Paris, France—UPF co-sponsored an event titled “Violence against Women: An Attack on Human Dignity.”
The French chapter of Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), an organization that is affiliated with UPF, organized the event in partnership with the International Association for Economic and Social Development - Africa/France (AIDES/A.F.) and UPF-France.
The event took place on December 3, 2022, in the Espace Barrault conference center in Paris, as well as online, and marked not only the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25) but also Human Rights Day (December 10).
Brigitte Wada, president of WFWP-France, spoke about the meaning of dignity and recalled the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.
Carolyn Handschin, chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the United Nations in Geneva and international vice president of WFWP, spoke in a video message about events she attended at the United Nations as part of the 16 Days of Activism for the Prevention of Gender-Based Violence. Recalling that policymakers and local actors do not automatically trust each other, she stressed the importance of listening to each other with attention and respect.
Alphonsine Mikouiza, the founding vice president of AIDES/A.F., spoke about violence and harassment against women. She mentioned the social movement "Me Too," which encourages women victims of sexual assault and harassment to speak out, and the Women's and Family Rights Information Centers (CIDFF)—state organizations that guide women in various fields, including the fight against gender-based violence.
With her orange scarf, Brigitte Polonovski, a human rights expert in the field of violence against women, and a permanent representative to the United Nations for the International Council of Women, reminded us that we were in the middle of "Orange the World," a 16-day international campaign of activism against violence against women. Drawing on many statistics, she also noted that the pandemic had increased violence against women worldwide.
Dadastone Ipoma, an engineer in biological and medical engineering and president of the Ipoma Foundation, highlighted the roles of women in conflict zones, particularly in Africa. He spoke of women as ambassadors for peace who can reconcile people, educate and transmit family values, but also of women as victims, who too often are used as weapons of war in conflict zones.
Aicha Bacha, a doctor in political and social sciences, presented her recently published book Jihad as a Legacy on Belgian Soil. It deals with the violent radicalization of young Belgians of Moroccan origin, focusing on their families and particularly their mothers. She explained how violence within these families could have attracted some young people to the jihad.
The last speaker, Jacques Marion, the UPF co-chair for Europe and the Middle East, offered some thoughts, particularly on the role of women in peace agreements. Following a study of 200 peace agreements, he showed that the participation of women, even when minimal, greatly improved the outcome of the decisions taken. Women are committed to implementation and go into more detail on social issues, he said, while men are more concerned with political issues. He concluded the event by stressing that the family is the cradle of human dignity.