Newsroom Archive: Sep 2016
29 September 2016
As a busy professional, why do you take time out to volunteer? What volunteer activities do you prioritise and why?
In 2008, I had an incredible opportunity to work with the Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York during the General Assembly. As I participated in negotiations on a wide range of topics, one thing became very clear: that so much of what we are trying to achieve – from economic development to improved literacy rates – starts with the role of women.
When we invest in women, the multiplier effect is huge, and the whole community benefits.
I started volunteering for UN Women National Committee as soon as I was back in Australia, organising events and fundraisers because I believed so strongly in the work of UN Women and wanted to build as much support for their work as possible.
What do you like most about your role on the Board of Directors of UN Women NC Australia?
UN Women is different from other organisations in a number of ways.
One is scale – UN Women works in close to 100 countries around the world. If we are ever going to make significant and sustainable progress toward gender equality, it needs the type of wide-reaching, transformational change that UN Women delivers.
Another is UN Women’s ability to work on multiple levels to drive change: on the grassroots level (though program delivery), with national governments (through policy and advocacy) and on the international stage (bringing all governments together to establish international norms and standards on gender equality and international development).
This means we are tackling problems such as violence against women in the immediate and short term by providing support, medical services, safe bus services etc and over the long term, by changing laws and policies, and creating more gender-equal communities.
In addition to knowing that UN Women’s work is transforming lives around the world, volunteering as a board member connects me to a sense of community in Australia, as I join thousands of other Australians who attend our International Women’s Day events, donate to UN Women and advocate for a strong and effective Australian aid program.
What impact is UN Women programming having on women around the world?
UN Women is creating brighter futures for women and girls all over the world.
I have seen firsthand the impact of UN Women programs in Thailand and Fiji, and met with women whose lives have been changed as a result of UN Women’s work.
One of the most challenging humanitarian situations of our time is the conflict in Syria and the mass displacement of people, leaving women particularly vulnerable.
UN Women is working to provide Syrian women refugees and their families with education, training and job opportunities through UN Women’s Oasis Centres. The evaluations speak for themselves: Syrian women refugees who participate in Oasis Centre programs report a 91% increase in household and community decision-making; a 96% increase in mental wellbeing; and a 20% reduction in domestic violence.
Why do you donate to UN Women?
There is only so far that raising awareness can go. At the moment, what is needed is money to support life-changing programs.
Investing in women is one of the best investments you can make. I donate to UN Women in particular because of the results UN Women achieves on the ground.
Donations of all sizes are making a big difference to Syrian women refugees and their families right now: https://unwomen.org.au/take-action/donate/syria-appeal/
If gender equality means something to you, I would encourage you to join me and take a stand for women around the world.
19 September 2016
UN Women National Committee (NC) Australia supports the work of UN Women by raising public awareness of gender and development issues. Through education women gain the knowledge to put in place policies, services and resources to fulfill the UN Women’s mission for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
To advance our shared commitment to women’s leadership and accelerating progress towards gender equality, the University of Sydney Business School and UN Women NC Australia are pleased to offer the ‘UN Women National Committee Australia MBA Scholarship’. The scholarship is open to all women who meet the entry requirements for admission to the Master of Business Administration at the University of Sydney. Find out more and how to apply here
13 September 2016
Ending violence against women specialists from across the Pacific are meeting in Nadi, Fiji this week to send a strong message: violence against women and girls can, and must be, stopped.
“For the first time UN Women has brought together civil society partners, members of the Pacific women’s rights movement, representatives from government agencies and donors in one place to focus on preventing violence against women and girls,” says UN Women Multi Country Representative, Aleta Miller.
“We all believe violence is not inevitable, it can be prevented and we are conversing about how we can systematically address, reduce and end violence against women and girls with a particular focus on what drives this violence, and how it can be addressed so Pacific women and girls can live lives free from violence.”
More than forty practitioners and experts from across Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Samoa are taking part in the regional consultation to delve into the elements of prevention. This includes changing attitudes which condone violence, examining the gender inequality which underpins violence against women and girls, the need for women and girls to have self-determination over all aspects of their lives, and how best to engage men and boys in prevention.
Experts from the United States, Australia and Uganda will also present successful methods used in other parts of the world and global research on what works to prevent violence to help inform the consultation.
Fiji Women Crisis Centre Co-ordinator Shamima Ali is adding her voice to the conversation calling for a scale up of prevention programmes that tackle the root cause of violence; inequality between women and men.
“However, this cannot happen without equally prioritising services for survivors. We know when community-based prevention programmes are implemented, there is an increase in demand for services,” says Ms Ali.
Pauline Soaki, Director of Women from the Solomon Islands Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs says the consultation is providing a place for all those partaking to openly converse and share knowledge and experiences with each other.
“We have an opportunity to come away from this unified in how we approach and promote prevention against women and girls so we can increase equality for women and girls not just in the Solomon Islands, but across the Pacific. And we can strengthen new and existing networks to tackle violence in a collaborative way,” says Ms Soaki.
The consultation began on Monday, 12 September and is running until Thursday, 15 September.
1 September 2016
Advisory Board to the UN Special Envoy to Syria is first of its kind; members met on sidelines of UN Women Executive Board second regular session 2016
New York – On the sidelines of its Executive Board second regular session, UN Women today organized a panel discussion with members of the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, established in February this year and composed of 12 independent Syrian civil society representatives from diverse backgrounds. At the event, representatives of the Women’s Advisory Board shared their experience in and contributions to exploring solutions for lasting peace.
“Syrian women continue to bear the brunt of the humanitarian crisis, mass displacement and terrorism. Together, we must ensure that Syrian women do not have just a “presence” in the political process, but that they have impact”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “The establishment of the first of its kind Women’s Advisory Board is a powerful step forward in this direction and we are very proud to be associated with it.”
Moderating the event, Ambassador Karel van Oosterom, the Permanent Representative of the Mission of Netherlands to the United Nations added: “The women in the Advisory Board have engaged in constructive dialogue and delivered useful recommendations, providing a glimmer of hope in a situation of atrocity. That alone showcases how crucial participation of women in the peace talks is”.
At the event, the members of the Women’s Advisory Board highlighted that the shared principles of inclusion, democracy, and equality are more important than the differences amongst them. They also emphasized that while Syrian women and girls have been disproportionately affected by this crisis, they are not only victims but also leaders and a strong constituency for peace.
“The establishment of the Women’s Advisory Board is a significant achievement for strengthening women’s role in the peace process. There is also the ‘Civil Society Room’—a group composed of representatives of various civil society organizations, which now has almost 50 per cent women’s representation”, said Monira Hwaijeh, one of the members of the Board present at the event.
Insaff Hamad, another representative of the Advisory Board, expressed her hope for a united Syria: “Women can and may well be the backbone of the Syrian reconciliation. I know I have forgiven everyone for my own loss, for the good of the children who are still alive. The shared wish for Syria to live in peace is stronger than what divides us.”
Over the past three years, UN Women, with support from the Netherlands and Norway, has been engaging in high-level advocacy, coalition and capacity building efforts to support the meaningful participation of Syrian women as a strong constituency for peace at all level of peace efforts. As a result, the Syrian Women Advisory Board, the first of its kind, was established; its members have since submitted position papers on common positions and recommendations to the Special Envoy and his team of advisors and provided a gendered analysis of items under discussion.
Other milestones achieved in the process include the successful organization of the Syrian Women Peace Makers Conference in May 2016, which brought together the most diverse and representative group so far in terms of allegiances, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, age and geographic distribution. Over 130 Syrian women, including political and civil society activists, came together and forged a statement of unity despite significant political divides.
While in Geneva, the Women’s Advisory Board also engaged in high level advocacy and outreach to Syrian civil society. During the last round of talks, the Women’s Advisory Board met with US, German, Dutch, French, Canadian, Russian, Danish, UK, Norwegian, EU and Italian Special Envoys and representatives who showed strong interest in regular dialogue with the Board on substantive topics including on the issues of humanitarian access, detainees, and sanctions.