"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

UPR: Austria, 23rd session, 2015

Despite the presumptions that come with its status as a developed Western European state, Austria has been criticized over its weak implementation of measures to reduce sexual and gender based violence against women and increase the protection of minorities and their rights. One of these is the implementation of a national action plan, the quantifiable effects of which have been difficult to measure. Austria has also created legislative protections for ethnic minorities like the Slovenians in the country’s South, but has similarly been criticized for lack of implementation – even in the face of federal court decisions. Meanwhile, the status of the Roma people in Austria is concerning in regards to acceptance, access to language, and the preservation of culture. A variety minorities, ethnic and religious, report hate crimes and xenophobic attacks.

Drawing on ICAAD’s research, this submission highlights issues of structural discrimination that impact Austria’s women and minorities. The research examines Austria’s compliance with its international human rights obligations, and follows up on the implementation of recommendations accepted during the last Universal Periodic Review; covering: women in the labor market, violence against women and domestic violence generally, racism and xenophobia, the status of the country’s Slovenian minority, and the rights of Roma people in Austria.

Download the full report here.

#RaiseYourShield

This Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’d like to challenge you to reflect on how fear may have influenced your opinions, especially of others, and to take a step towards the courage to overcome those fears. Why the focus on fear you might ask?

Famed marketer and author Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” outlines six typical manipulations used in sales and marketing, one of which is the use of fear. On fear, Sinek says, “When fear is being employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures.”

In the current political atmosphere, in the U.S. and around the globe, fear is often used by politicians and campaigners to polarize debates and to demonize marginalized communities, using them as scapegoats for the real economic, social, and political challenges that societies face.

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important fear is, so much so that he gave a sermon on it named “Antidotes for Fear.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, especially because it recognizes the importance, necessity, and creativity of fear (kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear). However, particularly pertinent section was highlighted by King’s wife Coretta Scott King in her book “My life with Martin Luther King, Jr”:

“First Martin spoke of the many kinds of fear that troubled men and women in this period of change and "calamitous uncertainty"— fear of illness or economic disaster, fear of personal inadequacy in our highly competitive society. More terrible was the fear of death, even racial annihilation, in this atomic age, when the whole world teetered on "a balance of terror . . . fearful lest some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust."

"Some fears are normal and necessary," he said, like the fear of snakes in a jungle, but when they become neurotic and unchecked, they paralyze the will and reduce a man to apathy or despair. He quoted Emerson, who wrote, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear."

How, then, to overcome fear? First, Martin said, "We must un-flinchingly face our fears . . . this confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power. . . . "Second, we can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man— courage . . . courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”"

MLK Coretta Scott King Simon Sinek
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