Newsroom Archive: Jun 2014
30 June 2014
In her opening remarks at a global event on 26 June to launch UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka urged men and women across the world to strengthen their collective resolve to advance gender equality.
The campaign marks 20 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 set out a road map for women’s rights and empowerment.
The vision laid out in Beijing with 12 critical areas of concern for women still resonates deeply around the world. It is still unfinished business.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka identified the following key areas where action was still needed:
- Reduce women’s share of poverty
- Improve access to health and education
- End violence against women
- Ensure women’s full participation in decision-making
- Ensure women’s equal opportunities in the economy
- Remove gender stereotypes and increase women’s role in the media, and
- Protect the human rights of all women and girls.
She also paid tribute to Salwa Bughaigis, the Libyan human rights activist who was assassinated on June 25 in Benghazi, Libya.
The UN Women Beijing+20 campaign is called,“Empowering women, empowering humanity: Picture It!” It is being globally, including by the Australian National Committee for UN Women.
19 June 2014
Australia is one of the top five donors to UN Women, according to the organisation’s 2013-14 Annual Report. The release of the Report coincided with a speech by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on new policies on foreign aid funding.
In her speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, Minister Bishop outlined the six key focuses of aid funding, including the empowerment of women, a goal which she describes as “a personal passion”.
While expressing concern about overall cuts to the Aid program, Julie McKay, Executive Director of the Australian National Committee for UN Women welcomes the priority being placed on women. “We are very pleased that the Australian government has made women’s empowerment and gender equality a priority of its foreign aid program. As Minister Bishop noted, women’s equality delivers social and economic benefits to all, and UN Women’s delivery of effective aid programs demonstrates this time and again.”
Goldman Sachs estimates that providing women with equal earning and employment opportunities would raise per capita income by 20 percent by 2030 in 15 major developing countries. Ms McKay says increasing the social and economic participation of women is key to the work of UN Women. “Ensuring that women have the legal protections, skills and training and opportunity to earn an income is critical to development, and Australia’s focus in this area is to be commended.”
UN Women’s 2013-14 Annual Report ranks Australia behind Sweden, Finland, Norway and the United Kingdom as one of the main donors to UN Women, with just over $20.2 million (AUD) in core and non-core contributions. In 2013, Australia gave the second highest contribution to the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, and Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, calculated at $1.9 million (AUD).
This year, DFAT announced funding to the innovative multi-country Markets for Change program. This initiative was launched in Papua New Guinea and Fiji in 2009, has recently been rolled out across the Solomon Islands and a launch in Vanuatu is scheduled for later this month.
The Program improves facilities in Pacific markets, a large employer of women, making them safer and cleaner workplaces. The program also educates and trains market stall owners so that they can improve business practices, access banking services and increase income for their families.
Ms McKay says that early results from the Markets for Change program show that investment in women’s empowerment is guaranteed to show returns. “Dollar for dollar, programs that focus on women’s rights and needs are effective, efficient and deliver outcomes. We need to scale up our efforts across the Asia-Pacific region to empower the millions of women and ensure that their boundless energy and creativity can be focused on ending the poverty, violence and political marginalisation that prevents them from participating fully in the growth and development of their communities.”
“Twenty years after the world pledged to put women’s rights and empowerment on the global agenda at the Beijing Conference, it’s time to increase the resources directed to gender equality, and give women an equal place at the table.”
10 June 2014
The Australian National Committee for UN Women Congratulates Board Member Virginia Haussegger for Queen’s Birthday Honour
BC broadcast journalist and author Virginia Haussegger has been made a Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division (AM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Ms Haussegger is a Board Member of the Australian National Committee for UN Women and has been honoured for her significant service to the community – particularly as an advocate for women’s rights and gender equity – and to the media. She said that a trip to Afghanistan in 2009 proved a pivotal moment in her life.
“Here we were, night after night on the news delivering stories about the conflict in Afghanistan and it was a military story, it was an operational story, it was a political story,” she said.
“We weren’t hearing stories about the people and I knew… that there was a bigger story going on and that was the story of women. And women are at the centre of that battle, as they often are in these situations.”
The Executive Director of the Australian National Committee Julie McKay congratulated Ms Haussegger on her award.
“It is an enormous and well-deserved compliment to Virginia’s hard work, dedication and passionate commitment to women’s rights. We are all incredibly proud of her and pleased to see that her efforts recognised in such a way,” she said.
Ms Haussegger notes that the honour has inspired her to work harder to promote women’s rights and gender equality and paid homage to the support of women peers and colleagues in Australia and abroad.
“While it’s a great privilege to receive such a thing, it’s also a responsibility and it makes me feel like I have to work harder now. And I will.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie, are hosting an international conference on sexual violence in conflict this week in London. The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict will take place from 10-13 June.
The event is a key element of the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, of which Australia’s Foreign Minister the Hon Julie Bishop is an official champion.
Natasha Stott Despoja, AM, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, is leading Australia’s delegation and will be joined by the Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO.
The Summit is an opportunity to identify, and commit to, practical action to prevent and respond to sexual violence. Representatives of governments, including military and judiciary, civil society, media and the public will participate in the Summit. It will be the largest international event held on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, and aims to create both an irreversible momentum and practical action that impacts those on the ground.