An HIV milestone achieved in Cuba

10 Jul 2015 by Carlos Cortés Falla, Principal Technical Advisor, HIV projects, UNDP Cuba

HIV testIn Cuba, preventive services, like HIV testing for all pregnant women, contributed to the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Photo: UNDP
This is a momentous moment for us working in Cuba. The World Health Organization recently declared that Cuba had eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Cuba is the first country to reach this goal and it is a great milestone for us. But it is also a landmark in the response to HIV globally. How was Cuba able to achieve this? Cuba’s comprehensive health system is available for all Cuban citizens equally, and is effective in integrating the health care of mothers and children with the management of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. … Read more

There is no honour in barring women from voting

24 Jun 2015 by Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan

women vote in LahorePakistani women exercise their right to vote on the Cantonment board elections in Lahore. Photo: UNDP Pakistan
On 30 May, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan went to the polls to exercise their hard-earned democratic right to choose their local leaders. But newspaper reports emerged of candidates, community elders, and religious leaders conspiring to bar women from voting. In an earlier by-election, local media reported that out of 47,280 registered women voters, not a single woman cast her vote, following a decision by local leaders to ban women from voting. … Read more

We all must do more to promote gender equality

22 Jun 2015 by Claudio Tomasi, Deputy Resident Representative, Cuba

The UNDP Gender Seal has encouraged allies to government and civil society using new measures to promote gender equality in Cuba. Photo: Carolina Azevedo/UNDP
Gender issues and concerns relating to equality and fairness involve women and men, in all different “shapes and sizes” - age, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity. Men are in a position to do far more to contribute to gender equality in all walks of life, in workplaces, families, and other groups to which we belong. For those of us who lead forums in the field of development cooperation, this has to be more than a policy and institutional mandate. It must be a binding obligation that we dare not ignore and which makes us grow as people. … 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

To address women's poverty, we must make the invisible visible

20 May 2015 by Claudia Vinay, Policy Specialist on Economic Empowerment, Gender Team, UNDP

A Hmong woman and her child in Viet Nam.A Hmong woman and her child in Viet Nam. According to UN Women, women do two and a half times as much unpaid work as men, including caring for children, the elderly and the ill. Photo: Kibae Park/UN
“Let’s make the invisible visible.” This statement, by Argentina Minister of Social Development Alicia Kirchner, captured a recurrent theme at the global conference on women and social inclusion, recently co-hosted by UNDP in Buenos Aires. Despite gains that women have made over the past decades, there are still too many factors affecting women’s lives that are not recognized in public policies. … Read more

Eliminating discrimination: a way to mobilize the trillions needed for the post-2015 agenda

14 May 2015 by Pedro Conceição, Director of Strategic Policy at UNDP's Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Woman carrying solar panels in HondurasLabour force participation of women is lower than men almost everywhere. Photo: UNDP in Honduras
While world leaders are focused on adopting a new set of sustainable development goals at the United Nations in September, a debate that has received far less attention is also raging: how to finance the new goals? There is one way to mobilize these trillions of dollars: eliminating discrimination against women. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues … Read more

An opportunity for women’s equality

08 May 2015 by Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

girlThere is a new opportunity to establish gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, essential foundations for inclusive and sustainable development. Photo: Javier Sagredo/UNDP
The Beijing Platform envisages a world where every woman and girl can exercise their freedoms and choices and realize all their rights, including the rights to live free from violence, be educated, exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights choices, participate in decision-making, and earn equal pay for work of equal value. Now, in 2015, there is a new opportunity to establish gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, as both critical issues in their own right and as essential foundations for inclusive and sustainable development. … Read more

Bridging the gap: How the SDG Fund is paving the way for a post-2015 agenda

11 Mar 2015 by Paloma Durán, Director, Sustainable Development Goals Fund

Indigenous woman and her child in PeruPhoto: UNDP/Peru
We are fast approaching this September’s Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with world leaders debating the 17 goals and 169 targets proposed by the United Nations Open Working Group. The post-2015 development agenda will focus primarily on strengthening opportunities to reduce poverty and marginalisation in ways that are sustainable from an economic, social and environmental standpoint. The SDG Fund, created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with an initial contribution from the government of Spain, has been designed to smoothen the transition from the Millennium Development Goals phase into the future Sustainable Development Goals. The rationale of the joint programme initiative is to enhance the development impact of technical assistance by combining inputs from various UN entities, each contributing according to its specific expertise and bringing their respective national partners on board. To illustrate, we are currently implementing joint programmes in 18 countries addressing challenges of inclusive economic growth for poverty eradication, food security and nutrition as well as water and sanitation. The majority of our budget is invested in sustainable development on the ground and is directly improving the lives of more than one million people in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Arab States and Africa. National … 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