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Aug 18, 2010

Monsoon flooding has devastated over a quarter of the land in Pakistan, including its agricultural heartland and remote mountainous areas.  The Pakistani government estimates that 20 million people will be affected by this disaster, and 3.5 million children are at risk from deadly waterborne diseases according to the UN.

You can help.

Our friends in Pakistan, Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Center, already have people on the ground working with local groups to provide relief and distribute food and medicine. But international aid has been slow in reaching the region, and they need your help.

We've worked with Shirkat Gah before - and we know them well. As a women's organization, they have a unique capacity to make a difference for women and children affected by this crisis.

Will you make a donation today to speed Shirkat Gah's efforts and help save lives in Pakistan? Your contribution will be used immediately to set up medical camps and purchase vital relief items such as food, medicine, cooking utensils, clothing and shoes.

Together we can save lives in Pakistan. Make a gift today.

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Posted: Aug 18, 2010 10:06am
Jun 13, 2008

More than a month after Cyclone Nargis, Burma's ruling military junta (the SPDC) has allowed only a few international aid agencies to distribute relief items to survivors. Moreover, because the SPDC is confiscating and selling humanitarian supplies, it is estimated that only 25% of international aid is actually reaching those who need it the most.

While the operations of most large aid agencies are still grounded at the borders, the networks of Burmese women supported by MADRE have been mobilized since day one of the crisis, offering relief on a person-to-person basis.

MADRE is partnering with the Women's League of Burma, the Shan Women Action Network, and the Migrants Assistance Programme. Our partners tell us of a ruined harvest, skyrocketing food prices, forced evacuations of public sanctuaries, bodies in the streets, and hordes of traumatized children roaming unaccompanied from village to village.

The women know that orphans are easy prey for human traffickers. One of MADRE's primary objectives, therefore, is sheltering these children until safe and legitimate adoption systems can be established.

Women working with MADRE found an orphaned toddler several days after the cyclone in a remote village along the Burmese-Thai border. He was all alone, hungry and traumatized; the women didn't even know his name. But thanks to them, he is now being cared for and loved. Thanks to them, this child will not become a statistic. Today, he is being nursed back to health as MADRE's partners work day and night to locate his family.

With your support, we can protect many more children in similar situations. Please continue to give to MADRE in support of women and families in cyclone-ravaged Burma.

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Posted: Jun 13, 2008 11:22am
Mar 26, 2008

Since the US bombing of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush Administration has resurrected the hackneyed colonial notion that its military intervention is intended to save Muslim women from their oppressive societies. As Laura Bush said, “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” Few Middle Eastern women believe her: the line is really intended for people in the US.

In Iraq, women know that despite all of George Bush’s talk of women’s rights and democracy, the US does not want genuine democracy in Iraq. After all, if it were up to the majority of Iraqis, how many would have endorsed the country’s US–brokered oil law, which puts Iraq’s most valuable resource at the disposal of US–based corporations? How many Iraqis would have opted for huge, permanent US military bases in their country—whose sole purpose is to enable more US military intervention in the region? Throughout the Middle East—and indeed, around the world—the US has preferred to support authoritarian leaders who systematically violate women’s rights. That's because women’s rights are an integral part of democratic rights, and democratic rights are a threat to US control of the region.

The fact that the US has used women’s rights as a rallying point for its wars in the Middle East is sometimes used to fuel the claim that women’s rights are “foreign” to the region and a tool of “Western domination.” We hear that claim from conservatives in Muslim countries who oppose women’s rights. We also hear it from some US progressives who believe that condemning US intervention in Iraq requires defending any group that opposes the US, regardless of that group’s own human rights record. But human rights are not an either/or proposition. The US occupation is illegal and unjust—and so is violence against Iraqi women.

So how do we address Islamist violence against women without endorsing the racist idea that gender-based violence in Iraq somehow derives from Islam? We start by recognizing that in the US, discussions of gender–based violence in the Middle East occur in a climate of hostility towards Islam and Muslim countries. We have all heard platitudes about the plight of Muslim women that are little more than racist diatribes used to justify US intervention in their countries. That's why strategies against gender–based violence in the Middle East need to also combat the violence of US foreign policy, confront “Islamophobia” in the US, and recognize the ways that sexism and racism have been conscripted into the US “war on terror.”

Understanding the links between opposing violence against Iraqi women and opposing violence by the US can help address the concern of people who worry that advocating Middle Eastern women’s rights imposes “Western values” on Muslim countries. Here, a fear of condoning “cultural imperialism” leads people to be silent about violence against women. But silence is not a defensible response to grave human rights abuses. Nor is silence necessary to avoid charges of cultural imperialism, for there is nothing inherently “Western” about women’s rights.

Women in the Middle East have a centuries–long history of political struggle, popular organizing, jurisprudence, and scholarship aimed at securing rights within their societies. As Iraqi author and activist Haifa Zangana says, “The main misconception is to perceive Iraqi women as silent, powerless victims in a male–controlled society in urgent need of ‘liberation.’ This image fits conveniently into the big picture of the Iraqi people being passive victims who would welcome the occupation of their country. The reality is different.”

The assumption that women’s rights are a “Western” concern is not only inaccurate, but also overblown. After all, the intellectual foundations of civilization—writing, mathematics, and science—are “Eastern.” Are these pursuits therefore “foreign” and inappropriate in “the West?” Human rights, feminism, literature, and science are all aspects of our common human heritage. We should be suspicious whenever one is said to belong—or not belong—to a given people, especially when that designation is used to deny people their rights. The imagined community of “the West” has no monopoly on democracy, women’s rights, or any other “values” that the US purports to be “bringing” to Iraq.

Right–wing intellectuals like to talk about a “clash of civilizations” dividing the United States from the Middle East. But the real clash is not between “Western” democracies and “Eastern” theocracies; it is between those who uphold the full range of human rights—including women’s right to a life free of violence—and those who pursue economic and political power for a privileged few at the expense of the world’s majority. In this clash, no one is predestined to be on one side or the other by virtue of her culture, religion, or nationality. We choose our position and our actions based on our principles. Those of us who choose to stand in defense of human rights in Iraq should seek out and listen to progressive Iraqis, including the thousands of Iraqi women who are struggling for women’s rights within their country and for their country’s right to freedom from US domination.

By Yifat Susskind, MADRE Communications Director

See the article at: http://madre.org/articles/me/iraqiwomensayno031908.html

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Posted: Mar 26, 2008 7:44am
Mar 26, 2008

Since the US bombing of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush Administration has resurrected the hackneyed colonial notion that its military intervention is intended to save Muslim women from their oppressive societies. As Laura Bush said, “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” Few Middle Eastern women believe her: the line is really intended for people in the US.

In Iraq, women know that despite all of George Bush’s talk of women’s rights and democracy, the US does not want genuine democracy in Iraq. After all, if it were up to the majority of Iraqis, how many would have endorsed the country’s US–brokered oil law, which puts Iraq’s most valuable resource at the disposal of US–based corporations? How many Iraqis would have opted for huge, permanent US military bases in their country—whose sole purpose is to enable more US military intervention in the region? Throughout the Middle East—and indeed, around the world—the US has preferred to support authoritarian leaders who systematically violate women’s rights. That's because women’s rights are an integral part of democratic rights, and democratic rights are a threat to US control of the region.

The fact that the US has used women’s rights as a rallying point for its wars in the Middle East is sometimes used to fuel the claim that women’s rights are “foreign” to the region and a tool of “Western domination.” We hear that claim from conservatives in Muslim countries who oppose women’s rights. We also hear it from some US progressives who believe that condemning US intervention in Iraq requires defending any group that opposes the US, regardless of that group’s own human rights record. But human rights are not an either/or proposition. The US occupation is illegal and unjust—and so is violence against Iraqi women.

So how do we address Islamist violence against women without endorsing the racist idea that gender-based violence in Iraq somehow derives from Islam? We start by recognizing that in the US, discussions of gender–based violence in the Middle East occur in a climate of hostility towards Islam and Muslim countries. We have all heard platitudes about the plight of Muslim women that are little more than racist diatribes used to justify US intervention in their countries. That's why strategies against gender–based violence in the Middle East need to also combat the violence of US foreign policy, confront “Islamophobia” in the US, and recognize the ways that sexism and racism have been conscripted into the US “war on terror.”

Understanding the links between opposing violence against Iraqi women and opposing violence by the US can help address the concern of people who worry that advocating Middle Eastern women’s rights imposes “Western values” on Muslim countries. Here, a fear of condoning “cultural imperialism” leads people to be silent about violence against women. But silence is not a defensible response to grave human rights abuses. Nor is silence necessary to avoid charges of cultural imperialism, for there is nothing inherently “Western” about women’s rights.

Women in the Middle East have a centuries–long history of political struggle, popular organizing, jurisprudence, and scholarship aimed at securing rights within their societies. As Iraqi author and activist Haifa Zangana says, “The main misconception is to perceive Iraqi women as silent, powerless victims in a male–controlled society in urgent need of ‘liberation.’ This image fits conveniently into the big picture of the Iraqi people being passive victims who would welcome the occupation of their country. The reality is different.”

The assumption that women’s rights are a “Western” concern is not only inaccurate, but also overblown. After all, the intellectual foundations of civilization—writing, mathematics, and science—are “Eastern.” Are these pursuits therefore “foreign” and inappropriate in “the West?” Human rights, feminism, literature, and science are all aspects of our common human heritage. We should be suspicious whenever one is said to belong—or not belong—to a given people, especially when that designation is used to deny people their rights. The imagined community of “the West” has no monopoly on democracy, women’s rights, or any other “values” that the US purports to be “bringing” to Iraq.

Right–wing intellectuals like to talk about a “clash of civilizations” dividing the United States from the Middle East. But the real clash is not between “Western” democracies and “Eastern” theocracies; it is between those who uphold the full range of human rights—including women’s right to a life free of violence—and those who pursue economic and political power for a privileged few at the expense of the world’s majority. In this clash, no one is predestined to be on one side or the other by virtue of her culture, religion, or nationality. We choose our position and our actions based on our principles. Those of us who choose to stand in defense of human rights in Iraq should seek out and listen to progressive Iraqis, including the thousands of Iraqi women who are struggling for women’s rights within their country and for their country’s right to freedom from US domination.

By Yifat Susskind, MADRE Communications Director

See the article at: http://madre.org/articles/me/iraqiwomensayno031908.html


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Posted: Mar 26, 2008 7:39am
Dec 18, 2007
After the dramatic conclusion of the Bali talks over the weekend, MADRE produced a new commentary, illustrating some of the obstacles still to come. Here is an excerpt:
    Thanks in large part to pressure brought to bear by other delegates, the US representatives finally signed the Bali Action Plan. But what sort of a plan is this? The best that delegates in these climate change negotiations were able to say is that the path is open for progress in 2009, when a presumably more amenable US administration will be in office. In short, the Bali Action Plan represents the lowest common denominator of government positions and barely advances the climate agenda... (read more)

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Posted: Dec 18, 2007 11:20pm
Dec 14, 2007
As the conference in Bali draws to a close, we thought this would be a good opportunity to recap a few of the key issues that MADRE emphasizes, such as the failure to include a gender perspective in climate negotiations and the need to employ a human rights framework in all strategies to address climate change. Amid dismal reports that US pressure has prompted negotiators to remove language referencing a specific target of 25-40% emissions cuts by 2020, this video, featuring Yifat, reminds us that the human face of climate change is a woman’s face.



Women’s leadership must guide the process of responding to climate change, and MADRE is proud to support this leadership. MADRE will continue to be engaged in the climate justice movement, and we are organizing an event in New York next month to continue this crucial discussion. If you are in the New York area, come hear from women working locally and globally to create community initiatives and international policies that address climate change and promote human rights and social justice. The panel will take place on January 24th, 2008 at Kimball Hall, New York University, from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.


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Posted: Dec 14, 2007 9:47pm
Dec 12, 2007
he World Bank can?t get a break. Despite every attempt to clothe their profit-oriented, short-sighted projects in the guise of ?climate-friendly? programs, global civil society has been watching and has called them out on every turn. Yesterday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick?who you may also remember at the former US Trade Representative?held a press conference to announce the launch of the World Bank?s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Meanwhile, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples? organizations gathered outside to stage a protest of this initiative.

It?s bad enough that the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is just carbon trading by another name, which does more to increase the profits of polluting companies than to reduce carbon emissions. But these projects actually threaten to worsen climate change, by focusing on mono-culture tree plantations instead of preserving the biodiversity of existing forests. You can read more of our analysis on this particular approach to reducing deforestation here and here.

Even while paying lip service to the principle of free, prior, and informed consent protected by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in practice the World Bank has trampled this standard. When Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, asked the World Bank why it had failed to consult with the Indigenous Peoples? Caucus on its proposed Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, their answer was revealing. She was told point-blank that the project was ?too abstract for Indigenous Peoples to understand.?

Only after this appalling rationale was exposed did the World Bank agree to hold consultations with the Indigenous Peoples? Caucus. But this tendency has been consistent in the larger proceedings of the Bali climate change conference. A civil society statement rejecting the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility can be found here.

In other news today, the negotiations in Bali shifted into high gear over whether to include mandatory emissions targets?a measure opposed by such big polluters as the US, Canada, China, and Japan?and with the end of the conference on Friday fast approaching. The draft text for the meeting currently references emissions reductions of 25%-40%, and even this weak ?non-binding? language has sufficiently raised the hackles of US delegates to prompt an absolute rejection.


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Posted: Dec 12, 2007 9:35pm
Dec 10, 2007
This weekend, trade and finance ministers from 32 of the world's richer countries descended on Bali. There's no clearer sign of the direction that the UN climate change convention negotiations are moving in. An estimated 184 million people in Africa alone could be dead from climate change within a few decades. Clearly, it's time to formulate economic policies in keeping with the Earth's environmental limits. Instead, US and European Union trade ministers are in Bali clamoring for poorer countries to lift their tariff barriers on "environmentally friendly" products like wind turbines and hydrogen fuel cells (even though the UNFCCC obligates industrialized countries to undertake technology transfers to enable other countries to develop along a less carbon-intensive path).

In other words, it's business as usual, with the North's same-old trade agenda driving global environmental policy. As Nicola Bullard, senior researcher at Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based think tank, said, "The U.S. and the E.U. are trying to profit even after having polluted the world."

We arrived back in New York today, on International Human Rights Day?a particularly good moment to consider that technology transfers, and many other adaptation and mitigation projects being considered this week Bali, are not charitable contributions from the industrialized North. They are in fact human rights obligations. That's because impacts of climate change, such as hunger, homelessness, lack of sanitation and healthcare, displacement, and loss of culture are internationally recognized as human rights violations.

The principle of compensation for victims of pollution is firmly established in international environmental law. So are principles of human rights, like the right to a means of subsistence, the right to property (not only property that you own, but also land that your culture and physical survival depends on), the right to health, the right to culture, and the right to life. All of these rights?enshrined in international instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed 59 years ago today), and the International Covenant on Social and Economic Rights?are violated by governments that fail to redress the impacts of climate change.

The global track record on climate change needs dramatic improvement in order to promote human rights. Developed countries, and especially the US, must stop dragging their feet on setting up mandatory carbon emission cuts. But they also need to make sure that the policies they do put in place don't create a whole new set of human rights violations. That's exactly what's happening now with policies like industrial-scale agrofuels, the CDM, and so called "avoided deforestation." Women, in particular, are being harmed in the places where these policies are being put into effect.

We've focused a lot on this gendered dimension of climate change policies in the blog so far. And today, on International Human Rights Day, we want to emphasize that climate change should not be viewed an opportunity to promote free trade, but as a human rights issue. Human rights is the framework that can best protect women and families in the places most effected by climate change and generate solutions to protect us all for the long term.


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Posted: Dec 10, 2007 6:15pm
Dec 10, 2007
It is no secret that critical dangers?such as hunger, climate disasters, and drought?now confront people across the world, and that these threats are exacerbated by human-triggered climate change. But in the official meetings in Bali, there's been little discussion of the fact that women are disproportionately threatened by climate change.

This is true both because it's women's responsibility to provide their families with food, water, fuel wood, and other natural resources being destroyed by climate change; and because women have far fewer resources to survive and adapt to climate change. This year, governments have finally started discussing the pretty obvious fact that poor people will be the ones hurt first and worst by climate change. But few are talking about the fact that 70% of poor people worldwide are women.

During our many meetings, briefings, and discussions here in Bali, we have emphasized the need to infuse issues of gender and social justice into the climate change discussion.

To drive the point home, MADRE organized a public panel alongside the official discussions. We were joined by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition; and Anastasia Pinto of the Centre for Organisation Research and Education in India.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz laid out her critique of the dominant scheme being promoted as a solution to climate change: the carbon trade. Simone Lovera spoke of the human rights violations perpetuated by agrofuel plantations in Paraguay. And Anastasia Pinto talked about what happens to many women and children in the immediate aftermath of climate disasters. Here's what she had to say:

"The first ones to reach the disaster scene are not the rescue workers, the police, or the humanitarian aid agencies. The first ones to arrive are the traffickers. They descend within 24 hours and are gone again within 72 hours?just as the aid agencies begin to arrive. The traffickers simply sweep the area, picking up dazed children who are wandering about lost and young women who are frantically searching for their babies. Everyone is desperate to escape the area, so people go with them willingly. Once the women and children?some as young as three or four?realize that these men are not taking them to safety or helping them find their families, it is too late. By then they have been pushed into the most damaging, hazardous, and soul-destroying work there is. Climate disasters are a golden opportunity for this industry."

Below we've posted a few videos from the MADRE side event.

Simone Lovera, on the effects of agrofuel plantations on Indigenous Peoples:


Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, on the faulty logic of the carbon trade:


Yifat Susskind, on the dangers of widespread agrofuel expansion:

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Posted: Dec 10, 2007 4:05am
Dec 8, 2007
Want more information about deforestation, climate change, and women's human rights? Click here for more of MADRE's analysis and to get a glimpse of the message that we have been conveying here in Bali.

Here's a hint about the root of the problem:

"Our enormously productive economy?demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and selling of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption?We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever-increasing rate." Read on to find out who said that.

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Posted: Dec 8, 2007 8:54am

 

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