To end famine and secure peace in South Sudan, women are vital

08 May 2017 by Kamil Kamaluddeen, Country Director, UNDP South Sudan

Sudanese woman with cowsSouth Sudanese women are supporting families and producing what little food is available – and they are already playing a key role in building peace. Photo: UNDP South Sudan
More than 3.5 million people have been displaced and 7.5 million need emergency aid as a result of South Sudan’s three-year-old civil conflict, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Oil revenues have declined, farming and business activities have halted in many areas, and inflation has soared. The number of people classified as “severely food insecure” is expected to reach 5.5 million by July 2017, and more than 1 million children are acutely malnourished. The world’s youngest country is now on the brink of mass starvation. … Read more

End gender-based violence to ensure health and well-being for all

26 Mar 2017 by Natalia Linou, Policy Specialist, Gender, Health and HIV, UNDP

Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence often do not seek help for fear of stigma and a lack of accessible services. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Physical injuries are some of the more visible, and at times most deadly, consequences of gender-based violence (GBV). But the long-term mental health consequences are often invisible and left untreated. Similarly, the reproductive and sexual health needs of survivors from rape and sexual violence – to reduce the risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe terminations, and long-term reproductive complications – are often unmet, stigmatized and under-reported. But it is not only health needs which must be met. GBV is a consequence and reflection of structural inequalities that threaten sustainable development, undermine democratic governance, deepen social fragmentation and threaten peace and security. This week, UNDP and the Republic of Korea hosted an event at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women on “Gender-based violence, health and well-being: Addressing the needs of women and girls living in crisis affected context” bringing together government officials, practitioners, and academics. … Read more

"I’m not afraid to tell"

24 Nov 2016 by Dina Teltayeva, Communications Associate, UNDP Kazakhstan

After two decades of silence, television producer Dina Tansari is speaking out about surviving sexual assault.
Over the past few months, I’ve witnessed women in Kazakhstan break their silence on sexual violence. A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) and НеМолчи (Don’t keep Quiet) has led to many women sharing their stories. One of them is Dina Tansari (pictured), a well-known TV producer. “…I was unconscious. They left me in front of my flat, rang the bell, and ran away. In the morning I couldn’t remember anything, except for my mum’s screams when she found me…,” she wrote on her Facebook wall. Dina has spoken up after two decades of torturing silence. When she was 20, her own classmates drugged her at a wedding party and gang raped her. Her mother rented an out-of-town flat for Dina when she found out about the incident because she couldn’t bear the shame that her daughter purportedly had brought to the family. Dina was left alone with her tragedy. #IamNotAfraidtoTell was started by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnichenko. The speed with which it has spread throughout the Russian-speaking social media world is shocking in itself. … Read more

Ending violence against women: 3 ways to innovate

07 Dec 2015 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP

Egyptian women participate in the "Reporting on Violence Against Women Innovation Camp" to share ideas on how to report violence against women. The camp was supported by UNDP, The National Council for Women, and Vodafone Egypt. Photo: Ezzat/UNDP Egypt
The status quo is unacceptable. Globally, one out of three women experiences violence in her lifetime. Both the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Humanitarian Summit Report call for innovation to end this global pandemic. Given the complexity of gender-based violence (GBV) and its main underlying cause of persisting gender inequalities - how can development and humanitarian actors innovate? As a starter, let’s put the emphasis on the changes we want to achieve and not the “solutions” we create. … Read more

Afro-Brazilian women take to the streets. How about also taking up seats in parliament?

27 Nov 2015 by Carolina Azevedo, Communications Specialist for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

March of Black WomenCalling for the protection of human rights, more than 20,000 women took to the streets during the March of Black Women on 18 November in Brasilia. Photo: Vinícius Carvalho/Marcha das Mulheres Negras
“The power structure [in our region] is macho, white and old,” said Creuza Oliveira, President of the National Federation of Domestic Workers of Brazil. Creuza’s speech during the ECLAC-UNDP Regional Conference on Social Development brought many ministers and country delegates – men and women – to tears. Her words give witness to the experience of African descendants, who make up around 30 per cent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the region Afro-descendants face discrimination and experience disproportionate levels of poverty and social exclusion. Often they face multiple and intersecting forms of inequity based on other factors such as gender, religion or disability. … Read more

Surviving bad love

25 Nov 2015 by Lei Phyu, Communications & Social Media Analyst, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

Combatting violence against womenOne in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of someone they know. UNDP photo
One in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of someone they know in their lifetime. Growing up, I never thought I’d become that one in three. For five years, alcoholism drove my ex-boyfriend’s worsening Jeckyll and Hyde personality. It took me four years to realize this man was abusive from the start. It took another year to get out. Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year’s theme is prevention. … Read more

Portraits of peace: Community heroes share their stories

02 Nov 2015 by Michele Bornstein, Women, Peace and Security consultant, UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific

N-Peace Award winners with Helen Clark.The N-Peace Awards celebrate women, and their male allies, working to make their communities more peaceful and tolerant. UNDP Photo
“Don’t stay aside, help each other to get to peace, and help men…Women are the core of the society and so they have very important roles in bringing peace. That is why I always ask them: join together, make networks and help each other… We women should bring peace in Afghanistan.” These are the words of Hassina Neekzad, a teacher in Afghanistan who inspires young girls and women to believe in themselves as individuals and future leaders. … Read more

Whatever you call it, violence against women is never acceptable

07 Mar 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor, Rule of Law, Kyrgyzstan

 Although local activists continue their efforts to stop the tradition of bride kidnapping, more work is needed to make a difference. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan
Along with the beauty of its mountainous landscapes, one of the first things associated with Kyrgyzstan is the cruel phenomenon of bride kidnapping. This ritual involves ambushing a young woman and detaining her until she agrees to marry her kidnapper. I read a lot of sad stories about this practice coming from different countries in Central Asia and Africa, as well as trite justifications based on culture and poor economic conditions. But perhaps the most striking story I’ve heard is the personal account of a young woman I will call Roza. Roza has been kidnapped twice, first at the age of 19, then at 23. In both cases she clearly remembers the applause welcoming the kidnapper when he brought her home. It was as though they were heroes coming back from a victorious battle. She was the spoils. The first time, Roza was taken to a nicely set room and offered tea and plov while her potential mother-in-law praised the virtues of her son – “a hard worker and mild person”. Roza stubbornly refused the marriage. Many other female relatives joined the effort, the discussions eventually becoming very tense with shouting and threats. After a long night, she was eventually allowed … Read more

Gender equality: A human right critical for development progress

06 Mar 2015 by Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

women in El SalvadorIn Sonsonate, El Salvador, UNDP promotes women’s economic empowerment as a way of reducing violence. Photo: UNDP El Salvador
This week, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which remains the world’s best blueprint for achieving gender equality and empowering women. The review of this visionary roadmap, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s progress toward ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and also to renew and reinvigorate commitments to achieve gender equality. One of the great achievements of the Beijing Platform for Action was the clear recognition that women’s rights are human rights. Since that historic gathering in Beijing, when 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists gathered to voice and demonstrate their support for gender equality and women’s empowerment, there has been increasing recognition that gender equality, in addition to being a human right, is also critical to making development progress. If women and girls are not able to fully realize their rights and aspirations in all spheres of life, development will be impeded. Twenty years on, we can see both progress and challenges in the twelve areas of critical concern laid out in the Beijing Platform for Action. Gender parity in … Read more

A rural community calls for an end to FGM

01 Dec 2014 by Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, Egypt

 Communities in Qena are joining forces with international organizations and civil society to end FGM in Egypt. Photo credit: Jose Sanchez/UNDP Egypt
I recently visited the village of Beir Anbar in the district of Koft, Qena governorate, and listened to the powerful statement this community is conveying to the rest of the country to put an end to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The whole village, from young schoolchildren to village elders came together to denounce FGM as "violent", "wrong" and "harmful". Even today, many girls and young women are subjected to genital mutilation in the name of ‘tradition’. According to the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey, at least 91 percent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15-49 have undergone genital mutilation. The people of Beir Anbar made it clear that Egyptian girls and women deserve a new tradition – a tradition of protecting and safeguarding their rights. The joint efforts of families, community activists, authorities, development agencies and media are gradually making a difference to phase out this traditional harmful practice. Let us be clear: there is no justification – moral, religious, cultural, medical or otherwise for this practice. ‘Cutting’ demeans, dehumanizes and injures. It is a human rights violation that must be actively opposed until it is ended. As we gathered inside the community centre, a group of … Read more