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Biovision – New Book on Tranformation of our food systems

Biovision is pleased to announce an important new book which can be downloaded free of charge at The authors were supported in the publication of the book by the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development (CH) and the Future Foundation for Agriculture (D). Please feel free to forward to your networks.

Transformation of Our Food Systems
The COVID-19 pandemic exposes sharp injustices and system wide failures of today’s prevailing food and agriculture systems, injustices that have been accelerating over the past decade; the most destructive period of food production and consumption in modern history. In their new book “Transformation of our food systems – the making of a paradigm shift”, 40 international experts describe the highlights and trends in food production since 2009, when the ground breaking International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development Report (IAASTD) was published.

The critical new book calls for an urgent, accelerated transformation of our food systems. Dr. Hans Herren, Biovision Foundation’s president, former World Food Prize winner and co-president of the IAASTD, researcher and expert in agroecology, is the initiator and co-editor. “This book clearly proves from various perspectives that the agroecological approach is by far the most important and fundamental pathway to ‘build back better’ (after COVID-19) and to make the shift towards sustainable food systems,” says Herren. Co-editor Benny Haerlin, says of the book “it not only talks about transformation, it also shows how it can be done and where it is already happening.”

The book is published in the run-up to this year’s only virtual High Level Special Event of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), where for the first time agroecology will be at the centre of discussions and where decision-makers will also reflect about global efforts needed to “build back better”. The book is also a critical contribution to the “Food Systems Summit 2021”, being organized under the auspices of the United Nations.

More information is available here:

Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information Report Rights, Peace & Justice

International Council of Women – International Day of Peace Statement 2020

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(Founded 1888)

Statement to Mark the International Day of Peace – 21 September 2020

“Shaping Peace Together” – as profoundly simple as it is profoundly important. Chosen by
the United Nations this year to mark International Day of Peace, this theme strengthens the
notion of cooperative commitment in the pursuit of peace. The call is for solid global
engagement in building the peaceful and prosperous future that people deserve, especially
today, when millions of people around the world struggle to overcome the turmoil, hardship,
and disequilibrium caused by COVID 19.

To respond to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal, in a spirit of solidarity and compassion, unity
and mutual assistance, the International Council of Women (ICW-CIF) partners proudly in the
global work we undertake and emphatically in the pursuit of peace. Our approach is one of
inclusiveness and empowerment. Clearly, peace can only grow, and stand the test of time, if it
has deep roots in our societies. For that, women are needed more than ever, because each
woman herself can be a fundamental agent of change regardless of her societal status. This
element of inclusion is essential for shaping values of peace and tolerance and is a key
component in preventing violence and conflict. It is also extremely important in the struggle
against the unprecedented global health crisis we are facing now, a crisis which has made
vulnerable people even more vulnerable and weaker… and which has unfortunately contributed
to increased violence, racism and hate.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The
resolution addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but mainly the pivotal
role women should, and do, play in conflict management and achievement of sustainable peace.
Through our national council affiliates worldwide, ICW-CIF plays a vital role by mobilizing
public opinion and by initiating programs for training, providing information and suggesting
courses of action. This effort also incorporates a focus on the whole concept of Peace – what it
is, and how we all have to work together in shaping it.

Meeting basic needs and development objectives, together with promoting gender equality and
social justice, is an essential step toward peace, but human needs are not limited to food and
shelter. They include freedom, self-determination and proper balance between individual and
collective rights. What is required therefore is a climate of mutual understanding, respect for
others’ rights and a high degree of equality in which individuals and communities can develop
and cooperate rather than function in a confrontational mode. Bearing in mind the fact that, as
stated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 “…civilians, particularly women and
children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict….” our
commitment to peace must be an on-going element in all our activities, and an underlying basis
for providing assistance to women in need whenever possible. We thus continue to demand
gender-responsive approaches based on equality which help transform the gender roles, norms
and structures which act as barriers to achieving well-being for everyone.

Let us remind our ICW-CIF members around the world, and others who share our resolve, of
the wisdom of Mother Teresa of Calcutta when she said: “Women are bound to be the tools of
peace, the workers and I should even say the tireless fairies striving for Peace and Development.
It is up to us women, to answer this challenge…” This is our responsibility and we, women of
the world, will continue to dream and to act in ways that will make those dreams come true. Let
us pledge to do our utmost to contribute to the achievement of all Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs), and specifically to SDG 16, which puts the emphasis on peace and justice.
Let us shape Peace together!

Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information Events Members Bulletin Other Panel Event Violence against Women and Girls Women's Health

Widows’ Rights International : Child widows and young widows – 4 September 2020

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Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information Members Bulletin Report Rights, Peace & Justice Violence against Women and Girls

Widows’ Rights International – Overview – 2019

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Widows Rights International, Wixamtree, Sand Lane, Northill, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire SG18 9AD
+44 1767 627626 Registered Charity: 1069142


Widows Rights International (WRI) is a long established organisation fighting for the
rights of widows all over the world. We have recently concentrated on sub-Saharan
Africa. Conflict, disease and early marriage have increased the number of widows
across the globe with young women and girls becoming widows as well as women
throughout the life cycle. In addition to those women whose husbands have died,
there in an ever increasing number of women who are heading households due to
conflict and migration, where the situation of their husbands is unknown and they are
de facto widows.

In no country are widows and widowers treated equally but only in some regions do
widows have to tolerate the acceptance of the abuse of widows at both local and
national levels. The belief in the natural inferiority of women contributes to this, but
so also does the perversion of inhumane and degrading practices which have grown
up in very different economic and political conditions around the globe.

Widows are organising to break the silence but they need support. Provision of
information is critical. As a UK registered charity, Widows Rights International (WRI)
has provided support through its website, newsletter and network of local widows
groups, concerned lawyers and human right activists. It shares information on
successful strategies and tactics that have enabled widows to challenge their
despoilment and win court cases, to ensure that their governments translate
international human rights commitments into legislation, and to see that legislation is
implemented at the grassroots level. However there is still much work to be done as
abusive widowhood practices are still deeply embedded in many cultures.

WRI is the leading source of information on widows. We compile the stories of
widows and the organisations that help them. We are seeking to increase our data
base of organisations and individuals working for widows and female headed
households, together with their stories of overcoming the challenges that face them
in addition to the case studies of legal victories. This web-based and interactive
platform will enable greater exchange of vital information for all those concerned
with challenging the abuse of widows.

WRI disseminates this information through our regular newsletter and we seek to
increase this information flow by seeking out new sources of information as well as
intensifying our use of media and social media.

We have recently concentrated on sub-Saharan Africa because of the intense abuse
of widows includes degrading and harmful mourning rites. These harmful practices
are not only in direct contravention of international agreements, such as CEDAW, and
national legislation based on such agreements but with the HIV/Aids pandemic, are
also a considerable threat to national health.

WRI has been involved in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the
Committee on the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against
Women. We have organised delegations to attend these UN processes and have
organised events to raise awareness of the plight of widows but also to celebrate
their achievements. We have enabled widows and representatives of organisations
working for widows from Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Algeria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Sudan,
Egypt, Nepal to attend CSW to have a voice at the UN. We continue to seek to
provide opportunities for widows themselves to speak out about their concerns and
their achievements. We continue to work to influence policy at the international
level in regard to widows. Within the framework of Agenda 2030 and the concept of
“leave no one behind” we are working to raise awareness of the importance of “last
woman first” and were co-founders of the Global Alliance for Last Woman First, as
widows the world over are the poorest and most discriminated against. WRI has been
involved in raising awareness on the issue of widows in the UK and has held several
briefings for parliamentarians in the Houses of Parliament, both Commons and
Lords. We seek to continue and expand this work. We are planning events with think
tanks in the UK and working with Commonwealth partners. WRI recently provided a
“lunch and learn” for DFID personnel to increase awareness of the situation of
widows worldwide.

WRI has undertaken research on the situation of widows and we seek to increase this
research in order to gain valuable data to influence policy.

WRI has been very successful in fundraising for widows organisations. Women of
Purpose is a successful organisation in Uganda which has grown in strength and reach
since the seed funding provided by WRI. This is one example of the many organisations helping thousands of women and girls that WRI has enabled. We seek  to expand this fund raising work to assist those organisations too small and underresourced to achieve success to raise funds on their own. The aim is to accompany  them until they become social enterprises developing a sustainable fiscal strategy.

Our goals are to:
§ Support the international campaign to end harmful cultural practices which
ignore the human rights of widows and lead to their dire poverty and social
§ Raise awareness and understanding of the discrimination and violence
encountered by widows in many countries.
§ Continue to advocate for widows’ rights to be integrated into the human rights
agendas of national and international agencies.
§ Promote the emergence of a vibrant and informed network of community
based groups, widows’ groups, NGOs, lawyers and human rights activists
working on widowhood issues.

Committee Information Members Bulletin Uncategorized

The passing of friend and colleague, Simone Ovart

Simone Ovart
Simone Ovart, NGO CSW Geneva President 2015-2018

“What we once enjoyed and loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us,” Helen Keller.

With deep regret we are sharing the sad news of the passing Simone Ovart on 9 January 2019.  All of us from the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Geneva have regrettably lost one of our own; a bright light of compassion and distinction.  Her commitment to the Committee through her leadership, current Bureau Advisor, Past-President, Committee Chair and overall influencer and leader, reveals a lifetime of dedication to advancing the status of women and girls.

Remembering Simone brings us strength, ignites compassion and reminds us that all things are possible.  She will be deeply missed and may you Rest in Peace, dear Simone.   Our Committee’s deepest condolences and prayers go out to Simone’s family, friends and Zonta colleagues.


Most sincerely,

NGO CSW, Geneva Bureau

Stacy Dry Lara

Carolyn Handschin

Anne Riz

Angela Sauvage

Claudia Williams

Paula Daeppen



A message from Claudia Williams, NGO CSW Geneva Secretary

I was deeply saddened to learn today of Simone’s passing.  She was a vibrant, strong woman, to whom many have looked for leadership and friendship.  I join the many women of CSW and Zonta who especially feel this loss, and together are mourning her passing.

I served as secretary of CSW-Geneva during the last year of Simone’s tenure as president.  One of the highlights of our time together was observing her work on the Forum on Women and Global Migration, which she masterminded.  She personally knew many influential UN leaders, and was able to suggest many speakers, including the Director General of the UN and several prominent Ambassadors.  Under her leadership, the CSW Bureau worked to provide panelists qualified to explore the root causes of migration and to suggest innovative solutions.  The Forum was very well attended and successfully met its goal of bringing to light important ways migrant women themselves can bring about change.  Given her deep concern for the plight of migrant women, it must have been especially satisfying to Simone to inspire further progress in an area where much improvement is needed.



A message from Carolyn Handschin, NGO CSW Geneva Vice President

I was so shocked and very sorry to hear of the passing of Simone. It was just a few months ago that she was leading the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in Geneva with such vitality. I feel a very personal closeness to her. We sometimes met as members of the Committee at Conchita’s home in the past. We would spend hours in the garden drinking tea while discussing issues, planning events and writing statements. She would always drive all the way from Turin for these meetings and I would think how important she feels this is. She was very strong, focused and caring, about the larger issues and also about the team. 
 It was because of Simone that I recently re-joined the Committee and I feel very grateful to her for that. She very warmly invited me little more than a year ago to join her and several other members to organize the Migration Forum. For several months, we communicated almost daily and her high expectations and strong leadership guided the process, especially getting confirmation from some of the key speakers. I often thought that she must’ve been very good in her professional experience as a business leader and entrepreneur.
I personally and surely we all, as the NGO Committee on the Status of Women are very grateful to have shared important times with her and benefitted from her knowledge, experience and love.
Thank you Simone!
Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information CSW Economic Empowerment & Employment Events Panel Event Rights, Peace & Justice Violence against Women and Girls

Widows’ Rights International: Importance of the Media Especially to Rural Widows: to Ensure Last Woman First – March 2018

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Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information CSW Economic Empowerment & Employment Other Panel Event Violence against Women and Girls Women's Health

Widows’ Rights International : Past, Present and Future: widowhood: What we have learnt and what is left to do – March 2015

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