Charlotte Bunch, founder and executive director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, has been an activist, author, and organizer in women's and human rights movements for more than three decades. An influential advocate and activist, Charlotte has increased the visibility and importance of women's rights internationally. She has written numerous articles and edited or coedited nine anthologies. Charlotte is a distinguished professor in the Women's and Gender Studies Department at Rutgers University.
Charlotte has been instrumental in shifting the issue of violence against women into the realm of human rights. This new way of viewing violence against women has elevated its prominence and brought greater pressure to bear upon organizations with the resources to address the issue. "For women, this has been empowering as it has moved such violence out of the category of the individual unfortunate occurrence, or 'just life', into something that is political and that society says should not happen in a powerful way by calling it a violation of basic human rights," Charlotte said. "For example, by showing how domestic violence often parallels other forms of violation seen as unacceptable, like torture, or that rape in armed conflict can constitute a war crime, has increased the pressure that these issues be taken onto local, national, and global agendas." According to Charlotte it is just as important that framing violence against women as a human rights issue empowers women themselves to strengthen their fight against such injustice. "It has encouraged women to pose many of our struggles and issues as questions of 'rights' not just of 'needs' or 'desires'. This involves seeing women as full citizens who have the right to participate in the shaping of all social matters, including in what is understood and treated as fundamental 'human rights'." She said: "This has been part of women seeing themselves not just as victims, but as subjects with rights they can demand, including the right to a life free of violence."
Center for Women's Global Leadership Human Rights Watch International Council on Human Rights Policy