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Media Releases

  1. 29 August 2017

    UN Women’s Position on Marriage Equality

    UN Women National Committee Australia’s Position on Marriage Equality Postal Survey

    As an organisation advocating for gender equality, we stand firmly behind the full human rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) people.

    UN Women National Committee Australia encourages all Australians to use their voice and vote in the upcoming Marriage Equality Postal Survey. We urge all Australians, regardless of their opinion, to act with civility, respect and kindness throughout the campaign.

    UN Women’s position on Marriage Equality

    UN Women stands for human rights of all LGBTI people. Violations of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people undermines the shared international goal of gender equality. Addressing and ending such violations is part of the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s promise to leave no one behind.[1]

    In order to make sure no one is left behind we must make sure no one is left out. Those who are furthest behind, most vulnerable and least supported are our priority. Action to end discrimination and exclusion on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is therefore a natural aspect of planning to implement the 2030 Agenda, as homophobia and transphobia are still all too common and result in violence and exclusion from social services and decision-making.[2]

    UN Women is committed to working closely through and with inter-agency mechanisms, UN Country Teams, civil society partners and others to contribute to the empowerment and realization of LGBTI people’s rights.

    UN Women condemns the widespread forms of discrimination, exclusion and violence against the LGBTI community across the world. We call for the protection of individuals from discrimination and violence, for the repeal of discriminatory laws, and for individual rights to be addressed as an integral part of the path forward to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.[3]

    UN Women stands with the LGBTI community and calls for equal rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.


    Further Resources:

    UN Free and Equal: ‘The Price of Exclusion’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvSxLHpyFOk
    UN Free and Equal: ‘Why we fight’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi_tGaGyyM8
    UN Women: A Tale of Discrimination and Love in Cambodia: http://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2016/05/a-tale-of-discrimination-and-love-in-cambodia
    UN Women Executive Director’s 2017 Statement on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/5/statement-international-day-against-homophobia-transphobia-and-biphobia-2017
    UN Joint Statement on Ending Violence and Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People: http://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/news/stories/2015/joint_lgbti_statement_eng.pdf?la=en&vs=4632
    UN Joint Op-ed: ‘Equal Rights Begin at Home’: http://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2017/05/equal-rights-begin-at-home


    [1] 2017 IDAHOT Statement, available: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/5/statement-international-day-against-homophobia-transphobia-and-biphobia-2017

    [2] 2016 IDAHOT Statement, available: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/5/ed-statement-idahot

    [3] 2016 IDAHOT Statement, available: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2016/5/ed-statement-idahot

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  2. 11 August 2017

    Peace and Stability Has to be Built With Youth

    Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for International Youth Day 2017

    On International Youth Day we celebrate young people’s critical role as both drivers and beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year, under the theme of “Youth Building Peace”, we focus especially on young people’s influence on preventing conflict and sustaining peace.

    Despite increased recognition of youth’s role since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2250 in 2015, peace and security interventions tend to prioritize young men, and to rely on gender stereotypes: young men are perceived as potential ‘spoilers’ of peace processes, and young women as ‘victims’. Women, peace and security advocates have worked to defy and undo these stereotypes and to promote the recognition of women as powerful agents of peace in the prevention and resolution of conflict and peacebuilding processes.

    In Kyrgyzstan, 15-year-old Diana Ruslan Kyzy is part of a group of young people partnering with civil society organizations to lead local peacebuilding initiatives; María Alejandra Martínez, the daughter of FARC-EP fighters in Colombia, helped found Aliarte, a network of young people which uses art and participation to prevent youth involvement in Colombia’s armed conflict; and in Haiti, 25-year-old Sophia Pierre-Antoine of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), recently participated in the first regional consultation for Youth, Peace and Security in Panama City, which brought together 63 youth leaders to discuss issues that impact youth and to advance their role in building a peaceful world. They are just a few of the many young women and girls around the world working to create and sustain peace in their communities.

    Their stories illustrate the complex reality of adolescent girls’ and young women’s roles in conflict and post-conflict contexts. As UN Security Council resolution 1325 and its subsequent resolutions highlight, women—including young women—play diverse roles in peace and security contexts. They manage multiple layers of disadvantage and violence stemming from patriarchal norms and rigid cultural and traditional mores.

    Adolescent girls and young women face double discrimination that stems from both their gender and their age. As a result, they can be overlooked in peace and security efforts; they do not fit into many male-dominated youth-focused peacebuilding and prevention programmes, and are too young for many women-targeted peacebuilding interventions.

    But this does not mean that they are not significant and active agents of peace.

    In recent years, we have worked to strengthen young women’s participation in policy discussions, consultations and regional or country-level programmes. We recognize the need for gender-sensitive and age-sensitive analysis that can be translated into responsive policy and programming so that we appropriately address the differentiated experiences and roles of young women and men, hear their voices and ensure their needs are met.

    The Global Study on Women, Peace & Security (2015) highlighted that peace processes inclusive of civil society have a greater chance of success, while societies with higher gender equality markers were proven to be more stable and less at risk of conflict. The same logic of inclusive processes and agency extends to the youth, peace and security agenda.

    Peace and stability cannot be built without young women and men, and it cannot be built for them—it has to be built with them.

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  3. 19 June 2017

    World Refugee Day Statement by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women and Natalia Kanem, Acting Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

    We must bring women’s voices, knowledge and leadership to the heart of humanitarian action

    No one chooses to leave their home and their possessions lightly. To become a refugee is to have experienced unbearable circumstances, swapping immediate peril for unquantifiable risk. Women and girls are often the most affected, facing uncertainties of status and rights, and dangers including strong likelihood of sexual violence. UNFPA estimates that 26 million women and adolescent girls in their childbearing years need humanitarian assistance around the world today.

    Some families decide that marriage is the best way to protect their young daughters. A recent survey in Lebanon found that 47 per cent of married women, 20 to 24 years old, were married before the age of 18. This ends these girls’ childhood, exacerbates school drop-out, and puts them at risk of the reproductive health complications of child-bearing too young, especially given the likely loss of access to essential services such as those necessary for their sexual and reproductive health. By some estimates, between 6 and 14 per cent of all displaced women aged 15 to 49 are likely to be pregnant, and of these, approximately 15 per cent are likely to experience a life-threatening complication of their pregnancy.

    Interrupted education compounds these vulnerabilities; there is a direct connection between girls’ knowledge and their increased control over decision-making that affects their bodies and lives. Women and girls on the move are more likely to miss out on educational opportunities and be socially isolated, with girls making up less than one third of refugees in secondary education. This also affects their income-generating capacity. It is the circumstances of these women and girls, in the context of increasing and more protracted refugee crises, that underline the urgency of ensuring appropriate services and protection are provided for all those in need.

    On World Refugee Day, we acknowledge the unique vulnerabilities of women and girl refugees, and the need for us all to do better to serve them. We also celebrate their strength. From crisis to crisis, it is the resilience and persistence of women and girls that carries their families, their communities and their societies through hardship to durable solutions.

    Women and girls are the most effective advocates for effective and efficient services such as health and education, or the best approaches to support livelihoods. They have a right to an equal voice in decisions that affect them. When in camps, they are rapid adopters of opportunities through new technologies, like education via mobile devices, or cash-for-work programmes that develop skills for a life outside the camp. They are the experts on safe sanitary facilities, female-friendly camp design and other aspects critical for reducing women’s risk of physical and sexual violence and increasing their capacity to live independent and fulfilled lives. We must listen to their insights and amplify them.

    Yet, we are currently failing these women and girls. The services they need are chronically underfunded, with crucial areas of work such as the prevention of and response to gender-based violence and education only receiving a fraction of the resources necessary. Many of the world’s refugee women still cannot rely on international guidelines on gender-responsive camp design or service delivery being consistently followed.

    The opportunities to influence decisions that affect their lives, from health care, schools and opportunities to train and set up small businesses, to issues of lighting in camp contexts and modalities for delivering assistance outside camps, are routinely denied them. Men capture the decision-making spaces, crowding out sufficient consideration of women’s perspectives, interests and needs.

    The imperative of bringing women’s voices, knowledge and leadership to refugee response is not an insurmountable technical challenge, nor is it unaffordable. It is soluble with modest but intelligent changes in the way we listen, allocate our resources and do our business.

    The world has committed itself more strongly than ever to the cause of gender equality and to protecting all refugees. The international community must recommit itself to placing women and girls equally with men and boys at the heart of humanitarian action for the world’s refugees. We, and they, cannot afford anything less.

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  4. 22 May 2017

    MBA program “closely aligned” with UN’s global objectives for women and girls

    UN Women National Committee Australia, an organisation which supports programs promoting gender equality in leadership and the economic empowerment of women, has praised the University of Sydney Business School’s MBA course saying it is closely aligned with its own global objectives.

    UN Women National Committee (NC) Australia, which has backed the University of Sydney Business School’s ground breaking course since 2014, is currently calling on women to apply for a Committee sponsored MBA Scholarship.

    UN Women NC Australia’s Executive Director, Janelle Weissman, says the scholarship will be awarded to a woman with leadership potential and a willingness to help other women to achieve their potential.

    This will be the seventh University of Sydney Business School MBA scholarship granted in collaboration with UN Women NC Australia.

    “This MBA program is closely aligned with our focus on women in leadership and economic empowerment around the world,” said Ms Weissman. “If we work together, we believe that we can unlock opportunities for women to propel their career opportunities forward.”

    Founded in the belief that “when women are empowered, whole communities benefit”, UN Women is working to improve the lives of women and girls in nearly a hundred countries worldwide. Programs such as UN Women’s Markets for Change, run across the Pacific, are working to reduce the risk of sexual and physical violence for female market vendors, as well as providing business skills training such as book-keeping, to increase the financial literacy and independence of women. UN Women also runs training across the Pacific, providing women with the skills to stand for elected office, and succeed once in office.

    “The Pacific is sometimes referred to as the epicentre of violence against women. It is also the place where women have the lowest representation in leadership roles anywhere in the world,” says Ms Weissman. “For this reason, we focus our support on women and girls in the Pacific region.”

    UN Women NC Australia has also responded to urgent requests for support from UN Women field teams worldwide working with earthquake victims in Nepal and Syrian women in need of protection from violence, forced marriage, trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

    The most recent recipient of a UN Women NC Australia MBA scholarship was Emma Brown who is the Finance Manager for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

    “I would encourage anyone who is passionate about diversity, equality and positive social change to set self-doubt aside and apply,” Emma said shortly after receiving her scholarship.

    The MBA program at the University of Sydney Business School last year became the first in the world to enrol more women than men.

    In addition to the MBA scholarship, UN Women NC Australia also supports a scholarship for the University of Business School’s Global Executive MBA program, which is the top ranking program of its kind in Australia.

    Women wishing to apply for a UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship can do so online at: http://mba.sydney.edu.au/UN-women-scholarship


    Applications close Sunday 28 May 2017.

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