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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.

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Posts with tag: unite

December 10, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 16: Human Rights Day

by Paul Olson

The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specified thirty articles: rights and freedoms essential for the achievement of dignified living for all people. These rights include civil, political, social and economic liberties. The declaration represents the belief that persons can only flourish if there rights and freedoms are respected. The drafters assumed that signers not only believed conceptually in the idea of inherent human dignity, but also accepted the personal obligations that go hand in hand with peaceful development.

We have been challenged these past 16 days to consider the right of women and girls ...

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December 9, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 15: Militarism and Priorities

by Robert Arrington

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), by 2015 in low and middle income countries, 100 million children, or 1 in 6, will not have completed primary school. Furthermore,UNICEF reports that half of children who are out-of-school are from countries that have been affected by conflict, with more than half the female population out-of-school. Together, the top ten countries by expenditure spent $1.28 trillion on militaries in 2013, accounting for just over 73% of the global expenditure.

When countries enter into conflict, state institutions, particularly education and internal security, are weakened ...

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December 8, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 14: Domestic Violence

by Robert Arrington

Today we draw attention to the issue of violence enacted on women and girls in the home. Domestic violence can occur against women and men, boys and girls. It is a huge problem and is often unreported and never adequately addressed. It can often have devastating effects on the children in the home, especially. During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, here are a few alarming statistics facing women and girls who experience domestic violence:

More than 60% of all women in the Pacific Islands have faced domestic violence or sexual assault. Violence against Women ...

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December 7, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 13: Cross-Cultural Vocational Training and Reducing Gender-Based Violence

by Paul Olson

One strategy in the fight against gender-based violence is to bring women and girls from different cultures and age groups together in vocational and entrepreneurial training. UK Aid  is supporting the work of UNICEF by reaching out to Syrian and Lebanese girls and offering free workshops. The Syrian girls are refugees in Lebanon. While their cultures and upbringing may be different, their shared experience as women and girls in difficult circumstances fosters understanding and hope. The workshops foster friendships and solidarity for women and girls who live in refugee camps or transitional communities.

How can you work ...

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December 6, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 12: Advent Reflection

by Robert Arrington

Today on the second Sunday of Advent, we consider the prophecy spoken by Zechariah in Luke 1:68-79:

 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, 
and has remembered his holy ...

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December 5, 2015

December 5, 2015 - 16 Days of Activism - Day 11: Child Marriage and Education

by Paul Olson

The right to ‘free and full’ consent to marriage is recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UNICEF has reported extensively on how child marriage is a harmful and exploitative tradition. In Mozambique, some 60 percent of girls with no education are married by 18, compared to 10 percent of girls with secondary schooling and less than 1 percent of girls with higher education.

Education deters child marriage. The International Center for Research on Women reports that child marriage is associated with lower levels of schooling for girls in every region of the world. Girls ...

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December 4, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 10: Why am I (a man) involved in ‘16 days of Activism’ regarding violence against girls?

by Paul Olson

As a man I have become engaged in this work on violence against girls because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and because Jesus Christ embodies the notion of compassion (meaning literally to ‘suffer with’). Henri Nouwen in his book “On Compassion” dismisses the notion of human ‘activism’, but reframes it within the narrative of Christ-like discipleship:

“The disciples speak of their actions as manifestations of God’s active presence. They act not to prove their power, but to show God’s power; they act not to redeem people but to reveal God’s redemptive grace ...

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December 3, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 9: Photo Campaign

by Robert Arrington

Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) is hosting a photo campaign today at 1 pm aimed at spreading the word about stopping gender based violence. Even if you’re not able to physically attend the event, consider joining the campaign by snapping a photo of your own sign telling why you think Gender Based Violence needs to end and then posting it on social media! This type of advocacy goes a long way in quickly increasing awareness.

Douglass Friends of UNFPA: Stopping Gender Based Violence Photo Campaign

Thursday, December 3, 1:00 PM, Douglass Student Center

Students will ...

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December 2, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 8: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

by Robert Arrington

No more slaves written on sidewalkDecember 2 marks the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. It is a day that focuses on “eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.” This goal is of particular note for our campaign, since out of the estimated 21 million forced labor victims worldwide, an estimated 4.5 million of which are victims of forced sexual exploitation. According toUNiTE, 98% of these sexual exploitation victims are women and girls.

Violence and ...

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December 1, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 6: What Is a White Male to Do?

by Robert Arrington

As a white, cisgender, heterosexual male, I do not have much first hand experience in undergoing oppression. At least in the United States, I am in the majority of most social categories, so I have been in a position of privilege for all of my life. Because of this, it can appear disingenuous for a white male to join or be a leading voice for a movement brought about to end oppression, especially since some white males are in positions of power and are the agents of oppression. I think this fear of at best appearing disingenuous ...

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November 29, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 5: Advent and the Role of Mindful Teachers

by Paul Olson

First Sunday of Advent Lectionary Readings: Jer 33:14-16, Ps. 25:1-10, 1 Thess. 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36

On the first Sunday of advent, and on day 5 of the 16 day campaign to of activism against gender-based violence, we are reminded and instructed on the importance of teachers. One factor contributing to the violence against girl students is teacher absenteeism. Harvard and World Bank researchers conducted unannounced visits to primary schools in rural India. Due to a number of factors, they found a quarter of the teachers absent and only half of those present were ...

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November 28, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 4: Let’s dream: What if we educated all our girls?

by Paul Olson

Violence against girls in schools reduces the number of girls in school. Why is this important? Poverty, sickness, and sustainable development depends on education first.

The Global Education First Initiative reports that if we educated our girls…

·      12 million children would be saved from stunted growth.

·      64% fewer early marriages

·      59% fewer early pregnancies

·      10% increase in wage earnings for every 1 year of schooling

·      49% fewer child deaths if all women completed secondary school

·      66% decrease in maternal mortality if all women completed primary education

Spokesperson for girls’ education and Nobel peace prize winner, Malala Yousafza ...

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November 27, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 3: School Related Gender-Based Violence

by Paul Olson

While it is difficult to define the scale and scope of School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV), it is estimated that 246 million students experience SRGBV each year. Sexual violence against girls is extremely common and occurs while traveling to and from school, in the latrines, and during unsupervised play and results in:

-       low self-esteem
-       depression
-       school avoidance
-       low participation in class
-       inability to concentrate on work
-       drop out

Even more striking is the level of violence toward disabled girls aged 11-14 years. In Uganda, 24 percent of girls living with a disability reported experiencing sexual violence ...

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November 27, 2015

16 Days of Activism - Day 2: Thanksgiving

by Robert Arrington

appy Thanksgiving! As we collectively give thanks to God and our families around the dinner table, let us take a moment to reflect on the many ways in which our lives have been positively impacted by others. Thanksgiving is an expression of our gratitude for the gifts others have given us, gifts that have been freely given based on no merit of our own. In this reflection, we begin to realize the utter dependence we have on others who have done so much for us. Looking around the world in the wake of recent tragedies, we also ...

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November 25, 2015

16 Days of Activism: Orange the World against Gender-Based Violence

by Robert Arrington


Orange the world posterOrange the World! Welcome to the first post of a daily series of sixteen that will be following the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign from November 25 through December 10. This year marks the 24th year of the campaign, coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. 2015’s theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All!”

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites us to “Orange the world: End violence against women and girls” during this ...

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November 21, 2014

Orange Your Neighbourhood - End Violence against Women and Girls Now

Orange your neighborhoud banner

adapted from an email sent by UN Women's Civil Society Section.

November 25 is the International Day to End Violence against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign! As you may know, this year’s UN celebrations will take place under the theme "Orange Your Neighbourhood - End Violence against Women and Girls Now". The initiative led by the Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign focuses on local actions towards ending violence against women and girls, while using orange as the uniting colour of all advocacy efforts.

As part of  the online campaign for the ...

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July 24, 2013

Orange Days in Brick, New Jersey

by Lori Evans

Here is what I did for the Orange Day to end violence against women and girls.

Orange Day logoI went to the Presbyterian Women's group  at my congregation, Brick Presbyterian Church in Brick, New Jersey. I did a presentation and handed out  orange ribbons. I placed an article in our church newsletter and bulletin. I placed flyers all over our church building.  I also talked to our Session.

After talking to my church, I did a five minute presentation at the June Presbytery Meeting. Than I made arrangements to talk to someone at the Brick Town Mayor's ...

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July 20, 2013

Making Cyber Space a Safe Space for Women and Girls

25 July 13 Orange Day logofrom the UNiTE Web page

Find activities and action ideas for the 25 July 2013 Orange Day to make cyber space a safe space for women and girls.

Technological developments in information and communications have presented rich and varied opportunities for advancements in the empowerment and participation of women and girls. New platforms now exist from which to raise awareness and disseminate information which have enabled women access to a wealth of information, presented new modes of communication, and new means of mobilization. The proliferation of digital technologies have enabled the development of innovative tools and programmes to prevent and ...

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July 20, 2013

Cyber Space as Safe Space for Women and Girls - Orange Day, 25 July 2013

25 July 13 Orange Day logofrom the UNiTE Web page with additional material

In July last year the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaimed every 25th of the month as Orange Day. Initiated and led by the UNiTE campaign Global Youth Network, worldwide activities implemented on this day by UN country offices and civil society organizations strive to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month.

Under the heading ‘Safe spaces for women and girls’, this year ...

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June 25, 2013

Why I'm wearing orange

by Anna Folz

Why am I wearing Orange?

After graduating from high school I spent a year abroad, most of my time being spent in Guatemala.  I saw so much frustration in the eyes of the woman and children there.  So often family members abused the women and girls. I could see it in the eyes of mothers, in the eyes of young girls.  I worked in a medical clinic and saw the physical trauma they faced on a routine basis. It is so important that we work to provide healthcare for those who are less fortunate, help protect others ...

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June 24, 2013

Ending violence against women and girls in State custody or State care - Orange Day June 2013

The 25th of every month is an Orange Day to end violence against women and girls.

The UNiTE Campaign is highlighting recommendations from the agreed conclusions of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in the framework of ‘safe spaces for women and girls’. This Orange Day and in recognition of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the UNiTE campaign highlights State custody and State care as safe spaces for women and girls – spaces where they must be safe from torture or any other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Three action ideas from ...

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March 10, 2013

What can we do?

How can we work to end violence against women and girls?

That was the question of the day at one of the adult education classes at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Four members of the Presbyterian delegation made a panel presentation on the Commission on the Status of Women and this year's theme: the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Panel at Fifth AvenueEach participant shared her story reflecting on why she chose to attend the Commission and what her experiences had been. The participants also reflected on their ministries working to eliminate and prevent violence against ...

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September 19, 2012

September 25 - Observe an Orange Day - Call for an end to violence against women and girls

Orange Day BannerOn September 25 observe an Orange Day – a day to say no and to work for an end to violence against women and girls. Here are some ways to mark this day:




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August 21, 2012

Orange Days: Say No – End Violence Against Women and Girls

Orange Day BannerOn the 25th of each month – join people around the world in observing an Orange Day to work and witness for an end to violence against women and girls. Read the most recent Orange Day stories.

One of the most widespread violations of human rights, violence against women and girls includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. It cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools and workplaces, in farm fields and refugee camps, and during conflicts and crises.

Violence against women and girls takes many ...

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July 25, 2012

Orange Day says end violence against women

Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations staff on Orange DayThe UNiTE campaign proclaims every 25th of the month as Orange Day, aiming to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women and girls, not only once a year on 25 November (the International Day to End Violence against Women), but every month!

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

UNiTE brings together a host of UN agencies and offices to galvanize action across the UN system to prevent and punish violence against women.

Through UNiTE, the ...

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