Day after day new disasters and killings due to terrorism is in the news. No country can consider itself immune to such murderous actions – terrorism is a global issue. However, it is one that needs to be addressed both domestically and internationally.
Graduate Women International President (and WG-USA member), Geeta Desai has written an outline for action that we, as individuals and as an organization can do. Geeta quotes Aliaa from the Egyptian Association of Graduate Women, “All Egyptians are united in fighting terrorism….condolences are not enough anymore…”
Here is Geeta’s response –
What we all need to know is that The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by its General Assembly in 2006, has four parts to it:
1. Addressing conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism
2. Preventing and combating terrorism
3. Building Member States capacity to prevent and combat terrorism
4. Ensuring respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as a basis for countering terrorism.
Additionally, the international community has articulated 19 international legal instruments to prevent terrorist acts. Among these is the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
Each part of the UN strategy provides opportunities for our involvement that are intrinsic to our mission. Here is a breakdown of actions that I believe that we can be taking in our communities, countries and in the world:
Addressing conditions that are conducive to the spread of terrorism and preventing and combating terrorism
NFAs and Individual Members should:
• Create awareness of the causes of terrorism. Lack of education and economic opportunities and grinding poverty are frequently cited causes but not everyone is aware of this self- fulfilling relationship
• Convene community – based discussions about the need to alleviate these conditions.
• Specifically identify and discuss economically disadvantaged areas within your municipalities that are potential flash points – advocate for these areas, specifically
• Join forces with grassroots organizations and NGOs within your country that are working towards peace
• Talk to businesses about supporting education – Terrorism is bad for business
• Take a stand for education within your cities and countries.
• Write to every level of government in your countries – do not underestimate the power of an email campaign and speaking truth to power
GWI Board, staff and UN representatives will expand their emphatic advocacy to include the importance of the intersection of lack of education and economic opportunity and terrorism
Building Member States capacity to prevent and combat terrorism
NFAs, Individual Members should:
• Build capacity into counter-terrorism mechanisms already in place within your countries by supporting leadership of women in potentially flash-point communities. In most countries, these flash- points are in overcrowded urban areas in very low or squatters’ housing and segregated minority areas.
• Begin an education and vocational training projects in these areas, if you don’t already have one. It may be worthwhile to start projects that help you connect to the women in these areas. Empirical research in Women, Peace and Security suggests that women play an important role in early warnings of impending attacks as well as in preventing attacks. Your support of these women builds capacity into counter-terrorism mechanisms already in place within your countries
• Join forces with victims and survivor rights groups and help them reach government officials. Most legislation that has been passed around the world has been the result of advocacy by victims’ and collaborating groups.
• Find out if women are involved in key decision-making roles in capacity building in your countries, particularly grassroots leaders, victims and survivors of terrorist acts and women from flash -point areas. Most countries have a central homeland security or counter- terrorism departments – inquire with yours.
• Tell us what you’ve found out about the status of women’s involvement in capacity – building in your country
GWI Board, staff and UN representatives will, based on your feedback, provide country-specific advocacy at the UN for the meaningful inclusion of women in all prevention mechanisms within countries.
Ensuring the respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as a basis for countering terrorism.
We believe that we can, together play the most important role in this area.
NFAs and Individual Members should:
• Monitor the exercise of the rule of law. Unfortunately, in some countries it has begun to supersede human rights. Human rights are violated not just when governments over-reach their responsibilities but also when innocent citizens are caught up in a widely thrown law enforcement net. For example the victims of human trafficking (mostly women and girls) are frequently are prosecuted as “enemy combatants”.
• Join forces with NGOs that help preserve human rights
• Take a stand with other NGOs against the cross – border sale and acquisition of guns. Freedom from gun-related violence is a human right. .
GWI Board, staff and UN Representatives will advocate with the UN and its agencies for the preservation and expansion of women and girls’ rights in the course of enforcing the rule of law. GWI will additionally advocate with the US State Department against the sale of arms to volatile countries and regimes in the world.
Dear GWI family, I am convinced if we work together – you do your part and we do ours – we will make a difference.
President Geeta Desai