Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Newsroom Archive: Aug 2016

  1. 19 August 2016

    Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director for World Humanitarian Day

    “By providing more opportunities for women…we can ensure that women can play central roles in the rebuilding of our nations” Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director for World Humanitarian Day

    On this World Humanitarian Day we honour the women, girls, men and boys who have demonstrated resilience in the face of unimaginable hardship and persistent violence, and we salute the first responders and aid workers who continue to work towards recovery, even after peace has been established.

    According to the report of the United Nations Secretary‑General for the World Humanitarian Summit, conflicts drive 80 per cent of all humanitarian needs. I had the opportunity to witness the impact of conflict and recovery firsthand when I visited Afghanistan this year.

    In Kabul, I presented certificates to 48 graduates of the UN Women-supported “Six-months Internship Programme for Afghan Recent Graduates”, which provides women and girls with opportunities for economic empowerment with the aim of bringing stability to families, thereby building sustainable peace. Despite growing up amidst years of violent conflict and repression that was especially targeted at women and girls, these inspiring young women spoke of their hopes for a future where peace was accompanied by an end to discriminatory social norms, and they could live truly empowered lives. As part of a new generation of young Afghan women who are changing the status quo, they embody the concept of resilience.

    Women and girls in Afghanistan continue to be affected by protracted conflict and recurrent natural disasters, as well as by poverty, discrimination and exploitation. For instance, restrictions on movement and a lack of access to schools, whether through closures or occupation by fighters, present monumental obstacles to women and girls. While school enrollment is improving in Afghanistan, only 36% of primary and secondary school students are girls, and women comprise just 20% of university students. For many women, cultural restrictions on working outside the home, compounded by safety concerns, make earning a living and controlling their own money an extraordinary challenge.

    A critical part of humanitarian action involves the restoring of day-to-day life post-conflict, including rebuilding infrastructure, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, combatting the violence that often continues to erupt, and providing women with vital economic skills that will empower them in the long term. UN Women is using pilots such as our internship programme in Afghanistan to introduce models that include both economic advancement and agency to achieve women’s economic empowerment.

    Humanitarian situations can also provide opportunities to advance the position of women. Despite the extreme difficulties Afghan women encounter in the economic and social spheres, the Afghan parliament currently comprises 28 per cent women—which is above the global average of 22 per cent—because of quotas introduced after the fall of the Taliban. –

    In recovering from humanitarian crises, we must ensure that women’s lived experiences on the ground match the gains made in women’s access to leadership in political spheres, and in international rhetoric. By providing more opportunities for women, such as our internship programme, we can ensure that women can play central roles alongside international humanitarian workers and assist in the rebuilding of our nations.

  2. 10 August 2016


    The recipient of the second 2016 UN Women National Committee Australia MBA Scholarship is a former ministerial advisor, who has devoted her career to improving the lives of women faced with adversity.

    The Scholarship, worth over $60,000, was established with the aim of increasing the number of women in leadership roles and furthering gender equality in business.

    Adele Langton was awarded the scholarship because she “demonstrated a solid commitment to women’s advocacy work in private volunteering, board representation, public policy and advisory services in the United States”.

    “I have always been interested in the issues affecting women including women’s safety, equality, advocacy and empowerment,” said Ms Langton. “With the support of UN Women National Committee Australia and the MBA Scholarship I want to become a better advocate, mentor and voice on these issues.”

    A past advisor to Labor Attorneys General Jason Clare and Robert McClelland, Ms Langton has shaped policy for women facing violence and discrimination through amendments to the Family Law Act and the Sex Discrimination Act in 2010 and 2011.

    Ms Langton also acts as a workplace mentor for women, and has spent almost a decade volunteering to assist victims of domestic violence in Australia and the United States.

    “I was attracted to the Sydney University MBA program in large part because of its commitment to gender equity,” said Ms Langton.

    “Through the program I am expecting to gain insights into leadership and a new way of looking at the issues facing women in Australia, as well as allowing me to take a range of business skills to the next level,” said Ms Langton.

    Congratulating Ms Langton, Dean of the Business School, Professor Greg Whitwell, said the partnership with the National Committee for UN Women Australia reflected the School’s “strong commitment to diversity and inclusion”.

    “Diversity in leadership is morally desirable and can improve organisational performance,” said Professor Whitwell. “It does so because it leads to the surfacing of assumptions. It helps to detect biases. It helps you to be more creative. It helps you look at things differently and therefore leads to better decision making.”

    Executive Director of the National Committee for UN Women Australia, Janelle Weissman, commented that the high calibre of applicants for the scholarship demonstrated the growing awareness of the need to empower women in positions of leadership.

    “The Business School provides an optimal environment in which women can gain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in their career aspirations,” said Ms Weissman.

    Director of the MBA program, Professor Guy Ford, also congratulated Ms Langton on the award and her career to date.

    “We are looking forward to welcoming Adele back to the University of Sydney and into our newest cohort of the MBA,” said Professor Ford.

    “We identify with the passion Adele has voiced on the empowerment of women, and trust that the skills she gains from the MBA will lead her down a path that will enable her to align her career with her passions,” concluded Professor Ford.

    This scholarship is open to all women (with Australian citizenship, Australian residency or New Zealand citizenship) who are eligible to apply for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the Business School.

Empower women today.