#participationwithanall-femaleminerescueteam; #HeatherMacKenzie; #Russia; #NorthwesetTerritories; #Yellowknife, #Canada; #InternationalMinesRescueCompetition
North West Territories/Ottawa, May 20 (Canadian-Media): Heather MacKenzie, a female employee of a mining company in the Northwest Territories (N.T.), aims to participate with an all-female mine rescue team in International Mines Rescue Competition Russia (IMRCR), later this year, media reports said.
International Mines Rescue Competition Russia. Image credit: Twitter handle of WSN
Currently, MacKenzie is training for a territorial competition with her company, which will help her prepare for the international competition in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
"I've always been a competitor," said MacKenzie.
The week-long competition includes many different events from firefighting to first aid and a rescue simulation.
“The fact that we're putting together this team, we're ensuring that this competition will have double the amount of women that were at the last international [competition]," said MacKenzie.
"It's often seen as a position that women don't generally hold," she said.
About $84,000 was needed by the team to participate in the international competition to cover travel, accommodations and equipment, as well as the cost of a training session for the women to participate in this August, to prepare for the international competition.
Some companies have given them in-kind donations, leaving them with about $37,000 to raise.
Typically the company a participant works for would cover the cost of the competition and send a team.
But in the case of Diamonds in the Rough, the participants don't work for the same company.
Kari Lentowicz, the co-founder and coach of Diamonds in the Rough said she asked all the participants' employers to provide them with funding but to no avail.
But some of the women on the team, she said, were so dedicated that they were willing to take vacation or unpaid days off work and pay for the trip themselves.
Lentowicz based in Saskatchewan, Canada, had dreamed of putting an all-women team together since 2007, said that it was too bad because there were a lot of women who will suffer a financial hardship in order to do this and added,
"We need to increase diversity in these roles, in emergency response.”
She was a judge at the 2016 International Mines Rescue Competition in Sudbury, Ont., and said five of the 189 participants were women.
She said there have been many cases where women were perceived as not strong enough to be on the mines rescue teams. But she disagreed with that.
"We're definitely strong enough," said Lentowicz.
The competition runs from September 22-29.
#UN; #ViolenceAgainstWomen; #WHO; #UNICEF
UN/Canadian-Media: Over the past decade, violence against women has been “endemic in every country and culture”, according to a new study released by the UN health agency on Tuesday.
A 15-year-old girl from conflict-affected eastern Ukraine calls helpline after her mother lost her job and her step-father began harassing her. Image credit: UNICEF/Aleksey Filippov
Latest available data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners revealed that violence against women remains “devastatingly pervasive and starts alarmingly young”.
Some 736 million women – that translates to a third of all women – have been subjected to physical or sexual violence across their lifetimes.
“Violence against women is…causing harm to millions of women and their families and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic”, said WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But unlike COVID-19, violence against women cannot be stopped with a vaccine”.
Early start Moreover, the violence starts early, with a quarter of 15 to 24-year-olds in a relationship having experienced violence by an intimate partner by the time they reach their mid-twenties.
“It’s deeply disturbing that this pervasive violence by men against women not only persists unchanged but is at its worst for young women aged 15-24 who may also be young mothers”, said UN Women chief Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
While intimate partner violence is the most prevalent, affecting around 641 million women globally, six percent of women report being sexually assaulted by someone other than their husband or partner.
And given the high levels of stigma and under-reporting of sexual abuse, the true figure is likely to be significantly higher.
“We can only fight it with deep-rooted and sustained efforts – by governments, communities and individuals – to change harmful attitudes, improve access to opportunities and services for women and girls, and foster healthy and mutually respectful relationships”, Tedros said.
COVID ‘shadow pandemic’
Based on data from 2000 to 2018, the report represents the largest-ever study on the prevalence of violence against women, which Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka pointed out was rising even “before the pandemic stay-at home orders”.
WHO warned that COVID has further increased women’s exposure to violence because of measures such as lockdowns and disruptions to vital support services.
“We know that the multiple impacts of COVID-19 have triggered a ‘shadow pandemic’ of increased reported violence of all kinds against women and girls”, the head of UN Women said.
Though many countries have seen more intimate partner violence reported to helplines, police and other service providers during lockdowns, the report notes that the pandemic’s full impact will only be established with further data collection.
How to end violence at a national level:
“Every government should be taking strong, proactive steps to address this, and involving women in doing so”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka underscored.
Breakdown by region An estimated 37 per cent of women in the poorest countries have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lives – with some countries as high as half, according to the study.
Broken down by region, the highest rates of intimate partner violence among women aged 15-49 are in Oceania, Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from 33 to 51 per cent.
At 16 to 23 per cent, Europe had the lowest rate, followed by Central Asia at 18 per cent, East Asia at 20 per cent and South East Asia at 21 per cent.
Repercussions Long after it ends, violence can impact a woman’s health and well-being throughout her life, often associated with depression, anxiety, unplanned pregnancies and many other health problems, according to the study.
Preventing violence requires addressing systemic economic and social inequalities, ensuring access to education and safe work, changing discriminatory gender norms and institutions, reforming discriminatory laws and strengthening legal responses.
“To address violence against women, there’s an urgent need to reduce stigma around this issue, train health professionals to interview survivors with compassion, and dismantle the foundations of gender inequality”, said WHO’s Claudia Garcia-Moreno. “Interventions with adolescents and young people to foster gender equality and gender-equitable attitudes are also vital.”
#UN; #UNFPA; #NataliaVodianova; #WomenHealth
The UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, on Wednesday appointed supermodel, philanthropist, and impact investor Natalia Vodianova as its newest Goodwill Ambassador, in an effort to empower women and girls, including fighting stigma surrounding menstruation.
Russian supermodel and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova has been appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA. Image credit: UNFPA.
“For too long, society’s approach to menstruation and women’s health has been defined by taboo and stigma”, said Ms. Vodianova, stressing that the situation “has undermined the most basic needs and rights of women.”
In her new role with UNFPA, officially known as the UN Population Fund, Ms. Vodianova will seek to help culturally redefine menstruation, as a normal bodily function.
On any given day, more than 800 million women and girls aged 15 to 49 are actively menstruating. In many countries, taboos surrounding the cycle leave girls vulnerable and can even be life-threatening, says UNFPA, as they are excluded from public life, denied opportunities, sanitation and basic health needs.
The agency said in a press release, that the issue has been starved of the attention it deserves, but in recent years that has started to change, and “achieving this, is central to UNFPA’s mandate”.
“It’s a tragic irony that something as universal as menstruation can make girls feel so isolated…We all have a role to play in breaking the taboos around menstruation”, said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, underscoring the significance of spotlighting the damage caused.
She added that the agency “is pleased to partner with such a powerful and committed advocate. Societies prosper when girls are confident, empowered and making their own decisions!”
Building on past momentum
Over the past three years, Ms. Vodianova has teamed up with UNFPA to launch a series of “Let’s Talk” events worldwide, which have mobilized policy makers, civil society and the private sector to help tackle shame, exclusion and discrimination, faced routinely by millions of women and girls.
Leaders from various sectors such as fashion, politics, sport, technology and media have also gathered in Turkey, Kenya, Switzerland, Belarus and India to advance women’s health.
Raised in poverty by a single mother in Russia, along with caring for a half-sister who has cerebral palsy and autism, Ms. Vodianova is a passionate advocate for human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of people living with disabilities, UNFPA noted.
The agency said it was looking forward to working with her in her role as a bridge builder across the fashion and technology industries, where she’s an influential international voice, to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
#ILO; #Covid19Pandemic; #WomenRights;
ILO/Canadian-Media: A workable balance is what parents are desperately trying to find in these uncertain times. Even in “normal” times, the balance between work and family has not been an easy one to achieve. The challenge is not new, especially for women. But the pandemic is shining a stadium size light to the problem, can it also shine light on the solution?
Image credit: ILO
At the peak of pandemic-related lockdowns, 1.7 billion students were affected by school closures. Many have since returned, but often through remote/hybrid models that require at-home supervision. Globally, some 224 million students (over 1 in 10 learners) remain out of school due to ongoing closures. Besieged with these new demands, families are making tough decisions about who keeps their paid job and who quits to provide the unpaid care needed at home. In households around the world, it is predominantly women – often paid less and with less job security then men – who are sacrificing their careers.
The pandemic has hit women’s labor market opportunities hardest. According to data from 55 high- and middle-income countries, 29.4 million women aged 25+ lost their jobs between Q4 2019 and Q2 2020. Slightly fewer men lost theirs (29.2 million), but since far fewer women were in the workforce, women’s proportional loss is higher. At the end of Q2 2020, there were 1.7 times as many women as men outside the labor force in these same 55 countries. The same ratio was at 2.1 times in Latin America, a region hard-hit by the economic fallout of COVID-19. The number of women outside the labor force in this region has climbed to 83 million (up from 66 before COVID-19), compared to 40 million (up from 26 before COVID-19) for men.
Why are women exiting the workforce?
Women’s labor force participation is shaped by domestic and caregiving responsibilities in ways that men’s is not. Women’s participation also varies sharply by marital status and the presence of children. European Union data show absences from work were higher among women than men during the first wave, when schools and childcare centres closed or moved to remote/online formats.
In the United States, where four times as many women as men dropped out of the labour force in September, one in four women who lost their job during the pandemic said it was because of a lack of childcare – twice the rate among men. In the United Kingdom, women were also more likely than men to say their work-life balance was deteriorating (22%, compared to 16% of men).
Emerging evidence from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico shows that partnered women with children have experienced sharper pandemic-related drops in labor force participation than men – and these are most pronounced for women living with children under 6.
In response, many governments have sought to reduce additional unpaid care work burdens through special care-related allowances, by extending the duration of parental leave, or by improving access to childcare facilities for health workers. Furthermore, in many countries, employers are providing flexible work arrangements as they have learned that productivity has been maintained (or even improved), and working from home arrangements, in some cases, can support work-life balance. A number of countries have also adopted measures to contain losses in jobs and income, and many have, for the first time, expanded coverage to the self-employed, temporary workers and domestic workers, among whom women are overrepresented.
Women also make up the bulk of essential care-sector workers, including 70% of health-care workers. Yet despite their importance, countries have poorly prioritized investments in care sectors, leading to shortages of health workers and poor working conditions. The COVID-19 health emergency has exacerbated a global care crisis that risks undoing much of the progress achieved in reducing gender inequalities at work.
Long-term commitments to avert current trends should consider scaling up efforts to ensure:
#UN; #genderBasedViolence; #HumanTracking; #UNODC
UN/Canadian-Media: With the COVID-19 pandemic heightening the dangers of gender-based violence and human trafficking, action on these two fronts is needed now more than ever, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Monday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created conditions making it easier for vulnerable people to become victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Image credit: UNICEF/Michele Sibiloni
UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly was speaking during a virtual event to strengthen global commitment at a time when women and girls are locked down and locked in, render
ing them further exposed to violence and harassment, or at greater risk of being trafficked.
“In every part of the world, we are seeing that COVID has worsened the plight of at-risk women and girls, while also hindering criminal justice responses and reducing support to victims,” she said.
A ‘shadow pandemic’ surfaces Women and girls were already being exposed to different forms of violence before the pandemic.
Most female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners or other family members, according to UNODC, while women and girls make up more than 60 per cent of all victims of human trafficking.
However, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and other measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to what the UN has called a “shadow pandemic” of rising gender-based violence.
Women’s economic inequality also increases their vulnerability to trafficking and sexual violence, according to UN Women, which supports countries in their efforts to achieve gender equality.
‘Business is booming’
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women Executive Director, reported that most female survivors, or nearly 80 per cent, are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
“There are socioeconomic consequences when these crimes happen, but in times of pandemic, the socioeconomic impact is even deeper,” she said.
“Forty-seven million more women and girls will be pushed to extreme poverty because of COVID-19, but business is booming for traffickers.”
Meanwhile, as already scant resources allocated for prevention, rescue and rehabilitation wear thin, women’s health is being put on the line, said Nobel laureate Nadia Murad, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador and a survivor of ISIL terrors in Iraq.
“It is now difficult for many women to access psychological support, healthcare and safe shelter. They live in a constant state of vulnerability. For communities affected by conflict and displacement, these effects are often compounded,” she told the gathering.
Answering the call In April, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for a worldwide domestic violence “ceasefire”, urging governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the crisis.
So far, nearly 150 countries have answered the Secretary-General’s call, pledging to make prevention and redress of gender-based violence a key part of their pandemic response.
UNODC, alongside UN Women and other partners, are also backing the appeal.
They are working together to promote action in four key areas: funding essential services, prevention, improving police and justice action, and collecting data.
Recommendations for recovery Ms. Wady, the UNODC chief, emphasized the need to recover better after the pandemic. “Girls need to be able to go back to school and have equal opportunities. Women need decent jobs and social protection,” she said.
Her colleague, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka at UN Women, pointed to the Secretary-General’s report on trafficking, which outlines additional recommendations.
They include providing women with universal access to social protection as well as income protection, and designating programs for trafficking survivors as essential services.
The report further calls for long-term investment, including to address “toxic masculinity”, and to engage men and boys in programs aimed at shifting norms and attitudes surrounding violence against women.
#WomenEntrepreneurshipDay; #ILO; #WED
Geneva/ILO/Canadian-Media: On the observance of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on 19th November, we want to make sure to recognize the achievements of the hundreds of thousands of women business owners in the world and how they can cross the business gender divide, ILO reports said.
Image credit: Twitter handle
ILO has developed a five step model to help women cross the business gender divide.
ILO’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Development (WED) aims to help women ‘add value’ to businesses they may already own in essential and female dominated sectors, and to encourage them enter more lucrative sectors, often growth-oriented and male-dominated. We have developed a five-point business upgrading model to help make this happen:
New York, Nov 1 (Canadian-Media): “An inspiration to all of us” is how top Police Adviser Luis Carrilho, described this year’s winner of the UN Female Police Officer of the Year Award, which was announced on Friday.
Women gather at a women's centre in Kuma Garadayat, constructed by UNAMID peacekeepers from Senegal, in 2012. This centre is one of six development projects, known as Quick Impact Projects, carried out by the Mission in the areas of education, sanitation. Credit: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
“An inspiration to all of us” is how top Police Adviser Luis Carrilho, described this year’s winner of the UN Female Police Officer of the Year Award, which was announced on Friday.
Major Seynabou Diouf, of the Senegal National Police, leads a task force that helps to prevent and end sexual exploitation and abuse with the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in Goma, North Kivu.
She also manages the UN Police Women’s Network, which connects female officers for mentoring, training, professional development and mutual support.
In choosing Major Diouf, out of 30 nominees from eight missions, the selection committee commended her exemplary service as having a direct and positive impact.
Through her work to support survivors of sexual violence through the UN Police Women’s Network in MONUSCO, along with her initiatives to strengthen community-oriented policing with the Congolese National Police, Major Diouf embodies the spirit of the award and the core values of the Organization”, Police Adviser Carrilho asserted.
Major Diouf said it was “a deep honour” to receive the award, stressing that “it means a lot to me”.
“Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse is a priority for me and my team and for my mission”, she underscored. “And I believe that our efforts are paying off”.
While the award-winner noted that “not a single allegation” had been recorded against MONUSCO police this year, she said there was no room for complacency.
“But we can always do more”, Major Diouf said. “We need to continue doing everything we can to ensure that this number remains at zero and victims of abuse receive the support they deserve”.
The UN Female Police Officer of the Year award was established in 2011 to recognize the exceptional contributions of female police officers to UN peacekeeping and to promote the empowerment of women.
Major Diouf’s previous UN experience includes deployments with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), where she addressed misconduct and welfare issues.
She also served with the Senegal National Police for 33 years.
Senegal is the largest contributor of police to UN peace operations, whose nearly 10,000 officers help to enhance international peace and security by supporting Member States in conflict, post-conflict and other crisis situations.
It is also among the top five contributors of female police officers.
While more than 1,400 female police officers currently serve in UN peace operations, by 2028, the Organization is aiming to bring the level among individual officers who are women up to 30 per cent, and 20 per cent more among formed police units.
The award will be presented at a ceremony on 5 November at UN Headquarters in New York during the 14th UN Police Week, when heads of UN police components and police experts from 14 peacekeeping operations, special political missions and regional offices, will discuss topics related to performance, conduct and discipline strengthening and sustaining peace through human rights.
#UN; #WomenRights; #UNPeace; #UNSecirity
UN, Oct 13 (Canadian-Media): At a virtual roundtable discussion on Women, Peace and Security in Peacekeeping contexts on 8 October 2020, Secretary-General António Guterres made a rallying call to peacekeeping partners to summon the political will and recommit to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
At a virtual roundtable discussion on Women, Peace and Security in Peacekeeping contexts on 8 October 2020, Secretary-General António Guterres made a rallying call to peacekeeping partners to summon the political will and recommit to the Women, Peace
The event took place in the context of the 20th anniversary since the adoption of the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 that recognizes women as key agents of peace. In the presence of four women leaders from Mali, Central African Republic, Darfur and Cyprus, the Secretary-General heard about progress and remaining challenges in implementing this priority agenda in a number of key areas: from women’s participation in peace processes and conflict resolution, to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and ensuring women’s voices as voters and candidates in elections.
#UN; #WomenRights; #Covid19;
United Nations, Oct 1 (Canadian-Media): Unless countries act now, the COVID-19 pandemic could erase recent “fragile progress” towards gender equality, the UN Secretary-General warned on Thursday, urging governments to put women at the centre of recovery and response.
Civil society participants meet in Huairou, China, as part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, in September 1995.
António Guterres issued the charge in a speech to a UN General Assembly high-level meeting to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China.
The Beijing Conference, as it is known, marked a significant turning point on the global agenda, making it clear that women’s rights are at the heart of equality and justice around the world.
But as the UN chief told the gathering, the Conference was also a “wake-up call” as these rights are still being denied, hindered and ignored everywhere.
“COVID-19 has emphasized and exploited the continued denial of women’s rights. Women and girls are bearing the brunt of the massive social and economic impact of the pandemic,” he said, speaking from the rostrum in the General Assembly Hall.
Deliver on the Beijing promise “Twenty-five years after Beijing, we are facing a women-led recession as women employed in the informal economy are first to lose their jobs,” Mr. Guterres continued, outlining the aftershocks of the pandemic. These include a “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence, and an increase in early marriage and other abusive and repressive practices affecting women and girls.
“Unless we act now, COVID-19 could wipe out a generation of fragile progress towards gender equality,” he stated.
While the pandemic has demonstrated the need for a strong push to meet what the UN chief called “the unfulfilled promise of Beijing”, it is also an opportunity for transformative thinking that puts women at the front and centre of response and recovery.
“Stimulus funds should put money directly into women’s hands through cash transfers and credits. Governments should expand social safety nets to women in the informal economy, and recognize the value of unpaid care work,” he advised.
The Beijing Conference concluded with a groundbreaking Platform for Action, with commitments covering 12 areas of concern, such as power and decision-making, poverty, violence against women, education, human rights and discrimination against girls.
“In both containing COVID-19 and promoting post-COVID economic and social recovery, it is particularly important that we address the special needs of women and deliver on the Beijing Declaration and Programme for Action”, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in a statement recorded for the event.
Since Beijing, major advances have been made in the global fight for gender equality, as various UN agencies have documented. In 1995, there were 12 women Heads of State and Government worldwide. Today, there are 22. Maternal mortality has dropped by nearly 40 percent during this period, more girls are now in school, and women are increasingly involved in peace processes.
However, this progress is not enough; plus, it has been slow, according to the Executive Director of UN Women, which supports countries in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.
A time for disrupters
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized the need for women’s leadership, including young women, in efforts to build back better after the pandemic. “Women and the people of the world are demanding these changes”, she said in a pre-recorded statement.
“This is the time for disrupters, young and old," Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka continued, saying it is time for actions to change the course of history for women and girls, especially women between the ages of 25 to 34 who are increasingly more likely to live in extreme poverty than their male counterparts.
“It’s time to bring an end to discriminatory laws, norms and homophobia, to end men’s violence against women and girls, and make a concerted effort to put women at the heart of climate justice. "
Besides the Beijing Conference anniversary, and the global pandemic, 2020 is a milestone year for the UN, which turns 75 next month. January also saw the start of a Decade of Action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their promise of a more fair and equitable world for all people, and greater protection of the planet.
Given the SDG context, there is no longer any excuse for gender imbalances, according to Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“Women are now calling for a leapfrog to 50 per cent representation, or parity in all spheres, including cabinets, corporate boards and throughout the economy, including women as beneficiaries of COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages, engagement in all peace processes, and closing the digital divide,” she said, urging leaders to “fast-forward” the modest gains made since Beijing.
Back up words with deeds The rights of women and girls are non-negotiable, the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) underlined. Dr. Natalia Kanem called on leaders to “scale-up” action and investments.
“We urge you to back up words with deeds, and with funding for programmes and services that transform women’s lives,” she said, speaking from the podium.
“Investing in women and girls is not just a question of rights; it’s also smart economics, with benefits to society many times the cost.”
The President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, appealed for everyone, everywhere to act now on behalf of the world’s women and girls so as to “level the playing field.”
Everyone must act now Speaking in person, Mr. Bozkir appealed for top-level commitment to girls education, equal economic opportunities for women, and ending gender-based violence. He urged countries to “shift established norms” to create a more just world, and thanked civil society groups for bridging divides and filling existing gaps, particularly during the pandemic.
He also issued a call to girls worldwide, including his own granddaughters: “Know this: there is nothing that women cannot do”.
The General Assembly President urged girls to “Dare to be the first. Dare to do what no woman has done before,” adding that the world needs more women in power.
“There is power in sharing your lived experience,” he said. “There is power in an outstretched hand. There is power in solidarity. Never doubt your personal power. Assert your power.”
#Nigeria; #Africa; #WomenRights; #Conflicts; #ClimateCrisis; #Covid19; #Children; #Adolescents; #EveryWomanEveryChild; #UNFPA
Nigeria/UN, Sep 25 (Canadian-Media): Fragile gains made over the past decade to advance women and children’s health are threatened by conflict, the climate crisis and COVID-19, according to a new report from Every Woman Every Child, released on Friday.
Young women and girls carry water in Nigeria (file photo). Image credit: World Bank
Protect the Progress: Rise, Refocus, Recover, 2020 highlights that since the movement was launched 10 years ago, spearheaded by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, there has been remarkable progress in improving the health of the world’s women, children and adolescents, with under-five deaths reached an all-time recorded low in 2019, and more than 1 billion children were vaccinated over the past decade.
Coverage of immunization, skilled birth attendant and access to safe drinking water reached over 80 per cent. Maternal deaths declined by 35 per cent since 2000, with the most significant declines occurring from 2010. An estimated 25 million child marriages were also prevented over the past decade, says the report.
Prioritize women and girls: UN deputy chief
However, conflict, climate instability and the COVID-19 pandemic are putting the health and well-being of all children and adolescents at risk. The COVID-19 crisis, in particular, is exacerbating existing inequities, with reported disruptions in essential health interventions disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable women and children.
“We know that women and children are the foundation of our communities and of our future”, said UN deputy chief, Amina Mohammed, in a video message broadcast during the report launch online. “Plans to respond to and recover from COVID-19 must prioritize their rights, and ensure continued access to services that support health, access to clean water, nutrition and education.
“While much is still unknown and uncertain, our collective goal endures: for women, children and adolescents everywhere to survive and thrive, and for their lives to be transformed”, added the Deputy Secretary-General.
Death ‘every six seconds
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a child under the age of five died every six seconds somewhere around the world”, said Henrietta Fore, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director.
“Millions of children living in conflict zones and fragile settings face even greater hardship with the onset of the pandemic. We need to work collectively to meet immediate needs caused by the pandemic while also strengthening health systems. Only then can we protect and save lives.”
Last year, 5.2 million children under the age of 5 and 1 million adolescents died of preventable causes. Every 13 seconds a newborn baby died. Every hour 33 women did not survive childbirth; and 33,000 girls a day were forced into marriages, usually involving much older men.
The report examines the deep-rooted inequities which continue to deprive women, children and adolescents of their rights, noting that where you are born, is a significant determinant of survival.
“For too long, the health and rights of women, children, and adolescents have received insufficient attention and services have been inadequately resourced”, said former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Helen Clark.
“We call on all partners to work together to support governments to strengthen health systems and tackle the inequities that constrain progress.”
Narrow the gap
The report calls upon the global community to fight COVID-19 while honoring and respecting commitments that can improve the lives of women and children, and not widen the gap between promise and reality.
“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to turn back the clock on years of progress in reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health. This is unacceptable,” said Muhammad Ali Pate, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group.
“The GFF partnership will double down on its efforts to engage with partners and countries and honor the global commitment to ensure that all women, adolescents and children can access the quality, affordable health care they need to survive and thrive.”
The past decade of progress to advance the health of women, children and adolescents must be protected from the impact of the pandemic and the responses to it, the report emphasizes.
“As we respond to COVID-19 and reimagine a better future, with sustained peace, including at home, we must repeat unequivocally that the rights of women and girls are not negotiable. Even in times of crisis – especially in times of crisis – their sexual and reproductive health and rights must be safeguarded at all costs”, said Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UN reproductive rights agency, UNFPA.