Archive for March, 2013

2013 Awards Gala

Please join us for our annual Awards Gala where we will be honouring local women and girls in our community and recognizing their achievements with three awards:

  • The Women’s Opportunity Award: Recognizing a woman who is the head of her household and actively enrolled in a further education program so she may provide a better life for her family.
  • The Violet Richardson Award: Recognizing a 13-17 year old female student who works tirelessly towards helping others in our community and celebrating her commitment to volunteerism.
  • The Ruby Award: Recognizing a local woman in the community who has made a difference in the live of women & girls in our community.

This evening is a proud event for us that is made possible through our continued fundraising to help women & girls in our community and throughout the world.

We invite you to join us in celebration and hear their inspiring stories on Wednesday May 22, 2013 at Copetown Woods Golf Course (directions). Doors open at 6pm and there will be a cash bar. Tickets are available in advance (not at the door) for $35 and include a delicious meal. Dress code is cocktail/semi formal (or as we like to say, your best party dress). Gentlemen are welcome.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, speak with one of our Soroptimist Members, or contact us directly at soroptimistdaf@gmail.com. Tickets must be reserved by May 15th. Everyone is welcome to join us!

March 27 2013 under SI-DAF Events

Flamborough Chamber: Outstanding Business Awards, 2013

On Saturday March 2, 2013, Soroptimist International of Dundas~Ancaster~Flamborough celebrated the success of one of its members, Janet Barnard, at the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala, held at Flamborough Hills Golf & Country Club in Copetown. Janet, SI-DAF’s hard working treasurer, was presented with an Outstanding Business Achievement Award for her services to bookkeeping for the Flamborough Chamber over several years. Also present at the Awards celebration were the new Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, Ted McMeekin MPP, and Hamilton City Councillors Judy Partridge and Robert Pasuta . Janet and the other Soroptimist members had a chance to speak briefly with Premier Wynne, and though the Premier had not heard of Soroptimist International prior to that night, she expressed interest in our organization and promised to find out more about us. What a wonderful evening, and a special honour for Janet!

Pictured in the photo from left to right are Ted McMeekin MPP, SI-DAF members Christine Aarlaht, Pauline Hardcastle, Shirley Eden, Premier Kathleen Wynne, SI-DAF member and award winner Janet Barnard.

From left to right, SI-DAF members Christine Aarlaht and Pauline Hardcastle, Hamilton City Councillors Robert Pasuta and Judi Partidge (both valued supporters of SI-DAF), and SI-DAF members Maria Demkowich, Shirley Eden and Janet Barnard.

March 24 2013 under SI-DAF Events

Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader??

Have fun testing your team’s knowledge (or lack there of). We will form teams of 6 or BYOT (Bring Your Own Team). Doors open at 6pm, Trivia from 7. There will be a light meal and cash bar, raffles, 50/50 and a feature draw for a $500 Entertainment Basket (winner need not attend).

Join us at the the Royal Canadian Legion 79 Hamilton Street North, Waterdown.Tickets are $25.

March 18 2013 under Fundraisers

CSW57: Agreed Conclusions

“At the conclusion of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, UN Women welcomes the outcome of the meeting. The Agreed Conclusions are a testimony to the commitment of Member States to do the right thing, to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. In the last two weeks during the meeting in New York, and in the lead-up to this session, we witnessed global engagement and mobilization, high-profile advocacy by civil society, and determined leadership by many Member States. Expectations of the world’s women and girls were extremely high for this session of the Commission.”

An excerpt from the UN Women press release, of March 15th, these words echo Executive Director Michelle Bachelet’s closing statement, where she expressed thanks and reflected on the purpose and outcomes of the Commission on the Status of Women:

It is a tribute to this Commission that since its first session 66 years ago, it has welcomed representatives of civil society, in a model of inclusion. I pay a special tribute to the thousands of civil society representatives who came here and raised their voices.

The interest and attendance at this 57th session of CSW reflects the importance in all of our countries of the urgency to end violence against women and girls. The world has been watching us. We came here two weeks ago with the opportunity, and the obligation, to do all we could to protect the rights of women and girls, the right to live in dignity, free of violence and discrimination. People expected action and we have no right to let down the world’s women. And we have not failed them. Yes, we did it!

Sixty-six years ago, the Commission on the Status of Women met for the first time with 15 member States in attendance. Since then, we have witnessed critical gains in ensuring that women enjoy the same human rights as men. Today 131 member States attended the 57th session of this Commission.

Since its inception, this Commission has moved forward, guided by the principle articulated in the UN Charter — the principle of the equal rights of men and women.

Today, 66 years later, the world is far different than it was then.

Last year the member states did not agree and no outcome document was completed. There was a time last week when it was thought it may be the case again this year, where it was better to maintain existing agreements than agree by consensus to a loss of rights. It is my joy to announce that on Saturday an agreement was reached.  Apparently there was a closed door session and sometime after that a cheer could be heard from behind closed doors. I understand that all the points Soroptimist International was lobbying for were accepted into the final document. It was a whirlwind week, and I am thankful that there was an outcome.

What happens next? We find ways to hold Canada accountable.

March 17 2013 under SI News

CSW: Opening Remarks

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the UN Celebrations for International Women’s Day in the North Lawn Building, Conference Room 2. I add that Conference Room 4 (overflow via telecast) was also full.

The morning consisted of remarks from the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, the Ambassador of France, and the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, who made the following statement of power with a positive visualization:

“My message today is:

We cannot move backwards, we must keep moving forward. It is what we owe to millions of women fighting for their rights around the world. There can be no peace, no progress, no equality without women’s full and equal rights and participation.

And there can be no gender equality without women’s realization. Women’s realization of their full reproductive rights, their right to sexual and reproductive health, are essential to the empowerment of women and to gender equality.

I am pleased to announce that 50 governments and the European Commission have committed to take concrete action to end violence against girls and women… Together we must keep the promise so women and girls can, one day, in this century, live free of fear and violence.”

While not named explicitly in her speech, Canada is listed amongst that 50. A full list is available online: http://saynotoviolence.org/commit. More information about the UNITE campaign can be found online: http://endviolence.un.org/ however I was unable to find a copy of the video that was shown online.

The panel that followed was on the elderly and widowed; indigenous women; women living with HIV/AIDS, and immigrant women, followed by remarks on women with disabilities. It was an excellent discussion to draw attention to those groups who are often neglected in deliberations because they are not in the mainstream/normal category.

March 9 2013 under General

CSW: March in March

UN Women for Peace held their annual March in March on International Women’s Day. We marched from the gates of the UN to a platform. It was our pleasure to hear celebrities and dignitaries speak out against violence against women – all forms, zero tolerance. Kelly Rutherford was moved to tears but UN appointed Disney Actress and youth activist Monique Coleman spoke with pride about being a “Youth Champion” for the International Year of Youth in 2010 and the need to further address violence: sexual and physical.


Susan Sarandon. Photo Courtesy of: http://unwomenforpeace.org/wp-content/gallery/march-on-march-8-2013/susansarandonmarchmarch8nyc0uefgy8ijdwl.jpg

We were given hope for the insufferable plight of girls who wish to be educated when Susan Sarandon read a message from Malala Yousafzai. Even General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon attended to demonstrate his solidarity and support. What struck me most was  Lakshmi Puri’s call and response, which evoked such a strong emotion when she yelled out to the crowd:

Today and every day we say NO to discrimination and violence against women and girls.NO to domestic violence and abuse.

NO to rape and sexual violence.

NO to human trafficking and sexual slavery.

NO to female genital mutilation.

NO to child brides and child marriage.

NO to murders committed in the name of honour or passion.

NO to femicide.

NO to impunity.

And we say YES to peace, human rights, justice and equality.

The formal remarks were lead by Mrs. Ban Soon-Taek, followed by  Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women, and  Amb Rosemary A. DiCarlo, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.  The planned celebrity speakers included: Michael Bolton, Christy Turlington, Kelly Rutherford, Monique Coleman, Alexandra Richards, Alexis Bledel, and Linda Fairstein.

March 8 2013 under SI News

One Woman

This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women. As commemorations are underway in all corners of the globe, “One Woman” reminds us that together, we can overcome violence and discrimination: “We Shall Shine!” Join us to help spread the word and enjoy this musical celebration of women worldwide.

Launching on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, the song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality. “One Woman” was written for UN Women, the global champion for women and girls worldwide, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women’s lives around the world.

Reference: http://song.unwomen.org/

March 7 2013 under SI News

CSW57: Panel 2

Today I had the privilege of attending Panel 2: Multi-sectoral services and responses for women and girls subjected to violence with moderator: Mr. Filippo Cinti, Vice-Chair of the Commission (Italy). It was located in the North Lawn Building at the United Nations. The discussion was fascinating and the use of A/V and translation was extremely helpful but it moved too quickly to capture (in fact it was so lively, it ran overtime).

The link below is to the recommended readings, bios and presentations. I encourage you to read through the issues:

http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm#prep

March 6 2013 under SI News

CSW57: Trafficking at Major Events

This morning I attended an panel sponsored by the Women’s League of Voters and the Working Group on Girls. I’ve summarized the main speaking points below but my question, in the context of our local club in the City of Hamilton, is: what efforts have taken place to mitigate sexual exploitation in preparation of the Pan Am games in 2015? and what is the current and long-term strategy of Hamilton to eradicate human trafficking and sexual exploitation?

Ms. Lizzy H. – Girl Advocate, The Working Group on Girls, Inc
The panel ended with the perspective of a high school student who has been part of the Working Group on Girls. I start with her comment because it set the tone of the issue: she was forwarded the Huffington Post headline after Superbowl 2013 and  was shocked. All-American Football is about heros from varied socio-economic backgrounds, the under-dog rising up to success and viewers sharing a common unity. Such an iconic concept as the driving force of trafficking demonstrates how systemic and atrocious this issue truly is! I encourage you to read the article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/03/super-bowl-sex-trafficking_n_2607871.html

Mdme. Lourdes Baldiera, Ambassador, Brazil
Ms. Adriana Telles Ribeiro Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations (served as translator)

Brazil will be hosting several major events this year; developed an inter-ministerial working group – justice, sports, tourism, human rights, labour and women – with the goal of elaborating policies to combat violence against women and children during these events. The country of Brazil is preparing itself to secure the protection of rights of Women and Girls by promoting exchanges with other countries who have held major sporting events to learn about successful practices to prevent sexual exploitation. The actions being implemented (both to combat and prevent) includes:
since 2012 being focussed on the services networks in 12 cities hosting the games with the goal of preventing social impacts and situations that may raise the vulnerability of women and girls and protect them from exploitation and contamination of diseases, like HIV/AIDS.

It is an inter-sectorial and inter-ministerial strategy that is systematic and a coordinated effort: NGOs, police and judiciary agencies, social development organizations, etc. The problem is being treated by establishing the punishment for the aggressors and extending the network of support for victims.

“The protagonist is the Special Secretariat of Policies for Women” who has combined with the ministries of justice, sport & labour to launch a national campaign. The goal is to better inform women so they don’t submit themselves to exploitation and recognize if the tactics of exploitation, as well as STD protection. In partnership with actors, hotels/motels and taxi drivers, they are educating these influencers to make them aware of the role they can play in preventing sexual exploitation and recognizing the situation. The government will intensify ads and media campaigns on tv, billboards and radio to raise awareness. They are promoting Dial-180 is the national hotline for service to women; 24 hour service is phone based and free, and explains resources available; also available for Brazilian women in other countries of latin america and parts of Europe. There is a national plan under the Secretariat of Policies for Women that brings actions geared towards the concern of the situation of women and girls and intends to demonstrate that the perspective of gender is in the public policies and that it is needed for a more just, equal and democratic society.

Of note: Brazil does a “name & shame” to highlight names of those convicted for these crimes and the companies they work for!

Amy Mahoney-Project Manager Program Unit, International Organization for Migration, Washington
They studied the World Cup Germany (2012) to better understand the effects of trafficking around events. Results of their study saw no discernible increase possibly due to training of law enforcement and engagement; fan base was mostly families and young men who had low income/resources used for trip and cost of living (vs men with means); also prostitution is legal in Germany. Of the actions taken, at least 5 NGOs had messages and campaigns and there were at least 3 hotlines established as well as one for victims and clients to call, counselling centres and assistance centres for cases that were documented: of the 33 reported human trafficking cases, only 5 were directly linked to the World Cup (all ages 19-21 from Eastern Europe, 4 women, 1 men). An outcome of the analysis was the need to have a more concerted effort: 1 hotline, 1 message and a sustainable method for long term awareness.

South Africa’s prevention campaign (World Cup 2010) focussed on children (sexual exploitation and begging). They key initiatives were: a fast track court was put in place to get through a case in 24 hours, a phone hotline established and a screening room for enforcement to monitor cameras located in local parks and within the stadium. In hindsight, the government needed to monitor pre-construction of roads and stadiums in the context of forced labour (men).

Tracy Thompson, Assistant Attorney General, New Jersey and Chair of Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force
The Superbowl 2013 event is being used as a spring board for marketing and raising awareness but the policies will extend beyond in timeframe; Human Trafficking has been made one of the top 2 priorities and extends to all the commercial enterprises that drive these crimes. The first priority is safety and removal of the victim, where “investigation is a bonus, prosecution is a cherry on top”.

A task force was established 8-years ago. A human trafficking unit was dedicated to prosecution (including drugs, weapons, brothels, illegal use of narcotics, laundering). The policy is if a police officer isn’t appropriately trained to investigate the case, they are mandated to refer it. The Executive Director mandated immediate protection and safety of the victim regardless of a prosecution moving forward and expeditious access to services (partnership with other community organizations), where the department will provide immediate/short term interim services until they can be placed in a shelter. Police are mandated to care for victims and explain available resources (State & Federal options); as well regular/recurring training is mandatory – all training materials are available online to reduce in person/time barriers. The department requires a uniform approach for messaging to ensure a consistent experience for all victims; documenting reported & suspected cases is mandatory across all 24 Counties.

In response to the Superbowl next year, they have already created a 24/7 hotline to take tips, give out information and share resources, and distribute dinner placemats to restaurants with translations (using recent censes to target key languages); also recognized the need to strengthen their laws and identification of gaps in services:

  • a proposed avenue for civil action for victims against their offender and don’t need to participate in the prosecution (encouraged and supported by the DA’s office but not required)
  • age of consent is 16 and to prosecute trafficking the prosecutor must show force or coercion for trafficking; looking to remove that requirement for those under age 18;
  • establishing a commission in the Departments of law and justice so future administrations cannot change them;
  • established a new liability for persons who recklessly facilitate, transport or allow trafficking happen on their property. This encompasses rentals, hotels or motels, taxi cab drivers, and truckers as being liable; and
  • acknowledging the “John-side” to irradiate demand. The speaker reference “don’t buy the lie” campaign (i.e. claim they don’t know the woman is under age or being forced); the education component about susceptibility is to reduce the appeal.

In the State of NJ, the link of trafficking to major sporting events have no specific stats because the issue has not formally been studied. They have already started to gather and monitor sites like Craig’s List for solicitations but there are national stats on transgendered children, boys and women who are being abducted and exploited. The State has assumed and accept that it is also happening regionally – the data will come and in the interim, they acknowledge the problem.

Taking lessons from Indiana and New Orleans: collaboration across agencies and community is key because the police force have limitations in their reach/scope; Luisiana was too late for in/out calls at the time of the superbowl. NJ are already booking rooms in hotels so they have a base of operations in the hotels themselves; have a regional data and information centre that will be set up closer to the event; and they have a state wide approach not just within the city.

The State holds a zero tolerance policy and the risk/penalties for assisting, patronizing a victim, transporting, etc … has to outweigh the profit and pleasure gain. Next steps are: amass volunteers from colleges and faith based communities, will hold a stakeholder summit in June, increase the anti-demand campaign towards “John’s,” and hospitals and emergency services are being educated for signs. For more information:  http://www.nj.gov/oag/dcj/humantrafficking/

Note: moderator encouraged the idea of corporations having zero tolerance as part of their code of conduct.

Ms. Laura Kirschstein- Managing Director of the Sexual Misconduct Consulting & Investigations, T&M Protection Resources

Trafficking is not on street corners. It is as easy to order a girl as it is to get a book on Amazon (pick rates, location domestic or int’l, choose photo and enter CCD #); now monitor BackPage (closed down Craig’s List erotic services) but screening for indicative words keeps changing. The change is happening on multiple fronts: domestic violence cases in NY at one point were told to walk around the block and come back but this is no longer the case; there is a similar progression with prostitution where there is a change in attitude (no longer viewed as criminals but as victims); time and effort has been put in to training law enforcement officers and teaching them about conflict resolution and questioning tactics and now police encourage referrals the specific officer feels they are if not trained adequately; have specific training for prosecutors, courts and judges as well. Ongoing is a change in attitude to patrons with penalties that are more than a slap on the wrist. Pimps, bookers, reuse of women are an incestuous world; cooperation of victims helps with intelligence gathering to lead to arrests.

Tactics that work: conduct undercover actions and responding to online solicitations well in advance to keep perpetrators off balance – more public awareness and arrests makes them uncomfortable and feeling at risk of arrest – publicizing successful cases in the media is helpful as a combat strategy; need to make the general population want to report the things they see.

I urge you to contact your city Councillor to find out what is being done to erradicate and prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking, now, during the games and ongoing.

March 6 2013 under SI News

CSW57: Positions

I attended the Canadian debriefing session at the UN. It was held with the negotiating team from the Ministry for Status of Women and am pleased to report that the Canadian delegation confirmed with us today that they will be advocating for inclusion of the language women and girls in the resolutions and that gender equality is maintained. I understand that in the negotiations so far reproductive rights is one of the key contentious issues.

A copy of Canada’s strategic policy and annual reports on the Status of Women can be found online:

http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/abu-ans/index-eng.html#policy

http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/account-resp/pr/rpp/index-eng.html

March 5 2013 under SI News