The 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees provides protection for people forcibly displaced by threats of persecution and violence. The convention defines these people as refugees, those who are “unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” However, while the 1951 Convention put in place important protections for vulnerable groups around the world, it did not provide protection for all populations experiencing forced displacement. This conversation will focus on people forcibly displaced by violence and conflict. Due to the definition’s emphasis on personal discrimination, many people whose safety is threatened by the violence around them but not necessarily directed at them are excluded from the same protection given to refugees. Internally displaced people (IDPs) are also excluded from the refugee definition because they have not left the borders of their country, even though they may be experiencing similar hardships as refugees. Finally, stateless populations’ lack of citizenship can make it difficult for them to access refugee status.
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Harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), are complex problems that are often tied to deep-rooted cultural and religious beliefs. As a result, combatting FGM requires a complex and multi-leveled process. In Guinea-Bissau, Plan International partnered with local NGOs and the European Commission to facilitate discussions and educational sessions about the dangers of FGM with various members of the community involved or impacted by FGM. These members include the women and girls at risk or victims of FGM, the local “cutter”, religious leaders, the village chief or mayor as well as medical professionals. This process of raising awareness has resulted in using public declarations to abandon the practice.
In order to ensure the rights of private-school teachers in terms of receiving the minimum wage requirement and summer months salaries, “Stand Up with the Teacher” campaign was established in 2015 with the support of the National Committee for Pay Equity (NCPE) and organized by the Ahl Foundation. The campaign has achieved several successes until 2017 when they lunched the #our_salary_in_the_bank hashtag which began as an online campaign on the 25th of September 2017. It ended with a sit-in of private-school female teachers in front of the Ministry of Education and resulted in transferring teachers’ salaries to bank accounts or electronic wallets is compulsory for all private schools.
In the aftermath of violence, fractured societies must pull together to build a stable social order. To effectively move forward, it is crucial that peacebuilding include the voices of all citizens, including ex-combatants, civil society leaders, governmental actors, representatives from minority groups, and more. However, there is one sector of the population that is routinely disregarded in peacebuilding processes—despite making up half of the population, women are often left on the sidelines of state-sanctioned peacebuilding. This marginalization has serious ramifications for human rights, the ability of societies to heal holistically, and long term stability. Women experience conflict differently than men, and excluding them from peacebuilding discussions leaves society susceptible to threats that women are better able to identify than their male counterparts. According to the UN, women’s inclusion in peace processes increases the chances of agreements lasting more than two years by 20 percent and increases their chances of lasting at least 15 years by 35 percent.
Although there are more refugees today than there were at the end of World War Two, the global response to this modern day crisis is based on systems that were created almost seventy years ago. A reluctance to incorporate new technology and infrastructure into refugee response procedures has resulted in antiquated international structures that fail to help people fleeing from conflict. With 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, a figure that is expected to climb as climate change worsens, it is imperative that political mechanisms are updated to accommodate this crisis in a humane way. One of the main issues that refugees face is unemployment. With institutional barriers to work, lack of proof of accreditation, and a growing education gap, it is difficult for refugees to access jobs. While changes in policy are needed to structurally address this issue, improvements in technology have the potential to open doors and provide opportunities for refugees to build new lives for themselves. There are many organizations that use technology both as a medium and a subject for career paths and educational opportunities that allow refugees to help themselves and improve their lives. These opportunities create ways for displaced people to create revenue without work permits, learn marketable skills that can travel with them, tap into global markets, and regain dignity. This conversation points to the intersection of technology and fiscal opportunity as a way to enrich the lives of refugees and provide solutions to modern problems.
In November 2017, June’s HIV+ Eatery opened for three nights to break the stigma surrounding people living with HIV in Toronto. Operating under the slogan “Break Bread, Smash Stigma”, all of the food served at June’s was prepared by HIV positive individuals-turned chefs. All of the seats at the pop-up restaurant sold out within two weeks, and the event garnered widespread worldwide media attention.
This campaign marked the first time for Tibneh Charity Association to work on a rights-based issue rather than charity work. This is considered a paradigm shift in the life of the Association. This shift emerged as a result of the Association’s participation in the USAID CIS Advocacy Support Fund grant process. A primary component of the grant process included an advocacy training using the New Tactics in Human Rights Program’s Strategic Effectiveness Method which facilitates the collective identification of locally-defined priorities. As a result, the Association launched the Preserving the Ancient (Perennial) or Rare Rumi Olive Trees in the Town of Tibneh/Irbid Governorate campaign.
The Jordanian Civic Activist Toolkit II is designed to share with Jordan's civic activists and organizations a rich selection of Jordanian advocacy campaigns from a wide range of civil society organizations initiatives that took place between 2014 and 2018 with support from the USAID Civic Initiatives Support program (CIS) (2013 – 2018). The toolkit includes a number of human rights-based advocacy case studies representing different themes addressing national and local issues. All cases reference the international obligations and commitments to international human rights conventions as the main frameworks governing the addressed issue. To capture the different elements of advocacy processes, the cases vary from providing in-depth reflection on two national and two regional level advocacy cases, brief reflections on two national and one regional level advocacy cases, as well as brief reflections on five local level advocacy cases. The toolkit also includes an aggregate-level analysis of lessons learned from all cases presented here as well as others presented in previous tools.
The Specific Union for Productive Farmer Women (the Union) campaign “Advocating for Women Farmers Right to Public Health Insurance” intervened in systemic barriers, providing women farmers’ access to their right to health care. This advocacy campaign shed light upon several critical areas of women farmers’ life experience directly impacting their right and access to public health insurance.
This campaign underlines the long-term dedication Sisterhood is Global Institute-Jordan (SIGI) has had to address deep-rooted rights violations. SIGI has dedicated over twenty years to eradicating discriminatory laws against girls and women, and utilizes human rights foundations of Jordanian and international law. This national level campaign celebrates the success of the entire Jordanian women’s movement to abolish Article 308 in the Penal Code which allowed a rapist to escape prosecution if he married his victim. In an additional triumph, decision-makers also abolished Article 98 that reduced charges in certain crimes involving the murder of women as well as a Personal Status Law to eliminate an exception that forced girls under the age of 18 to get married.