Our Perspective

      • Women in conflict situations need justice | Roma Bhattacharjea

        18 Oct 2013

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        Sudanese women gather at workshop on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. (Photo: Soujoud Elgarrai/UNAMID)

        When conflict causes a breakdown in social order and the rule of law, inequalities increase and women bear the brunt of the violence. We should, however, not view women as mere victims, as they play a vital role in ensuring sustainable peace. On October 18 the UN Security Council will discuss this role, and reaffirm the right of women to access the rule of law and seek redress for human rights abuses during conflicts. More than a decade after Security Council Resolution 1325 was drafted, which, among other things, committed countries to protecting women and girls in conflict situations, women's voice, leadership and participation, safety, economic security, and access to justice are still distant goals. If all goes well, the Security Council will agree to a new resolution that recommits countries to changing this situation. Sexual and gender-based violence happen wherever there is armed conflict, even after peace treaties have been signed. Reducing violence against women and girls, however, allows girls to go to school, avoid early marriages, and helps decrease human trafficking. It allows women and girls to contribute to just and equal societies, which do not relapse into armed conflict. When the Security Council meets this week, the internationalRead More

      • Social and political transformation can only be achieved with young people’s participation | Heraldo Muñoz

        17 Oct 2013

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        A group of young UN volunteers in Peru. (Photo: Win Bouden/UNDP Peru)

        Latin America and the Caribbean has around 156 million people between the ages of 15 to 29, which means that 26 percent of its population is young. However, only 1.63 percent of deputies and senators in 25 parliaments in the region are 30 years old or younger, according to a recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) assessment. More worrying still is the fact that women still lag behind: among the few young parliamentarians just 32 percent are women.     Having so many young people is an opportunity for any region. But in the case of Latin America, this demographic advantage coexists with unequal opportunities for its youth, which is reflected in low voter turnout among young people and a political representation crisis that feeds the recent social mobilizations. This confirms the need to boost efforts to meet young Latin Americans' demands and needs, and to recognize their capabilities and roles in promoting democratic change.     In this context, more than 22 young parliamentarians from 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean signed a pact to expand political participation of the youth of the region during a recent meeting in Brasilia, organized by UNDP, Brazil’s National Youth Secretary and the Ibero-American YouthRead More

      • Protecting people with disabilities in times of disaster | Jo Scheuer

        11 Oct 2013

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        Lahore resident Jamila Hasan and her disabled daughter negotiate their way across a flooded street. Photo: Tariq Saeed, IRIN

        Approximately 10 percent of the world's population lives with a disability. Often ignored, forgotten or stigmatized, people with disabilities not only struggle for daily recognition, but face life-threatening challenges in times of disaster. Those whose mobility is impaired cannot access evacuation routes; those with visual or hearing impairment don’t receive early warnings; and those dependant on health and other community infrastructure suffer disproportionately from disaster. During the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the death rate amongst people with disabilities was twice that of the general population, and when Hurricane Katrina hit the US in 2006, the immobile poor were disproportionately left behind in New Orleans. Fourteen percent of those who remained were living with a disability that made them physically unable to evacuate, while 23 percent were caring for a disabled person. October 13 is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The theme this year is ‘disability and disasters,’ a welcome move to draw awareness to the difficulties those with disabilities face in times of disaster. 157 countries have now signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities pledging, among other things, to protect persons with disabilities during conflict, humanitarian emergencies and disasters. In planning and preparingRead More