#ILO; #UNWomen; #EuropeanUnion; G7Nations; #genderEquality; #Covid19Pandemic
Geneva, May 18 (Canadian-Media): The International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women and the European Union have called on G7 nations to put in place measures to promote gender equality amid the COVID-19 crisis .
ILO. Image credit: Twitter Handle
At a virtual high-level meeting on COVID-19, bringing together government ministers, CEOs, business associations, trade unions, civil society, global women’s movements and academia from G7 countries, participants agreed that women’s economic empowerment should be part of the crisis response.
The pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities and exposed cracks in social, political and economic systems including access to health services and social protection. Women with care responsibilities, informal workers, low-income families, and youth are under particular pressure. Since the crisis began, there has been a significant rise in domestic violence.
They called on G7 nations to:
Ryder called for a ‘human-centred’ COVID-19 response and recovery that tackle these injustices and build a ‘better normal ’.
UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the pandemic “has caused a crisis reaching far beyond health, challenging fundamental aspects of the ways in which we have previously arranged our social and economic structures. Women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, and are more likely to be employed in the informal economy, with less access to social protections. I call on leaders at the virtual G7 Summit to explicitly recognize this and ensure that their COVID-19 response intentionally, strongly and permanently redresses these long-standing inequalities in order to create inclusive, equal, and more resilient societies.”
Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), said: “We can say that the COVID-19 crisis is gender biased looking at its impact on women-owned businesses, on the burden women are facing during the crisis, at the increase of gender based violence, but the COVID crisis is also an opportunity to rebuild back better. Our efforts should now concentrate on putting women at the centre of the recovery.”
#India'sSupremeCourt; #WomenRights; #GenderIssues; #IndianArmy
New Delhi (India), Feb 17 (Canadian-Media): Favor of equal rights in the armed forces was ruled by India's Supreme Court on Monday and ordered the Indian government to make women officers to be granted permanent commission and command positions on par with men, media reports said.
India's Supreme Court. Image credit: Twitter
The judgment implies all women to be eligible for the same promotions, ranks, benefits and pensions as their male counterparts, irrespective of their years of service or whether they had retired.
"This change will lift up women -- not just in the army but all girls across the country and the world," said Lt. Col. Seema Singh to reporters after the court ruling.
Although the court's ruling does not permit women to serve in army combat units, like the infantry or artillery corps, they are now eligible to command entire battalions or head the intelligence department.
It was agreed by the Indian government last year that permanent commissions would only be given to female officers who had served less than 14 years, which excluded hundreds of women who had already served out their short service commissions.
Aishwary Bhati, one of the lawyers representing female officers, said the government's decision denied women a route to leadership positions: "It is not about money, it is about career prospects."
A powerful defense of equality was delivered by the Supreme Court in its verdict on Monday, saying in the judgment that it was time for change in India's armed forces.
"The time has come for a realization that women officers in the army are not adjuncts to a male dominated establishment whose presence must be 'tolerated' within narrow confines," the court said.
#GenderEquality; #GenderEqualityIndex; 2020BloombergGenderEqualityIndex;
Pittsburgh (United States), Jan. 27: It was announced by the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), an American bank holding company and financial services corporation based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that it has been named to the 2020 Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (GEI) for the 4th consecutive appearance on the list, media reports said.
Bloomberg Gender Equality Index. Image credit: Facebook
Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader and delivers data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately. Bloomberg allows customers to efficiently and effectively access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations.
Bloomberg. Image credit: Facebook
Companies recognized by GEI are committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality. The five pillars across which reference index is measured are: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, policies relating to sexual harassment, and pro-women brand.
Inclusion of 325 Public Companies globally has expanded Bloomberg’s 2020 GEI.
More information can be found here.
#Terf; #TransExclusionaryRadicalFeminist; #GenderRecognitionAct
United Kingdom, Dec 19 (Canadian-Media): JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter, had been accused of being a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) after defending a researcher Marya Forstater who was forced out of her jobs for stating that sex is real, offending many fans of Rowling, media reports said.
J K Rowling/Twitter
Many followers and Harry Potter fans criticised the tweet and branded Rowling a ‘TERF’ for her defence of Marya Forstater, who lost a test case after she didn’t have her contract renewed at the Centre for Global Development (CGD).
Forstater had been accused of using offensive and exclusionary language in a number of tweets relating to proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow self-identification.
A former fan, who is trans, wrote: ‘I grew up as a trans child reading your books as an escape. I would often pick out names from characters to give to myself, before I ever felt comfortable in who I was. This decision, to support people that hate me, and want to do me harm. It brings me to tears… Why. Why?’
However, many ‘thank you’ messages were sent to the to the author, with one reply reading: ‘Thank you so much for speaking the truth on behalf of women #adulthumanfemale.’
Policy recommendations to support women cross-border traders in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
#Africa; #InformalCrossBorderTrade; #AricanEconomy; #UNCTAD; #PolicyDecisions
Africa, Dec 6 (Canadian-Media): Informal cross-border trade has been a major feature of African economies since the colonial era. It contributes to job creation, especially for vulnerable groups such as poor women and unemployed youth, and food security through the trade of agricultural products, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports said.
Supporting the growth of informal cross border traders’ trade capacity and their gradual integration into formal trade would help boost trade and the private sector, contributing to overall development goals. Informal cross-border trade is characterized by the predominance of female traders.
This is mainly due to women’s limited time, mobility, and access to productive resources and support systems, leaving them with few options and making such trade the main or even only source of livelihood for them.
Despite their critical role in cross-border trade, women often benefit only marginally from their trading activity due to a number of factors, including policy, institutional, cultural, economic, and regulatory issues.
In the framework of its project on Informal cross-border trade for empowerment of women, economic development and regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa, UNCTAD’s Trade, Gender and Development Programme has developed an analytical report that examines cross-border trade in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, focusing on women traders; three booklets which present key information on existing trade procedures and simplified trade schemes, documentation requirements, rules of origin, taxes and tariffs meant to informal and small-scale cross border traders; and this advocacy document.
The document puts forth policy recommendations and introduces an implementation framework based on the findings of the analytical report.
The aim of the advocacy document is to lay out targeted policy recommendations accompanied with relevant stakeholders for implementation.
The policy framework aims to support the empowerment of women informal (and small-scale) traders and help them formalize and diversify their economic activities in these three countries, promote local ownership of the policy targets and facilitate follow-up.
ransgenderPersons(ProtectionofRights),2019 ; #NewDelhi; #India
New Delhi (India), July 19 (Canadian-Media): Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights), 2019 was introduced today in Lok Sabha, India which enables transgenders to define their identity and rights to prohibit discrimination against them, media reports said.
Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot had introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, which provides for their social, economic and educational empowerment, and will also establish a national council for transgender persons.
The bill will offer greater accountability to the central government, state governments and Union Territories, and all the stakeholders concerning issues of transgender persons for upholding the principles underlying the Bill.
#UnitedNations; #BeijingDeclarationandPlatformforAction; #genderequality; #poverty; #Environment; #decisionMaking; #girlchild
United Nations, May 7 (Canadian-Media/UN): To mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, considered the blueprint on women’s rights and empowerment, gender agency United Nations (UN) Women announced on Monday a new multigenerational campaign, titled “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future”.
In 2020, it will be 25 years since 189 Governments committed to taking bold actions in 12 critical areas of concern regarding gender equality: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the girl child.
“Today, the reality is that not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality. Despite some progress, real change has been too slow for most women and girls in the world, and we see significant pushback in many places against their leadership and agency,” said UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The Generation Equality campaign will bring together several generations of women’s rights activists to galvanize attention and action on key issues including equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and all forms of violence against women and girls, health-care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in economic and political life and decision-making in all areas of life.
#UnitedNations; #genderparity; #AgendaforSustainableDevelopment; #EconomicandSocialCommissionforWesternAsia;
United Nations, Apr 28 (Canadian-Media/UN): Although United Nations Regional Commissions have been in existence for more than 70 years, for the first time ever, each one is currently headed by a woman designated by Secretary-General António Guterres. This accomplishment underscores that, since the day he took office, the UN chief has been determined to achieve gender parity by 2030 as part of the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Image Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
UN Secretary-General António Guterres is flanked by the Heads of Regional Commissions, from left to right: Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Oľga Algayerová, Executive Secretary for the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); and Armida Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), February 2019.
ECLCA detailed some of the battles region faces, such as slow economic growth, high debt, a deterioration in quality employment and increased poverty.
She sees these “long-term challenges” as threats to gender equality, such as “gender gaps in labor markets, the overload of women's unpaid work, their limited access to credit and productive assets, and women lacking their own income”.
At the same time, incorporating technological change “raises new questions about its disruptive effects on societies and especially on gender equality”.
Ms. Bárcena pointed out that although their political participation across the region has risen steadily over the past few decades, women only hold 30 per cent of seats in the region’s parliaments, which is far below the parity-based target.
“There is an urgent need to remove the key barriers hindering women’s participation in order to generate the conditions for the full exercise of women's citizenship and autonomy in decision-making”, she stated. “To do so, it is important to achieve parity in the distribution of power, resources and time”.
Proudly, she said that under her leadership, ECLAC has achieved gender balance among in senior management, adding “and I am now progressively pushing forward for achieving a similar balance at other levels”.
Commission for Europe, called UNECE, told UN News that by appointing women as UN Regional Commission heads, the Secretary-General is making “a clear call” to ensure that gender parity is “a reality in our regional organizations”.
“In the UNECE region, the political and economic landscape now looks far more balanced than it did some decades ago”, she asserted.
Ms. Algayerová explained that as a women leader, she is especially sensitive to women’s situations and needs. And as such, she can be more persistent in searching for gender-responsive solutions and broad-based decisions “in consultations with women’s groups” and others.
“I am often approached by women of different ages from civil societies, academia and governments, and I listen to their concerns”, she said.
“Gender equality and the empowerment of women has always been very dear to my heart”, she continued. “In all my previous positions which I have held both in my country, Slovakia, and abroad, I have been a strong advocate for gender equality”.
According to the ECE chief, meeting SDG5 means: ending all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls; valuing unpaid care and domestic work; and ensuring decent work for all.
“It is a gigantic task, requiring urgent action and pooling all resources to eliminate the root causes of gender inequalities”, she argued. To address this, Ms. Algayerová flagged the need to measure inequalities and provide data to identify what drives gender gaps and why imbalances persist in all spheres of life at country, regional and community levels.
“Only policies based on empirical evidences can be effective instruments to tackle the multifaceted forms of gender inequalities” she concluded.
Commission for Asia and the Pacific, or ESCAP, told UN News that while “significant progress” has been made in her region, economic and social inequalities persist.
“Growing disparities in income and wealth disproportionately affect women, especially those in vulnerable situations”, she said, pointing out that “for every 10 men who are in employment, there are only six women working”.
What’s more, she lamented, “women are overrepresented in low-paying jobs, with little social protection provisions” and “have less access than men to financial services and productive assets, including land, capital, and information technologies”.
On the political front, Ms. Alisjahbana said that women’s representation in Asia and the Pacific continues to be low in comparison with other regions of the world.
“As of 2018, the proportion of seats held by women in the national parliaments is 18 per cent, while the global average is 24 per cent”, she stated.
“Addressing such gaps is not only a matter of attaining fundamental rights for women, but also critical to the inclusive economic growth and sustainable development of the region as a whole” Ms. Alisjahbana stressed.
Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), shared with UN News her view that leadership is “not a privilege” but a “responsibility with accountability”.
Woman or man, an “all-weather leader” must work “in a responsible, efficient and effective manner to achieve the desirable goals”, she believes.
Ms. Dashti expressed pride in that she could be “a good example” of women’s ability to “carry out substantive tasks and achieve the mission assigned”.
Against the backdrop of an Arab region embroiled in conflicts, war, displacement and grave economic and environment crises, the ESCWA chief said this situation aggravates the already “complicated task” of meeting SDG5.
She painted a picture of the existing problems facing women, “such as domestic and sexual violence; unemployment; and discrimination in public office” and recommended, “within the few years remaining until 2030”, as “the best course of action”, to “identify common priority areas” across Arab countries to help implement responses at the regional level that would “benefit all”.
She assured that ESCWA places women's issues “at the forefront of its work” and underlined that “despite gender stereotypes and cultural barriers”, the aspirations of women and girls “are attainable” with “self-recognition, confidence and perseverance”.
“To every woman and girl, she concluded by saying: “Your horizon is your dream!”
Although UN News was unable to arrange an interview with Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), prior to publication, it is clear that she too is committed to the Secretary-General’s 2030 Agenda and working tirelessly in support of gender equality on the continent.
Womenrights; #UnitedNations, #UN; #ActionforPeacekeeping; #A4P; #ElsieInitiative; #Gender-ResponsivePeacekeepingOperationsPolicy; #KristinLund; #UniformedGenderParityStrategy; PeaceMissionTrainingCenter;
#Ursula von der Leyen; #LisaButtenheim
United Nations, Apr 12 (Canadian-Media): Women’s rights, voices and participation must be at “the centre of peacekeeping decision-making”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday, describing them as “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide.
Through its landmark resolution 1325 on women and peace and security, the Council reaffirmed the participation and involvement of women, which the UN chief hailed as “a key element in the maintenance of international peace and security”. He also noted the UN’s “essential system-wide effort” to enhance women’s representation at all levels and in all arenas, through his Strategy on Gender Parity.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias | UN Secretary-General briefs the Security Council on women in peacekeeping operations, 11 April 2019.
“This is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, he stated, citing evidence that more women peacekeepers lead to more credible protection responses that meet the needs of all.
In patrol units women can better access intelligence to provide a holistic view of security challenges, and at checkpoints they promote a less confrontational atmosphere, he said.
Within troop contingents they lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse; yield greater reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; and can access local women’s networks, leading to more inclusive peace processes.
‘Step towards parity’
The Secretary-General thanked the more than 150 Member States who have signed on to his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which calls for women’s participation in every stage of peace operations, and integrates a gender perspective into all analysis, planning, implementation and reporting.
And he was grateful to the States who, at last week’s Ministerial on Peacekeeping, launched the Elsie Initiative to break down barriers to increasing women’s participation in peace operations.
In support of the UN’s commitments in these areas, Mr. Guterres noted a range of actions, including the Gender-Responsive Peacekeeping Operations Policy, which “commits us to promoting leadership and accountability both for gender equality and for the women, peace and security agenda”.
Flagging that since December 2015, the number of women in uniform has increased by only around one per cent, he spelled out that “this is clearly not enough”.
“This year”, he informed the Chamber, “we rolled out the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy”, which, among other things, targets by 2028 a range of 15 to 35 per cent of women’s representation, including military, police and justice and corrections personnel.
While acknowledging that it “has been more challenging”, Mr. Guterres vowed “to press ahead”, adding that “keep on track, we need assistance from you, the Member States”.
He asked for a greater focus on women in battalions and formed police units and for the sustained recruitment and deployment of women within national services.
Noting that for the first time in UN history the senior leadership is close to achieving gender parity, Mr. Guterres reiterated his commitment to sustaining that progress:
“We need to bring the same spirit to our peace operations”, he stressed. “This is crucial for our effectiveness, credibility and reputation”.
‘Pushing gender equality’
The first female Force Commander and current Head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission, Major General Kristin Lund told the Council that the “momentum of pushing gender equality must be kept”.
As Force Commander of the UN mission in Cyprus, she teamed up with Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative at the time. “For once I did not need to convince my boss that gender was important” she said. “Both of us had gender equality in our spine”.
The Major General enumerated some examples of her work in increasing the number of women, helping them in missions and reaching out to local communities.
Noting many reasons why the armed forces have a difficulty keeping women in the ranks, she outlined frequent obstacles thrown up by male culture in military settings, giving the example of how “posters with half naked women” hang in mission gyms.
“How many women do gym in bikinis?” Ms. Lund asked rhetorically, saying that under her command in Cyprus “womanized posters vanished”.
Troops at the Peace Mission Training Center in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, undergoing training provided courtesy of the United States ahead of their deployment to CAR.She also mandated that the all-male teams in military skills competitions had to have females.
“Gender is on the top of my agenda”, she said, adding that she initiated a female military network, engaged women to become more visible and increased the number of female observers.
Troop and police contributing countries “must do more” she said.
“We, out in the field, need to be able to reach out to the whole society. Only you can make that happen”, the Force Commander concluded.
Diversity is a strength
Chairing the meeting, German Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen said: “Women are no better peacekeepers than men, but they are different. And this diversity is a strength”.
Pointing out that Resolution 1325 has been in effect for almost 20 years, she maintained that it is “still far from full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace operations”.
To change that, Ms. von der Leyen suggested, among other things, to have successful female mentors to share their stories to younger women; have more women in national forces for deployment to international peacekeeping missions; and assess national barriers that keeps more women from joining peace operations.
“The peacekeeper’s blue helmet symbolizes protection and security”, she said. “Let us make this helmet be worn by more women. For the sake of peace”.
#UnitedNationshumanrightsexperts, #DeferredActionforChildhoodArrivals, #DACA, #Dreamers, #UN, #US
Washington Feb 23 (Canadian-Media): A group of United Nations human rights experts said in a news release issued by the UN human rights wing, OHCHR, Tuesday that they were "increasingly concerned about the impact that ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme could have on the young people who benefit from it," has urged the country to take urgent steps to address the situation of hundreds of thousands of migrants who arrived in the United States as children facing possible expulsion, media reports said.
Often referred to as ‘Dreamers,’ the DACA beneficiaries – estimated to number around 800,000 – will lose their legal status and their protection from deportation without procedural safeguards if a solution is not reached by the deadline.
The majority of Dreamers are reportedly ages 25 or below, and many are current students.
Deadline for the DACA programme, which grants work permits and renewable two-year extension from deportation to qualifying migrants, is reportedly March 5.
For the migrants to be qualified they should have arrived as children under 16, are pursuing or have completed a high school education or military service, and do not have a serious crime history.
The human rights experts also underscored that an abrupt end to the DACA programme will disrupt the lives of these migrants and cause “profound grief and irreparable harm by tearing their families apart” and making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse if deported to countries which are unfamiliar to them.
They also said that majority of these migrants are young women at risk of being expelled to countries where there are high levels of violence, lawlessness and crime.
“Ending the programme without a feasible alternative would also send a wrong signal to the population, as it would reinforce harmful racial stereotypes and stigmatize hard-working, law-abiding young migrants who are an asset to the country which they consider home,” human rights experts were reported to state.
In the news release, the human rights experts also highlighted that the expiry of DACA offers a “unique opportunity” for regularization of many migrants who have strong economic, social, cultural and family links in the UN, and whose contribution to society is unquestionable.
The UN rights experts making the call reportedly include Felipe González Morales, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Elina Steinerte, Vice-Chair on Communications of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Alda Facio, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; and E. Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism.
Geneva-based Human Rights Council reportedly appointed UN Special Rapporteurs and independent experts to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation.
The positions are honorary and not paid for their work and the experts are not UN staff.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)