NPWJ Gender and Human Rights Program Strategy

Over the past years,  No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) Gender and Human Rights Program focused on a campaign for the adoption of a Resolution to explicitly ban female genital mutilation (FGM) by the United Nations General Assembly.
To this end, NPWJ conducted activities to mobilize human rights activists, women’s organizations, parliamentarians and government representatives from throughout Africa and Europe to involve them in the Ban FGM campaign. Additionally, though collaboration directly with the missions of affected countries at the United Nations, as well as the relevant United Nations specialized agencies, NPWJ worked to generate wide political support for a Resolution that bans FGM.
The campaign saw its successful culmination with the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, on 20 December 2012, of the historic resolution calling for a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation (A/RES/67/146). Its adoption reflects universal agreement that female genital mutilation constitutes a violation of human rights, which all countries of the world should address and prevent through “all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit FGM and to protect women and girls from this form of violence, and to end impunity”.

After the success of the Ban FGM Campaign, NPWJ continues to work with women’s rights activists across the world to target this and other forms of violence against women that tend to be addressed as cultural issues, rather than as violations of universal human rights. In addition to FGM, these include forced and child marriage, marital rape, sex work, denial of reproductive rights and other violations that are manifestations of women’s subordinate status.
Among recent and ongoing initiatives carried out by NPWJ, we can highlight the BEFORE project (Best practices to Empower women against Female genital mutilation, Operating for Rights and legal Efficacy), supported by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020); EMANCIPA-MI, supported by The Circle, the Municipality of Milan (Italy) and Fondazione Bracco; and a study on the prevalence of forced and early marriage in Italy, with the support of The Circle, as well as "P-ACT: Percorsi di Attivazione Contro il Taglio dei diritti." In recent years, NPWJ has also developed a campaign called: For Her Own Good: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and subjugation of women and girls perpetrated “with protective intent” in armed conflict and related coercive environments
NPWJ campaigns for specific and effective legislative measures that can provide legitimacy, protection and essential legal tools, both to women’s rights advocates working to turn the tide of social norms, and to victims and potential victims resisting societal expectations to be silent and acquiesce.
NPWJ continues to build on the FGM Campaign as a model of successful advocacy in mobilising national governments to promote international instruments, which in turn can be used by local activists to hold national institutions accountable for the protection and promotion of women’s rights as human rights, not just as a “development” issue.
NPWJ will work both at the international and at the national level to ensure: 

  1. better opportunities for international assessment and review of government compliance with rights of women obligations, pointing the spotlight on FGM policies as an emblematic example, and holding governments accountable (to each other if nothing else);
  2. that the success of the FGM campaign can be a model for other “rule-of-law for rights of women” campaigns on “controversial” issues (child marriage, marital rape, sex work, reproductive rights) that have to a large extent been deliberately confined until now to limited fora such as the CSW.

On FGM, based on UNGA Resolutions 67/146 and 69/150, NPWJ seeks to ensure that:

  1. partners are better placed to advocate for better laws where laws are poor or lacking, better implementation where good FGM laws exist and generally better FGM policies by government, also as a basis for how to address other violations of the rights of women;
  2. partners have increased legitimacy and authority vis-à-vis their counterparts in their FGM field-work (local authorities, magistrates, community leaders and communities in general);
  3. partners are better placed to seek support from “development partners” on FGM work;
  4. partners buoyed by success have better developed, more ambitious “rule-of-law for rights of women” campaigns on “controversial” issues (marital rape, child marriage, reproductive rights, and in some very rare cases even issues of gender identity);
  5. an opportunity to set to rest some of the unhelpful diatribes among anti-FGM advocates, providing an accepted comprehensive policy framework
  6. partners have strengthened cross-country links and cooperation (on FGM but also on other rights of women battles); and
  7. partners have increased legitimacy vis-à-vis policy-makers in their countries as they are seen to have had “influence in the United Nations”.