Peace And Women Are Building Blocks

Today’s event offered a forum in which panelists shared their views on how to best incorporate women’s leadership in contexts of fragility and conflict and ensure that they are not left behind.

Unlike the MDGs, which included no separate provision for peace and security, the 2030 Agenda (with the introduction of the SDGs) has dedicated an entire goal for peace and security (SDG 16). As Ms. Cabrera-Balleza remarked, “Goal 16 is very important and has been long fought for. How can we talk about sustainable development in a country that is at war?”  She highlighted the importance of including women and civil society in the implementation of the new agenda. We must take the SDGs out of New York and the UN and bring them to the countries affected and in need of sustainable development. We must ensure that they are also owned by local people and communities. To do this, we must translate the SDGs from UN language to one that is broken down and fathomed at local levels. Partnering with local community media is crucial to dissipating the information. We should also give space to women so that they can take the lead in decisions. The “Add Woman or Stir Approach” can no longer be viable.

Ms. Gbowee noted that the 2030 Agenda is one that incorporates almost every thematic area that affects our world. The SDGs are all interconnected and must be achieved together. Further, we must not let the SDGs become trending issues that will later lose relevance. It is time to push and speak the hard truth. She pointed out that women-centered movements have lost their strength and become overly diplomatic. As she stated, “You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.”

Meeting: “Women’s Leadership in SDG Implementation in Situations of Conflict and Fragility: Lessons from Somalia and Liberia.”

Date/Location: Wednesday, March 16, 2016; 3:00-4:15 p.m.; Conference Room A

Speakers: Ms. Rosemary Kalapurakal, Moderator; Ms. Sarah Poole, Deputy Director, BPPS, UNDP; Hon. Sahra Mohamaed Ali Samatar, Minister of Women and Human Rights Development; Ms. Leymah Gbowee, Liberian Women’s Rights and Peace Activist, 2011 Nobel  Peace Prize Winner; Ms. Zahra Said Nur, Women’s Rights Activist, Founder of Talowadaag-Somali Women’s Movement; Ms. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Nordic Gender Equality: Showing Reproductive Rights are Lucrative

New service lets you protest anti-women legislation for only $3.50

Today, there was a meeting held by the Nordic Council of Ministers about four fundamental goals for prosperity in gender equality, seen as essential in achieving the sustainable developmental goals. The six ministers discussed the challenges and successes in creating advances towards striving to achieve the sustainable development goals, specifically expanding on the role of gender equality and their individual Nordic experiences.

Ms. Regnér began, “We see gender equality not only as an issue of human rights, but also as a vehicle to develop the whole society.” Sweden received 106,000 refugees last year, and upon finding that some of the girls were married, the Swedish society reacted with outrage. Had a more global effort been made, less girls would have been forced to marry.

Next, Ms. Harðardóttir focused on the target achieving universal health coverage. She stated the cost-benefit for aiding reproductive rights is the one of the highest in the agenda: $120 returned for every dollar spent. She stressed that women should not go 150 years without gender equality, the projected time if progress is made at its current rate.

Ms. Horne and Ms. Nørby pushed for the implementation for education as a prerequisite for many of the other goals. Only 49% of all children attend secondary education; 65 million adolescents are out of school — they are being deprived of a future. Education is the most important investment towards empowering girls.

Mr. Rehula acknowledged the advances made by the Nordic countries in the workforce, but also stated that the gender pay gap and the lack of women in top corporate positions needs to be improved on. Good quality and productivity will result from this evolving workforce. Finally, Ms. Samuelsen, being from a small island, shared her perspective on promoting equality, specifically on out-migration and future sustainability.

Meeting: Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals – Nordic Ministerial Panel

Date/Location: March 16th, 2016, 11:30-12:45; Conference Room 11

Speakers: Eygló Harðardóttir, Minister of Social Affairs and Housing, Iceland; Solveig Horne, Minister of Children and Equality, Norway; Åsa Regnér, Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Sweden; Juha Rehula, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, Finland; Eyðgunn Samuelsen, Minister of Social Affairs, Faroe Islands; Ellen Trane Nørby, Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality, Denmark

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Send Congress Your Uterus

Cracking Down on Gender-Related Violence

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Today there was a meeting held by the Mission of Qatar and UN Women about the importance of documenting conflict-related sexual and gender based violence as a first step toward accountability.

Recently, there have been mass displacements and increases in violence around the world. Rape, forced marriage, and sexual slavery continue to occur in the ongoing battle against sexual and gender-based crimes. In order to efficiently investigate and document these crimes, the need for accountability is fulfilled by the Justice Rapid Response (JRR)-UN Women SGBV Justice Experts Roster.

The speakers discussed specific investigations that enabled the prosecution to raise awareness about these crimes, including those in North Korea, Iraq, and Syria. Ms. Davidian led the meeting and gave a background on how JRR was founded. On September 28th, 2009, there was a massive crackdown in Guinea against a protest for democracy that led to 150 deaths. The Secretary-General established a Commission of Inquiry, and UN Women found that 109 acts of sexual violence had occurred that day. Seeing the need to bring attention to these crimes, the JRR partnership and institute started. Qualified experts from all over the world are trained for 7-10 days, specifically on sexual, gender-based violence, and placed on a roster. Today, approximately 170 professionals are available to assist inquiry and investigations and document to ensure accountability. They ensure linguistic and cultural diversity on the roster to aid victims all around the world.

Ms. Ahmed ensured Arabic speaking professionals on the roster as Qatar’s contribution and stressed the necessity to work harder to prevent such crimes protecting women and girls in armed conflict. Mr. Wenaweser and Mr. Garcia presented Liechtenstein and Argentina’s firm support towards the JRR initiative respectively. Ms. Madenga led a discussion about finding patterns of Boko Haram violence against people.

Meeting: Securing Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender Based Crimes

Date/Location: Wednesday, March 16th, 2016; 10:00-13:00; Conference Room 9

Speakers: H.E. Ms. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN; H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN; H.E. Mr. Martín Garcia Moritán, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN; Mr. Tim Mawe, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN; Ms. Federica Tronchin, SGBV and MENA Region Programme Manager, Justice Rapid Response; Ms. Alison Davidian, Transitional Justice Policy Specialist, UN Women; Ms. Renifa Madenga, SGBV investigator deployed to the Boko Haram Fact Finding Mission

Written By: WIT Representative Jin Yoo

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Francois Guillot / AFP / Getty Images

Enacting Gender Equality Legislation

 

 

The event was hosted by the IPU and UN Women to highlight the important role of parliamentarians in ending discriminatory laws and implementing legislations that promote gender equality within countries. Recalling both the 1995 Beijing world conference and the ratification by 189 states of the CEDAW, importance was placed upon the urgency of finally realizing gender equality. As Ms. Mensah-Williams noted, it is time that parliaments ensure that women empowerment is both protected as well as promoted throughout their legislation. Parliaments must become gender-sensitive entities. “Let us complete the unfinished business of women empowerment. It can no longer be business as usual.”

Mr. Glemarec noted that only through the attainment of gender equality can a sustainable future be reached. Parliaments can ease this process through passing/reforming legislation, voicing concerns of their constituents, ensuring that gender laws are adequately financed, and holding their governments accountable.

Mr. Claros explained that the World Bank has surveyed through constitutions to examine how countries use their laws to discriminate against women. Of the 173 countries surveyed, only 18 of them had laws across all areas that did not discriminate in some way. Ms. Duncan, shared the launching of a new UN Women database that lists gender equality provisions in constitutions across 195 countries: constitutions.unwomen.org/en.

Ms. Emaase said that KEWOPA has managed to pass and repeal legislation in a male-dominant parliament through lobbying, advocacy, and collaboration. Through the creation of the 2010 Kenyan constitution, KEWOPA has also gained greater voice in parliament.

Mr. Chauvel further highlighted the importance of supervising the gathering of data and statistics at the national level. In achieving the SDGs, it must be ensured that no one is left behind in data reporting. He urged that the economic situation of women be considered holistically and not be compartmentalized.

Meeting: “The Power of Legislation for Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development.”

Date/Location: Tuesday, March 15, 2016; 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.; ECOSOC Chamber

Speakers: Ms. M. Mensah-Williams, President of the IPU Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians; Mr. Y. Glemarec, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme, UN Women; Ms. Y. Hayashi, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Mr. A. Lopez Claros, Director, Global Indicators Group, Development Economics, World Bank Group; Ms. Y. Hassan, Global Executive Director, Equality Now; Ms. B. Duncan, Justice and Constitutional Advisor, Leadership and Governance, UN Women; Ms. M.O. Emaase, Member of the National Assembly (Kenya); Mr. C. Chauvel, Team Leader, Inclusive Political Processes, Bureau for Policy and Programmes Support, UNDP

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Planet 50-50, Women’s Empowerment, and the SDGs

This meeting was about the importance of women’s economic empowerment and how they are directly tied with the SDGs. The first speaker, Ms. Susan Shabangu, explained that in order to address gender equality and improve the economy, the South African government is currently focusing on five critical areas: education, outcome and performance, labor markets, property and credits, and changes in poverty inequality. One example she gave of the discrimination that is still very present in South Africa was the marital laws. In South Africa, the banks require the husband’s signature for approval if a woman tries to request a loan. The minister also explained that the president of South Africa, who recently issued a directive to create more jobs for women, also translates this emphasis on the empowerment of women. She concluded with the remark that for gender equality to become a reality, it must be mainstream.

The second speaker was Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. She said that the SDGs are all about the notion of leaving no one behind. Therefore, we need to start with those who are most likely to be left behind, and in most countries they are women. The most crucial thing that women are not able to participate in is finance, so, accordingly, the SDGs are about ensuring that business is done differently, and that we value people differently. She explained that the participation of women is crucial for the economy: there is currently over $28 trillion in the global economy that is being sacrificed because of the challenges that women are currently facing. She also discusses the issue of the wage gap between men and women. The global average is 24 percent, but in some countries it’s as high as 75 percent. After the two speakers, the floor was open for questions.

Meeting: Women’s economic empowerment and the link with the Sustainable Development Goals

Date/Location: Wednesday March 16, 2016, 15:00 –16:15; ECOSOC Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Susan Shabangu, Minister of Women in the Presidency of South Africa; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Director of UN Women

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Gender Justice (Zambia)

Connecting Young Women Toward a Sustainable Africa

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The Ghana Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa hosted today’s meeting. Established in 2004 as a Women’s Initiative for Empowerment and Leadership Development (WIELD) Foundation, it is a non-profit organization that pursues proactive strategies to develop and empower young women to take on leadership roles in their communities. Despite the increasing potential in Africa, the majority of women still lack access to equal opportunities and resources for leadership development. Ms.Adwoa Bame, the program director and founding member of Moremi Initiative, spoke briefly about the organization’s goals in the future. She stated that the investment in young women’s leadership will provide double dividends to make the world a better place for all, and that the strategies that seek to improve the lives of young women significantly affect the population. In 2009, Moremi Initiative started the process of having young women across the continent come together and meet, to become young women leaders and discuss pertinent issues. This program is known as the Milead fellowship.

After Ms. Bame spoke about the organization, she introduced various young members of Milead Fellowship, who spoke about their passions, goals, and experiences in their countries. The first member was Ms. Hadeye Maiga from Mali, and she discussed her experience as an engineer, and the need for more women engineers. She explained that although engineering work does take a lot of time, she has a strong passion for the field. Another member was Ms. Baba Jackson from Ghana, and she mentioned the importance of support, and encouraging more programs like Milead Fellowship where young women can meet. She noted that the only way we can richer definition of feminism is when we meet new people and experience different perspectives. After various members of the fellowship spoke about their experiences, Ms. Bame gave a closing statement.

Meeting: Enhancing Young Women’s Voices for Women’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development: A Multi-generational Dialogue with Emerging African Women Leaders

Date/Location: Wednesday March 16, 2016, 10:00 –11:15; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Ms. Adwoa Bame, Program Director and Founding Member of Ghana Moremi Initiative; Ms. Hadeye Maiga, Milead Fellowship member from Mali; Ms. Baba Jackson, Milead fellowship member from Ghana; Milead Fellowship member from Botswana; Milead Fellowship member from Kenya; Milead Fellowship member from Uganda; Milead Fellowship from Benin

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Youth Independent

Mind The Gap: Bridging Gender Pay Divides

Ms Dininage’s opening discussion focused on what business can do to ensure there’s no gender pay gap, which is the percentage in difference between male and female average earnings. Mckinsey estimates 0.6 trillion pounds extra in UK’s GDP if that pay gap could be bridged. Women often end up in occupations that are narrow in scope – too many hairdressers, not enough engineers – so the key is getting girls into these high-paid sectors. Businesses also need to make sure they have programs in place to retrain and keep maternity leave workers, and to get away from this “culture of presenteeism”, where people are judged by how many hours they are at their desk rather than the work they do. The UK aims to eliminate gender pay gap within a generation, and so will require greater efforts of transparency. Businesses with over 250 employees will be required to publish their pay and bonus gap data. 30 hours of free childcare per week will also be mandated.

Ms. Kiviniemi offered a presentation showing that there are more working women in OECD countries than at any point in history. The price of motherhood is often too high, due to childcare, work interruptions, and lower wages. The Average pay gap is 22% in families with one children, compared with 7% in couples with no children. Unequal sharing of family responsibilities, wage-sharing policies and union coverage, and discrimination are factors that affect the pay gap to some degree. OECD recommends employment-protected well-paid maternity leave to working parents (especially fathers), more access to food, and affordable childcare and long-term care, as the lack of these frequently reduces the amount of time women are available to work. We must encourage women towards leadership roles.

Meeting: The Gender Pay Gap: What is it, why does it still exist and how do we get rid of it?

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, March 15, 2016; 10:00 – 11:30; Conference Room B

Speakers: Ms. Helene Reardon Bond, Deputy Director Head of Gender Equality, Government Equalities Office; Ms. Caroline Dininage, Prime Minister for Women in the United Kingdom Government; Ms. Louise McSorley, Head, Office for Women, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Australia;  Ms. Mari Kiviniemi, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD; Ms. Emer Timmons, President, British Telecom (BT) Global Services, UK

Written By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Giant Leaps for Women-Kind

The 60th Commission on the Status of Women held its first ever youth forum today. Importance was placed on training a new generation of youth to become leaders. This generation will include young women, but also men who will be allies in initiatives such as “HeforShe.”

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka noted that an alliance has been struck between women and youth with the potential to change the world. Currently, women are found globally at the bottom of economic ladders and it is thus crucial for Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda to be met. It is young women who must take charge of the agenda for change to be actualized. The agenda does not call for baby steps, it calls for giant leaps.

Next, Mr. Alhendawi stressed the importance of youth inclusion in UN discussions. It is time we make noise and make it be known that we can no longer just do business as usual. We must take big steps towards protecting gender equality. SDG #5 is at the heart of all we do.

Mr. Karkara noted that we are about to transform the world. Year 2015 was a giant leap for women, year 2016 will be a great leap for young women-kind. It is time for young women to take their destinies within their own hands. With the advent of the “LEAP’s” framework of Leadership, Economic Empowerment, Action, Participation, Partnerships, and Inter-generational participation, both young men and women can be empowered as allies to achieve gender equality.

Ms. Banerjee further evoked the promising future of the 2030 SDG’s. Unlike the MDG’s which sought improvement, the SDG’s will transform the world and leave no one behind. Equipped with 17 goals and 169 targets, young people must mobilize together to achieve Planet 5050 by the year 2030.

Meeting: “Youth Forum at the 60th Commission on Status of Women.”

Date/Location: 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Friday, March 11, 2016; Salvation Army

Speakers: Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director; Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbodzvanda, Secretary General World YMCA; Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth; Ms. Anita Tiessen, CEO of WAGGGS; Mr. Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor Strategic Partnership and Advocacy UN Women; Ms. Lopa Banerjee, Representative of the UN Women

Written By: WIT Representative Emilie Broek

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: 盘磬

Meeting of the Group of Friends of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

UNIDIRMr. Napolitano introduced UNIDIR and the institute’s goal to maintain autonomy. UNIDIR aims to ensure its own evolution, express member state support, maintain contact with Geneva to develop new projects, and build constituencies. Mr. Sareva emphasized how UNIDIR faces a threat to its existence and operation because of low funding. UNIDIR has an institutional budget, but no working capital. The budget, which supports resources needed to run the institute and its projects has been decreasing. This funding comes from a small budget subvention, overhead from projects (about 20%), and voluntary contributions. Mr. Sareva expressed that member states must provide the funds that they promised in Geneva. UNIDIR’s dependence on a small group of countries is risky, so they are looking to expand their donor base to NGOs and private donors. The current stability fund goal is $1 million, which can be allocated and replenished accordingly.

The UN has introduced a new, integrated resource management system, UMOJA, which makes UNIDIR’s business processes obsolete because they cannot continue providing staff contracts. UMOJA also prevents management systems from allowing fund cross borrowing and it requires UNIDIR to keep reserves (creating a lack of working capital). UNIDIR’s unique structure maintains institutional independence and allows for a wide mandate that covers arms control and related security issues like nuclear disarmament. UNIDIR works with new, emerging security issues and has crosscutting work that aids stakeholders. It also has strong convening power, is practical and effective, and frames agendas to inform and motivate collective action.

Switzerland’s representative expressed support of UNIDIR and agreed with Austria that a “Plan B” is needed as time continues to run out. Most members in the meeting agreed that the UN Disarmament Commission needs to be utilized to gain support on the political level.

 

Meeting: Meeting of the Group of Friends of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) (organized by the Permanent Mission of France)
Date & Location: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015; 11:00 am to 12:15 pm; Conference Room E
Speakers: Jarma Sareva, Director of Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations; Moderator Tomas Napolitano, Representative of the French Mission to the United States (Political Affairs and Security Council)
Written by WIT Representatives: Ellie Guner and Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey