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Ending Impunity for Violence against Women on International Women’s Day

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The women's movement in Asia has long joined in the celebration of the International Women' s Day. Women in the region have come out on March 8 to raise their voice against all the atrocities faced in the region.Themed "Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women", let us all join in the spirit of celebration today and commit ourselves to promoting and protecting women's rights. Today March 8 will be celebrated across the world as International Women's Day (IWD). Women all over the world will come together to look back to a tradition that represents a rich history of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development. They will do so by peaceful demonstrations, protest marches, public gatherings, public hearings and in the celebratory spirit of expressing solidarity with one another by singing, dancing, poetry recitations, theatre and other varied and innovative forms of creativity representing our collective consciousness, which overcomes national affiliations, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, linguistic barriers, cultural practices and economic and political differences.

The women's movement in Asia has long joined in the celebration of the IWD. Women in the region have come out on March 8 to raise their voice against intensifying fundamentalisms, growing militarism, violence against women, abuse and exploitation by the state and non-state actors of migrant workers, including trafficked women, the use of rape by the state as a weapon of war in armed conflict situations, enforced or involuntary disappearances, dowry murders, “honour killings” and “acid attacks” amongst other atrocities women have to face in the region.

FORUM-ASIA members have planned various activities at the national level to celebrate International Women’s Day around this year’s theme for the United Nations “Ending Impunity for Violence against Women”.

LICADHO, FORUM-ASIA’s member in Cambodia will be releasing a 2007 Report on Violence against Women (VAW) with a media statement titled “My Country, My Life. As part of the media campaign radio advertisements will be broadcasted- which tell the story of one women’s battle and eventual triumph over domestic violence – on various radio stations. In addition, to draw attention to the situation of women in Cambodia’s prisons, food and materials will be distributed to female prisoners at 15 prisons. LICADHO is also participating in the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC) march for freedom of expression, non-violence and political tolerance in Cambodia from 28 February – 15 March, 2007. This event aims to promote non-violence against women and to encourage women to break free of the silence that surrounds violence against women in Cambodia.

INSEC, FORUM-ASIA’s member in Nepal will be supporting and participating in activities and programmes organized by various human rights, women’s rights NGO’s and political organizations in Nepal. Some of these programs include publication and dissemination of Nepali version of the UN SC Resolution 1325, National Conference on "Women Affected by Trafficking", mass rally and demonstration highlighting women’s issues and a cultural programme and exhibition on Women's Rights on March 8.

WOREC, FORUM-ASIA’s partner in Nepal will organize a unique women’s festival to celebrate women's labour, power, courage, struggle and their commitment towards just social change. This is the first International Women’s in the “New Nepal” A Nepal that as WOREC’s concept paper on March 8 states “is marching towards a radically different political, social, economic and cultural change”. The festival is special, since it is organized by community women who are challenging patriarchal forms of domination, manifested in the power relations between men and women in the private and public sphere. Such unequal power relations results in varied forms of exploitation such as exploiting women's labour and legitimizing Violence against Women as natural which is also reflected in state's policies on women and violence. Emphasis is on political will within the society and the state to change discriminatory practices, laws and policies. Some of the activities at the festival include- Informative stalls that will highlight women’s active role in their communities to change production relations through various community level programs, a food festival that will address the marginalization of the culture of food diversity due to globalization, a cultural program that showcases women’s resistance through dance, song and theatre and the 1000 Peace Women Exhibition, that profiles 1000 women who were  nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

Let us join in the spirit of celebration today and commit ourselves to promoting and protecting women’s rights.