March 2017 Newsletter
First of all apologies for a delay in getting this Newsletter to you. Our last meeting was on 11 March and I left from Heathrow on 12 March for CSW. Ann Reeves was in New York too, along with the other SIGBI delegates.
Following the snowstorm, this was outside the UN on the Wednesday, after shut-down on Tuesday. Not quite what we expected…. I was there for the first week only and those involved more in the drafting of the outcome document stayed for 2 weeks.
I won’t go through all that happened but you can read the blogs on the SIGBI web site1 for more detailed information and tweets2. (this link to tweets gives a number of embedded adverts unless you are logged in to your own twitter account, please just scroll past them!)
The usual difficulties with negotiations included ‘the family’ (to some this means only man/wife/children), sovereignty and sexual reproductive and health rights. The final agreed statement is here3.
One of the last sessions was with the new SG – Antonio Guterres – who made a brief statement and answered questions from the floor, for an hour. He affirmed his commitment to gender equality but suggested the term gender parity might be more appropriate. I agree with him; do you?
In addition SI Director of Advocacy Pat Black referred to our work with the Prison Reform Trust (PRT) when addressing an interactive expert panel6.
“This example highlights the positive role Soroptimist International has played in collecting and providing data; and that NGOs in general can make an enormous impact in terms of expertise and knowledge. The relationship between NGOs and governments is dynamic, and should be strengthened to ensure that robust systems are in place and utilised to collect gender-differentiated reliable data.”
Prison Reform Trust (PRT)
At our meeting in March we heard from Dr Tom Guiney about his evaluation of the ongoing work on ‘Transforming Lives: Reducing Women’s Imprisonment’. He highlighted our part in lobbying for the first statutory foothold for women’s services in the criminal justice system – Section 10 of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 – which recommended that arrangements for the supervision or rehabilitation of offenders must identify specific provision for women (England & Wales). In addition, of course, there is the ongoing work in Scotland and Northern Ireland. For those interested in this area of work you might wish to access the white paper on ‘Prison Safety and Reform’ at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/565014/cm-9350-prison-safety-and-reform-_web_.pdf.
Another document of interest is the PRT publication of ‘Fair Cop? Improving Outcomes for Women at the Point of Arrest…’ which was chaired by Dame Vera Baird QC and is available at http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Women/Fair%20Cop.pdf. Although referring to England and Wales much is also relevant to Scotland and Northern Ireland, as suggested in the report.
Modern slavery/anti-human trafficking knowledge survey
Our other speaker was PP Maureen Maguire who told us about the survey undertaken by SI Northern Ireland on public knowledge about trafficking. They undertook a face-to-face survey in order to gauge public awareness of the presence of modern slavery in Northern Ireland and their understanding of common signs and indicators that a person may be a victim. KimAnn Williamson, who leads the UK Modern Slavery Training Delivery Group, on which I represent Soroptimists, has asked us to roll this out across the UK. It was discussed at our meeting and agreed that we should do so, fully supported by President Ann Hodgson. Your Regional Programme Action Chairman has more information and access to Maureen’s presentation and will discuss it with clubs at your next regional meeting. It is very much in line with President Ann’s speech at conference in Malta (https://sigbi.org/malta2016/saturday-12-november-2016/closing-ceremony-and-change-of-insignia/ ) and in the programme for Cardiff , we hope to see you there!(https://sigbi.org/cardiff2017/).
The meeting on 8th July 2017
You may have read of the retirement of Kate Moore MBE as Chairman of Action on Armed Violence – https://aoav.org.uk/2017/kate-moore-mbe-retires-chair-action-armed-violence/. Kate has represented Soroptimists on work to ban land mines (a topic of interest again with Prince Harry taking forward his mother’s work) and cluster munitions as well as, through AOAV, on other forms of armed violence. AOAV works through monitoring and research of the causes and consequences of weapon-based violence. She will introduce our first speaker at our next meeting on 8 July in Solihull:
Jazz Shaban, Handicap International’s UK’s Policy and Advocacy Officer is an expert on disability rights and inclusion and was heavily involved in the work done with the UK government on the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action launched at the World Humanitarian Summit.
Our other speaker will be Merlyn Ooms from UNICEF UK, which works to support www.UNICEF.org . We hope clubs will support their work on school-in-a-box (https://www.unicef.org/supply/index_40377.html) and school-in-a bag (e.g. page 7 https://www.unicef.org/appeals/files/UNICEF_Ethiopia_CO_Humanitarian_Sitrep_Sept_2015.pdf). Not only does UNICEF support children to return to school but it also aims to produce and distribute school supplies locally or regionally to create a sustainable and lasting economic impact for communities. At all times they ensure materials are produced ethically to protect children from harmful supply and production activities, see https://www.unicef.org/supply/index_become_a_supplier.html for details.
Some of you will remember the work SIGBI did on school-in-a-box some years ago, with Sue Challoner (SI Cheshire North Wales and the Wirral) in the lead from 2002 until 2006. From 2002 until 2007 clubs raised over £40,000. This time our UNICEF UK representative is June Muir, previously of Midland Arden (SI Stourbridge), now of London Anglia (SI King’s Lynn).
As always, we welcome observers and, if you would like to join us, your RPAC has access to the form and relevant information. I do hope you will come.