Why President Obama’s Announcement on FGM is Important
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 150,000 to 200,000 women and girls in the U.S. are at risk today of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation, often referred to as FGM.  FGM is the collective name given to a number of cultural practices through which the female genitals are partly or entirely removed.  Some of the common reasons for the continuance of FGM include rite of passage, marriageability, and preservation of family “honor.”  These practices can have serious health consequences.  While immediate complications can be severe pain and bleeding, longer term problems include chronic infections, infertility, problems during pregnancy, and pain during sexual intercourse.
FGM has long been considered a violation of the human rights of women and girls under international law.  Specifically, FGM denies women and girls the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom from violence, health, non-discrimination, and the right to life where the practice of FGM results in death.  These rights are protected under a number of international and regional treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the U.S. is a party.
In 1996, the U.S. Congress joined international efforts and enacted landmark legislation criminalizing the practice of FGM on U.S. soil on anyone younger than 18 years of age.  In 2013, it took a further step in the National Defense Authorization Act by making it illegal to knowingly transport a girl out of the U.S. for purposes of carrying out FGM.  Moreover, immigration authorities are now required to provide information to immigrants about the severe health and legal consequences of performing those cultural practices.  State legislatures have also been active in enacting statutes that criminalize the procedure.  To date, about 20 states have laws against FGM.  In Illinois, for example, FGM is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 years of imprisonment.
While the enactment of such legislations marks an important step towards abandoning the practice of FGM, there has been a vast gap in the enforcement of laws both on the national and local levels.  A big problem is that individuals at immediate risk of FGM rarely choose to report to authorities.  They are often under community pressure not to involve law enforcement and fear that their report will result in violators, usually their parents or close relatives, being arrested, prosecuted, and possibly deported.  As of 2012, only one prosecution related to cases of FGM has been brought forward in U.S. court. 
Advocates suggest that the key to ending FGM in the U.S. lies in educating the public about the implications of this act. As pointed out by Jaha Dukureh, a survivor of FGM, “[l]aws have been passed to try to address FGM in the U.S., but girls continue to be cut. Part of the difficulty … is the lack of awareness and up-to-date research/statistics on the prevalence of FGM.”  That is why President Obama’s recent announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct a study on the number of women and girls at risk or living with the consequences of FGM is so important for ending FGM. It means the U.S. government is taking the issue seriously and giving authorities and advocates the information they need to protect women and girls from FGM in the U.S.
“[A]s we enter these summer months,” said Joe Crowley, one of the congressmen who supported the study, “we know families will be taking their children overseas to reconnect them with their homelands, [and it is important] that they understand that it is against the law to transport their child overseas for the purposes of receiving FGM.”  While it is always easier to buy peace by keeping quiet, it must not be forgotten that presently, hundreds of thousands of our women and girls are at immediate risk of FGM and forced to make the hard choice between complying with their “cultural norm” and defending their physical integrity and dignity.  Thus, the problem of FGM demands and deserves a higher level of public awareness, which will hopefully be achieved through this new study.
— Pengli Li’16 is a Cornell Law Student and Research Associate at the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice

Why President Obama’s Announcement on FGM is Important

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 150,000 to 200,000 women and girls in the U.S. are at risk today of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation, often referred to as FGM.  FGM is the collective name given to a number of cultural practices through which the female genitals are partly or entirely removed.  Some of the common reasons for the continuance of FGM include rite of passage, marriageability, and preservation of family “honor.”  These practices can have serious health consequences.  While immediate complications can be severe pain and bleeding, longer term problems include chronic infections, infertility, problems during pregnancy, and pain during sexual intercourse.

FGM has long been considered a violation of the human rights of women and girls under international law.  Specifically, FGM denies women and girls the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom from violence, health, non-discrimination, and the right to life where the practice of FGM results in death.  These rights are protected under a number of international and regional treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the U.S. is a party.

In 1996, the U.S. Congress joined international efforts and enacted landmark legislation criminalizing the practice of FGM on U.S. soil on anyone younger than 18 years of age.  In 2013, it took a further step in the National Defense Authorization Act by making it illegal to knowingly transport a girl out of the U.S. for purposes of carrying out FGM.  Moreover, immigration authorities are now required to provide information to immigrants about the severe health and legal consequences of performing those cultural practices.  State legislatures have also been active in enacting statutes that criminalize the procedure.  To date, about 20 states have laws against FGM.  In Illinois, for example, FGM is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 years of imprisonment.

While the enactment of such legislations marks an important step towards abandoning the practice of FGM, there has been a vast gap in the enforcement of laws both on the national and local levels.  A big problem is that individuals at immediate risk of FGM rarely choose to report to authorities.  They are often under community pressure not to involve law enforcement and fear that their report will result in violators, usually their parents or close relatives, being arrested, prosecuted, and possibly deported.  As of 2012, only one prosecution related to cases of FGM has been brought forward in U.S. court. 

Advocates suggest that the key to ending FGM in the U.S. lies in educating the public about the implications of this act. As pointed out by Jaha Dukureh, a survivor of FGM, “[l]aws have been passed to try to address FGM in the U.S., but girls continue to be cut. Part of the difficulty … is the lack of awareness and up-to-date research/statistics on the prevalence of FGM.”  That is why President Obama’s recent announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct a study on the number of women and girls at risk or living with the consequences of FGM is so important for ending FGM. It means the U.S. government is taking the issue seriously and giving authorities and advocates the information they need to protect women and girls from FGM in the U.S.

“[A]s we enter these summer months,” said Joe Crowley, one of the congressmen who supported the study, “we know families will be taking their children overseas to reconnect them with their homelands, [and it is important] that they understand that it is against the law to transport their child overseas for the purposes of receiving FGM.”  While it is always easier to buy peace by keeping quiet, it must not be forgotten that presently, hundreds of thousands of our women and girls are at immediate risk of FGM and forced to make the hard choice between complying with their “cultural norm” and defending their physical integrity and dignity.  Thus, the problem of FGM demands and deserves a higher level of public awareness, which will hopefully be achieved through this new study.

Pengli Li’16 is a Cornell Law Student and Research Associate at the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice

Who’s afraid of that big, bad word “feminist”?

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Feminism

  • “Anyone who can read between the lines of misogyny. And then, with grace and intelligence, acts appropriately to fight against it.” – Urban Dictionary
  • “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what a feminist is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”Rebecca West
  • “The idea of being a feminist—so many women have come to the idea of it being anti-male and not able to connect with the opposite sex—but what feminism is about is equality and human rights. For me that is just an essential part of my identity. I hope [Girls] contributes to a continuance of feminist dialogue.”Lena Dunham
  • “All men should be feminists. If men cared about women’s rights, the world would be a better place.”John Legend
  • “We stand with women by fighting for economic security, protecting access to health care and supporting women’s leadership across the country.”Barack Obama
  • “In Pakistan, when we were stopped from going to school, at that time I realized that education … is the power for women, and that’s why the terrorists are afraid of education.”Malala Yousafzai
  • “In societies where men are truly confident in their worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.”Aung San Suu Kyi

Recently, actress Shailene Woodley was asked by TIME whether she considered herself to be a feminist. She responded, “No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance… . And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance.” Plenty of public figures also want to distance themselves from the word ‘feminist.’ Some women even think feminists are against stay-at-home mothers. And one tumblr shows women flaunting their misconception of feminism, making the need for clarification blatantly obvious.

Fortunately, other actresses and public figures are clearly feminists, thank goodness. And even though there is some political backlash against feminism, the present has been described as “one of the most exciting times for feminism in decades.” One journalist responded to Shailene Woodley’s TIME interview by stating that “Saying you’re not a feminist because it’s not a sisterhood is like saying you don’t like Hawaii because it’s cold… . The word feminist only has the power to ‘discriminate’ between those who believe in a basic equality and those who don’t. There isn’t much that differentiates a feminist from a decent human being. Every chance we have to make that clear, we should take.” Another – equally appalled – journalist declared, “It’s dangerous to perpetuate the idea that women who fight for equality of the sexes are man-haters… . Feminism is a good thing for everyone.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk “We should all be called feminists” is also a good source of inspiration.

In 2013, The Washington Times reported that only 28% of Americans consider themselves feminists. Yet when the poll presented a neutral, dictionary definition of the word feminist, that number shot up to 57%. According to a Huffington Post/YouGov poll from the same year, only 20% of Americans consider themselves feminists, but 82% agreed that women and men should be social, political, and economic equals. In other words, when given the actual definition of feminism, without any misconceptions of man-hating or bra-burning, the vast majority of Americans consider themselves feminists.

If you think feminism is dead or no longer needed in US society, please spend some time on this Duke University tumblr where individuals stress the need for feminism in our culture today. Recently, Oxford students created a similar project on the need for feminism in the UK. One obvious example of the social disparity between men and women in the US (and other countries) is the fact that there is no male equivalent of the word “slut;” sexually uninhibited women are labeled “sluts” or “whores” while guys are praised as “studs” or “players.” The campus sexual assault epidemic is a clear example of how social inequality between men and women has a definite negative impact on women nationwide, and has created a harmful culture of masculine dominance. You may also want to consider that between 2009 and 2013, 35% of US women’s job gains have been in low-wage sectors (that figure is 18% for men) where women on average make less than male co-workers. Further, it is a well-known fact in Sweden that there are more CEOs named Johan than there are female CEOs, and Sweden is considered the top 4 most gender equal country in the world.

Worldwide, atrocities committed against women ultimately stand in the way of their attaining equality with men. Women are discriminated against in the work place and in laws, and are harmed by armies, community members, and family members in too many ways to count. According to the World Health Organization, 35% of women worldwide have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. In some countries, such as South Africa, corrective rape of homosexual women is a very real threat. According to UNICEF, only 1 out of every 5 girls in the developing world complete the sixth grade and only 43% attend secondary school. Girls that are actually able to attend school often face the additional threat of sexual violence in the classroom. Child marriage is a frightening reality in many countries, including Bangladesh, where 52.5% of girls are married by age 15. And women are sent to prison in the US and Argentina partly because of laws with disproportionate effects on women, and then greatly mistreated once there.

The world needs us all to call ourselves feminists, to stand strong as a massive group and demand that women have equal opportunities to men in life. Beyond creating opportunities for women, gender equality has much broader impacts on a society. For example, gender equality in schooling can increase a country’s GDP, increase the overall health of women, and even help mitigate the climate crisis. Once women have a real chance at equal education, equal career opportunities, and equal health, then it will be up to each woman which choices she wants to make, but none will then be thwarted by a misogynist society that has worked for generations to keep women subordinate to men. 

Feminism is not man-hating or ill-wishing, it is the hope that one day every girl will have the same opportunities as boys and will not be treated differently based on gender. This is a hope that all decent human beings should be able to proudly claim to hold. If everyone understood what the word actually meant I think we would all dare to call ourselves feminists.

Maria Bergenhem ‘16 is a Cornell Law Student and Research Associate at the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice

Domestic violence, notably, against women is a complex phenomenon which occurs across the world and affects people of all economic, social, religious and cultural backgrounds.

Read more from our interview with Judge Karakaş who is the first female judge from Turkey to sit on the European Court of Human Rights.

Student Initiatives: A Possible Solution to Campus Rape Culture?

Sexual assault affects twenty percent of women during their years of higher education. Yale, Dartmouth, and Harvard have all recently come under criticism as institutions that have failed to “handle” these cases in a more effective manner. Merely a few hours after the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, Women’s Resource Center, and other student leaders hosted the One Billion Rising Campaign at Cornell University this past March – aiming to raise awareness of sexual assault’s prevalence – a campus rape was reported. This is a national epidemic running rampant across American college campuses, and despite countless initiatives, no school’s policies have proven effective.

In light of recent publicity around the issue of sexual violence, the White House released guidelines to pressure universities into adopting effective approaches to combat rape culture. In part, the new measures call for increased anonymous surveys to gauge the effectiveness (but mostly ineffectiveness) of campus policies. According to Sen. Gillibrand, sexual assault surveys have been the “No. 1 request of student of survivors and advocates.” Furthermore, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, signed in 1990 and subsequently amended most recently in 2008, now requires colleges and universities participating in federal aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics.

Although these federal initiatives aim to mitigate risk, past policies have rarely led to tangible and substantial consequences. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 makes clear those universities that violate students’ rights in sexual assault cases will lose federal funding, yet concrete punishment has seldom ensued. If the federal government and university policies fail, where should we seek justice and safety?

A popular remedy takes for in student engagement itself, particularly through bystander intervention. New organizations aimed at curbing high-risk drinking associated with sexual assault are recruiting bystanders to monitor and prevent these situations. Dartmouth’s Green Team, Haverford’s Quaker Bouncers, and Cornell’s Cayuga’s Watchers are independent, student-run organizations that challenge campus norms on drinking and sexual assault. While these groups primarily focus on high-risk drinking, there exists an opportunity for bystander initiatives to make an impact on sexual assault prevention as well. In short, where larger policy fails, local student initiatives may subsequently change the current standards. With greater creativity and understanding, these grassroots movements may end campus rape culture.

 — Kendall Grant ’16 is a Cornell University student and Avon Global Center for Women and Justice Communications & Media Intern.

Building a Wall of Words (continued from Part 1)

These are the courageous American Indian Women, mothers and daughters whose ancestors walked these lands long before we found refuge here.  Statistics show that approximately three out of five Native American Women have been assaulted by an intimate partner, one third of Native American Women will be raped, and Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered.  Nearly eighty percent of sexual crimes against Native women are at the hand of non-native men, some of which live in Indian Territory and are in intimate relationships with Native women, and some who find their way onto tribal land, knowing that they cannot be prosecuted.  And what protection are we building for them?  We are helping to rebuild their wall of words.

American Indians were originally seen as a sovereign nation with their own police force and adjudicate their pwn legislation through tribal courts. Indian Territory originally had its own wall of words to protect its citizens:  the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), which gave American Indians the right to prosecute non-Indians.  However, this wall was damaged significantly over the years by wrecking balls in the form of Supreme Court decisions.

First came the three cases referred to now to as “The Marshall Trilogy,” which slowly morphed the sovereignty of Indian nations into a more limited sovereignty, with a relationship between the American Indians and the United States as that of ward to guardian. This was followed by a series of Supreme Court cases well known by the nicknames, Crow Dog, Kangama, and Lone Wolf which made Congress the sole ward and only United States governing body able to have any legislative power over the American Indian people and established that no cases could be heard by any individual tribes.  Congress was also given the latitude to override existing treaties, especially when it was in the “best interests” of the Indian people.

In 1978, the Oliphant v. Suquamish case was widely interpreted to hold that American Indian tribes have no jurisdiction over non-Indians.  This was upheld in 1989 by the decision in Duro v. Reina which, based on the common interpretation of the findings in Oliphant, concluded that though tribes had jurisdiction within their own land over the members of their own tribe, tribal courts could not prosecute non-member Indians for crimes occurring within their borders. 

Based on limited knowledge of this sequence of events, there is only one question to ask:  “Why?”  Why is the Court so concerned about Native Americans having the original power granted to them in the ICRA?  Why does the Court feel the need to take away the American Indian’s right to govern themselves with their own courts, laws, and traditions, and to examine all of their internal situations through the lens of the Constitution, a document that isn’t doing a good job of protecting them?  What bearing does this have on non-Indians? 

On many reservations, the population is made up of up of at least fifty percent non-Indians, people hired to work on the reservations or those in relationships with Native Americans.  Some of the concerns of the Federal courts begin with a phrase found in the Declaration of Independence, “consent of the governed,” which refers to the fact that the typical United States citizen is secure in the fact that they will be governed and protected by the Constitution. The Constitution outlines protection by the State AND Federal government, but does not mention tribal courts..  However, this concern completely disregards the fact that tribal lawyers and courts are well versed in Constitutional law.  So as of the Duro Trial in 1989, what hope do Native women and girls have for any protection against abuse by non-Native perpetrators on their lands? 

The long-awaited reconstruction of the wall of words began in 1991 with “The Duro Fix,” when Congress amended the ICRA, reestablishing the tribal court’s jurisdiction to prosecute non-member Indians. This left open the question of whether Congress had the authority to restore sovereignty.  This question was answered when another brick in the wall was laid by United States v. Lara, which declared, “Once the Federal sovereign divests a tribe of a particular power, it is no longer an inherent power and it may only be restored by delegation of Congress’ power.”  So, it was established that Congress does in fact have the authority to expand the jurisdiction of the Tribal Court.  How can this be?

Oliphant had been interpreted through the years to say that tribal courts lacked the jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians, when in fact the case stated that only Congress has the authority to allow tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians.  So the new question then was, will they? 

The answer was “yes”. With the recent passing of the new Violence Against Women Act in 2013, and a new pilot project attached to the reauthorization of the act, three Native American tribes will have jurisdiction in their own tribal courts to prosecute certain crimes against non-Indians.  The solution is not whole at this point, but the intension is that after the pilot programs, all tribal courts will have this same power by March 2015.  This power is limited to crimes committed on Indian Territory between an Indian and a non-Indian involved in an intimate relationship, which will not protect the Native woman against non-Indian attackers that she doesn’t know.  However, a large brick has been added to the wall of words. 

Karla Creech is the Program Assistant at the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice

Building a Wall of Words

Part 1

What will be written about our time in the history books?  Living in the wake of 9-11 may cause us to look twice at an unfamiliar face near our homes, maybe even with a twinge of fear.  As our posterity looks back at the diaries and newspapers we’ve written, they will see them filled with events like the Oklahoma City bombing, letters mailed to politicians laced with anthrax or ricin, and the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  Our government has used the systems put into place since the founding of our country to build up our military and our borders against outside attacks.  They have also fashioned new systems to protect us from within.  Our leaders must ache when they see footage and pictures in the media as the lives of their people are threatened and taken.  These are not just the faces of our brave military fighting in the field, but the terrorized or lifeless faces of women and children, attacked from within their own country, women and children who should be safe at home.

Our founding fathers as well as our early congress and presidents carefully crafted documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to build a wall of words that protects our nation from those outside that would harm us or try to dictate the way we live.  These documents contain such phrases as, “consent of the governed;” “the right of the people to be secure in their persons;” “no person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury;” “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”  These writers wanted to protect us from ever being back in the situation that we were in under King George III, whose treatment prompted them to commemorate him in the Declaration of Independence with the words, “He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws.”  Enough was enough; we declared ourselves to be our own sovereign nation:  a country with the authority and right to govern itself, with no input or interference from any other sovereign nation.  And now people immigrate into this country every day, so that their children will enjoy the rights and protection that this country was founded on.  They meld their heritage, traditions, genes, religion, and beliefs with those of other Americans, leaving behind the past laws and rules that governed them, to live in a place where we fiercely protect those within our own borders with all of our vast resources…except when we don’t.

The stories in the news, even just recently, are overwhelmingly painful to read:

A recent New York Times Article tells of a woman, Dianne Millich, who married a man in 1998, and very soon after became the victim of repeated physical abuse.  After a year and more than 100 incidences of being beaten she left him, but the violence didn’t end.  Though the police were called, her husband was never prosecuted.  Knowing that he would not be touched, even for the most severe beatings, he even called the police on himself once, just to show her how helpless she was.  It wasn’t until he came for her at work after she had divorced him, and hit her coworker with a 9mm bullet meant for her, was he ever arrested.

In the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera and The Washington Post we can read about the experiences of Lisa Brunner and the women in her family, living in fear.  Her memories of hiding in the woods from her stepfather with her mother, who had passed out after being severely beaten with his hands and the butt of a shotgun, must have only added to her terror when she was sexually abused as she grew up, and later beaten by her own husband.  But nothing can be much worse than believing that there will be no justice for her own daughter who was raped by four strangers who were never prosecuted.  You may be reading this thinking these facts must be wrong.  This happened in the United States?  It must be an anomaly.  Actually, this kind of abuse has been going on for decades within our borders.  Women have been beaten, raped and even killed, with no justice.  We’ve heard their cries and their stories.  The police have come, taken the perpetrators away, and dropped them off in the nearest town, knowing that they would soon walk back to the scene of the crime and most likely commit it again.  How can this be?  Who are these women? 

Part 2 continued tomorrow.

Karla Creech is the Program Assistant at the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice

Take Back the Night

In December 2012, the ravaged body of a 23-year-old student lay in a Singapore hospital after being transported from Delhi.  She had sustained major injuries on a moving bus.  Her intestines had been removed due to the damage caused from a metal rod that had entered her body.  The resulting infection to her abdomen, the brain injury from trauma, and an eventual heart attack became too much for her body to withstand; her heart finally stopped beating after a valiant fight.  After the event, people began to gather at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, in protest of the cause of the young woman’s death.  This had not been a traffic accident.  It was not a natural disaster.  This young death was the result of a gang rape.  There in Jantar Mantar a small woman’s figure, Sheila Dikshit, the Chief Minister of Delhi, made her way through the throng.  She did not try to rally or bring order to the crowd.  She silently lit a candle, said a prayer, and left as quietly as she had come, making a resounding and long-lasting political statement before the crowd, media, and all of us that would learn from her, against the no-longer-culturally-acceptable violence against women in India.

Non-violent protest is not new to India, where violence against women has long been a way of life, and death.  In 1930 Mahatma Gandhi said,

To call woman the weaker sex is a libel… is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”

And Gandhi’s legacy lives on, embodied in a woman named Irom Sharmila Chanu.  Sharmila has been held in solitary confinement in a hospital prison for almost fourteen years.  She enjoys a few annual days of freedom before she is rearrested yearly for the alleged crime of attempting suicide, due to her refusal of any food or water for many years.  She often spends these days together with her supporters - others who are also protesting the AFSPA, The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which provides the military legal immunity from prosecution for such actions as rape and brutality against women. On April 15th, the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice received an e-mail from Irom’s fiancé, requesting letters of support for Sharmila. He wrote,

Sharmila has been kept alive by naso-gastric intubation. She is not on a hunger strike but a satyagraha. The Indian NHRC ruled in October 2013 that the additional isolation orders were used as a form of mental and emotional torture designed to break her spirit. Democracies justify torture for all sorts of reasons. Though successfully challenged in the Manipur High Court in December 2013 the policy is still to keep her as isolated as possible.”

Satyagraha” is a word coined by Mahatma Gandhi meaning “zeal for truth.” This philosophy has been used by Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandella, and others that believe in the power of non-violent resistance.  This is power that we can take into our hearts and hands, as we add our voices to the fight against violence against women across the world.  How will you use your power to be a part of this vital social revolution?

Tonight, April 25th, Liz Brundige, the Executive Director of The Avon Global Center for Women and Justice will speak at, “Take Back the Night,” an annual Ithaca community non-violent protest march in support of survivors of sexual violence.

Or sitting right there at your computer, you can write a letter of support to one who will not eat today and will stand in solitary, a satyagrahi making the Gandhi-recommended effective appeal to the heart against violence, in this world-wide social revolution. 

Irom Sharmila Chanu, Human Rights Defender, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East Manipur, 795005, India

Mahatma Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” 

— Karla Creech, Program Assistant for the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice

In Celebration of International Women’s Day

"Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all"-Hillary Clinton
In Celebration of International Women’s Day, we at the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School have compiled a list of just a few of our favorite retweet worthy moments from today’s celebrations and movements around the globe.
Vital Voices, an NGO that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, hosted Global Mentoring Walks in Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, and in more than 40 cities around the world. image

A march was held to address domestic violence against women, marking International Women’s Day in Beirut.

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Women in Kenya also rose up to celebrate and inspire change.

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A host of inspirational speakers presented throughout the day at Middlesbrough Town Hall in England.

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London was also ready to join the movement!image

As part of the 6th annual UN’s Women Empowerment Principles event (Gender Equality and the Global Jobs Challenge) held this week, topics discussed included business strategies, experience and challenges on increasing and enhancing job opportunities for women and expanding access to decent jobs.

Catch up with the event on the Guardian’s liveblog

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These are only a few examples of the inspiring events going on around the globe! Please check in with our twitter feed to catch up on all of the buzz going around about International Women’s Day.