Women’s leadership in peacebuilding is essential to fostering harmony and peaceful coexistence in every community around the world. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals showcase this, calling for all nations to ensure women are empowered and given adequate opportunities to participate in political, social, and economic growth. But for them to effectively be involved in such a process, women need to learn and understand their civil, political, and social rights.
In April 2023, Global Peace Women Paraguay held an online training moderated by their national director, Maria Ester Jimenez, in which the main speaker, Ms. Sonia Brucke, Director of the Senate Commission for Equality, Gender and Social Development, delved into the importance of women’s civil and political rights.
Global Peace Women, an affiliate of the Global Peace Foundation, uplifts women as leaders in peacebuilding through seminars, service projects, global campaigns, and international projects.
Drawing on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, Ms. Brucke, in her seminar, emphasized that both civil and political rights are part of human rights, saying, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and endowed as they are with reason and conscience, they should behave fraternally with one another.”
Informed citizens are the first step to protecting civil and political rights, especially from infringement by the government or society.
“Such rights ensure the ability of each person to participate in the political life of society and the State, free from all forms of discrimination or repression,” Ms. Brucke said.
She shared examples of such rights, including the right to communicate freely, physical freedom, equality, the ability to intervene actively or passively in the public functions of each country, and equal access to public office.
Encouraging participants to be actively involved in the political process in their countries, Ms. Brucke mentioned that political rights allow everyone to express their national sovereignty. “These are rights to elect and be elected, the right to vote, the right to participate in government, and the right to hold public office,” she explained.
In her presentation, Ms. Brucke noted that civil rights must assure every person’s life, liberty, and security. “Civil rights are against torture, cruel or degrading treatment. They allow welfare, decent work, education, and housing for all,” she added.
Ms. Brucke informed the participants of social, cultural, and economic rights noting that they are related to access to work, social security, family life, health care, education, food, water, access to housing, proper environment, and participation in cultural life. She mentioned that the rights have given rise to legal obligations for states, such as guaranteeing that all persons in the country can enjoy these rights and providing protection and recourse mechanisms for such persons if these rights are violated. She also noted that they are based on the principle of non-discrimination, and when they are not respected, end in devastating results such as homelessness, loss of livelihood, malnutrition, health problems, discrimination in access to employment, use of education as a means of propaganda, denial of food assistance or contamination of water resources, among other negative impacts.
Touching on the correlation of all the rights she had mentioned, Ms. Brucke said they were all a part of a system that supports the peaceful co-existence of people within a community or country. She insisted on empowering vulnerable groups in communities, especially women and youth, with this knowledge. She noted that it was only through such empowerment that women would effectively participate in social, economic, and political processes.
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