World Student Christian Federation - Asia-Pacific Region (WSCF-AP)
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WSCF Asia-Pacific in 2008:
Evaluation and Reflections

 

Human Rights and Solidarity Programme (HRSP)

The Human Rights Program has raised the level of awareness of young people that has enabled greater visibility and ability of our movements to respond to Human Rights issues and concerns in different countries. Examples of advocacy campaigns that the SCMs and WSCF have taken an active role are the struggle for HR and Democracy in Burma, Communal Violence in Orissa, Extra-judicial Killings in the Philippines, the communal violence and tension Pakistan. In all these issues, WSCF AP and its member movement were able to respond and act in solidarity with the people because of the presence of our movements in these countries and the degree of HR awareness developed over the years.

The Regional Human Rights Workshops held once a year has encouraged our movements to form Human Rights Desks and appoint HR officers in the National Movements. These are mechanisms to sustain work in Human Rights and raise awareness of young people on Human Rights in the Churches and schools at the national level.

Because of the growing consciousness on Human Rights issues, it has also brought interest among young people to participate in global campaigns such as the Campaign for Migrants Rights in the Global Forum Migration and Development (GFMD) held in Manila last week of October 2008. Fifteen young people from SCMs in the region participated in the parallel events organized by people’s movements to raise the voices and issues of the Migrants in this UN platform.

There are tremendous risks involved in Human Rights work in the following countries where we have actively worked with students: Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Myanmar. Our young SCM members in some countries have been harassed, imprisoned, intimidated and killed for their work. In the recent years, four of our young members in the SCM Philippines have been summarily executed by paramilitary forces because of their involvement in people’s movements. Our SCM leaders in Indonesia have been imprisoned after participating in anti-oil price hike protests and their office violently attacked and destroyed by paramilitary forces. Our members in India have been imprisoned after participating in the peaceful protest to stop communal violence in Orissa, and an SCM fellowship hall of the students was burned down. The movements of our members in Burma are constantly watched by the military for so-called ‘illegal activities’ and they are fearful of their lives and safety whenever they criticize the military junta government.

In all these cases of Human Rights violations and abuses, we have filed cased against the perpetrators seeking justice to the victims and sent international appeals to our networks to stop these violations and bring to the attention of governments and authorities. Another concrete step that we have taken to address this situation is by providing Human Rights education to our member movements. Our Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Workshops attempts to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to issues of Human Rights violations and protect themselves from further abuse and violations.

Regional Women’s Program

The Women’s Program is 2008 has benefitted young women by providing a common platform from each sub-region to share experiences, exchange ideas and plan of actions to deal with the patriarchal and stereo typical societies, and advocate gender justice effectively in their communities.

Young women have potentials and creativities to bring change and make a difference in their communities. It is important to create space for young women who are vulnerable in our society to come forward and empower themselves by enhancing their leadership potential. They will be the agent of change as they dream for a better world.

This has created awareness and educated women on the emerging trends of trafficking, forced migration, HIV/AIDS and helped to develop skills for critical analysis and different mechanisms to address the issue in their communities. It has enhanced their leadership qualities to work confidently in their community. It has provided them with concrete experiences with the community of women affected by forced Migration, Trafficking, Prostitution, HIV/AIDS, and poverty in general. The theological reflection and contextual Bible studies have strengthen their faith perspective on the issues of suffering women.

Language barrier was another challenge during the programmes. Though we celebrate the diversity of Asia and the Pacific at the same time we are challenged to adopt English as the medium of communication for the programmes. So we had to do additional arrangement for the participants who needed interpretation to express their ideas and participate actively during the programmes

During the individual and group evaluation the participants expressed that the programmes were unique experience for many which was informative and challenging on the issue of forced migration and the inputs were insightful to identify the root causes like patriarchy, social norms, values, culture and traditions that implements or sanctions violence against women in different level. Some of the participants have shared in their evaluation that this programme has an impact in their life which has motivated them and made them strong to work for women in their society. Moreover during this process they felt more confident as women and the programme helped them to change their attitudes and mindset towards the maginalised and oppressed people of the society. Their spirit is uplifted and some of them can work confidently in their leadership roles in the SCMs. They also think that young women are mostly neglected and they should be given more priority and space to articulate for a radical thinking.

Some of the immediate action plans by the participants were creating space in the local SCMs to share the resources, educate and bring awareness among the student community about their rights as women. And strengthen the movement to work for the gender justice in their community. The exposure to the community has certainly challenged them so they would plan to arrange a similar kind of exposure for the students in the local SCMs to expose the realities and have a live in experience with the community.