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‘No hope’ global development goals can be achieved without women, says UN Assembly President

  • 16 July 2019 |
Without the full participation and leadership of women, “we have no hope” of realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the President of the United Nations General Assembly told gender equality leaders on Monday, 15 July 2019.

“This is an obvious point to make, but it is, sadly, one that we cannot repeat enough”, she said, opening the day-long discussion at UN Headquarters in New York to identify best practices aimed to knock down barriers hindering women’s full participation and leadership, in what she called “our shared mission this year”.  

As the fourth woman in UN history to ever preside over the General Assembly, the Organization’s main and most representative deliberative body, María Fernanda Espinosarecognized that women decision-makers must lead by example to safeguard achievements and accelerate progress towards gender equality.

Noting that women have come a long way since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action nearly 25 years ago, she pointed out that they still lag behind on virtually every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

“For example, just 42 per cent of countries give women the same rights to land ownership; just 60 per cent give women equal access to financial services”, she flagged. “And the gap is even greater for women in rural areas, women with disabilities, indigenous women and older women”.

Moreover, “no country has achieved full gender equality” and women continue to face discrimination in every region of the world, “from suffocating stereotypes to discriminatory laws, harmful practices and violence”, she maintained.

This runs counter to the “wealth of hard evidence” of the positive impact that “women’s participation and leadership have on economic stability, good governance and investment, including in health, education and social protection.

Child mortality decreases by almost 10 per cent for each additional year of education women of reproductive age have.

“This is just an example of the transformative, society-wide benefits of women’s empowerment”, Ms. Espinosa said. “Today’s discussion is anchored in this crucial link”.

 

 

 

Call for Action

The event, “Gender Equality and Women’s Leadership for a Sustainable World”, issued a 'Call for Action' that aligned with the theme of this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development: 'Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. The Forum, the main UN platform monitoring follow-up on States’ actions towards the SDGs, is currently under way in New York.

She invited all leaders to join the global “Call”, which 18 world leaders supported, as new synergies were being explored with other initiatives.

“Many of you will have heard me refer to gender equality as the closest thing we have to a ‘magic formula’ for sustainable development”, she said, noting that while “magical in terms of impact”, there is “nothing magical about how to achieve gender equality”.

The 2030 Agenda and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action set out what must be done to empower women and girls, and what is needed now are “greater political will; a razor-sharp focus on the most transformative, practical actions; and to widen their scale and impact” according to the Assembly President.

“Today, we find ourselves in urgent need of renewed leadership, partnership and mobilization”, stressed Ms. Espinosa. “It is no secret that some of the SDG targets relating to women’s rights were the subject of tough negotiations… and the landscape has become more challenging even since then”.

She underscored that “we cannot take for granted the gains we have made”. And painted a picture of women on the ground working hard, “under duress and at great personal risk” to push back against a pushback, spelling out that they “need our support”.

“This is our opportunity to recommit to women’s rights and empowerment, to rise to challenges old and new, and – reclaim the agenda”, concluded the Assembly President.

Agents of change

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the meeting that women have a strong track record as agents of change.

“From boardrooms to parliament, from military ranks to peace tables and, of course, in the United Nations itself, more women decision-makers mean more inclusive solutions that will benefit everyone”.

Because women understand “intrinsically” the importance of dignity, equality and opportunity for all, the deputy UN chief upheld that “women’s leadership and greater gender balance will lead to unlocking trillions for economies, enhanced bottom lines for the private sector and stronger, more sustainable peace agreements”.  

In addition to that, she stressed that “it is critical that we emphasize that women’s equal participation is a basic democratic right”.

 

 

For her part, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, said that next year, when we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the implementation of Beijing Platform, “our theme is ‘Generation Equality’ because we are emphasizing the importance of intra-generational participation and the role of young people to take us forward”.

“All of these, drawn together, give us a fighting chance to increase and sustain the participation of women”, she underscored. “We can’t wait people, time is up. Time is really, really up”.

The high-level meeting brought together prominent women leaders from around the globe, including a Mexican Member of Parliament Gabriela Cuevas Barron who is also the president of the Inter Parliamentarian Union and Helen Clark, former head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).  

 

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Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem on World Population Day

  • 10 July 2019 |

Want to improve women’s lives and countries’ prospects for prosperity?

Expand contraceptive choice.

Her life. Her choice. Our future.

Women have a right to make their own decisions about whether, when and how often to become pregnant. That right was reaffirmed in 1994 in Cairo at the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), where 179 governments agreed that sexual and reproductive health is the foundation for sustainable development.

In Cairo, we imagined a future in which every pregnancy is intended because every woman and girl would have autonomy over her own body and be able to choose whether, when and with whom to have children.

We imagined a world where no woman would die giving life because – no matter her location or socioeconomic or legal status – she would have access to quality maternal health care.

We imagined a time where everyone would live in safety, free from violence and with respect and dignity, and where no girl would be forced to marry or have her genitals mutilated.

Since 1994, governments, activists, civil society organizations and institutions such as UNFPA, have rallied behind the Programme of Action and pledged to tear down barriers that have stood between women and girls and their health, rights and power to chart their own futures.

Yet, despite considerable gains over the past 25 years, we still have a long way to go to live up to the promise of Cairo. Too many continue to be left behind. Too many are still unable to enjoy their rights.

More than 200 million women and girls want to delay or prevent pregnancy but don’t have the means. And it is the poorest women and girls, members of indigenous, rural and marginalized communities, and those living with disabilities, who face the greatest gaps in services.

It is time to act now, urgently, to ensure that every woman and girl is able to exercise her rights. With greater contraceptive options, they can prosper as equal partners in sustainable development.

The cost of inaction is simply too high: more women and girls dying, more unintended pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, more pregnant girls shamed out of school, the potential of individuals and societies squandered.

There is no time to waste. Our future depends on it.

At UNFPA, we are working with countries and partners to deliver on the world we imagined 25 years ago. Our sights are firmly set on achieving three zeros by 2030:

  • · zero unmet need for family planning;
  • · zero preventable maternal deaths; and
  • · zero gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.

High-quality data will help us zero in on where the needs are greatest and end the invisibility of those furthest behind.

At a summit to be convened by Denmark, Kenya and UNFPA in Nairobi this November, the international community will have an opportunity to recommit to the promises they made in Cairo and transform the world we imagined in the ICPD Programme of Action into a reality for every woman and girl. The summit will draw heads of state, thought-leaders, civil society organizations, young people, international financial institutions, private sector representatives and thousands of others who have a stake in the ongoing pursuit of sexual and reproductive health for all. We all have a stake in this.

On this World Population Day, I call on all of us – on governments, civil society, communities, and people from all sectors and walks of life – to be bold and courageous, to do what is right for women and girls around the world, to make real the possibilities that come with completing the unfinished business of Cairo. Usher in a world where promises made are promises kept, and reproductive rights and choices are a reality for all. This is the world we all want and can have if we join together in Nairobi and beyond with concrete commitments and far more resources to complete the journey we began 25 years ago.

Women and girls cannot wait. Countries and communities cannot wait. The time to act on promises made and to deliver on family planning is now.

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Regional conference of women begins in Port of Spain

  • 17 June 2019 |

The Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean is a subsidiary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The Conference is convened every three years in order to identify the status of women’s autonomy and rights at the regional and subregional levels, present recommendations regarding public policies on gender equality, and undertake periodic assessments of the activities carried out in fulfilment of regional and international agreements on the subject.

The Caribbean preparatory meeting is the forum to discuss progress made, and challenges faced in the implementation of the Montevideo Strategy in synergy with the Beijing+25 review. It will also identify new priority areas that need to be addressed to strengthen women’s autonomy in changing economic scenarios in the Caribbean. In addition, the preparations for the XIV session Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean will be discussed.

In order to facilitate the exchange of experiences on critical issues of concern to the Caribbean, the programme includes, on Monday, 17 June, a Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming in National Sustainable Development Planning for the representatives attending the subregional preparatory meeting.  This Workshop will serve as a platform to address the importance of including a gender perspective in sustainable development planning in the subregion, especially in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

More informaton will be provided on this story as it develops.

 photo album of the events on 17 June 2019

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Message on World Oceans Day - 8 June 2019

  • 07 June 2019 |

Oceans and seas connect and sustain us. They are home to vast biodiversity and are a vital defence against the global climate emergency.

Yet today the oceans are under unprecedented threat. In the past 150 years, about half of all living coral has been lost. In the past four decades, plastic pollution in oceans has increased tenfold. A third of fish stocks are now overexploited. Dead zones – underwater deserts where life cannot survive because of a lack of oxygen – are growing rapidly in extent and number. 

This year's observance of World Oceans Day highlights the gender dimensions of our relationship with the ocean.

The effects of pollution and climate change on the oceans have a disproportionate impact on women. For too long, women have been unable to share equally in ocean-supplied benefits. Women represent half the work force engaged in the catching and harvesting of wild and farmed fish, yet are paid substantially less than men. Women are also often segregated into low-skilled and unrecognized labour, such as fish processing, and are denied a decision-making role.

Similar treatment occurs in related sectors such as shipping, coastal tourism and marine

science, where the voices of women are frequently not heard.

Confronting gender inequality is essential to achieving the ocean-related Goal and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We must ensure an end to unsafe work conditions and guarantee that women have an equal role in managing ocean-related activities.

I urge governments, international organizations, private companies, communities and individuals to promote gender equality and the rights of women and girls as a crucial contribution to meeting ocean challenges.

We must also act across an array of sectors to address the conflicting demands from industry, fishing, shipping, mining and tourism that are creating unsustainable levels of stress on marine and coastal ecosystems.  The “Call for Action” adopted at the United Nations Oceans Conference in 2017 helps to point the way, and as we look ahead to the next such gathering, in Lisbon in 2020, let us all do our utmost to protect and preserve this essential resource for sustainable development.

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Despite progress, companies face gender equality ‘backlash’: UN business body

  • 20 March 2019 |

Although the drive to reach gender equality has picked up speed, and diversity initiatives have been put into place in companies and organizations, a significant level of resistance and backlash remains, according to a leading UN business group.

On the side-lines of the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative – brought together business leaders from around the world to a roundtable at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, to find ways to address the stumbling blocks to gender equality.

There are many concrete examples of the private sector moving in a positive direction, with regard to gender equality, and tackling systemic sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. These include the promotion of women’s representation on corporate boards, a demand for greater investment in companies owned by women, and a recognition that gender equality is a critical business issue.

Another powerful statement of intent is the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles; an initiative of UN Global Compact and UN Women, which cover the range of ways that business can advance gender equality in the workplace. So far, over 2,000 global business leaders have signed up, and hundreds of companies around the world are using the Principles to inform their gender equality strategies.

Why the backlash?

However, resistance to gender equality initiatives has been identified as a problem that needs to be recognized and addressed. UN Global Compact has identified a number of reasons for the backlash.

These include a lack of understanding of the issue, which can occur when the business case for gender equality is not adequately explained; industry norms, where there is a persistent belief that some industries are better suited to either men or women; and fear of a loss of opportunities, status and position if there are gains made by women in the workplace.

[ read the full story on UN News ]

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Message on International day of women and girls in science

  • 11 February 2019 |

Skills in science, technology, engineering and math drive innovation and are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Women and girls are vital in all these areas. Yet they remain woefully under-represented.

Gender stereotypes, a lack of visible role models and unsupportive or even hostile policies and environments can keep them from pursuing these careers.

The world cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of half our population.

We need concerted efforts to overcome these obstacles.

We must tackle misconceptions about girls’ abilities.

We must promote access to learning opportunities for women and girls, particularly in rural areas.

And we must do more to change workplace culture so that girls who dream of being scientists, engineers and mathematicians can enjoy fulfilling careers in these fields.

Let us ensure that every girl, everywhere, has the opportunity to realize her dreams, grow into her power and contribute to a sustainable future for all.

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Female African coders ‘on the front-line of the battle’ to change gender power relations: UN chief

  • 11 February 2019 |

Young female African coders are “on the front-line” of the battle to change traditionally male power relations and bring about a more equitable balance between men and women, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said during his visit to Ethiopia to attend the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa..

The UN chief was speaking after meeting girls from across the continent taking part in the African Girls Can Code Initiative, a joint initiative from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UN Women. This new programme saw more than 80 girls from 34 African countries join the first Coding Camp in Addis Ababa for 10 days in August 2018.

The girls attending the courses learn about digital literacy, coding and personal development skills, including enterprise know-how to ensure their financial security. They are trained as programmers, creators and designers, so that they are well equipped to compete for careers in areas such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and coding. The initiative will runs until 2022 and is expected to reach more than 2,000 girls through 18 Coding Camps.

[ read the full story on UN News ]

video:

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Message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 25 November 2018

  • 23 November 2018 |

Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. It is a moral affront to all women and girls, a mark of shame on all our societies and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. At its core, violence against women and girls is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women. It is an issue of fundamental human rights.

Violence can take many forms -- from domestic attacks to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide. It harms the individual and has far-reaching consequences for families and society. This is also a deeply political issue. Violence against women is tied to broader issues of power and control in our societies. We live in a male-dominated society. Women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal.

In the past year we have seen growing attention to one manifestation of this violence. Sexual harassment is experienced by most women at some point in their lives. Increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life is bringing the magnitude of the problem to light and demonstrating the galvanizing power of women’s movements to drive the action and awareness needed to eliminate harassment and violence everywhere.

This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting our support for survivors and advocates under the theme ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo’. With orange as the unifying colour of solidarity, the #HearMeToo hashtag is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play.

The same message resonates through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. This 500-million-euro programme will empower survivors and advocates to become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries. But while this initial investment is significant, it is small given the scale of need. It should be seen as seed funding for a global movement. Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.

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Remarks on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

  • 19 November 2018 |

[as delivered]

I am very pleased to be with you to discuss this essential topic.

Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic.

It is a moral affront to all women and girls and to us all, a mark of shame on all our societies, and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

At its core, violence against women and girls in all its forms is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women.

It is an issue of fundamental human rights.

The violence can take many forms – from domestic violence to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide.

It is an issue that harms the individual but also has far-reaching consequences for families and for society.

Violence experienced as a child is linked to vulnerability and violence later in life.

Other consequences include long-term physical and mental health impacts and costs to individuals and society in services and lost employment days. 

This is also a deeply political issue.

Violence against women is tied to broader issues of power and control in our societies.

We live in a male-dominated world.

Women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal.

When family laws which govern inheritance, custody and divorce discriminate against women, or when societies narrow women’s access to financial resources and credit, they impede a woman’s ability to leave abusive situations.

When institutions fail to believe victims, allow impunity, or neglect to put in place policies of protection, they send a strong signal that condones and enables violence. 

In the past year we have seen growing attention to one manifestation of this violence.

Sexual harassment is experienced by almost all women at some point in their lives.

No space is immune. 

It is rampant across institutions, private and public, including our very own.

This is by no means a new issue, but the increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life is bringing the magnitude of the problem to light.

This effort to uncover society’s shame is also showing the galvanizing power of women’s movements to drive the action and awareness needed to eliminate harassment and violence everywhere.

This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting our support for survivors and advocates under the theme ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo’.

With orange as the unifying colour of solidarity, the #HearMeToo hashtag is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play.

We need to do more to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

But, beyond that, it is imperative that we – as societies -- undertake the challenging work of transforming the structures and cultures that allow sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence to happen in the first place.

These include addressing the gender imbalances within our own institutions.

This is why we have adopted a UN system-wide gender parity strategy.

We have achieved parity in the senior management group and we are well on track to reach gender parity in senior leadership by 2021, and across the board by 2028.

The UN has also reaffirmed its zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault committed by staff and UN partners.

We have recruited specialized investigators on sexual harassment, instituted fast-track procedures for addressing complaints and initiated a 24/7 helpline for victims.

I also remain committed to ending all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and UN staff in the field – one of the first initiatives I took when I assumed office.

Nearly 100 Member States that support UN operations on the ground have now signed voluntary compacts with us to tackle the issue, and I call on others to join them, fully assuming their responsibilities, in training, but also in ending impunity.

Further afield, we are continuing to invest in life-changing initiatives for millions of women and girls worldwide through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

This Fund focuses on preventing violence, implementing laws and policies and improving access to vital services for survivors.

With more than 460 programmes in 139 countries and territories over the past two decades, the UN Trust Fund is making a difference.

In particular, it is investing in women’s civil society organizations, one of the most important and effective investments we can make.

The UN is also working to deliver on a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder, innovative initiative to end all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 500-million-euro EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is an important step forward in this direction.

As the largest-ever single investment in eradicating violence against women and girls worldwide, this initial contribution will address the rights and needs of women and girls across 25 countries and five regions.

It will empower survivors and advocates to share their stories and become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries.

A significant portion of the Spotlight’s initial investment will also go to civil society actors, including those that are reaching people often neglected by traditional aid efforts.

But even though this initial investment is significant, it is small given the scale of the need.

It should be seen as seed funding for a global movement in which we must play a role.

It is that global movement that we celebrate today, as we look forward to the coming 16 days devoted to ending gender-based violence.

Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free of fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.

Thank you very much.

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Ending inequality means ending ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women – UN chief

  • 19 November 2018 |

Until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, commemorating theInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked annually on 25 November.

“At its core, violence against women and girls in all its forms is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect­ ­– a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women,”

Mr. Guterres said at a special event at UN Headquarters observing the Day, which highlights that violence against women is as serious cause of death and incapacity as cancer, among women of reproductive age.

The Day kicks off the 16 Days of Activism under the Secretary-Generals’ UNiTe campaign, which calls on people of all sectors to join in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme is ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo,’ and as in previous years, the color orange is used to draw global attention to the issue, while the hashtag is encouraged to amplify the message of survivors and activists and to put them at the centre of the conversation and response.

The theme also aims to broaden the global conversation and highlight the voices and activism of all survivors of violence and advocates around the world – many of whom are often missing from the media headlines and social media discussions.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, the Organization’s gender equality entity, highlighted that UN initiatives shifting the livelihoods of women signal hope for progress.

“A culture that changes from questioning the credibility of the victims, to pursuing the accountability of the perpetrators within due process, is possible,” she said.

newsicon  [ read the full story at UN News ]


 

 play   Related Video - UN Women on Violence agains Women in the Caribbean

 

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