Miriam – a UN star in Lund

– There are today two elements of Violence Against Women, explains Miriam Estrada, visiting professor at the Institute when we meet on the day following the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25th of November.

– The global economic crisis is putting pressure on women how to feed their families, and the war on terror is deepening the stereotypes of women as silent victims.

Professor Miriam Estrada is well placed to comment on Violence Against Women. After having been Minister of Social Affairs in her homeland Equador, she has held a number of positions within the UN. Amongst them as expert and vice-chairperson of the monitoring committee of CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women).

– My overarching goal has been to walk away from the culture of war, into a culture of peace, both in my academic work, in my teaching and through the UN, she says. I started my career working with children´s rights, continued with disabilities and women. But it is human rights culture at large that is at the heart of what I am doing.

For the Institute Miriam is teaching, writing and developing e-learning tools. She finds the Institute a stimulating place to be a visiting professor, even if she admits she hasn´t been outside of Lund since she took up her position in May.

– I go directly to Kastrup and fly out in the world, she says with a laugh. I always enjoy teaching, and I like the discussions that are going on at the Institute. We can from Lund take a good look at what is going on in the world at large. For instance on a day like this – violence against women comes in an entire spectrum – from selected abortions to the war on terror, where women today are the silent targets as civilians and protectors of the small world. At the same time there is an accusing finger being pointed at women as the ones raising boys to become aggressors. It is very worrying.

Miriam Estrada shakes her head and looks troubled, but then lights up and starts to explain why the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is important. In 1949 there was a dictator in the Dominican Republic called Trujillo, who fell in love with a young woman, Minerva. When she rejected him, he set out on a brutal persecution of the family, and Minerva and her three sisters were brutally tortured and killed.

– And women are still getting killed for saying no, she concludes. Slowly the international laws are getting into place to prevent and punish, but there is still a harrowing gap between theory and practice. But I am an optimist. The world will be a better place eventually, that is my conviction.

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