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Ending Child Marriage: A View from Pakistan

Girls are ready for marriage the moment they reach puberty. That's the pronouncement of one of Pakistan's most influential religious and constitutional bodies, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which has also declared that banning child marriage is anti-Islamic.

But the CII's controversial statements should not detract from the progress being made in addressing child marriage in Pakistan, writes GCAP Global Council member Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman.

In an article first published in The Guardian, Zia explains that a law passed unanimously in Sindh Province - which prevents marriage for youth under the age of 18, irrespective of gender, and which punishes those who faciliate these unions - could pave the way for similar actions in other provinces and at the national level.

 

Beyond the Data: Issues of Inequality and Accountability

Statistical data shows that many African countries have attained gender parity in education. But the reality is that behind these numbers, there are still vast disparities - between and within countries - in access to education.  National data is not unpacked to show how a poor girl, from an ethnic minority, in a dispersed rural area, with uneducated parents is lost in the national statistics.

Girls from wealthy, urban homes with educated mothers are more likely to remain in school and perform well.  But some girls never get to go to school or are withdrawn after just a few years to become child brides, to work or due to violence or other reasons.  Their voices are unheard, their rights to a high-quality education denied, writes GCAP Ambassador and former co-chair Adelaide Sosseh.

 

Get Ready to Move in 2015 !

Running, walking, biking, dancing, flying, in rickshaws or on boda bodas . . . we are going to be on the move, throughout 2015, starting in a place of injustice that we will transform with citizen action and concrete demands to governments and global leaders to create a just world for people and planet, now and for future generations.

Over the next few months GCAP National Coalitions and Constituency Groups will be coming together to make plans as part of an exciting new campaign, Global Moves for Justice 2015 - a flexible campaign action that can be adapted to each national and regional context.  (Read on for more details!)

The development of Global Moves for Justice 2015 follows a six month consultation across the GCAP network -- starting with the November 2013 Global Assembly and adoption of the Johannesburg Call to Action, followed by a Campaign Narrative: “15 Solutions for 2015” and finally Five Mobilisation Ideas which were shared with GCAP National Coalitions and Constituency Groups for feedback.

We learned that there is a certain fatigue around “summiteering” style mobilisations focused on events in New York.  GCAP Coalitions want mobilisations to be connected to local issues that are meaningful to people and then connect these to the global processes.  

What does a Global Move for Justice look like? 

Justice 2015: A Campaign Narrative for Accountability and Equality

Building on the 2013 GCAP Global Assembly -  with an eye on the formation of a just Post-2015 sustainable development framework - GCAP activists have collaborated on a narrative for a broad-based people's campaign for equality.  

"Justice 2015" proposes 15 Solutions for 2015 to hold governments, international institutions and the private sector to account.  This Campaign Narrative will provide a foundation for GCAP and related civil society actions in the year ahead, including activities that are part of Global Moves for Justice 2015.

"We will campaign for a world where our economies create prosperity for all and not a select few, where extreme income inequality is overcome, governments, people and the private sector respect the rights and dignity of all people and treasure the planet so that it will be habitable for current and future generations," GCAP notes in the introduction to the narrative.

We must address the current context of obscene inequality if the world is to truly eliminate poverty and enable a life of dignity for all. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, 'we have enough for everybody's need, but not enough for everybody's greed'.

Not long ago, Pope Francis built on this theme, noting that “inequality is the root of social ills” and adding that issues of poverty need to be “radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality.”

Roberto Bissio at the UN: Making Accountability Meaningful

Taking a 4000 year view of history, Social Watch Coordinator Roberto Bissio recently testified before the United Nations General Assembly that accountability is only meaningful if the powerful can be brought to account.

In the modern world, Bissio argues that this means holding companies accountable not only to their owners and consumers, but to their workers and people affected by their operations as well.  At a minimum, companies 'partnering' with the UN should be subject to the same reporting requirements as NGOs, including financial reports and a demonstrated adherence to human rights and UN principles.

You can watch Bissio's testimony here:

Bissio also describes how power dynamics between rich and 'poor' countries can undermine platforms for 'mutual accountability'.

Inspiring Change - Campaigning at the CSW

Perhaps no time of year is as intense for gender rights activists as the month of March, when lobbying at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and organising events to celebrate International Women's Day guarantees a number of sleepless nights.

Rosa Lizarde - of the Feminist Task Force - has compiled a list of notable quotes to capture the spirit of the CSW negotiations and the women who tirelessly campaign for gender equality.

"At a time when speaking up for justice, or just being yourself, can result in a woman being attacked, beaten, threatened, violated, insulted and shunned, let us seek inspiration for CHANGE, JUSTICE, EQUALITY, EQUITY and the fulfillment of WOMEN'S HUMAN RIGHTS in the words of everyday heroes," writes Lizarde, who is also the civil society co-chair of the Policy and Strategy Group (PSG) of The World We Want 2015. "Here are inspiring messages from the CSW and a “People's Voices” side event organised by the PSG and FTF.”

Read on to learn more about the outcomes of this year's CSW as well as Lizarde's list of inspiring quotes for change.

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