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Women ‘bear the load’

15 March 2013

by a staff reporter

WOMEN are bearing a "disproportionate load" in the continuing recession, the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, said, in a speech marking International Women's Day last Friday.

In his diocese, he said, the majority of people who used food banks were women with young children: "There are regular stories of mothers going without food in order to feed their children; almost one in four of the city's children are said to be living in poverty."

International Women's Day was marked globally with calls for action to prevent violence against women. The UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) is meeting in New York, and a representative from the Church of England, Mandy Marshall, joined workshops that were discussing the Church's re- sponse to violence against women.

She said that there must be "a focus on including faith leaders, as transformers of cultures, in the process of prevention".

The British Government has pledged up to £35 million to help eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM). At the UNCSW, the UK International Development Minister, Lynne Featherstone, said that this was the largest donor contribution to tackling the practice. Some of the money will be spent on research, which was welcomed by charities that work in communities where FGM is prevalent.

The Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which met last week, also addressed violence against women. It described the problem in South Africa as a "crisis", as it has the world's highest levels of such crime: the government says that 71 per cent of women report having been victims of sexual abuse.

The Howard League for Penal Reform used International Wo-men's Day to highlight the case of a British 16-year-old girl, who was pregnant, and was sentenced to prison for a non-violent offence. The charity said that the case violated the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.


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