Ahead of the 57th Meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women Lizzette Robleto-Gonzales reflects on the treatment of women around the world.

The death of the 23 year-old Indian medical student on the 16 December 2012, the case of the Somali journalist and the Somali rape victim being jailed on 10 January 2013 and the disappearance and the subsequent rape and murder of three Indian girls  aged 5, 9 and 11 in the rural village of Lakhni in India in February 2013 have something in common: they sadly reminded us that there is still a long way to achieve fair and equal treatment for women.

And there have been allegations about the mistreatment of women by individuals and institutions here in the UK too, so we can't pretend deplorable treatment of women only happens overseas. And of course, the list could go on…

Time to stop turning a blind eye

It is in such a challenging context that the 57th Meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women is taking place in New York from 4-15 March 2013, including International Women's Day on Friday 8 March. The purpose of this conference is to discuss "Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls". 

We can all agree that this international conference is very timely given the cases mentioned above. But, the question is…will it deliver? It seems that, after all, in spite of the Equality Laws, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and other women-friendly processes, nothing has fundamentally changed…or has it? 

Something is certain; the world can no longer turn a blind eye to or condone actions that aim at destroying or undermining women’s physical and psychological well-being. To join other efforts, Progressio is working very hard at supporting grassroots organisations in order to change stereotypical attitudes in the relationship between men and women.

What are Progressio doing?

Progressio development workers, who are specialists in advocacy, are supporting women in Somaliland to shape and to strengthen their own national movement called NAGAAD which Fatumo Sahib pictured above is a member of – these women have already a lot of gains to show, including increasing the political participation of women with the right to vote and the right to stand in elections.

Another great example is Domingas Tilman, supported by one of our partner organisations in Timor-Leste, who is fighting hard to ensure that domestic violence stops by running a safe-house for victims of abuse. “Changing attitudes about domestic violence through rigorous law enforcement and social awareness campaigns is necessary," Domingas says. "Education in schools, churches and families is also vital to reduce domestic violence.” 

Progressio is taking a step further by starting a new advocacy programme, from April 2013, to support the work of courageous women like Domingas by influencing decisions taken internationally that affect women’s lives in her community. 

Intolerable abuses of power must end

These courageous women deserve better and to know that we stand alongside them. Such intolerable abuses of power must end… Maybe, just maybe, the 57th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women will manage to inject a sense of hope and solidarity to continue the uphill road ahead.

If you would like to hear more about this work and how you can campaign and support please email lizzette@progressio.org.uk (Photo: Fatumo Shaib, 55, is a member of women's network Nagaad © Progressio)