Newsroom Archive: Feb 2018
15 February 2018
THE HON. MALCOM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA AND THE HON. BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION HOST THE AUSTRALIAN LAUNCH OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY.
Parliamentarians, Departmental Secretaries, representatives of civil society and military leaders gathered together for UN Women National Committee Australia’s Parliamentary Breakfast held at Parliament House this morning. The event marks the launch of International Women’s Day 2018 celebrations across Australia.
Australia has a long history of supporting International Women’s Day (IWD). Central to this, is the partnership between UN Women National Committee Australia, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who supports IWD events in many capital cities to highlight the achievements of women in our region.
This International Women’s Day (IWD) UN Women National Committee Australia’s theme is “Leave no woman behind”, looking at the vital role women play in humanitarian and disaster planning and response. When crisis occurs, people’s lives change in an instant. Death, injury, displacement, and the destruction left behind impacts entire communities, but natural disasters and conflict also exacerbate existing inequalities. Disasters kill more women than men, and hit women’s livelihoods hardest.
UN Women works across our region and around the world to ensure that women are central to all planning for and responses to disaster and conflict; and that when disaster strikes the needs of women and girls are considered. Harnessing the knowledge and talents of women in planning for and responding to crisis benefits everyone. Women have important resources and skills to contribute when crisis hits. They also play a vital role as leaders, given their wealth of knowledge and connections to family and community and are well placed to help protect and empower other women and girls so that they can survive and thrive.
“Leaving no woman behind is more than just a catchy tagline. It’s smart. When we commit ourselves to ensuring that women’s voices are included, listened to, and respected, we give communities the best chance at recovering following conflict and disaster,” said Executive Director of UN Women National Committee Australia, Janelle Weissman.
New UN Women report uncovers significant gaps for women’s empowerment and puts forth robust agenda to shift gears
Spotlights inequalities and challenges faced by women; identifies gaps and opportunities for gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
United Nations, New York — UN Women today launched its flagship report, “Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The report demonstrates through concrete evidence and data the pervasive nature of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, and puts forth actionable recommendations on how to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Two and a half years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, this first-of-its-kind report examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda’s focus on peace, equality and sustainability provides a powerful counter-narrative to the current rise of conflict, exclusion and environmental degradation. Yet, women are up against an unprecedented set of challenges in all these areas, and urgent action is needed to address them.
For instance, new analysis from the report shows that:
- In 89 countries with available data, women and girls account for 330 million of the poor. This translates to 4 more women living on less than USD 1.90 a day for every 100 men. The gender gap is particularly wide during the reproductive years.
- More than 50 per cent of urban women and girls in developing countries live in conditions where they lack at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing, and sufficient living area.
- Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls is a pre-condition for peaceful societies, yet 1 in 5 women under the age of 50 experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the past 12 months.
- Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. Poor rural women depend on common pool resources and are especially affected by their depletion.
Presenting the report, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “As a world, we committed through the SDGs to leave no one behind. This report’s new data and analysis underlines that, unless progress on gender equality is significantly accelerated, the global community will not be able to keep its promise. This is an urgent signal for action, and the report recommends the directions to follow.”
The report highlights how, in the lives of women and girls, different dimensions of well-being and deprivation are deeply intertwined: a girl who is born into a poor household and forced into early marriage, for example, is more likely to drop out of school, give birth at an early age, suffer complications during childbirth, and experience violence—all SDGs targets—than a girl from a higher-income household who marries at a later age.
The report also looks beyond national averages to uncover the yawning gaps between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living worlds apart because of their income status, race/ethnicity, or where they live. In the United States, poverty rates among black, Native American, and Alaskan Native women more than double those of white and Asian women, with disparities in education also staggering. Thirty-eight per cent of Hispanic women in the poorest quintile did not complete high school, compared to a national average of 10 per cent. Other case studies and data sets from the report take an in-depth look at the situation in Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uruguay.
The report also provides wide-ranging recommendations for change, highlighting four key areas of action:
- Integrated policies that can leverage synergies and help achieve several goals at the same time. Achieving gender equality is not only an important goal in and of itself, but also a catalyst for achieving the 2030 Agenda and a sustainable future for all. For instance, the report shows that reducing the burden of unpaid care work for women by providing free and universal child care would allow them to access employment opportunities, create decent jobs in the social services sector, and improve children’s health and nutritional outcomes. And, as simulations for South Africa and Uruguay show, the investment would at least in part pay for itself by generating new jobs and additional tax revenue.
- More and better statistics. Currently, we cannot actually assess what is happening to women and girls across all 17 SDGs. Six of them have no indicators with explicit mentions of women and girls, and the lack of timely and regular gender data hampers adequate monitoring.
- The financing gap to achieve a sustainable world can in fact be closed, by addressing the unrecorded capital flight, including illicit financial flows that developing countries face; by reversing the public expenditure cuts that erode safety nets and essential services in both developed and developing countries; and by using all strategies available for raising domestic revenue.
- Ensuring that those in power are held accountable for gender equality commitments. Indispensable in this effort is a vibrant civil society with space to express itself.
The launch event today in New York will be followed by others in Berlin and Nairobi in the coming days.
The report and its executive summary are available at http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/sdg-report.
6 February 2018
Maria Sanchez, +1 646-781-4507; maria.sanchez[at]unwomen.org
Zina Alam, +1 646 781-4783; zina.alam[at]unwomen.org
New York, 5 February—Ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) tomorrow, UN Women announced the appointment of renowned activist Jaha Dukureh of The Gambia as Regional Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. Ms. Dukureh will dedicate her efforts to support UN Women’s advocacy to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in Africa, with focus on mobilizing youth.
Herself a survivor of FGM, and forced into child marriage at age 15, Ms. Dukureh is the CEO and Founder of the NGO “Safe Hands for Girls” that provides support to African women and girls who are survivors of FGM and addresses its lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences. Alongside women’s organizations and civil society, she contributed to the Gambian Government’s ban on FGM after youth mobilization and campaigning in the country.
Ms. Dukureh was also instrumental in advocating with the President Obama’s administration to investigate the prevalence of FGM in the United States, and the subsequent Summit to End FGM on 2 December, 2016 at the United States Institute of Peace.
Globally, 200 million girls alive today have undergone FGM, and in Africa alone, some 125 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. They experience a range of negative consequences, from high rates of death in childbirth to the end of their education, with long term implications for their ability to break out of poverty and inequality, or to have a voice in decision-making in their own lives. Ongoing initiatives throughout the continent, from those of the African Union, women’s organizations and grassroots activists, the European Union’s Spotlight Initiative, to the long-standing global programming of UN agencies such as UNFPA and UNICEF, are addressing these issues and beyond.
Welcoming the new Regional Goodwill Ambassador, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “Jaha Dukureh is a compelling and eloquent advocate who has profound experience of these issues from her own life and work. She is a reflection of the new empowered young African women, who are global citizens. She remains committed and dedicated to her continent Africa, while embracing service to the women and girls everywhere in the world. Hers is a story of courage that tells us that girls and young women are capable and ready to change the world. Where they start from does not define where they will end up. We look forward to her efforts and the youth voices she will mobilize to help end these harmful practices. Her support will boost UN Women’s work and that of a wide range of current champions.” She added, “Ending FGM and child marriage is a vision of changed futures. Jaha’s voice will help us get there.”
“These issues are personal to me, they’re part of my life history. We won’t have equality until girls can grow up with control over their own bodies and futures,” said Ms. Dukureh. “I am proud to join UN Women in their fight for the rights of women and girls all over Africa. I want to see the day when no parent makes a decision that will change and limit their daughters’ lives. The girls of Africa and worldwide need to know that their future is bigger than they imagine.”
UN Women Goodwill Ambassadors are prominent individuals from the worlds of arts, sciences, literature, entertainment, sport and other fields of public life who have expressed their desire to raise awareness of UN Women’s efforts and to convey messages about the organization’s activities to a wider audience.