Women and Climate Change

This meeting discussed climate change and its relationship with women. Ms.Nusseibeh explained that women comprise up to 60% of the agricultural work force in some countries and farms can be devastated by drought and desertification. Women are also more vulnerable to violence when they are required to travel farther to gather essential supplies and during periods of forced migration. Mr. Sachs discussed areas where funding needed to be “scaled-up”. Examples included education, which he claimed was essential to women empowerment and sustainable development goals and clean energy, to mitigate the effects of climate change. Ms. Puri stated that empowering

women was essential to finding solutions to both gender equality and climate change. Climate change and extreme weather also has an effect on society, as conflict, often derived from gender inequality, is worsened by these environmental changes. For examples, in small island states, rising sea levels have caused forced migration, exacerbating social tensions in these regions. She also stated that the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka killed approximately 1 in 5 displaced women, nearly twice the amount of displaced men. Ms. Markham emphasized the need for women to be active in policymaking because it is necessary to mitigate climate change. To do this, the insecure land and tenure rights, obstructed access to national resources, the burden of domestic duty, and other social restrictions placed upon women need to be lifted in order to increase decision making within women and girls. Ms. Blomstrom continued upon this point, as she stressed the necessity of adequate legal framework to allow women to become empowered activists and leaders.

 

Title: Women, Peace, Security in the Context of Climate Change

Date/Location: Thursday, 15 January 2015; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 4
Speakers: Lana Nusseibeh Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations; Susan Markham, Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment; Eleanor Blomstrom, Program Director for Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO); Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
Written By: Elise Freeman
Edited By: Modou Cham

Event on: “Globalization and Sustainable Development: The Role of Governments, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Private Sector”

sdg2All representatives at the event on “Globalization and sustainable development: The role of governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector”emphasized that each individual is a part of one humanity. NGOs should increase their participation in globalization with the UN and the private sector.

President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser started the meeting by highlighting the importance of technology in our daily lives. Technology not only impacts economic growth, but also benefits the globalization of public policy and social structure. Moreover, the demand for globalization and sustainable development increases the need for international cooperation and government support. He and other representatives agreed that a stable government is required and governments thus need to work with NGOs and the private sector to make globalization more efficient.

Dr. B. K. Modi stated that the UN and NGOs cannot be separated and should work together with each other. Ambassador Michele Klein-Solomon said that globalization is a great benefit for the world because it gives positive aspects to all current and subsequent generations. However, he stated that there are unbalanced opportunities between individuals. Therefore, governments should fairly handle human capital to have more opportunities in peoples’ lives. Multi-cultural areas have become a norm in society rather than an exception and migration should be supplemented with education to promote cultural development.

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury and Mr. Gary C. K. Huang claimed that globalization cannot create more division or disparity. There are three objectives of globalization: education, sustainability, and transformation. More students should be in schools to get quality education to create global citizenship. Dr. Tageldin Hamad insisted that women should be always included in communities like NGOs in globalization. NGOs have an obligation to not ally with any particular government and to not be controlled by government bodies.

Ms. Isha Judd stated that sustainable development  should be based on children, as they always focus on unity and love. Since children never think about fear or lack, they teach us how to meditate and nurture. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati compared today to a global boat. We are on the same boat and have an equal responsibility for globalization. Dr. Manohar Shinde stated that globalization needs to have global perspectives on economic and non-economic issues. Ms. Sharon Vosmek argued that very few numbers of women are working in the society. She emphasized that we live in a global community and women should be treated equally as men.

Meeting: Event on “Globalization and sustainable development: The role of governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector” (co-organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Global Citizen Forum)
Date: 31 October 2014
Location: Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium, UN HQ, New York
Speakers: Ambassador Tariq Al-Ansari, H.E. President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Dr. B.K. Modi, Dr. Thomas Walsh, Ambassador Michele Klein-Solomon, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Ambassador Noel Sinclair, Dr. Tageldin Hamad, Ms. Isha Judd, Mr. Kelly Wright, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Dr. Manohar Shinde, Ms. Sharon Vosmek, and Mr. Gary C.K. Huang.
Written by WIT Representative: Minji Han

Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey and Aslesha Dhillon

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

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The Eighteenth Meeting of State Parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was held this morning. The main purpose of the meeting is to elect 12 members to replace those whose terms are due to expire on 31 December 2014.

Ms. Curry mentioned the State of Palestine has become a party to the Covenant since the last election in June 2012. Currently, there are a total of 188 States parties. In addition, the Committee has continued to adopt recommendations in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. At present, the Committee is working on several general recommendations concerning women asylum seekers, refugee and stateless women, rural women, access to justice, girls’ and women’s right to education, climate change and natural disasters. The Committee also adopted statements on thematic issues such as treaty body strengthening; strengthened cooperation with UN Women; the role of women in the process of political transition in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia; sexual and reproductive health and rights; and women’s rights in the post-2015 development agenda.

Moreover, the Committee has continued to streamline and harmonize its working methods in order to improve the management of time and resources. They will incorporate the guidelines on independence and impartiality of members of the human rights treaty bodies.

On 9 April 2014, the General Assembly adopted resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system. At the outset, the Meeting elected Ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, Deputy Ambassador of Spain as its Chair upon his nomination from the Western European and other States. Ambassador Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda and Dragana Anđelić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina were elected as Vice-Chairs and twelve experts were being elected in a single round of voting.

Meeting Title: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: 1st Meeting
Speakers: Ms. Gaynel Curry, Acting Chief of the Global Issues Section within the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Representative of the Secretary‑General; Ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares Palou, Deputy Ambassador of Spain
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York 
Date: 26 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability

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Today an event was held which highlighted how environmental sustainability is an integral part in humanitarian aid effectiveness. The panelists in this meeting discussed the findings from a report entitled “Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability.”

The first speaker, Ms. Gebremedhin, the Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland, began by addressing various environmental issues that need to be taken into account during humanitarian action, in order for it to reach its full potential. For example, management of solid wastes and hazardous materials and safeguarding natural resources are essential, and the reduction of deforestation, desertification, and pollution is necessary for sustained livelihoods in the aftermath of a disaster. Furthermore, efficient leadership and accountability are needed in humanitarian situations, and addressing environmental concerns is a shared responsibility between donors and humanitarian organisations.

Following, Mr. Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva, stated the effectiveness of humanitarian aid is dependent on environmental conditions. He cited floods and draughts as main environmental threats that can complicate an already existing humanitarian crisis, like a famine or armed conflict.

Ms. Anita van Breda from WWF USA spoke about combining climate change adaptation strategies with disaster risk reduction. She highlighted the Green Recovery Program – a partnership between WWF and the American Red Cross –, which works to sustain livelihoods, provide adequate water, sanitation, and shelter, and deals with disaster management. Her three key recommendations to take the environment into consideration when taking humanitarian action included: updating academic training and professional development, learning to manage change and developing new ways of learning, and ensuring that staff and volunteers have the necessary discipline, skills, and aptitude.

Concluding the meeting Ms. Costa, the Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission spoke about the threat faced by women and girls when they have to leave their refugee camps to collect firewood for cooking and heating. Many have to travel 5 or 6 hours a day to collect enough wood to cook just one meal, and on the journey are raped, beaten, or killed. Ms. Costa emphasised the importance of shifting communities away from dependence on wood fuel and towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options in order to decrease the threat of this gender based violence and to reduce deforestation and resource overconsumption.

Meeting Title: Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability
Speakers: Ms. Anna Gebremedhin, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland; Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Geneva; MS. Anita van Breda, Director of Humanitarian Partnerships, WWF USA; Ms. Sarah Costa, Executive Director of Women’s Refugee Commission
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Advancement of Women’s access to Justice around the World

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Ambassador Mamabolo highlighted the South African constitution’s provisions on gender equality, and detailed the extent to which provisions are translated into practice. One novel practice is the impending legislation that mandates the government and private institutions to achieve a 50:50 gender ratio in the makeup of the employees, especially those at the decision-making level. Another practice is the establishment of specialized Sexual Offences Court, which provides expedient judicial process with regards to gender-based crime.

Dr. Hofmeister celebrated the Austrian accomplishments in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and also listed the domestic reform on family, labour and criminal law that give effects to the convention. However, she also cautioned the audience that the Fritzl case of a girl being locked in a basement reminds us not to be complacent in ensuring women enjoy their full rights. Dr. Hofmeister highlighted the positive role of women jurists in advancing women’s access to justice, a point which Ms. Duncan expanded on when explaining the importance of involving women in the justice chain.

Ms. Duncan commended the practices in judicial reform tailored for women in Austria and South Africa, and explained how these policies are reformulated and emulated elsewhere around the world. She added that UN-Women and other organizations focus on helping countries to undergo gender-based judicial reform, develop legal aid, train judges to be gender-sensitive, and cultivate effective informal dispute resolution mechanisms. In reminding the audience that the work on women’s access to justice is unfinished, she said that a number of countries still allow customary laws to prevail over women’s fundamental entitlement to inheritance, marriage and employment.

Ambassador Sajdik concluded by urging the audience to passionately champion for women, “for not a single country can claim that it has achieved gender equality between women and men” yet.

Meeting Title: 12th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Speakers: H.E. Dr. Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representatives of Austria to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Jeremiah Nyamane Kinglsey Mamabolo, Permanent Representatives of South Africa to the United Nations; Dr. Lilian Hofmeister, Substitute Judge at the Constitutional Court and CEDAW-candidate, Austria; Ms. Beatrice Duncan, Justice and Constitutional Advisor, UN Women.
Location: Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: June 23th, 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Reactions and Suggestions to the Sustainable Development Goals

An informal meeting convened by the Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held this morning. Representatives of major groups and other stakeholders gathered to discuss their viewpoints on the Zero Draft of the SDGs.

Mr. Harris called for more ambitious targets under Goal 7 in a bid to provide all people with access to renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and ensure that new energy production is renewable. He used biomass as an example to illustrate the need to define qualifiers such as “clean”, “sustainable” or “modern” energy within targets under Goal 7, since biomass is renewable yet its potential negative social and environmental impacts can impede sustainability itself. He further made suImageggestions on the reformulation of targets under Goal 7, with more attention to women, indigenous people, farmers and entrepreneurs.

Ms. Hansen reiterated the necessity of the stand-alone goal on climate change towards a climate-resilient future and to drive urgent international action. She asked for more concrete and ambitious targets under goal 13 by taking into account the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), and setting a target of a less than1.5°C increase in global average temperature. She also suggested one additional target related to financing, since financing is one of the most critical means of implementing the SDGs.

Ms. Wright spoke about goal 9, industrialization, and raised concern in which the language and focus of goal 9 would counteract the real essence of sustainable development. She, on behalf of her group, proposed merging the “production related” target of goal 12, with some of the targets in goal 9. Melany Grout emphasized the need to address the multidimensional face of poverty and the target under goal 1, poverty eradication, should focus on the measure of well-being rather than on income alone. Furthermore, social protection should be universalized.

 

Meeting Title: Reaction to Zero Draft: Joint Statements
Speakers: Grove Harris, speaking on behalf of Women’s, Children and Youth, Indigenous Peoples, NGO Major Groups, Mining Working Group, Beyond 2015; Mette Bloch Hansen. speaking on behalf of the Major Groups of NGOs, Children & Youth and Women, Beyond 2015, Climate Action Network International; Nozipho Wright, speaking on behalf of Women’s Major Group, NGO Major Group, the youth Major and other stakeholders; Melany Grout, speaking on behalf of Plan International, Psychology Coalition at the UN, Commons Cluster, ATD Fourth World, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, GNDR, Plan International, World Animal Protection, World Vision International, Major Group Children and Youth, Landesa.
Date: 19 June 2014
Location: United Nations, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Women’s Empowerment at the Regional Level: Focus on Developing Countries

womenThe Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board 2014, under item 6 of the agenda, discussed efforts towards empowerment of women at the regional level, and gender related challenges faced by developing countries.

A report on the joint field visits of the Executive Boards of UNDP/ UNFPA/ UNOPS, UNICEF, UN Women and WFP to Panama and El Salvador, was presented at the United Nations headquarters today. The purpose of these visits was to learn about the role, functions and efforts of various UN entities at the regional level, where delegations visited project sites in different areas.

The highlight of today’s meeting was Ciudad Mujer (Women’s City), which is a flagship project of the El Salvador Government. The Secretary for Social Inclusion of El Salvador, Dr. Vanda Pignato, emphasized that women undergo numerous disadvantages due to lack of opportunities through various dimensions of human development. Ciudad Mujer, therefore, deals in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, response to violence, education and vocational training, processes to strengthen economic autonomy, food security and integral childcare, all in compliance with the Millennium Development Goals. This initiative by El Salvador has inspired other delegations in their efforts towards women’s empowerment.

Delegations highlighted the importance of collaboration between government institutions and civil society with support from several UN agencies to combat violence against women, which is widespread in developing countries. They also highlighted the importance of ensuring that women’s rights are protected and fulfilled.

H.E. Mr. Gonzalo Koncke Pizzorno, in support of developing countries, underscored that the method used to classify developing countries in the UN forum does not take into account the challenges faced by these countries. The challenges are multifaceted and therefore, developing countries require special consideration through holistic answers and approaches.

 

Meeting Title: 5th Meeting of the Annual Session of the UN Women Executive Board 2014
Speakers: H.E. Mr.Gonzalo Koncke Pizzorno, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Uruguay and President of the Board of Executive Directors of UN Women; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Executive Director Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations; Ms. Lakshmi Puri Deputy Executive Director, Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. John Hendra Deputy Executive Director, Policy and Programme Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Dr. Vanda Pignato, Secretary for Social Inclusion of El salvador
Date: 19 June 2014
Location: CR 2, CB, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

 

United Nations Population Award Ceremony

unfpa_5Established by the General Assembly in 1981, the UN Population Award is presented each year to a laureate or laureates who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of population and health.

Today at the Trusteeship Council, Father Aldo Marchesini and the organization Jhpiego were awarded the 2014 United Nations Population Award. Both award winners have dedicated more than four decades to saving the lives and preserving the health of women around the world. Targeting reproductive and maternal health care in communities, their efforts have jointly improved and expanded this healthcare sector.

Father Aldo Marchesini is devoted to treating ‘obstetric fistula’. It is a complication of childbirth occurring almost exclusively in places where basic maternal health care is unavailable. Prolonged or obstructed labour tears a hole in the birth canal, leading to chronic incontinence and, often, social isolation and marginalization. Having been the only doctor in Mozambique with the expertise to treat obstetric fistula for a long time, he lived through the countries prolonged post-independence civil war. Father Marchesini candidly commented that, “the plight of women seeking medical attention and treatment outweighed the threat he faced to his own life; having been kidnapped and imprisoned countless times during the civil war”. UNFPA supports obstetric fistula campaigns in Mozambique, including providing funds and surgical kits to Dr. Marchesini’s programme.

Jhpiego, originally known as the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, pursues the goal of reducing high rates of maternal death in low-income countries through family planning. In many parts of the world, women do not use any form of contraception due to a combination of lack of information, social stigma and, most importantly, a limited number of providers able to deliver needed services at time of need. Jhpiego’s primary campaign is to highlight the fact that the simple act of family planning has a direct baring in improving maternal, newborn and child health; HIV prevention, care and treatment and cervical cancer prevention and treatment. Over a million healthcare providers – doctors, nurses, midwives, community health workers – have been trained by Jhpiego in family planning and reproductive health.

Both Dr. Marchesini and Jhpiego have been instrumental in ensuring the long-term sustainability of maternal and reproductive health services. In conclusion Edita Hrdá remarked that, “the award serves as an expression of our joint commitment to ensure a life of dignity for all and to build a world in which every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.

Meeting Title: “2014 United Nations Population Award Ceremony”
Winners: Father Aldo Marchesini, a doctor and Catholic priest who treats obstetric fistula sufferers in Mozambique; Jhpiego, a maternal and child health organization.
Award Committee: Edita Hrdá, Czech Republic Ambassador to the UN; representatives of Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Qatar, the United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Award Presenter: Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations
Date/Location: 12 June 2014;Trusteeship Council, UN Headquarters
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta

Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities at the UN

HRWThe moderator, Nancy Maguire started the panel discussion by highlighting the importance to acknowledge that the ‘disability’ group is not like one homogenous group and is subject to different perspectives and experiences on the basis of where they are from.

Ambrose Murangira, then shared his personal experience in Uganda. He highlighted the discriminatory practices from childhood to the community level; and faced these challenges by performing, cooperating with his friends and leading his cause. Teachers are also very important in influencing young people. Apart from disability organizations, it is important that all people take the responsibility of ensuring that the disabled community gets their rights. The post 2015 agenda in his opinion, would give this cause the right platform to be heard.

Andrea Mazzarino shared her research on children with disabilities in Russian and Japanese state orphanages. In the case of Russia, the children are abandoned by the sate. According to UNICEF at least, 305,000 children lived in Russian orphanages, which is 2-5% of Russia ‘s total child population. The children with disabilities are victims of violence, neglect and isolation in Russian orphanages. Although a vast majority of these children have one living parent, due to the doctors stating that the children will never be able to develop like normal children under immense pressure from the society, those parents give up their children. In the case of Japan, 25% of 39000 Japanese children live in state institutions; group homes for independent living and foster care have a disability. The lack of inclusion in the educational system has severed consequences in the overall development of these children.  She recommended, that these children should be provided adequate support from communities, parents and foster parents, collectively and to create independent mechanism to ensure institutionalization is used as the only resort.

Finally Rashmi Chopra, shared her research and study on women and girls with disabilities. Women with disabilities are profoundly vulnerable to abuse and often their choices are not heard and abuses remain hidden. The social stigma and exclusion impacts their multiple rights such as health education and a family life. Chopra highlighted the stories of three women from Zambia and India, respectively. Mary and Charity from Zambia were both victims of HIV AIDS and rape. They were abused by their husbands and got limited schooling. Rekha from India suffered from an intellectual disability. Her mother, without any consent and knowledge from Rekha, sterilized her, to protect her from sexual violence. These cases represent the vulnerability of disabled women and girls to abuse and violence.

Meeting Title: Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities: from Uganda, Zambia, India, Japan and Russia
Speakers: Nancy Maguire, UNICEF Global Youth Council Member; Ambrose Murangira, Executive director, Uganda National Association of the Deaf; Andréa Mazzarino, ACLS Public Fellow, Europe & Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch; Rashmi Chopra, Fellow, Disability Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.
Date: 11 June 2014
Location: Conference room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

 

ESCWA: Briefing on the Strategy and Programme of work

escwa            The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) hosted an event to outline the strategic framework for the biennium 2016-2017.  Dr. Khouri outlined the plan, focusing on objectives in inclusive development, regional integration, and good governance and resilience. Inclusive development will be tackled through a uniform level of rights, resources, and services that seek to accomplish goals in social justice, employment, and sustainable natural resources.

Social justice will be implemented through programs such as First Arab Poverty Report, which will give accurate measurements that allow for economic plans to hopefully eradicate poverty in the region. Programs such as the Second Arab Development Outlook will look to provide data necessary in creating better employment opportunities. To further regional integration, Dr. Khouri spoke about the importance of policy coherence and cooperation, both of which can be achieved through an increased dialogue between regionally located member states. With agreements and strategies that partner the different governments of the regions, challenges in regional development will be made much easier.

In the last priority area, good governance and resilience, Dr. Khouri discussed the need for development of economic, public, and governing institutions. Furthermore, he mentioned indicators such as the Second Social Development Report that will help them better gauge participation and citizenship, particularly in the female population. Lastly, Dr. Khouri expressed a need lessen the effects of regional conflict and disasters, specifically through support to the Palestinian people and an increased number of Arab-Palestinian partnerships in both government and the private sector. To close the event, Mr. Alvarez-Rivero commented on the increased level of requested assistance from member states. To help handle these new levels, ESCWA has narrowed down there program from 12 goals in the previous biennium to 8 for the current framework, which they hope will allow them to provide focus and support to all members.

Meeting Title: Briefing on the Programme of Work of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
Speakers: Dr. Nadim Khouri, Deputy Executive Secretary ESCWA; Mr. Tarcisio Alvarez-Rivero Chief of Strategic Planning and Coordination ESCWA
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room B, NY
Date: 11 June 2014
Written By: Zachary Halliday