Yoko Ono began her Add Color Paintings in 1960 in NYC, at her Chambers Street Loft. Add Color invites the participant to add whatever color they want, on whatever part of the painting they want. This concept has been a theme throughout Ono’s career, for the audience to participate in the artwork, and in doing so completing the work. This edition Add Color “I LOVE U”, created in 2004, is a classic idea with a new twist, reflecting Yoko’s participatory works as well as her message of peace and love. Yoko has signed the piece with her trademark y.o. which also completes the word You. Yoko has added her color to this piece with her instantly recognizable mark. The collector who purchases this piece is invited to add their own color as well to complete the piece.
“It’s so great that Bianca has not stopped doing good for the people in need. I am honoured to be included in this auction. With love, yoko”
By Bianca Jagger
11:34AM BST 14 Oct 2014
This year, I became a great-grandmother. Ezras arrival made me focus my attention on the future and what I want for her, for my granddaughters Assisi and Amba, for my little grandson Ray, and for present and future generations.
For more than three decades I have campaigned for peace and justice, in defence of human rights and environmental protection. I founded the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF) in 2005 to be a force for change and a voice for the most vulnerable members of society.
The BJHRF has a global campaign ‘Violence Against Women and Girls and The Culture of Impunity Must be Stopped’.
A cause close to my heart
Tonight I will be hosting the second Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Arts for Human Rights Benefit Gala Auction, which will focus on this campaign. We will be presenting two awards: the BJHRF Award for Courage to Nancy Tomee of the Pokot tribe in Northern Kenya, for her courageous stand against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). And the BJHRF Award for Leadership to Jasvinder Sanghera for playing a vital role in speaking out against forced marriage and honour based violence.
Ending violence against women and girls is a cornerstone of our work and a cause close to my heart.
I was born in Managua, Nicaragua. My parents divorced when I was ten-years-old. My mother found herself single, without a profession and with three small children to care for. I witnessed her being discriminated against because of her gender and status.
She believed in womens emancipation at a time when women were regarded as second-class citizens. She defied the deep-rooted discrimination against women in our country. She was prepared to sacrifice her life to give us better opportunities than she ever had.
It was my mother who first inspired me to dedicate my life to defending human rights – especially women’s and childrens rights – to campaign for peace, justice and democracy. It was she who lit the fire that came to consume my life. I promised myself I was never going to be treated as a second-class citizen.
I left my native Nicaragua to escape its narrow perceptions of women and to study political science in France. Little did I know, when I entered my well-known marriage to Mick in 1971, that Nicaragua and the ‘enlightened’ world had so many discriminatory attitudes towards women in common. My marriage – and later my divorce in December 1979 – taught me some hard lessons and heightened my political consciousness.
I had to fight for my rights and my identity. I had to establish myself in a public context and, later on, I had to learn how to become a force for justice and change.
Women’s rights, then and now
In those days, women were apprehensive of identifying themselves as feminists. The f-word was anathema and most of us tried to avoid it. We have taken a long time to come to terms with the fact feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
The battle is far from over. But I am very encouraged to see more young women and men speaking out in defence of womens rights today. I was very moved by Emma Watsons speech to the UN in New York last month. We have better lives than our mothers and grandmothers did, and even than we did thirty years ago.
When I look back, I think what a difference it would have made if social media and #everydaysexism had existed during my marriage and divorce. How many times would I have used it? I suspect many. A hashtag may seem a trivial tool with which to challenge gender bias and shine a light on injustice, but Everyday Sexism and others like it have great power. Social media has provided a platform for millions of women to denounce violence, rape, sexual abuse and discrimination: to share their experience.
Some say there is a media fatigue surrounding womens rights, after a surge in press coverage and popularity. Some even claim that we have eliminated discrimination and achieved gender equality, at least in the developed world.
I wish that were true, but unfortunately its not. Violence, sexual violence and discrimination are alive and well all over the world. Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year, and more than 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year. One in five women aged 16 to 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. But shockingly, in 2012, less than 16,000 rape cases were reported to the police and only 2,900 perpetrators were prosecuted in court. Less than two-thirds of these defendants were convicted.
Sexual violence in conflict
In 1993, I was asked to document the mass rape of Bosnian women by Serbian forces as part of their campaign of ethnic cleansing. I travelled to the former Yugoslavia and met with survivors.
Nothing in my experience as a human rights campaigner had prepared me for the horror and suffering I witnessed, and the testimonies I heard. Unifem estimates that during the Bosnian war up to 50,000 women were systematically raped. To date there have only been 30 convictions.
I was shocked to my core by the scale of these crimes, by the lack of political will to hold the perpetrators to account. It was a turning point in my life. I became even more determined to take a stand against violence against women and girls. I realised that women are the biggest victims of war. Rape is used as a weapon of war to punish, to destroy womens lives, and to break communities and families apart. I later testified on this issue before the Helsinki Commission on Human Rights, the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the International Operations Subcommittee on Human Rights, and the British and European Parliaments.
An integral part of the campaign of terror by the so-called Islamic State is the systematic abduction, rape, torture and sale of women and children into sexual slavery. According to the recent UN report, Isil fighters dumped 60 Turkmen and Yazidi children in a Mosul orphanage after they had witnessed the execution of their parents. The report states that some of the children had been physically and sexually assaulted. It goes on: Later, Isil fighters returned to the orphanage and made the children pose with Isil flags so they could take photos of them.
Extremism and violence against women and girls is caused by deeply entrenched societal norms, the insidious belief that women are inferior. In some countries this discrimination is enshrined in law. Women can still be punished for the “crimes” of adultery, or sex outside marriage by beheading, stoning and hanging under Sharia law.
The statistics regarding violence against women and girls indicate a culture of impunity, of tolerance of violence against women all across the world – sometimes sanctioned by the state.
Violence against women and girls happens everywhere: in every country, at every level of society. Every day millions of women and girls face the horror of rape, rape as a weapon of war, sexual assault, the barbaric practice of FGM, domestic violence. I was horrified to learn that across the globe, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to school each year. According to a recent Unicef report, around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse, or other forced sexual acts, at some point in their lives.
The international community has taken steps, in recent decades, to combat violence against women and girls. The 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC was the first international instrument expressly to include various forms of sexual and gender-based crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation and other forms of sexual violence as underlying acts of both crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in international and non-international armed conflicts. The Statute also criminalises persecution based on gender as a crime against humanity. The Sexual and Gender Based Crimes Policy of the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC was adopted in June this year. It is the first such policy issued by an International Court or Tribunal, and marks an important step in addressing sexual and gender based crimes.
However, some countries have refused to ratify critical treaties to protect womens and childrens rights.
The USA, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Palau and Tonga are the seven countries that have not ratified the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The USA, Somalia and South Sudan are the only three countries in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
These countries should immediately ratify both treaties. In addition all countries should sign on and ratify the UN Convention for Violence Against Women and Girls, which is being proposed by Rashida Manjoo, a UN Special Rapporteur.
The international community convened in 2000 to establish 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015. The MDGs are:
To halve the number of undernourished people
To achieve universal primary education
To promote gender equality and empower women
To reduce child mortality
To improve maternal health
To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
To ensure environmental sustainability
To develop a global partnership for development
Unfortunately, they left out the critical target of ending violence against women and girls.
That is one of the reasons I launched the BJHRF global campaign. What I hope to achieve
I believe that ending violence against women and girls, ending the culture of impunity and achieving gender equality are the great challenges of our century.
That is why I am calling on world leaders to address the deeply entrenched systemic problems of discrimination in society, and achieve the missing MDG target.
The BJHRF is campaigning to raise awareness of the global pandemic of violence against women and girls; to identify where the law fails to protect women. We are calling for reform of legal mechanisms to ensure the protection of women from all forms of violence and sexual violence.
We aim to educate the public about discrimination, promote gender equality and campaign to rid our social and legal institutions of bias. We promote womens empowerment, leadership and participation in every sector of society: to recognise women in the corridors of power, to get them to the negotiating table and make sure their voices are heard. We denounce legislation in countries which deprive women of their basic human rights. We raise awareness of cultural and social norms which perpetuate the perception that women are inferior.
We are calling for equal opportunity and equal pay legislation in all countries, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in political, economic, public and private life, and in the media.
We encourage parents to teach children respect for human rights, respect for womens rights and the meaning of gender equality.
We have been talking about a non-violent revolution in womens rights for a long, long time. As feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin said: for centuries, women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall off the edge.
But I see a strengthened resolve in women and girls today.
At last, we have embarked upon the non-violent revolution to reclaim our rights. We are determined to end violence against women and girls, and eliminate discrimination at all levels. We will not sit back and allow age-old misogyny and prejudice to go unchallenged.
We owe it to our daughters, our granddaughters and great-granddaughters to leave them world where equality and justice prevail.
We have come a long way. At last, I dare to hope that we could see gender equality in my lifetime.
Bianca Jagger is Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, a member of the Executive Directors Leadership Council of Amnesty International, USA, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bonn Challenge Ambassador.
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF) Arts for Human Rights Benefit Gala Auction will be held tonight, October 14th 2014 at Phillips, Howick Place, SW1P 1BB. The artists who have generously donated their work to be auctioned are: Alex Katz, Anselm Kiefer, Bill Viola , Francesco Clemente, Francesco Vezzoli, Gustavo Aceves, Jason Martin, Jules de Balincourt, Manolo Blahnik , Marc Quinn, Marina Abramovic, Martin Creed , Not Vital, Raqib Shaw, Retna, Richard Long ,Robert Longo, Ross Bleckner,Sir David Chipperfield, Sylvie Fleury, Tracey Emin, and Yoko Ono.
Paddle8 are taking bids online until 11 pm. BJHRF are deeply indebted to Christian Dior for their generous sponsorship of Arts for Human Rights and would also like to express heartfelt gratitude to Philiips for their support.