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21 December 2016

Monika Hauser on the occasion of the year's end: What is essential to live a good life?

A little while ago I was preparing a public talk on the issue: “What do humans need?” At first glance there seemed to be many ways to answer it. What do I need as a citizen? What do I need as a friend? What is essential to my role as a mother? And what are the requirements in my work as a peacemaker? What does a professional need? And an activist? However, after considering all this there was only one answer for me: To live a good life we need gender justice!

Indispensable for a good life are physical integrity and sexual self-determination. For this we need both political will and appropriate resources if we are to fulfil the needs of women and change unjust standards and values.

Irreplaceable are empathy and a feeling of connection with the survivors of sexualised violence. Only then can we develop, promote and implement concepts such as the stress- and trauma-sensitive approach from medica mondiale for supporting those affected by violence.

Invaluable are those who fight in a committed and tenacious manner for human rights. Activists who do not let themselves be discouraged, clearly and audibly representing the interests of survivors and highlighting the ignorance and arrogance of those in power.

Unassailable for a good life are solidarity and dignity in the efforts to assist women in conflict regions around the world. This also applies to all the people who have fled to Germany seeking refuge from expulsion, persecution and discrimination. There will only be benefits for all involved if we support them in a powerful and courageous way.

Non-negotiable for women in refugee accommodation are security, privacy, safe spaces and appropriate information and education. Many of them have experienced violence, either at home, during their flight or in the refugee camps. So it is extremely important to deal with them in a stress- and trauma-sensitive way. We at medica mondiale are contributing to this by offering a training programme in Germany.

It is the responsibility of our entire society to determine how we deal with survivors of sexualised violence and the consequences of these crimes. Any form of sexualised or gender-specific violence – whether in times of peace or during armed conflict – is an expression of discriminatory gender relationships. So without gender justice there will be no peace. And peace is surely what we need for a good life.

Therefore, it remains only for me to wish you peace and joy in the festive season. Thanks to your support we can develop our approach and continue our activities: progress can only be achieved together. We are very grateful for your continued trust.

Yours truly,

Monika Hauser