Category Archives: WOMEN’S EQUALITY

UNCSW63’s positive outcomes for women’s human rights to social protection systems, quality public services, including education, and sustainable infrastructure

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from Education International

The women workers’ delegation, including education unionists, welcomes the Agreed Conclusions of the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which includes positive language on education and social protection systems.

Key gains on gender and education

The Agreed Conclusions  of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW63), reached on 22 March, have borne satisfying results concerning gender and education:

* There are three strong references to education in the preamble paragraphs

Educational spaces are specifically mentioned among the list of key sites that require action and attention on sexual harassment. There is a specific mention of early childhood education as “crucial in enabling women to enter and remain in the labour market”.  The wide ranging, multi-layered and most pernicious gender-based barriers to the right to education for girls are also highlighted.

* Strong call on governments to strengthen normative, legal and policy frameworks,

There is explicit reference to the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by disabled women and girls, and indigenous women and girls (including in relation to education), especially for those living in rural areas.

Governments are urged to “adopt national gender-responsive migration policies and legislation, in line with relevant obligations under international law, to protect the human rights of all migrant women and girls, regardless of migration status, and to recognise their skills and education”.

A key gain for women in education is the call on governments to eliminate occupational segregation by addressing “structural barriers, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, promoting women’s equal access to and participation in labour markets and in education and training, supporting women so as to diversify their educational and occupational choices in emerging fields and growing economic sectors, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics and information and communications technology, recognising the value of sectors that have large numbers of women workers”.

* Strengthening public services for women and girls

A key paragraph in the document calls for investment in public education systems and infrastructure, free and compulsory primary and secondary education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. It also stipulates that governments should “address negative social norms and gender stereotypes in education systems, including in curricula and teaching methodologies, that devalue girls’ education and prevent women and girls from having access to, completing and continuing their education”.

Another important explicit reference is made to pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers and single mothers, with a call for governments to adopt policies that would facilitate their successful return to, and completion of, education.

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(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Key gains on social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure

The women unionists’ delegation also successfully lobbied for the inclusion of progressive languageconcerning social protection systems and access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. These included: references to the importance of International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards and the decent work agenda; measures to strengthen protections for informal economy workers and promote their formalisation; ensuring that unpaid care work is valued in contributory schemes; guaranteeing access to paid maternity, paternity and parental leave; promoting shared responsibility of care between parents; and acknowledgement that universal access to social protection plays a central role in reducing inequality, as well as emphasis on the need to make progress towards universal health care.

Governments, for the first time, recognised the right to social security—including universal access to social protection—and that women’s access to social protection is often restricted when tied to formal employment. The Agreed Conclusions acknowledge that budget cuts and austerity measures undermine women’s access to social protection, public services, and sustainable infrastructure, particularly in the areas of health and education. They also recognise the link between gender-responsive social protection and the prevention of gender-based violence. And, crucially, committed to providing public sector workers with living wages.

An ongoing struggle

The women workers’ delegation, including the EI delegation, will, however, still have to continue efforts for specific reference to, and inclusion of, LGBTIQ+ women and girls in the UNCSW outcome document in 2020.

Some demands were also not met, such as references to survivors’ benefits, stronger language around the ratification of ILO Conventions,  and an emphasis on the need for contributory and non-contributory social protection systems

Despite significant gains, challenges remain to realise the full human rights of women, in all their diversity, as the press release from the women’s rights caucus at UNCSW  stressed. Of significant concern was the removal of service provisions for survivors of violence—a development that is out of step with the growing awareness and action to reduce and eliminate the prevalence and consequences of gender-based violence against women. Member States also failed to commit to integrating sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression into the design of social protection, public services, and infrastructure systems. The Agreed Conclusions also demonstrated the unwillingness of governments to regulate and hold the private sector accountable for its responsibility to uphold women’s human rights.

At this crucial moment, UNCSW must continue to involve the vital voices of civil society in their deliberations and strengthen the potential of these negotiations to continue the practice of consensus-based advancement of women’s human rights.

A critical occurrence at the end of the first week of UNCSW63 was the thousands, if not millions, of young people across the world who took to the street to march and rally for climate justice, including outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The labour delegation at UNCSW63 marched in solidarity with the students.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for suggesting this article.)

The women who helped bring down Sudan’s president

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Vox.com

Sudan’s military has overthrown the country’s longtime president, Omar al-Bashir. It’s a huge win for the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese protesters who have taken to the streets for months calling for his ouster — and for the brave women who have been a driving force in the protest movement.


Image by Lana Haroun
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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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Sudan’s Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf announced Thursday  that al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region, had been taken into military custody. While it’s unclear if the military plans to turn al-Bashir over to the ICC for prosecution, it’s pretty clear that his brutal 30-year reign has come to a definitive end.

Much of the credit for al-Bashir’s removal goes to the women who have played a prominent role  in the uprising that has swept the country and who have become the faces of the largely peaceful movement to topple the regime.

Earlier this week, an iconic photo of a woman named Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old engineering and architecture student, addressing protesters from atop a car went viral.

The image, captured by local photographer Lana Haroun, shows Salah standing on a white car surrounded by a sea of people outside the presidential compound and army headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Wrapped in layers of shimmery white fabric styled as a “toub” — a traditional Sudanese style of dress for women — and gold moon earrings, Salah towers over the crowd of protesters, her finger raised defiantly in the air.

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from United Nations News

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 [April 11], describing them as “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide.


UN Secretary-General briefs the Security Council on women in peacekeeping operations, 11 April 2019. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

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.

“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.

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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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”.

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”.

Photos: International Women’s Day marked by strikes, protests and celebrations

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An photo essay from the Public Broadcasting System with additional photos as indicated

Marches and protests are being held Friday [March 8] across the globe to mark International Women’s Day under the slogan #BalanceforBetter, with calls for a more gender-balanced world. The day, sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, celebrates women’s achievements and aims to further their rights.

INDIA


Girls shout slogans during a protest demanding equal rights for women on the occasion of International Women’s Day in New Delhi, India. Photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters

In India, hundreds of women marched on the streets of New Delhi demanding an end to domestic violence, sexual attacks and discrimination in jobs.

Boys are prized more than girls in India. Thousands of Indian women are killed — often doused in gasoline and burned to death — every year because the groom or his family feel the dowry she brought to the wedding was inadequate.

Political parties in India have for years been promising 33 percent of seats for women in the country’s Parliament, but they have yet to enact legislation to that effect.

SPAIN


A woman wears a mask that reads “Feminist Strike” as she takes part in a bike protest during a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Sergio Perez/Reuters

Thousands of women walked off the job in Spain, joining millions more around the world demanding equality amid a persistent salary gap, violence and widespread inequality.

Women’s rights have become one of the hot topics in the run-up to a general election in Spain next month. Many female employees didn’t show up to work Friday. Others halted domestic work or left to men the care of children and ill or elderly people.

PORTUGAL


Sandra Delgadillo, a domestic worker from Bolivia, hangs her uniform in a balcony as she joins a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Sergio Perez/Reuters

In neighboring Portugal, the Cabinet observed a minute of silence Thursday as part of a day of national mourning it decreed for victims of domestic violence. Portuguese police say 12 women have died this year in domestic violence incidents — the highest number over the same period in 10 years.

FRANCE


Photo of Aissa Dumara Ngatansou from Agence Cameroun Press

In France, the first Simone Veil prize went Friday to a Cameroonian activist who has worked against forced marriages and other violence against girls and women.

Aissa Doumara Ngatansou was married against her will at age 15 but insisted upon continuing her studies as a young wife. She has since turned her attention to victims of Boko Haram extremists.

The French award is named for the trailblazing French politician and Holocaust survivor Veil, who spearheaded the fight to legalize abortion.

GERMANY


Female soldiers of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) distribute flowers to women during the International Women’s Day near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

RUSSIA


Photo from youtube

Meanwhile in Russia, International Women’s Day is a public holiday but it mostly lauds gender roles that are now outdated. As is his custom every year, President Vladimir Putin gave a speech thanking women for their patience, good grace and support.

“You manage to do everything: both at work and at home and at the same time you remain beautiful, charismatic, charming, the center of gravity for the whole family, uniting it with your love,” Putin said.

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article or here for the version in French.)

Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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INDONESIA


photo from Jakarta Post

In Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, several hundred men and women carried colorful placards calling for an end to discriminative practices such as the termination of employment for pregnancy and exploitative work contracts.

“Our action today is to urge (the government) for our right to a society that’s democratic, prosperous, equal and free from violence,” said Dian Trisnanti, a labor activist. Girls and women in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, have equal access to education but face higher unemployment, lower wages and poorer working conditions than men.

IRAQ


On the International Women’s Day in Shikhan, north of Iraq, Yazidi women attend a ceremony at Lilash Temple to commemorate the death of women who were killed by Islamic State militants. Photo by Ari Jalal/Reuters

SOUTH AND NORTH KOREA

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions attend during a rally to mark the International Women’s Day in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 8, 2019. Photo from . Photo from National Post

Both Koreas marked the day. In the South, women wearing black cloaks and pointed hats marched against what they describe as a “witch hunt” of feminists in a deeply conservative society.

College student Noh Seo-young said that South Korea struggles to accept that women are “also humans” and that women have to fight until they can “walk around safely.”

In the North, where Women’s Day is one of the few national holidays that is not explicitly political in nature, people dressed up for family photo shoots or bought roses for their mothers or wives at the many small, bright orange street stalls in central Pyongyang that sell flowers. The stalls normally do most of their business selling flowers to be placed at the feet of statues to the country’s leaders.

PHILIPPINES

In the Philippines, hundreds of women in purple shirts used a noisy march and protest in Manila to call for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte, whom they rebuked for the often sexist jokes he cracks and authoritarian moves they say are threatening one of Asia’s liveliest democracies.

They toppled an ugly head effigy of Duterte from atop paper blocks with slogans depicting him as an American lapdog.

UNITED STATES

On the eve of International Women’s Day, U.S. first lady Melania Trump saluted women from 10 countries for their courage.

The recipients of the International Women of Courage Award included human rights activists, police officers and an investigative journalist. They came from Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Ireland, Jordan, Montenegro, Myanmar, Peru, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

“Courage is what divides those who only talk about change from those who actually act to change,” Mrs. Trump said at a ceremony Thursday that was also attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo separately recognized women in Iran for protesting the requirement that they wear a head covering known as a hijab in public and a Ukrainian activist who died in 2018 after she was attacked with sulfuric acid.

EL SALVADOR


Activists take part in a demonstration during a nationwide feminist strike on International Women’s Day in San Salvador, El Salvador. Photo by Jose Cabezas/Reuters

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who named one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets last year, told a gathering that “women are the pillars of the nation and the least recognized for their sacrifices.”

NIGERIA

In Nigeria, the U.S. Embassy hosted talks on sexual harassment that included a founder of the recent #ArewaMeToo campaign among women in the country’s conservative, largely Muslim north.

NIGER

And in Niger, first lady Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou oversaw the awards in the Miss Intellect Niger contest.

KENYA

Women protested against gender-based violence in Kenya’s capital.
“We haven’t gotten to a stage where women are comfortable to come out and say, ‘I was sexually abused,’” said protester Esther Passaris. “So what we need to do is slowly, slowly grow.”

AP reporters across the globe contributed to this report. Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal.

Dominican Republic: Youth and the United Nations promote a culture of peace

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article by Yimel Rivera in El Periodico (translation by CPNN)

The Ministry of Youth and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) held today [6 March] the conversation “Let’s talk about everything”, in commemoration of International Women’s Day, with the theme “Promoting a culture of adolescents and young women without violence “.


The activity, held in the Hall of Fame of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center, was attended by about 800 young people and teenagers from public and private schools, as well as young people from civil society who spoke of the campaigns “Noviazgo Sano” and “Reset”.

The discussion is based on the results of the “Amore ‘Without Violence” online test, according to which 52% of young men and 35% of young women frequently consider that “Women should behave and give up some things so as not to provoke the jealousy of their partner”, which highlights the gender inequality that occurs in the relationships of adolescents and young people.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish)

Questions related to this article:

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

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In addition, 53% of men and 40% of women think that “love is an unconditional feeling that forgives everything”, this being one of the main reasons why the manifestations of violence are normalized and justified.

Through the page amoresinviolencia.org, more than 2,500 people were able to evaluate their courtships, showing that 51% are in a relationship with mild or severe practices and attitudes of violence, either their own or their partners. The test has two modalities, one to diagnose if violence is exercised and another if it is received.

The self-assessment showed that out of every 100 men who completed the test, five are reproducers of the highest level of violence, characterized by high levels of control over the couple, as well as serious manifestations such as breaking objects, shouting, insulting, physically attacking or forcing sexual relations In the case of women, only one in 100 presents these manifestations.

The “Amore ‘Without Violence” campaign will continue to offer tools to help eradicate gender-based violence in dating relationships in the Dominican Republic, promoting respectful cultural guidelines and gender equality, through face-to-face and digital interventions in @tunotapaeso and amoresinviolencia.org, where the test is still available to detect signs of violence.

The initiative also disseminates two instruments: a “violentometer”, where people can identify if they are in one of the degrees of violence, and an “amorómetro”, where levels of a healthy relationship are presented.

The first is a rule that measures the degrees of aggressiveness and its manifestations in three levels, assigning shades of yellow to red, according to the danger to the victims. While the second identifies good practices on a scale that goes from blue to green.

Over 250 prominent women leaders call on President Trump and Chairman Kim to end the Korean War

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

A press release from the Nobel Women’s Initiative

A Letter Jointly Addressed to
Donald Trump, President of the United States of America
and Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea     

February 20, 2019

Dear Mr. President and Mr. Chairman:

We are women leaders representing a range of fields from 43 countries. We welcome the imminent occasion of the 2019 DPRK-USA Vietnam Summit held in Hanoi from February 27-28. We are hopeful about its potential to achieve a major breakthrough toward ending 70 years of hostile relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea). Your mutual commitment to ushering in a new era of peace in Korea will not only benefit 80 million people living on the Peninsula but will also help transform unresolved historical tensions throughout the region.

We are heartened by US Special Representative Stephen Biegun’s remarks about the goals of the Vietnam summit: “[To] build trust between our two countries and advance further progress in parallel on the Singapore summit objectives of transforming relations, establishing a permanent peace regime on the peninsula, and complete denuclearization.”

We urge you to take three steps in Vietnam toward transforming US-DPRK relations:

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Questions for this article:

Can Korea be reunified in peace?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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1)     Declare an end to the Korean War and a new era of peace.

2)     Establish an inclusive peace process toward the signing of a peace agreement with civil society participation, especially women’s organizations; and

3)     Normalize relations by a) establishing reciprocal liaison offices; b) lifting sanctions that harm vulnerable individuals; and c) facilitating people-to-people engagement, including reunions between Korean-Americans with their families in North Korea.

The world is looking to you to fulfill the promise made by the two Korean leaders to transform the Korean Peninsula “into a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”

We are writing now to stress that, in order to truly achieve a lasting peace that would endure as a legacy for Korea and the world, an inclusive peace process with women at the table is essential. As decades of studies have shown, women’s participation significantly increases the probability that a peace agreement will be signed and will last far longer than otherwise. Indeed, peace agreements are 36 percent more likely to succeed when civil society representatives, including women’s groups, meaningfully participate. Recognizing this, President Trump signed into law the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, signaling U.S. commitment to increase women’s participation in peace processes to prevent, end and rebuild after conflict, which passed with bi-partisan Congressional support. Now is the time to implement it.

Our representatives from the global campaign Korea Peace Now! Women Mobilizing to End the War will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, to be present during the summit. Drawing upon their extensive experience in international peace-building, we respectfully request your assistance in securing a meeting for them with US-DPRK negotiators to discuss an inclusive peace process that includes women at all levels. Their insight and expertise will prove to be invaluable to this delicate and challenging peace process.

Our representatives can be reached at the following:
Christine Ahn, Executive Director, Women Cross DMZ, christine@womencrossdmz.org
Liz Bernstein, Executive Director, Nobel Women’s Initiative, lbernstein@secure.nobelwomensinitiative.org

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely on behalf of the global women’s campaign,

Signed by 250 women leaders from around the world, including:

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize (1997), USA
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize (1976), Ireland
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize (2003), Iran
Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize (2011), Yemen
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize (2011), Liberia

Jordanian National Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security 2018 – 2021

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from UN Women – Jordan

The (2018-2021) Jordanian National Action Plan (JONAP) for advancing the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325), and its subsequent resolutions, was developed to respond to the country’s latest security and military challenges. It is in line with Jordan’s commitments to promote and respect human rights, justice, equality and participation—all of which are embodied in various national frameworks, such as The National Strategy for Jordanian Women (2013-2017) and The Comprehensive National Plan for Human Rights (2016-2025).

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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The JONAP for advancing the implementation of UNSCR 1325 aims to integrate a gender-based approach towards women’s participation in prevention and protection processes during conflicts, as well as in peace building, and maintaining stability and sustainable security.

Parallel to these efforts, the JONAP specifically responded to the 2015 UN Security Council resolution 2242, which highlights the importance of cooperation with civil society and the role of women as key partners in preventing and combating violent extremism. It also reiterates the importance of engaging men and boys as partners in promoting women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts.

The process of drafting the JONAP on resolution 1325 began as Jordan and other countries were endorsing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda’s overall objectives—and Goal 5 and its targets in particular—represent an opportunity to transform development and planning approaches and mechanisms for implementation, to ensure equality of opportunity and the empowerment of women. Furthermore, they provide a means to ensure the inclusion and participation of all segments of society, for the fair and efficient implementation of comprehensive and sustainable development. 

Bonita, a young change-maker inspires girls and women in Nepal through education

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from UNESCO

Bonita Sharma is a young change-maker in Nepal. She participated in an intensive learning platform for young women supported by the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, the Female Champions Fellowship. As a Female Champion, she has empowered girls and women in Nepal through her project on nutrition education. Girls’ education is a must for Bonita and she is working with her community to ensure all girls in her country receive a proper chance at learning.


Video of Bonita in Nepal

In Nepal, not all girls have the chance to go to school. How do you think education transform lives? How has it transformed your life?

I believe that education influences the entire life cycle of a girl.

A girl child who has access to a quality education will grow up to become a confident adolescent, aware of herself and her surroundings. When she becomes an adult, she will make informed and independent decisions regarding her health, her career and her family life (e.g. marriage and reproduction). As an educated mother, she will pave the way for the next generation of girls to live a brighter future.

I feel fortunate that I had the chance to receive a proper education without any discrimination. It enabled me to transform into a young change-maker in my community. Education has empowered me to empower others.

Through the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, you are empowering girls and women in Nepal with an education focused on nutrition and health. What has been the impact of your project on young people and their communities?

My team and I have already reached hundreds of girls and boys, women and men, in Nepal through my Action for Nutrition project. Our programs have not just improved their knowledge on health and nutrition, but we were also able to unlock their creativity, confidence and leadership skills.

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article or here for a French version)

Question for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

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Manamaya Gurung, a student from Shree Indreshwori School in the Sindhupalchok district did not feel comfortable talking about menstruation. After participating in our educational program, she was able to explain menstrual hygiene to visitors with confidence during our Swasthya Mela (Health Exhibition) event.

It is really gratifying to see young girls like Manamaya become emissaries in their own community; monitoring the health, nutrition and hygiene practices of their family, peer groups and community members. Teachers, mothers, fathers and female community health volunteers have also become more responsible towards addressing the problem of malnutrition, junk food consumption and poor hygiene after participating in our programmes.

We often speak of the importance of female role models for girls and their education. As a Female Champion, who inspired you to become who you are?

My mother had just completed her high school education when she married my father. Society, at the time, expected women to give up their studies to care for their family. My mother did not give up on her dream of getting an advanced degree. She accomplished her goal despite all the criticism, barriers and hardships.

I witnessed the persistence of my mother and the supportive role of my father from a very young age. Growing up in this environment shaped me to become the Female Champion I am today. I learned determination and the value of education from my mother. I strongly believe we need such role models in our homes, schools and communities to inspire us from a young age.

What are your future plans as a Female Champion?

In 2017, I founded Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI) with a vision to empower women and girls through youth-led innovation, education and social entrepreneurship. We have developed two innovative bracelets, Nutribeads and Redcycle, which are essential tools for nutrition and menstruation education.

Through SOCHAI, I am taking small steps to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure a quality education for all because there is still much to be done.

In the coming days, I plan to expand our educational programmes all over Nepal through multi-sectoral support and collaboration ranging from policy to grass-root level. By integrating health, nutrition, gender, entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and infrastructure in education, I aspire to empower millions of girls and women in the future.

What advice would you give to girls and women worldwide?

Education is the key to overcome the barriers and reach our full potential in life. It is the key to positive change all of us wish to see in the world. As Malala said, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. So, let us pick up our books and our pens.

India Forms World’s Largest Women’s Wall for Gender Equality

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from Telesur

Thousands of women in India’s coastal state of Kerala joined together, forming a 386-mile wall, to send a message in support of gender equality.

Official sources told the BBC that approximately five million women from different parts of Kerala took to highways to form a human chain in protest of gender disparity.

The “women’s wall” stretched from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram to the northern district of Kasaragod.


Video from @Cyt.Vishwa

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(Click here for a Spanish version of this article or here for an article on this subject in French.)

Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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The demonstration is part of a series of protests against a ban  which prevents women of “menstruating age” (ages 10 to 50) to enter the temple. India’s Supreme Court had overturned the ban back in September, however, attacks on female visitors by conservative groups persist, citing a violation of the holy site.

Last month, two women tried to enter the temple but were prevented from doing so by protesters defending the ban. Right-wing Hindu protesters base their actions on an interpretation of a temple deity, Lord Ayyappa whom they allege is “celibate.”

The “women’s wall” was initially proposed by Kerala’s Left Front Government and was originally scheduled to take place in December 2018.
In November 2018, dozens of protesters at the Sabarimala Temple were arrested for demanding the removal of a ban on overnight stays, which was implemented by the government as a response to right-wing demonstrations against women devotees.

However, since the court order gained prominence, a major battleground has manifested between devotees and gender activists, sparking protests across the southern state. More than 2,000 people were arrested following clashes near the temple in October.

The Supreme Court will hear challenges  to the decision to overturn the ban, starting January 22.

(Editor’s note: Telesur is the only news source we could find for this story in English that allows for reproduction, requiring only that the source be given. There are many other articles in news sites that forbid reproduction. Interestingly this article was not listed in a Google search.)

Ocasio-Cortez Delivers Powerful Call for Justice as Third Women’s March Kicks Off in New York

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Common Dreams (reprinted according to a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

“Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy it is to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid. Justice is about if we can stay with our children after we have them for a just amount of time.”


Demonstrators at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 2019.  (Photo: Susan Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

So declared Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday, as the third annual Women’s March brought thousands of women to the streets of cities across the globe, though tensions within the movement have created rifts.

[click here for video of her speech]

The freshman lawmaker was among the speakers at a march in New York City.

Social media users captured images from the many affiliated marches that took place:


@NYCLU: America is for all of us


@IlhanMN: Representative Ilhan Omar speaking at Minnesota march


Mustafa Santiago Ali @EJinAction

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Questions for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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Truthdig @Truthdig Women make waves by the thousands at Washington D.C.


Women’s March – IL @womensmarchIL Watch the full video of the Young Women’s March Rally in Chicago! Fighting through a snowstorm to rise up and raise their voices


@ChinaKatSun #LosAngeles Country


TicToc by Bloomberg @tictoc Women’s March: From Lodon to Berlin to Rome from New York to Washington, D.C


Jennifer L. Blanck @JLBlanck #WomensMarch #Denver #Colorado