such as pre- and post-natal care, education on the advantages of breastfeeding, family planning education and services. Both conventions have a record of ratifications: 193 States for the CRC and 186 States for CEDAW.
However, the idea that women and children are the holders of rights is far from universally recognized. Everywhere and in every society, women and girls are beaten and abused or coerced into sex. In addition to the impact on their health, wellbeing and lives, the social and economic consequences are enormous.
What unions are doing
Teacher unions can raise their voices about this issue. In addition to the role teachers play in providing life skills and in nurturing positive non-violent attitudes, teachers’ lives and participation in unions, education and society are being limited by the persistence of different forms of violence against women (bullying, dress codes, stereotypes, etc).
EI’s first World Women’s Conference “On the Move for Equality” to be held in Bangkok on May 2010 will provide an opportunity to develop a joint understanding of the concepts of equality for women and men in unions, education and society. Conference workshops will address the impact of the multiple forms of discrimination, will acknowledge violence against women as a human rights violation and will place emphasis on women and girls as rights holders.
Conference participants will also analyse what it would need to change dominant constructions of masculinity into ones which are gender equitable and non-violent.
In the meantime, affiliates also have a key opportunity to respond to a current EI survey reviewing progress made and identifying the existing challenges related to the status of women in unions, education and society, including gender-based violence.
Collaboration is key
EI calls on affiliates to share your actions, interventions, and research on emerging areas. All of us are accountable for playing our part in reducing violence at the individual and local, national and global levels. EI is moving forwards to achieve the protection of rights for women and men in unions, education and society.