Our Perspective

      • The scarcity of women in peace negotiations | Roma Bhattacharjea

        06 Mar 2013

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        Women in Liquica District in Timor Leste hold up their voter registration cards as they wait to participate in Timor-Leste's 2012 Parliamentary Elections. (Photo: Louise Stoddard/UNDP Timor Leste)

        Women are often disproportionately affected by conflict and violence; the time has come to give them a greater role in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. I recently had the honor of visiting Washington DC to participate in the launch of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, & Security, an initiative focused less on women as victims and more on involving them integrally in peace-building and conflict prevention. I have worked on these issues for two decades—and these are exciting times. UNSC Resolution 1325, adopted in October 2000, marked a major evolution from a world in which peace negotiations have long comprised men with guns pardoning other men with guns for crimes all sides committed against women. In December 2011, US President Barack Obama issued a US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security cutting across the executive and legislative branches of the US government, with the aim of accelerating and institutionalizing the women, peace, and security agenda. UNDP is a key player in advancing inclusive governance, inclusive economic recovery, rule of law and access to justice, notably for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. UNDP also works in some 80 crisis countries, where we advance women, peace, and security on the  Read More

      • ICTs and MDGs: New opportunities on the development horizon | Raul Zambrano

        01 Mar 2013

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        In Albania, 2,128 public schools were equipped with computer labs and 589,000 students were taught how to use them. (Photo: UNDP Albania)

        We must acknowledge the amazing and certainly unexpected growth in the use of mobile technologies and devices on a global scale. While at the beginning of the new millennium mobiles were practically nonexistent in developing countries, today almost 4.8 billion people use them. Experts have already pointed out that this is the first time in history that a technology spreads so fast in so many countries. We have also seen the rapid emergence of social media and so-called Web 2.0 platforms. Unlike the Internet of the 1990s, social media empowers users to generate their own content and distribute it in real time to billions of people at almost no cost. Mobiles and social media are linked in multiple ways. Just recall the recent “Arab Spring” revolutions which capitalized on both, mobilized millions and triggered political change. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are an integral part of the Millennium Agenda as reflected in MDG 8, target 18, which calls on bringing access to ICTs for all. While this is a  commendable goal, the real development value of new ICTs stems from their transformational potential. ICTs can provide new and innovative solutions to traditional development goals. They can not only increase the efficiency  Read More

      • Toward peace, unity and growth in Kenya | Modibo Touré

        28 Feb 2013

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        Mr. David Ngige, the project coordinator of Nyeri Social Forum, carries out mock elections training at Gatitu Nursery school, a set polling station in Nyeri. (Photo: Ricardo Gangale/UNDP Kenya)

        Next Monday, in a crucial test of Kenya’s new political system, millions of voters will head to the polls to elect a new president and a host of parliamentary and local representatives. With the 2007/2008 post-electoral violence on everyone’s mind, it would be easy to forget how much progress the country has made over the past five years. 2008 ushered in a new government coalition and a peace deal, paving the way for the adoption in 2010 of a constitution that would transform the country’s political landscape. Opportunities under the new constitution offered a wide-ranging set of reforms designed to break the cycle of corruption and tribal violence, including a decentralized system of government, independent courts, a new citizens’ Bill of Rights and increased numbers of women in public office. UNDP accompanied the reform process from the beginning, supported the organization of a peaceful constitutional referendum and assisted the government in the creation of a country-wide platform that has helped communities to report and respond to violence. Kenyans are justified in the very high degree of confidence which they have in the neutrality and capability of the bodies which will oversee the forthcoming elections – in particular the Independent Electoral and  Read More

      • Rare optimisim in Serbia as corruption drops | Zarko Petrovic

        22 Feb 2013

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        Photo: Kenny Miller / Creative Commons

        Public support for Serbia’s crackdown on corruption increased sharply in 2012, and confidence in state institutions is also rising. A new UNDP Corruption Benchmarking survey shows: —Twice as many citizens say their country is “on the right path,” while 25 percent say corruption decreased in the second half of the year —41 percent say corruption will decrease further in the next 12 months —The fraction of people who reportedly paid bribes fell to 8 percent, down sharply. In the vast majority of instances, bribes were not solicited; they were paid to get a service, or avoid a problem such as a traffic ticket —40 percent of Serbians say they “would not pay” if solicited for a bribe, while 33 percent said they would look for help elsewhere —71 percent endorsed “severe punishment” and 79 percent want “harsh legal sanctions” against graft and abuse Taken together, these findings may reflect public intolerance resulting from growing empowerment and increased trust in government. How do we account for this change? A new government committed to change, promoting transparency, good governance, and accountability — because it’s good for investment, good for business, good for jobs. Donors historically encourage countries to exhibit “will, conviction, commitment, and  Read More

      • The picture of recovery in Pakistan | Ajay Chhibber

        15 Feb 2013

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        A Pakistani man tends to mangroves in the evergreen forests in the areas between land and sea. (Photo: Satomi Kato/UNDP)

        I had the great pleasure this week of speaking at the National Press Club in Washington at an exhibit of photos taken in 2010-2011 in Pakistan by the Japanese photojournalist Satomi Kato. Key partners from the U.S., Japanese, Pakistani, and other governments, journalists, World Bank officials, civil society organizations, and others all turned out to see these remarkable images—which beautifully illustrate our recovery work after floods devastated the country.   We at UNDP focus intently on concrete results and measurable outcomes—as we should. This is a crucial part of our efforts to deliver maximum value with the full transparency and accountability that our partners rightly expect. But these photos remind us that the tangible results and unique value of our long-term work, supporting human development, is reflected not only in spreadsheets, indices, and growth rates, but also in the faces and stories of the people whose lives and communities we’ve helped restore.   These floods caused unprecedented destruction, submerging one-fifth of the country and affecting close to 20 million people. Some 1.67 million houses were destroyed or damaged, and 2.2 million hectares of agricultural land was covered with floods, destroying crops that were the only source of income for hundreds of  Read More

      • World We Want Post-2015 campaign takes off in Zambia | Kanni Wignaraja

        05 Feb 2013

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        A woman in Zambia harvests her crops. Photo: Patson Mwasila/UNDP

        It takes foresight to look into the future and imagine the way you want it to be. And then, it takes persistence and courage to influence it to be so. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are not imaginary – they are tangible, and many countries are on the way to achieving them. But more than 1 billion people still live in poverty. Growing inequality and injustice, or the effects of climate change and terror activity may not have been what the MDGs were designed to address. But our world is one where the lines are blurring between development and humanitarianism, between short- and long-term impact, between planning for development and for emergencies. Our imagination has to stretch. This time around, while we look to accelerate progress toward the MDGs, two elements could drive and shape this future vision: first, a people’s sense of equity, and second, a people’s sense of engagement in making their own choices. Let us look at some numbers and the stories they tell: - Zambia has reduced the rate of extreme poverty from 58 percent in 1991 to 43 percent in 2010. However, extreme poverty continues to be higher in rural areas (57 per cent) than urban  Read More

      • Violence, crime still plague Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        31 Jan 2013

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        More than 1,000 judges, clerks, prosecutors and police officers in Haiti received training in technical areas of criminal investigations, sex crimes or judicial inspection. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        Latin America now enjoys stronger, better integrated economies and more solid democracies than it did 20 years ago. The region is more prosperous and less poor. But epidemic crime and violence threaten to undermine recent gains and demand urgent, innovative public policy solutions. From 2000-2010, homicide rates across the region rose by 11 percent while declining in most regions worldwide. In countries with data for 1980-90, robberies have almost tripled over the last 25 years. One in 10 robberies involves violence, usually with firearms. On a typical day in Latin America, 460 people are victims of sexual violence, usually women. A recent poll found people in Latin America and the Caribbean least likely in the world to feel safe in their communities, with slightly less than half of residents reporting in 2011 that they feel unsafe walking alone at night where they live. That poses a fundamental problem in furthering development. Why open a business only to have it robbed by armed gunmen? Why send a daughter to school if she risks assault along the way? Why such insecurity in a region whose economic and governance indices are moving in the right direction? UNDP’s forthcoming Human Development Report for Latin America  Read More

      • One thousand days of action for the MDGs | Selim Jahan

        25 Jan 2013

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        In Cambodia, the MAF supports the creation of Women’s Development Centres. Photo: UNDP in Cambodia

        Many countries have made impressive strides towards achieving the MDGs. With over 400 national MDG reports already completed, progress is being closely monitored and used to guide improved policies. The target of reducing extreme poverty by half was reached five years ahead of the deadline.  About 14,000 fewer children died every day in 2011 compared to 1990. However, given that current projections indicate that in 2015 almost one billion people will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day, there is urgent need to prioritize MDG achievement and reflect on lessons that can inform the post-2015 discussions. One of the key lessons learned is that nationally owned, multi-stakeholder action plans improve the rate of MDG progress. Building on UNDP’s global experience, we developed the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) in close collaboration with national partners and UN country teams.  The MAF is a flexible, yet systematic process of identifying and analyzing bottlenecks and targeting high-impact, transformational solutions.   The MAF has been an incredible success worldwide leading to concrete action plans for implementation. From an initial ten countries piloting the MAF in 2010, we are now working with 46 countries, and the number keeps growing. In Colombia, the MAF  Read More

      • Beyond mountains, Haitians see a brighter future | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Jan 2013

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        Young women entrepreneurs in Haiti received a US$500 grant for the development of their business. Photo: UNDP in Haiti

        “Beyond the mountains, more mountains,” one Haitian proverb goes, in a nod to the outsized challenges this half-island in the Caribbean has faced for as long as anyone can remember. Topping that list is the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, displaced 1.5 million, and racked or razed some 300,000 buildings. The quake took its deadliest aim in Haiti’s hyper-urbanized capital, causing indescribable ruin and destroying roughly 80 percent of the country’s economy. But Haitians are accustomed to scaling mountains. Government, private sector, and international organizations are working with families and communities to rebuild the country and revive its economy. Women, who head almost 50 per cent of households, are playing a leading role. Keeping Haitians and their communities as protagonists of the recovery process is fundamental. Within neighborhoods, community members themselves set priorities for rebuilding homes and infrastructure through community platform meetings, with specific attention to the unique risks facing city-dwellers—strengthening the social and communal bonds that bolster post-crisis resilience by an order of magnitude. To enable families to take charge of repairing and rebuilding their homes themselves, UNDP has established community support centres to help strengthen damaged homes in the Haitian capital, where 30,000 people have benefitted  Read More

      • The Internet Gender Gap | Magdy Martinez Soliman

        10 Jan 2013

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        Special computer training course designed for deaf people in Damascus, Syria. Photo: UNDP in Syria

        The role of ICTs as development enablers is more widely understood today as access to new technologies, particularly mobile phones, has grown exponentially. Mobile phone subscriptions exceeded six billion by the end of 2012, three-quarters of which were in the developing world.  However, women are at a disadvantage: they are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, according to the latest Broadband Commission Report (PDF, 2.4Mb). Development presents an opportunity to effectively address this and other gender gaps.  I am speaking here  about sustainable human development, about the ability to make choices and lead a healthy, long and educated life with all that we value. Let us bear in mind that ICTs are not neutral. Existing gender inequalities, pervasive in many countries,  can be exacerbated by ICTs, when unequal access to education for example turns into digital ignorance. Not having female teachers and lack of local security are powerful triggers of girls’ dropout. Women will not be able to access ICT community centers if safety issues are not properly addressed. We are determined advocates of democratic governance and for us women's access to ICTs is a governance issue. Public policies and the private sector need to address the  Read More