Tag Archives: United Nations

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.

(continued in right column)

(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?

(continued from left column)

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.)

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.

(Article continued in right column)

Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

(Article continued from the left column.)

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”.

UN experts warn Assange arrest exposes him to risk of serious human rights violations

. FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from the United Nations News

Independent UN rights experts on Thursday [April 11] said the arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange by police in the United Kingdom, after the Ecuadorian Government decided to stop granting him asylum in their London embassy, exposed him to “the risk of serious human rights violations”, if extradited to the United States.


Press Briefing by Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Agnes Callamard, tweeted that in “expelling Assange from the Embassy” and allowing his arrest, it had taken Mr. Assange “one step closer to extradition”. She added that the UK had now arbitrarily-detained the controversial anti-secrecy journalist and campaigner, “possibly endangering his life”.

Mr. Assange took refuge inside the embassy in 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden by the UK authorities where he faced charges, since dropped, of sexual assault. But he also faces US federal conspiracy charges, relating to the leak of a vast number of Government documents to his Wikileaks website, by the former US intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. The US argues that publication by the investigative site, endangered the lives of its citizens working overseas.

According to reports, the UK will now assess whether to extradite the Australian national to the US, where he faces up to five years in prison. The UK has reportedly given assurances in writing to the Ecuadorian Government that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to a country where he could face torture, or the death penalty.

After appearing in a central London courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Assange was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court in 2012, and now faces up to 12 months in prison.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

The UN independent expert on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, issued a statement following the arrest, saying that “this will not stop my efforts to assess Mr. Assange’s claims that his privacy has been violated. All it means is that, instead of visiting Mr Assange and speaking to him at the Embassy…I intend to visit him and speak to him wherever he may be detained.”

In a statement last Friday, Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said he was alarmed by reports that an arrest was imminent, and that if extradited, Mr. Assange could be exposed to “a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

UK urged to ‘abide by international obligations’

Last December, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urged the UK to “abide by its international obligations” and allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the embassy.
“States that are based upon, and promote the rule of law, do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” said a statement released by the Working Group.

In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015  that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador.”

“Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts added.

New UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration offers unparalleled opportunity for job creation, food security and addressing climate change

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, declared today [March 1] by the UN General Assembly, aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.


Preparing trees for planting at a nursery in Senegal.

The degradation of land and marine ecosystems undermines the well-being of 3.2 billion people and costs about 10 per cent of the annual global gross product in loss of species and ecosystems services. Key ecosystems that deliver numerous services essential to food and agriculture, including supply of freshwater, protection against hazards and provision of habitat for species such as fish and pollinators, are declining rapidly.

“We are pleased that our vision for a dedicated Decade has become reality,” said Lina Pohl, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador, a regional restoration leader. “We need to promote an aggressive restoration program that builds resilience, reduces vulnerability and increases the ability of systems to adapt to daily threats and extreme events.”

Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

“The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will help countries race against the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Ecosystems are being degraded at an unprecedented rate. Our global food systems and the livelihoods of many millions of people depend on all of us working together to restore healthy and sustainable ecosystems for today and the future.”

(article continued in right column)

Question for this article:

 

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

(Article continued from the left column)

“UN Environment and FAO are honored to lead the implementation of the Decade with our partners,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment. We are excited that momentum for restoring our natural environment has been gaining pace because nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.”

The Decade, a global call to action, will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration from successful pilot initiatives to areas of millions of hectares. Research shows that more than two billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes offer potential for restoration.

The Decade will accelerate existing global restoration goals, for example the Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded ecosystems by 2030 – an area almost the size of India. Currently, 57 countries, subnational governments and private organizations have committed to bring over 170 million hectares under restoration. This endeavour builds on regional efforts such as the Initiative 20×20 in Latin America that aims to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020, and the AFR100 African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative that aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land under restoration by 2030.

Ecosystem restoration is defined as a process of reversing the degradation of ecosystems, such as landscapes, lakes and oceans to regain their ecological functionality; in other words, to improve the productivity and capacity of ecosystems to meet the needs of society. This can be done by allowing the natural regeneration of overexploited ecosystems, for example, or by planting trees and other plants.

Ecosystem restoration is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, mainly those on climate change, poverty eradication, food security, water and biodiversity conservation. It is also a pillar of international environmental conventions, such as the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and the Rio Conventions on biodiversity, desertification and climate change.

Currently, about 20 per cent of the planet’s vegetated surface shows declining trends in productivity with fertility losses linked to erosion, depletion and pollution in all parts of the world. By 2050 degradation and climate change could reduce crop yields by 10 per cent globally and by up to 50 per cent in certain regions.     

UN event: Women’s Equality and Empowerment Advances the Culture of Peace

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

Concept note from calendar of side events of the Commission on the Status of Women published by UN Women

Meeting date: March 21st, 2019 | Time: 10.00 AM to 11.15 AM
Venue: Conference Room-A, UNHQs

The United Nations came into being at the end of the devastating World War II as a forum for resolving conflicts peacefully between nations and for promoting sustainable peace and development in all parts of the world. Over the years, the UN has discussed many ways and means to reach its broader objectives of peace, human rights and sustainable development. For that, its Member States have agreed on some consensus frameworks and instruments to promote human rights and sustainable peace. One such remarkable instrument is UN General Assembly’s decision on the concept of “Culture of Peace” taken in 1999. Year 2019 will observe the 20th anniversary of that landmark decision.


Photo of event from Bangladesh News USA

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. These famous words were codified in UNESCO’s constitution and defined the mandate that peace not only is the absence of armed conflict or war. After nine-months long intense negotiations among all UN Member States, on 13 September 1999, the General Assembly adopted, by consensus and without reservation, the seminal resolution 53/243 on the ‘Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace’ [that had been drafted and submitted by UNESCO – editor’s note].

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace tried to provide a pathway following which international community could develop a mindset and modes of behaviour that will not allow conflict, violence and hatred to undermine the overarching goals of sustainable peace. Developing a culture of peace requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged among various stakeholders, to find out root causes of conflicts and through mediation and moderation as well as in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, solve those conflicts to advance peace. An essential foundation of the culture of peace is inclusivity, equality and solidarity of all peoples, races, religions, class, and importantly, gender. Gender inequality, conflict and fragility are key challenges to sustainable peace. Peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men. Women’s equality and empowerment is, therefore, critical to advancing the culture of peace.

This very idea resonates both in General Assembly and the Security Council. In 2000, the important role of women in peace and security was emphasized in the Council’s Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) which asked for full and equal involvement of women at all levels for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Today, despite the consensus agreement by the international community, women still face many challenges and inequalities that prevent their representation and participation in all stages of life.

Women bring a new breadth, quality and balance of vision to our common efforts to move away from the cult of war and towards the culture of peace. Increasing gender equality has positive effects on food security, extremism, health, education and numerous other key global concerns. Women’s equality makes our planet safe and secure. Empowering women and girls and strengthening gender equality prepare the foundation of inclusive societies, sustainable peace and development. Greater involvement of women in decision making be it in conflict or peace time will bring different perspectives and priorities than men thereby changing the nature of the dialogue, an essential element in advancing the culture of peace.

Objectives

– Discuss experiences and lessons learned on empowering women in all stages of socio-economic and political lives;

– Identify challenges that prevent women from engaging and participating in processes hindering their social inclusion;

– Discuss the role and contribution of women in promoting the culture of peace;

Voices of young climate action activists ‘give me hope’ says UN chief

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from UN News

In the wake of Friday’s demonstrations by schoolchildren across the world against climate change inaction, the UN Secretary-General has said he understands their fears, but is hopeful for the future.


(click on image to enlarge)

In a direct message to the youth activists who took to the streets, UN chief António Guterres said that he understood the anxiety and “fear for the future” behind their actions but added that “humankind is capable of enormous achievements. Your voices give me hope.”

Writing in an opinion piece for The Guardian, Mr. Guterres said that the more he witnessed the “commitment and activism” of young people who were fed up with the pace of the international response to global warming, “the more confident I am that we will win. Together, with your help and thanks to your efforts, we can and must beat this threat and create a cleaner, safer, greener world for everyone,” he added.

(continued in right column)

Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

(continued from left column)

“These schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders”, he said, adding that “we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing; we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.”

The Secretary-General acknowledged that his older generation “has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change.  This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”

Global emissions are reaching record levels, and continuing to rise, he said, adding that concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has been in 3 million years.

“The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990,” he added, noting also rising sea levels, the death of coral reefs, and a growing threat to human health worldwide, as made clear in the UN’s Global Environmental Outlook, published this week.

The historic 2015 Paris Agreement  signed by more than 190 countries to keep global emissions well below 2°C, “itself is meaningless without ambitious action,” said the UN chief.

“That is why I am bringing world leaders together at a Climate Action Summit  later this year. I am calling on all leaders to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero by 2050.”

The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and limit global warming to 1.5°” said Mr. Guterres. “But if we continue along our current path, the consequences are impossible to predict.”
 

“Momentum is building:, he added, “people are listening and there is a new determination to unleash the promise of the Paris Agreement. The Climate Summit must be the starting point to build the future we need.”

United Nations: Young People Discuss Change at CSW62 Youth Dialogue

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from UN News

Building on the successes and lessons learnt from the Youth Forums of CSW60 and CSW61, the Youth Dialogue at CSW62 held on 17 March 2018 provided a space for cross-regional networking among young people engaged in various areas of gender and social justice. Following the theme of the Commission of the Status of Women, the Youth Dialogue at CSW62 provided a stage for young women, girls, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming youth from rural areas to raise their voices, address the challenges and opportunities in achieving gende equality and empowering their peers.

The opening of the Youth Dialogue was attended by Executive Director of UN Women Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and moderated by the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake.

(Article continued in right column)

Question for this article

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

The Youth Envoy framed the conversation by emphasizing that “We are the largest generation of young people that the world has ever seen. We are 1.8 billion strong and if we are to see transformational change, then it is our generation, that can make that change happen.” By sharing their personal stories, the panel of youth activist gave concrete examples of creative ways to open doors and thereby highlighted how young people mobilize to make change in their communities every day.
More than 300 young people participated in the Youth Dialogue, which provided a space to exchange ideas on how young woman and girls from rural areas can be increasingly involved in addressing issues that directly affect them  such as climate change, health, land rights and environment, education, gender-based violence, child marriage, economic justice, and media and technology. With the principle of leaving no one behind as an overarching theme for the conversation, the Youth Dialogue also included young people from various marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, indigenous communities and communities in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Based on a series of online youth consultations and break-out sessions during the Dialogue, a set of recommendations to policy makers were developed on how to better include the voices of young women and girls from rural areas in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Among these were specific recommendations to provide accessible education to enhance skills development for young girls in rural areas; strengthen laws to prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence; implement progressive legislation that addresses the gender pay gap; improving connectivity in rural areas to bridge the existing digital gap; and investing in quality and inclusive youth-friendly healthcare, including mental health and sexual and reproductive health and rights services in rural areas.

United Nations: ‘Global clarion call’ for youth to shape efforts to forge peace in the most dangerous combat zones

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from UN News

The First International Symposium on Youth Participation  in Peace Processes concluded on Wednesday in Helsinki, Finland, with a global policy paper, according to reports, that aims to integrate their efforts, interventions and contributions towards sustaining the search for peaceful solutions to conflict.


Click on image to enlarge

In her keynote address, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa highlighted Youth, Peace and Security as one of her seven priorities.

She called young people “agents of change” and outlined examples in which they have helped foster inter-communal dialogue, such as in Kenya, and consolidate peace, such as in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries.

Ms. Espinosa also addressed the importance of gender equality, decent work and the support for young migrants and refugees. 

The General Assembly President concluded by underscoring that the world must improve youth participation in national and international decision-making and encouraged Member States to embrace young people in their delegations and to work closely with the Office of the Secretary-General’s  Youth Envoy,  Jayathma Wickramanayake.

(Article continued in right column)

Question for this article

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

With over half of the world’s population under-30 and an estimated 600 million youth living in fragile and conflict-affected States, it is apparent that young people must engage in conflict prevention and mediation processes – a domain where they are often marginalized. 

“Young people account for a considerable share of people living in the developing world and in conflict areas but they are often left outside of the scope of all decision-making in society, including peace processes”, said Timo Soini, Foreign Minister for Finland, one of the governments co-hosting the event.

For her part, the Youth Envoy called the Symposium “the global clarion call for a collective response in bringing voice and credibility to young people on the frontlines actively leading efforts to shape peace processes”.

Considering their sheer numbers and vital force, young people are key participants in development, democracy, peace-sustaining initiatives and peacebuilding interventions. As such, they must be empowered as decision makers to actively and meaningfully contribute to peace processes that affect their lives, according to the UN Envoy’s office.

“Young people are bridges”, said youth participant Leonardo Parraga. “They play a key role in connecting local actors like civil society organizations, with decision-making actors that have a seat inside the room”.

At the two-day Symposium ending on Wednesday, inter-generational participants exchanged views and best practices on involving young people in both formal and informal peace processes. Youth attendees, moderated, facilitated and acted as rapporteurs throughout all plenary discussions and working groups.

Noting “progress in advancing the Youth, Peace and Security agenda” Ms. Wickramanayake asserted:  “We cannot stop now”.

The event was co-hosted by the Governments of Finland, Qatar, and Colombia, and co-organized by the office of the UN’s Youth Envoy and Search For Common Ground in partnership with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, UN Population Fund, UN Development Programme and the United Network of Young Peacebuilders.

Work-related gender gaps persist but solutions are clear – new ILO report

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from the International Labor Organization

A future of work  in which women will no longer lag behind men is within reach, but it will take a quantum leap, not just hesitant incremental steps, to get there, according to a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report published for International Women’s Day  on 8 March. 


Photo © Community Eye Health

“We need to make it happen, and the report, A Quantum leap for gender equality: For a better future of work for all , provides a way forward,” said Manuela Tomei, Director, ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department. 

The report is the culmination of five years of work under the ILO’s Women at Work Centenary Initiative 

It finds that in the last 27 years the difference in the employment rates for men and women has shrunk by less than two percentage points. In 2018, women are still 26 percentage points less likely to be in employment than men. This contrasts with the findings of an ILO-Gallup 2017 global report  on women’s and men’s preferences about women’s participation in paid work, which found that 70 per cent of women prefer to have a job rather than staying at home and that men agree. 

In addition, between 2005 and 2015, the ‘motherhood employment penalty’, the difference in the proportion of adult women with children under six years in employment, compared to women without young children, increased significantly, by 38 per cent.

Moreover, women are still underrepresented at the top, a situation that has changed very little in the last 30 years. Fewer than one third of managers are women, although they are likely to be better educated than their male counterparts. The report shows generally that education is not the main reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women, but rather that women do not receive the same dividends for education as men. 

There is also a ‘motherhood leadership penalty’: only 25 per cent of managers with children under six years of age are women. Women’s share rises to 31 per cent for managers without young children. 

The gender wage gap remains at an average of 20 per cent globally. Mothers experience a ‘motherhood wage penalty’ that compounds across their working life, while fathers enjoy a wage premium. 

(Article continued in right column)

(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?

(Article continued from left column)

“A number of factors are blocking equality in employment, and the one playing the largest role is caregiving,” said Tomei. “In the last 20 years, the amount of time women spent on unpaid care and domestic work has hardly fallen, and men’s has increased by just eight minutes a day. At this pace of change it will take more than 200 years to achieve equality in time spent in unpaid care work.” 

The report sets out laws and practices that are changing this dynamic, for a more equal sharing of care within the family, and between the family and the State. “When men share unpaid care work more equally, more women are found in managerial positions,” added Tomei, highlighting the role of men in creating a more gender-equal work of work. 

The report also includes findings from ‘real time’ data, gathered by the professional networking website LinkedIn from five countries, covering 22 per cent of the global employed population in three different regions. This joint ILO-LinkedIn collaboration found that women with digital skills – currently a requirement for the most-in-demand and highest paying jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths-related (STEM) – are only between a third and a quarter of LinkedIn members with such skills. However, it also revealed that the women who reach director-level positions get there faster, more than a year earlier than their male counterparts. 

The Quantum Leap report shows that achieving gender equality will mean policy changes and actions in a range of mutually reinforcing areas, and it points to measures that can lead towards a transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality. The path of rights is the foundation for a more equal world of work, including the right to equal opportunities, the right to be free from discrimination, violence and harassment, and to equal pay for work of equal value. 

A future of work where everyone can care more, with time to care and inclusive care policies and structures is also strongly advocated in the report. A more caring future of work will also mean significant employment creation. The need for universal social protection and a sound macroeconomic framework is also addressed. With the wide-ranging global transformations underway – technological, demographic and climate change – the report calls for greater efforts to engage and support women through work transitions. Increasing women’s voice and representation will also be essential to ensure all the other paths are truly effective.

“We will not get the future of work with social justice we need unless we accelerate action to improve progress on gender equality at work. We already know what needs to be done,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “We need to implement a transformative agenda that includes enforcement of laws and regulations – perhaps we may even need to revisit those laws and regulations – backed by investment in services that level the playing field for women, such as care and social protection, and a more flexible approach to both working hours and working careers. And there is the persistent attitudinal challenge of attitudes to women joining the workforce and their place in it.”

“We know much more now about gender gaps and what drives them, and what needs to be done to make meaningful progress on gender equality in the world of work – the path is clear,” said Shauna Olney, Chief Gender, Equality and Diversity & ILOAIDS Branch. “With commitment and courageous choices, there can be a quantum leap, so that the future of work does not reinforce the inequalities of the past. And this will benefit everyon

UN agriculture agency chief calls on world’s mayors to make ‘global commitments local realities’

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from UN News

It is important to make “global commitments local realities,” José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told the meeting and UN Headquarters, discussing common challenges to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as climate change and food security.


Video of the meeting

The special event, From Global Issues to Local Priorities was co-hosted by María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly, alongside Mr. Graziano da Silva.

About 68 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050 – mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia, where hunger and poverty are highest.

He said that it is essential to engage local authorities to achieve SDG 11 –promoting sustainable cities and communities – fundamental for achieving all the other goals.

Focusing on SDG 2, which calls for the eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as the development of sustainable agriculture, he pointed out that the number of people suffering from both hunger and obesity has increased over the last three years, especially in urban areas where “people are more likely to eat cheaper processed food high in trans fats, sugar and salt.”

“We urgently need to transform our food systems,” he underscored. “We need to put in place food systems that offer healthy and nutritious food for everyone, while preserving our natural resources and biodiversity” by integrating actions “from the production to the consumption of food.”

(continued in right column)

Questions for this article:

The culture of peace at a regional level, Does it have advantages compared to a city level?

(continued from left column)

City dwellers can no longer be considered food consumers and rural communities food producers. 

“Sustainable development calls for the strengthening of rural-urban linkages based on a territorial approach,” he said, pushing for “a rural-urban continuum.”

Turning to the New Urban Agenda, which was adopted at Habitat III in 2016 during the Quito Conference, Mr. Graziano da Silva said the FAO Framework for the Urban Food Agenda would be launched in Rome on 7 March.

Sustainable development requires “a systems thinking, rather than granular responses,” he argued, adding that the Framework presents ideas to generate employment, strengthen local food value chains and reduce the high levels of food waste found in many cities.

Indicating that some 80 per cent of all food produced globally is now consumed in urban areas, he said that urban consumers would be “a very effective entry point in promoting the transformation to more sustainable agricultural production and value chain development.”

“Implementing the food systems approach may be challenging”, he concluded, “but it is fundamental to ensure healthy and nutritious food for all while safeguarding the planet for future generations.”

Also speaking at the meeting was UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, who delivered her remarks through video message.

A host of mayors, former mayors, economists and urban development experts shared experiences of effective local practices, innovative strategies and lessons learned in addressing global challenges including climate change, food insecurity and malnutrition, food supply and consumption sustainability, and people’s wellbeing from a sustainable and resilient food system perspective.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)