Home   News   #FirstWedsDebates: Gender Based Violence and The State: What Are The Lessons From Global Struggles?

#FirstWedsDebates: Gender Based Violence and The State: What Are The Lessons From Global Struggles?

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This December’s Debate is being held as part of the global campaign to mark the ’16 Days of Action on GBV’.

State actors often act with impunity as transgressors of human rights norms and/or often fail to deliver justice against perpetrators of violence, especially when conducted against socially and economically marginalized groups. Bolstered by their powerful positions, State actors use violence and the threat of violence to achieve social, economic and political control over individuals and communities.

Patterns of state violence are deeply gendered as frequently this violence specifically targets women, especially women from marginalised communities. Women often experience physical and sexual violence or the threat of both or either because of who they are and what they do. Women are targeted in their roles as community organisers, migrant justice activists, human rights defenders, protesters and dissenters.

Gender -based violence is a particular weapon used by militaries, police forces and other state bodies, at times out of the state’s desire to punish women on the frontlines of struggles for social justice and equality. In addition, the lack of accountability and regulation of transnational corporations (TNCs), including in the extractive industry, and private military and security companies, empowers them with the power to exploit and violate the human rights of workers, indigenous communities, and local populations.

Yet, in the face of such all-encompassing threats to physical security, women collectively organise to resist state violence and to challenge injustice and impunity. Join us as we reflect on struggles of women across the world who continue to speak truth to power.


The moderator on the night is Susan McKay. Susan is an award-winning writer and journalist whose books include “Bear in Mind These Dead” (Faber 2008), “Northern Protestants – An Unsettled People” (Blackstaff 2000) and “Sophia’s Story” (Gill and MacMillan 1998). Her work appears in the Guardian, the London Review of Books and the Irish Times and has been widely anthologised. She is a former Northern editor of the Sunday Tribune. She is a former CEO of the National Women’s Council of Ireland and was a founder of the Belfast Rape Crisis Centre. She has travelled extensively both with Irish development agencies and independently and has written about issues including violence against women in Liberia, refugee camps on the Thai Burmese border, and child slavery in India.


Amel Yacef is originally from Algeria. Amel has been a practitioner in the youth and the community sector for over 15 years. Her main fields of expertise are in youth health, youth participation, child protection and integration. Amel has been in a professional as well as personal capacity very active in regards to justice, global issues especially issues regarding north Africa and the middle east; equality, equity and gender issues. She presently manages an intercultural youth project and is the chairperson of Akidwa, the migrant women network of Ireland.

Caoimhe Butterly has worked with community projects, indigenous communities and grassroots social justice movements for the past 14 years in Chiapas, Guatemala, Haiti, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. During that time she worked with, and learned from, women in a variety of contexts of social struggle and mobilisation who challenged situations of injustice, discrimination or gendered violence. She is presently engaged in post-graduate studies at Kimmage DSC and is active in migrant justice campaigns in Ireland

Theresa O’Keefe is a Research Associate in the Equality Studies Centre, UCD where she researches gender and social movements, feminist protest, and gender, conflict and state violence. Prior to UCD she was assistant lecturer in Sociology at Maynooth University where she co-founded the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism. In 2013 she published a book on Irish republican feminism entitled ‘Feminist”Identity Development and Activism in Revolutionary Movements.’

Farah Azadi is a long time solidarity activist with projects in the Middle East, US and Europe. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Near and Middle East Studies where she focuses on issues to do with gender and activism in the Muslim world.

Caoimhe Kerins is a Dublin-based activist, who has been involved in campaigns challenging state racism and fighting for education rights. She was heavily involved in the Shell to Sea campaign and was spokesperson for Dublin Shell to Sea from 2006 – 2012. She has been working in community development and community education in Ireland for over 10 years, in particular with the Traveller community, and has also worked overseas on a development project in Sri Lanka. She currently manages a family support service and coordinates a domestic violence service.

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The photo used in the poster is from a confrontation in Le Paz, Boliva in 2008. Sourced on Flickr.


Highlights From A Previous Debate.


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