The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF) is dedicated to defending human rights, ending violence against women and girls, addressing the threat of climate change, supporting the rights of indigenous peoples and defending the rights of future generations. These issues may seen unrelated but their causes and some of their solutions are interconnected. I have always tried to look at the bigger picture. I am a firm believer in Aristotle’s observation, ‘The whole is more than the sum of its parts.’
The BJHRF carries out its objectives through research and advocacy: campaigning, fact finding missions, reports, publications, lectures, speeches, debates, conferences and public meetings.
The BJHRF is a small organisation. Since our inception we have had the invaluable pro bono support of human rights lawyers, the generosity of academics who donate their expertise and volunteers who give their time. I cannot express my gratitude strongly enough to those who have helped the Foundation along the way.
Our Global Campaign: Violence Against Women and Girls and The Culture of Impunity Must be Stopped. We Must Achieve the Missing Millennium Development Goal Target
The BJHRF has launched a global campaign to end violence against women and girls and the culture of impunity. We are calling on world leaders to achieve the "missing Millennium Development Goal’ (MDG) target": to address the systemic problems of discrimination and to achieve gender equality.
When the international community convened in 2000 to establish the MDGs, they left out this critical target. They failed to address violence against women and girls.
We are campaigning to raise awareness of the global pandemic of violence against women and girls, to identify where the law fails to protect women. We are calling for reform of legal mechanisms to ensure the protection of women from all forms of violence and sexual violence and to end to the culture of impunity.
The BJHRF educates the public about discrimination, promotes gender equality, and campaigns to rid our social and legal institutions of bias. We promote women’s empowerment, leadership and participation in every sector of society: to recognise women in the corridors of power, to get them to the negotiating table and make sure their voices are heard. We denounce legislation in countries which deprive women of their basic human rights. We raise awareness of cultural and social norms which perpetuate the perception that women are inferior.
We are calling for equal opportunity and equal pay legislation in all countries and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in political, economic, public and private life and in the media. We encourage parents to teach children respect for human rights, respect for women’s rights and the meaning of gender equality.
Violence against Women and Girls
The statistics regarding violence against women and girls indicate a culture of impunity, of tolerance of violence against women all across the world - sometimes sanctioned by the state. In some countries women can still be punished for the "crimes" of adultery, or sex outside marriage by beheading, stoning and hanging under Sharia law.
The state-sanctioned murder of women must be stopped
The United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that at least one in every three women in the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused. In some countries the rate is as high as 70 per cent. Globally, violence is a greater threat to women aged 15-44 than cancer, traffic accidents, malaria and war combined.
This violence against women must be stopped.
100 to 140 million girls alive today, predominantly in Africa, have been subjected to female genital mutilation. The EU Commission Report in March 2014 states that an “estimated 500,000 women and girls in the EU alone have suffered from female genital mutilation.”
It is estimated that more than 66,000 women in the UK have undergone FGM and over 20,000 girls are at risk each year. In March 2014, 2 men were charged over FGM, These were the first prosecutions in nearly thirty years since FGM was made illegal in the UK. The prosecution of perpetrators over FGM is urgent and long overdue.
FGM must be stopped
The developed world is not exempt from gender based violence, rape and sexual assault. Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year, over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year. One in five women aged 16 to 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. But shockingly, in 2012, less than 16,000 rape cases were reported to the police and only 2,900 perpetrators were prosecuted in court.
Legal Mechanisms and Conventions
The BJHRF supports the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known informally as the “Istanbul Convention,” which takes effect this year. The Istanbul convention is the first European treaty specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence. It sets out minimum standards on prevention, protection, prosecution, and services. Countries ratifying must also establish services such as hotlines, shelters, medical services, counselling, and legal aid. Only 36 of the 47 Council of Europe member states have signed the Convention, and only 14 have so far ratified it.
Environmental Protection and Climate Change
The BJHRF recognises that climate change is the most urgent threat of our time; a critical human rights issue impacting every aspect of our lives: peace, security, poverty, hunger, health, mass migration and economics.
We raise awareness of the catastrophic effects of climate change, calling for corporations to be held accountable and urging governments to fulfil their pledges to reduce carbon emissions.
The BJHRF is calling for a comprehensive, just, legally binding climate treaty, the transfer of technology to developing countries, adequate adaptation, mitigation and implementation mechanisms, and a REDD+ agreement with safeguards for communities and indigenous peoples’ rights.
The BJHRF advocates a shift away from fossil fuels and towards a world powered by renewable energy. We campaign against governments endorsement of hydraulic fracturing or ’fracking’ as a solution to the energy crisis.
The BJHRF has commissioned a Human Rights Impact Assessment of fracking from the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment, www.gnhre.org, a network of scholars, NGO members and policy makers.
The BJHRF was an active participant at the UNFCCC climate conference in Peru. Just before the final result of COP20 I published an article on my take on the negotiations in the Huffington Post, entitled At the Heart of COP20: Loss and Damage. I and the BJHRF are looking forward to our participation at COP21 in Paris next year.
Bianca Jagger is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a great believer in the power of social media, and tweets regularly.