Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls

09 Dec 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls In the scenic valley of Panjshir, a bridge built with UNDP support makes it possible for Bahara and her classmates to go to school. Photo: Omer/UNDP Afghanistan
In her 2013 memoir, activist Malala Yousafzai recounts a moment that changes not only the course of her destiny but that of many other young girls across the world. On a trip in northwest Pakistan, she comes across a girl selling oranges who is unable to read or write. Disturbed by the discovery that this girl had not received an education, Malala makes a decision that she famously continues to see through: “I would do everything in my power to help educate girls just like her. This was the war I was going to fight.” This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights. Malala’s example is what we all need to do more of: stand up for the rights of young women and girls in health, education and beyond. … 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

Securing our societies from the threat of senseless terrorism

11 Apr 2016 by Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

Ten of the eleven countries with over 500 deaths due to violent extremism in 2014 also have the largest number of refugees, migrants, and IDPs. Photo: Central African Republic
Since 2000, we have witnessed a more than ten-fold increase in the number of deaths from violent extremism and terrorism - from 3,329 victims in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. And the death toll keeps rising. During the first months of 2016, more than 200 terrorist attacks claimed over 2500 victims. These incidents have taken place in all corners of the world and the diversity of countries shows the ubiquity of the challenge. Many attacks have been linked to well-known violent extremist groups, while others were perpetrated by lone wolfs or attributed to ongoing conflicts and civil wars. … Read more

FGM ban begins a pivotal era for women and girls in The Gambia

05 Feb 2016 by Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia

Commemorations for the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting are especially significant for The Gambia this year, following the banning and criminalization of FGM/C. UNICEF photo
In November 2015, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalized in The Gambia. This marks an important milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensure that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled. The achievement places The Gambia proudly among 26 other African countries that have banned FGM/C through legislation. And it comes after years of work to raise awareness among individuals and communities, reinforced by intense advocacy with decision and policy makers. As a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo, the subject is now openly discussed in Gambian homes and communities. … Read more

Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.

10 Dec 2015 by Alejandro Alvarez, Team Leader for Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights at UNDP

Eleanor RooseveltMrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. [November 1949] Photo: UN Photo
In celebrating 2015 International Human Rights Day, we are invited to reflect on the importance of the freedoms we enjoy and to recommit to supporting the fundamental freedoms of all. UNDP’s work is based on the belief that people experience poverty, deprivation or exclusion not only as a lack of income but also as a lack of education or health care or a lack of dignity and participation in their community. These dimensions of peoples’ lives have been considered so important by governments all around the world that they have recognized them as entitlements, as human rights, both in national and in international law. … Read more

When people are counted, no one is left behind

10 Dec 2015 by Clifton Cortez, Team Leader, Gender, Key Populations, and LGBTI – HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP

LGBTI inclusion infographicClick the picture to see the full infographic.
In September 2015, a multi-sectoral group of experts met in New York from all over the world. Despite varied perspectives, each had previously been involved in some aspect of LGBTI data work or were experts in data measurement. Their goal was to reach consensus on a definition of LGBTI inclusion and provide advice on what was necessary to measure it. In September 2015, the Nepal Constituent Assembly approved a new Constitution that includes provisions protecting the rights of sexual and gender minorities. This would never have happened without the advocacy of LGBT leaders, community activists, and allies and their efforts highlighting data, including violence against transgender people. … Read more

Celebrating the world's indigenous peoples, declaring their rights

08 Aug 2015 by Patrick Keuleers, Director, Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

indigenous manAn indigenous man at the Copán Ruinas Archaeological Site, Museum of Maya Sculpture in Honduras. Around the world, discrimination and structural inequalities disproportionately affect indigenous peoples. Photo: UN
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrates the wealth and variety of indigenous cultures and the rights, achievements, and contributions of indigenous peoples worldwide. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), but are not always upheld. There are more than 370 million Indigenous peoples living in some 90 countries. It is estimated that they constitute 15 percent of the world’s poor, and one third of the 900 million people living in extreme poverty in rural areas. In vast numbers, indigenous peoples live in some of the world's most resource rich areas, but their own forms of conservation and resource management have been historically undervalued. … Read more

Years of effort are paying off in the fight against female genital mutilation

09 Jun 2015 by Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, UNDP in Egypt

Egyptian women at meetingWomen attend a community meeting at Qena governorate to call to an end to female genital mutilation. Photo: UNDP in Egypt
I was recently in Aswan to meet with the local government, partner NGOs, and people working together to fight against female genital mutilation (FGM), a widely-spread practice in Egypt that predates both Christianity and Islam and was criminalized by Egyptian law in 2008. The commitment and dedication I found are not only commendable but quite encouraging: Whole communities are taking a firm stance against a traditional practice that has no religious, medical or moral basis, as declared by both Al Azhar and the Coptic Church. … Read more

What are the development solutions for displacement?

08 Jun 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

woman and childrenAziza Galmi, 39, left Central African Republic for Chad with her three daughters after losing her husband. Photo: UNDP in Chad
The tumultuous events in countries like Yemen, Iraq, Ukraine, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have left millions of people displaced. Over 50 million people around the world are living as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. According to UNHCR figures, over three quarters of the 50 million are in a state of protracted displacement— lasting for over 5 years. It is obvious that conflict in these countries may not end soon. … Read more

If it is not rights-based, it is not real human development

07 Apr 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York.

  In Mozambique, UNDP is putting an emphasis on human rights in its development work. Photo: UN/Mozambique
Today, as we witness widening inequalities within countries, intensifying competition around scarce natural resources, and the continued exclusion of marginalized groups, national human rights institutions are more relevant than ever. They are the cornerstones of our national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights, essential to sustaining development and successful implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. … Read more