International Women’s Day. March 2019

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Newsroom Archive: Aug 2018

  1. 20 August 2018

    Statement: The invisible wounds to women and girls damage all of us

    Joint statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director and Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management

    Date: Sunday, August 19, 2018

    As the world marks World Humanitarian Day under the theme #NotATarget, to bring attention to the millions of civilians affected by armed conflict globally, we call for special attention to the extensive gender-based violence taking place during situations of conflict and disaster. The anguish seen in the faces of those whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed is also likely to reflect losses and wounds that are less visible, equally devastating, and insufficiently acknowledged.One in five refugees and internally displaced peoples are experiencing sexual violence, and practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation and human trafficking during emergencies are resulting in lives lost or damaged, societies destabilized, recoveries delayed and human rights neglected, particularly for women and girls. These are losses to all of us; prejudicing economic recovery, the sustainable success of peace processes, and the growth of human capital that restores the damaged balance.

    Both natural and human-induced disasters are increasing, and with them rises the toll on affected populations. By the end of last year, more than 68 million people had been forced to flee from their homes due to conflict. We know that the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, fuelled by existing gender inequalities and power imbalances, increases during disasters and conflict. This is in part because the Women and girls who shoulder household care are particularly exposed to greater risk as they travel longer distances to find water, fuel, food and work opportunities, while protection mechanisms weaken or fail.

    Addressing gender-based violence is life-saving. Despite its prevalence, prevention of and response to sexual- and gender-based violence are rarely undertaken from the earliest stages of emergencies. Moreover, there are insufficient mechanisms in place at the policy, funding, systems, and implementation levels to ensure that this violence will be comprehensively addressed and prioritized.

    As members of the global initiative Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, the European Union and UN Women have called on the humanitarian community to address gender-based violence in emergencies from the onset of a crisis and to ensure the participation and leadership of local organizations, specifically women’s organizations, in gender-based violence prevention and response. The particular risks faced by women and girls can be heightened when humanitarians overlook women’s strength and agency.

    Important work has been developed under the EU-UN Women humanitarian partnership to explain why gender-sensitivity, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are essential to humanitarian action; how needs assessments can be used in strategic humanitarian planning and programming; how transformative, lasting change can be achieved; and how to integrate gender perspectives into the humanitarian programming cycle and into all sectors for more sustainable, long-lasting peace processes. This complements the work of the new EU-UN Spotlight Initiative,which is developing a comprehensive approach to ending violence against women and girls.

    It is through such strong, multilateral partnerships, which harness our individual strengths, that we will tackle sexual and gender-based violence and ensure that women and girls are #NotATarget but instead a critical resource.

    Today, we call on the humanitarian community to incorporate a broader, gender-responsive approach that addresses the root causes of gender-based violence; and to recognise women as leaders and decision-makers in times of crisis.

  2. 8 August 2018

    UN Women statement on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

    UN Women joins our sister UN agencies in today’s recognition of the vital importance of the world’s indigenous peoples. At a time when human mobility is on the increase, we recognise that together, they maintain 80 per cent of global biodiversity. All of humanity is indebted to their custodianship. Indeed, if we are to achieve Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15, to sustainably manage life on land, this vital contribution must be urgently recognised and protected. It is time that we all listen to what indigenous people have to say, and pay close attention, especially to the knowledge and concerns of the world’s indigenous women.

    There are many reasons for people to leave their homes, with that mobility often bringing positive socioeconomic change, including improved incomes and GDP growth. However, when mobility is coerced or triggered by conflict, deprivation, or environmental stresses, indigenous women and girls are at heightened risk of consequences such as violence and loss of livelihoods.

    A 2016 McKinsey Report on migration found that the likelihood of migration caused by climate change is greater in coastal areas, which face increased risk of flooding caused not only by rising sea levels, but the destruction of the coral reefs that act as a buffer for wave action. The report shows that flooding poses a “catastrophic” risk to coastal populations. We are seeing this effect already on people living in the Solomon Islands. Whole regions, like Southeast Asia, home to many diverse ethnic minorities, will be vulnerable to this risk in future.

    The 2018 Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues found that extractive industries and large-scale infrastructure projects pose additional threats to indigenous people and the land they protect and depend upon, such as sexual and gender-based violence, displacement and forced migration. These violations result in family and community disintegration, with harmful consequences on the ability of indigenous women to access essential services, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and justice and reparation.

    At UN Women we know that when resources grow scarce, whether through climate change, land dispossession, natural disasters, economic or conflict issues, it is women who bear most of the responsibility for working harder and travelling further to find ways to feed their households. When indigenous peoples are forced to migrate, it is women who are the most vulnerable to violence and exploitation as they try to start a new life for themselves and those in their care. This is why, when UN Women conducted consultations to finalize the draft bill on Ending Violence against Women in Nepal, we made sure that we consulted with women representatives from the indigenous Tharu, Muslim and Madesi groups.

    UN Women is working in several areas to ensure that indigenous peoples’ voices are heard and that their experiences inform our approaches to ending violence against women and girls. In Lenca, Honduras, we are supporting the development of the Gender Strategy for indigenous women. In Kenya, we have provided Disaster Risk Reduction sensitization to indigenous women. In Colombia, we support awareness forums for counsellors, authorities and indigenous guards on the prevention of gender-based violence in the Awá territory.

    As we celebrate today, let each of us commit to making the voices of indigenous peoples, and indigenous women, louder and more impactful than ever before.

Empower women today.