You forgot the women

2013-10-23 | Astrid Menasanch Tobieson , Denise Olsson padlock


In this Open Letter to all 145 countries parties to the UN Refugee Convention Astrid Menasanch Tobieson and Denise Olsson demand revisions to the convention. They point to the fact that women are not included linguistically in the convention and ask the question: "Did you really forget us?

To whom it may concern,

You forgot the women.

In 1951 The UN wrote the Refugee Convention.
If you have received this letter you belong to the group of countries who ratified the Refugee Convention and/or the corresponding Protocol.
The Refugee Convention and Protocol acknowledge the existence of refugees.
Article 1 defines the term "refugee".
Article 1 defines The Refugee as a he, him, his.
 You forgot the women.

This leads us to the conclusion that if you are a woman you are not recognized as a refugee in accordance with the 1951's convention.

We notice that the language you have chosen to use in The Convention is normative.

We notice that the exclusion of women in the convention is not a mistake but rather a rule in the normative society.

We notice the fact that you did not find it necessary to change the definition when The Convention was revised in 1969.

Not once during the 62 years since the article was written has it been found necessary to revise Article 1, thus solidifying the current structure without reflecting upon it. We notice that in December of 2010 The UN attached a new introduction to the Refugee Convention. It states that The Convention should be applied without discrimination in regards to, for example, gender. We therefore come to understand that you find it sufficient to dedicate half a sentence to women in refuge whilst men in refuge are protected by 46 articles in The Convention and Protocol.

This will not do. Furthermore, neither is this in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to Article 45 in The Convention “any Contracting State may request revisions of The Convention at any time”. The time has come.

Since we believe that gender equality isn’t guaranteed, neither in practice nor theory in the corresponding 145 states, we demand that a revision is made of The Refugee Convention and Protocol. We demand that women who are forced into refuge shall be acknowledged as Refugees in Article 1 of the Convention. Hence we suggest the following amendment, change he, him, his to gender neutral words such as a person, the person, a person's.

You forgot the women.

Did we misunderstand or did you really forget us?

If you have any queries or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Stå!Gerillan through

Astrid Menasanch Tobieson, and Denise Olsson,


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