This year ten NCs and two UN Women representatives from New York met over three days to discuss the progress of UN Women and potential areas for development. Each National Committee gave a snapshot of local progress, best practice and campaign activity. As part of the conference, delegates were invited to meet with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs for Japan. Japan has made gender equality a national priority in their national planning.
The UK Government, along with Finland, was recognised for providing over $20M in core funding to UN Women. However, the need for greater funding of the Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and the Fund for Gender Equality was discussed.
Thanks to the Japan NC for a constructive and hospitable conference.]]>
Throughout the world there are practices, embedded in local cultures, which continue to scar young girls – such as FGM and the lesser known breast ironing. In many cases, these are to be continued under the misguided intention to “protect” women and girls from men’s sexual harassment. These violent acts are not only perpetrated by men on women, but by older generations of women on young girls. The issues therefore are quite complex as we are dealing with deep-seated cultural beliefs, but there is a need to help people to see that however well-intentioned they may believe their acts to be, they are acts of violence.
Breast ironing has been stated by UNFPA as one of five under-reported crimes relating to gender-based violence, next to “bridenapping” in Central Asia, the epidemic of traumatic fistula in Africa, femicide of women in Central America and child marriage.
In October in recognition of the International Day of the Girl Child, the UN Women London Branch held an event hosted by Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to raise awareness of breast ironing and the impact it has on the lives of young girls both physically, emotionally and psychologically. It may also expose them to numerous health problems. Margaret Nyuydzewira and Geraldine Yenwo founders of CAME Women and Girls Development Organisation (CAWOGIDO) spoke about their work to increase knowledge and understanding of the physical, psychological and socio-economic consequences of this practise and raise awareness that breast ironing is an abuse of human rights and is inhuman.
Breast ironing is a traditional practice which involves massaging or pressing the breasts of adolescent girls by using a stone, a hammer or a spatula heated over coals in order to suppress and reverse their development. It is widely spread in West African countries such as Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Togo, Benin, and Guinea-Conakry but also occurs in some regions of East and Central Africa. In Cameroon, up to 50% of girls as young as 10 years old undergo terribly painful breast ironing on a daily basis.
CAME is concerned that African immigrants have brought breast ironing practice with them to the UK. In their efforts to reduce the number of affected girls and women, CAME provides training for Cameroonian organisations working to protect girls from being abused through breast ironing and supporting families and communities. Margaret stressed however that there is a need to conduct serious studies both in the UK and in African countries to determine the real prevalence of the practice as well as its physical, psychological and socio-economic consequences. Watch more here.
The presentation was followed by a lively discussion, as many attendees admitted not having heard of the practice before. One of the attendees, an expert in midwifery, suggested that, similar to FGM, midwives here in the UK could be trained to be able to recognise the symptoms of breast ironing among girls in the UK. Attendees expressed their hope that a response to breast ironing will be faster than that in relation to FGM. To learn more about CAWOGIDO visit here.]]>
Dear UN Women Members,
Showcasing an innovative partnership between SAFE & Altrincham Grammar School for Girls
UN WOMEN Forthcoming Brunch Event: Saturday 29th November
Our next brunch is on Saturday, 29th November, at Francis Taylor Buildings, Inner Temple, London EC4Y 7BY (The nearest tube is Blackfriars but please do check TFL before setting out)
We are delighted to welcome John Redmond from SAFE – if you remember earlier this year John presented his innovative programme to end Slavery and Trafficking in the Manchester area. As a result of outreach work with students from Altrincham Grammar School for Girls they will be with him to showcase their work based on specific modules developed by SAFE and adopted by the school for their Citizenship Curriculum. We are delighted to welcome them and hope you can join us to share their findings and on-going work in this area.
We look forward to seeing you. Please arrive for Refreshments at 10.30 am – the talk begins at 11 am sharp. There will be plenty of time to ask questions. The event finishes at 2.00 pm.
Our brunches are free to UN WOMEN members and you are welcome to bring a guest along but don’t forget that you must book in advance.
If you would like to attend please email UN Women London Committee to register your place. Spaces are limited so please book your place early so as not to be disappointed.]]>
Dear UN Women Members,
UN Women UK Event in Partnership with Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice
On behalf of the UN Women National Committee UK (London) we are delighted to invite you to a reception on Tuesday 25th November, 2014, at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, Minerva House, 5 Montague Close, London SE1 9BB (the nearest tube is London Bridge station, but please do check TFL before setting out). The event begins at 6.30pm and end at 9.30 pm.
We are holding this to mark The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls on Tuesday 25th November.
In partnership with Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice we will highlight the challenges, in particular, faced by women and girls in Sri Lanka.
Frances Harrison (the journalist and author of “Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War”) will talk about sexual violence in Sri Lanka and Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director of the United Nations Association, will discuss VAWG and the role and function of the UN.
Entrance to the event is free but for security reasons you must register your place first. We think this will be a very popular event and places will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Please register at: UN Women London Committee.
At the end there will be a collection for the UN WOMEN Trust Fund to end Violence Against Women and Girls and the charity run by Frances Harrison called “Support a Survivor of Torture”. Suggested donation: £10.00. Proceeds will be shared equally. There will also be a chance to buy copies of Frances’ book.]]>
• Women and Poverty
• Education and Training of Women
• Women and Health
• Violence against Women
• Women and Armed Conflict
• Women and the Economy
• Women in Power and Decision-making
• Institutional Mechanism for the Advancement of Women
• Human Rights of Women
• Women and the Media
• Women and the Environment
• The Girl-child
Being responsible for the follow-up to the Beijing Conference, the Commission on the Status of Women has over the past decade been systematically reviewing the progress in the implementation of the 12 areas of concern (Beijing+5, Beijing+10, and Beijing+15). The 20-year review is currently underway, and individual States have already completed their national reviews. The national reviews are being followed by five regional review processes, which involve the preparation of regional reports and the organisation of regional inter-governmental meetings by the UN Regional Commissions: Africa on 11 – 14 November, Europe and Central Asia on 6 – 7 November, Latin America and the Caribbean on 18 – 20 November, Asia and the Pacific on 17 – 20 November, and the Arab Region on 1 – 2 December.
The UN Women NCUK will be contributing to this important review process by providing input to the European review at the Geneva Beiing+20 NGO Forum – UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) Regional Review on 3 – 5 November at Palais des Nations in Geneva. The UN ECE covers a large and diverse region comprising 53 Member States in Europe and Central Asia, as well as Canada, the United States and Israel. The objective of the Forum is to contribute to the Beijing+20 review process; to identify emerging women’s issues; and to provide input for the current discussions on the Post-2015 Agenda. The Forum’s expected outcome is a comprehensive report with a set of action-oriented recommendations that will be presented at the inter-governmental Beijing+20 UN ECE Regional Review meeting taking place immediately after the NGO Forum. The recommendations will also be included in the final ECE report.
The national reviews and the outcomes of the regional review processes will feed into the global review and appraisal that UN Women will prepare and submit to the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2015.
Following the NGO Forum, the UN Women NCUK will start preparing for the 59th Session of CSW, including providing input on the priority areas in gender equality to the Government Equalities Office at the pre-CSW Annual National Consultation with Women event on November 10th in London. The main focus of the 59th Session of CSW will be on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, but the Session will also address opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Post-2015 development agenda.
Sign up to our mailing list for further updates on the Beijing+20 and Post-2015 processes.
By Tuula Nieminen, Trustee, UN Women NCUK
Almost 30 million people worldwide are enslaved. More than half of these modern-day slaves are women and girls, many of whom are trafficked for sexual exploitation. The trafficking industry is growing at pace and each year it generates more than 150 billion dollars in profits. Raising public awareness about the complexity of the trafficking industry is paramount in order to put an end to this hideous crime. That’s why the Thomson Reuters Foundation uses it programmes and resources to contribute to the global fight against modern-day slavery.
“Protect me from the beasts”
Zunaira Muhammad dreamed of becoming a software engineer in her native Pakistan. When she was 15 years old she met a woman who promised to pay for her education. However instead of helping her realise her ambitions Zunaira was tortured, beaten and forced to become a sex worker.
After four years Zunaira escaped captivity and fled home. However the trafficking gang attacked her home and shot her, leaving her with bullet wounds running up her leg.
How did the Pakistani authorities address her situation? They arrested her brother in law on charges of stolen property and the courts refused to hear Zunaira’s case.
It was only when the Thomson Reuters Foundation published Zunaira’s story with the headline ’Protect me from the beasts’ that attitudes changed. The Pakistan prime minister’s office ordered an investigation into what had happened and the courts agreed to hear the case. The judge referred to the feature in the courtroom and ordered the arrest of Zunaira’s traffickers as well as police protection for her and her family. The traffickers are now behind bars.
Making a difference through independent journalism
Zunaira’s story is just one example of the work of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It shows how coverage of the world’s under-reported stories can make a positive impact on the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people – those who have been trafficked and are modern-day slaves. That was one of the themes discussed by Maria Sanchez-Marin, Chief Operating Officer of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, at a UN Women UK event held in London on 27 September.
“The Foundation stands for free, independent journalism, human rights, women’s empowerment, and the rule of law,” explained Maria. “Our work aims to expose corruption worldwide and play a leading role in the global fight against human trafficking through using the expertise of Thomson Reuters.”
Maria also highlighted the impact of the Foundation’s Trust Women conference. The two-day event brings together businesses, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women’s rights to take action to put an end to trafficking and modern-day slavery. Trust Women also offers support to trafficking survivors so that they can rebuild their lives. This year’s conference will take place in London on November 18-19 and will focus on the journey of survivors, the psychological issues faced by trafficking victims, and the abuse of human rights in the modern supply chains.
A crime that cuts across class, countries and cultures
The recent Home Office campaign ‘Slavery is closer than you think’ highlights that slavery is happening right here and right now in the UK. The campaign aims to boost awareness of the issue and help people report modern slavery, as well as offering support for victims.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that modern day slavery is purely the result of poverty,” commented Maria. “Modern day slavery does happen in countries with high levels of poverty but it also happens in middle class neighbourhoods too. At Trust Women we heard the story of Minhn Dang, a survivor of child abuse and sex slavery at the hands of her middle class parents in California.”
Partnering with the police
After the presentation, event participants joined in a discussion about the complexities of modern-day slavery, as well as how the police are working to prevent it and support victims.
“Many people who are trafficked into the country don’t realise until it’s too late,” commented event participant Kristy Adams, Chair of Bedfordshire Against Modern Slavery (BAMS). “When they arrive and go through immigration they think they are arriving for a good job so they don’t say anything to the officials. It’s only when they actually get to their destination that they realise they are victims of human trafficking.
“At BAMS we have been working in partnership with the Bedfordshire police. We have developed materials on human trafficking to raise awareness for the public, council housing officers and the police. The police have developed training materials for officers to access from smart phones while they are out on the beat, as well as training arresting officers to help them understand the issues facing victims.”
“The Metropolitan Police Force’s special unit on trafficking for sexual exploitation has very deliberately and consciously taken up the stance that the women are the victims,” added event participant Annette Lawson, Chair of the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations. “The perpetrators such as the traffickers, the brothel owners, the pimps – all of whom profit from the sale of the women’s bodies – are the criminals to be caught and imprisoned. This is the approach that all police, especially arresting officers, need to take.”
Thanks to Maria Sanchez-Marin and Monika Holc from the Thomson Reuters Foundation for sharing their work and to all of the UN Women attendees.
Upcoming UN Women UK events
A further two events are scheduled for later in the Autumn – Tuesday 25 November and Saturday 29 November. Details will be posted shortly on the events page.
The Open Working Group Proposes a Stand-Alone Sustainable Development Goal on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment
Nearly one-and-half years after its establishment, the Open Working Group (OWG) – mandated by the Outcome Document (The Future We Want) of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) – concluded its work on 19 July 2014 by handing down its final Outcome Document. The OWG proposes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets on the goals to be achieved by 2030. The Outcome Document will be presented to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) this month (September 2014) in New York and will, as part of the post-2015 development agenda, shape the framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after their expiry in 2015.
The Outcome Document covers a broad range of sustainable development issues: ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, ensuring availability of water and sanitation, and combating climate change. We are very pleased to acknowledge that the efforts by the UN Women towards the inclusion of a stand-alone, transformative goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment have been successful. We welcome the inclusion of Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” with its targets aiming to create policies and laws to ensure:
Furthermore Goal 5 emphasises the need to address stereotypes, mind-sets and attitudes that reinforce traditional gender roles and calls for:
As advocated by the UN Women, gender considerations have also been mainstreamed across the other parts of the framework. Recognition of the role played by women and girls’ education and gainful employment in lifting themselves, their families, communities and countries out of poverty has been encompassed in Goals 1, 4 and 8. Goals 3 and 5 focus on women and girls’ health, particularly in relation to maternal mortality, women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights. Other areas crucial from the gender perspective – such as sanitation, access to drinking water (Goal 6) and access to energy (Goal 7) – have also been included in this framework. SDGs also call for an increase in the availability of high quality data that is disaggregated by gender and other factors (Goal 17), which will improve data collection and monitoring of the progress.
The UN Women NCUK is very pleased to see the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the SDGs. We applaud the OWG and the governments who have supported the inclusion of a broad range of important issues – ranging from the importance of women’s participation and influence in decision-making and the need to eliminate all forms of violence against women to issues such as the unequal burden of unpaid care – into the framework. However, we call for women’s human rights to be explicitly included in the future discussions around a gender equality goal rather than to be limited to women’s empowerment. Also, we are concerned about the fact that most of the gender targets included in the OWG’s Outcome Document do not have a ‘target date’ unlike a majority of the targets in the other focus areas do, and call for the ‘2030’ deadline to be included in all the targets. Additionally we call for all the gender targets to be proposed without a possibility to place ‘nationally appropriate’ restrictions on them.
As mentioned, the OWG’s Outcome Document will be presented to the UN General Assembly shortly. It is, however, not known at present whether the Outcome Document as such will form the basis for the forthcoming inter-governmental negotiations. It is therefore crucial that we continue advocating for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment to be included in the post-2015 sustainable development goals.
Tuula Nieminen, Lead Post-2015, UN Women NCUK
Monika Pindel, Member, UN Women NCUK]]>
‘The workshop was very inspiring and it made me feel as though I can make a difference’, said one workshop participant.
For almost three hours 30 students from five London Schools took part in highly interactive workshop on sexual violence in conflict. The workshop was delivered on Tuesday to coincide with ‘Youth Day’ for the Summit and designed to discuss the role of young people in tackling the complex challenges around this issue.
The workshop started by presenting a general overview of the role of UN WOMEN and IAWP in ending sexual violence in conflict. Alice Fookes representing UN WOMEN UK NC explained how UN Women is involved in ending sexual violence in conflict including mobile and legal aid clinics in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. While Julia Jaeger representing IAWP explained the mission of the Association and the crucial role of women police officers in reassuring female citizens that their specific needs are met, especially the survivors of sexual violence all over the world. Both speakers stressed the important role of establishing partnerships with a wide range of actors in order to most effectively target and deliver the sometimes complex help and support required to reach the most vulnerable women and girls.
Following the presentations the main interactive workshops started, led by Alice Fookes, Kimberley Green and Manju Nair. Firstly, the students were encouraged to explore key language and terms around sexual violence in conflict. Through exploring their meanings students got a chance to familiarise themselves with gender-sensitive language used by the organisations and institutions dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. While matching the terms and definition of the rape or child soldier seemed to be an easy task, terms such as grassroots, gender or policing proved more of a challenge to the students.
Given the stories of teenage survivors of the sexual violence in conflict-affected countries, students were asked to design an Action Plan on how to prevent and support the survivors of sexual violence, both at individual and community level. The students got a unique opportunity to discuss their ideas with women police officers visiting the Global Summit with the IAWP who are serving in countries such as Ghana, Bosnia, Albania, Uganda and USA.
This allowed them to debate their ideas with practitioners working on daily basis with the survivors of sexual violence all over the world. The intensive session culminated in formulation of seven action points which were presented to UN WOMEN UK NC and IAWP. The plans ranged from providing medical support to survivors, including immediate tests for HIV, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, proper crime investigation led by adequately trained local people, translating national law into grassroot strategies, preventing the survivors from re-victimisation, to providing gender responsive training to the local communities on how to support survivors. All of the ideas proposed addressed the immediate, short-term and long-term support needed. The participants clearly agreed that ‘violence is not normal’ and must never be accepted as such.
The workshop concluded with the students giving their evaluation of the experience. The students found workshop very informative, eye-opening, especially being given an opportunity to discuss in depth and understand the global problem of sexual violence. One of the participants said: ‘thank you for the workshop, it has opened my eyes, it showed me how important and difficult it can be to help someone left traumatised due to rape or torture. I have learnt to see things from their point of view’. Both students and the teachers agreed ‘it would be great to do it again with lots more of our students!’, as Claire Hart, Barking Abbey School, said.
Workshop write-up and photos by Magdalena Randall-Schab
President, Jan Grasty, has received an OBE for her services to Women’s Rights; and:
Dr. Wendi Momen received an MBE for service to the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and to the community in Bedfordshire (Northill Bedfordshire).
Both Jan and Wendi have been active Trustees of the UK National committee since 2009 and were previously in the leadership of UNIFEM, one of UN Women’s forerunners.
Jan Grasty is President of the UK National Committee. She leads the direction of the National Committee and has worked tirelessly to establish it as the UK representative for UN Women, particularly in advocacy, through government connections including the All-Party Parliamentary Group, UN Women, GEO and DfiD; collaborating in civil society with other key NGOs; and creating connections in the corporate sector by sharing UN Women’s position on key gender issues and building commitment to gender equality in the workplace.
Jan is also the Government nominated representative at the ‘Commission on the Status of Women’ communicating the UK key messages to UN Women.
Jan said, “I am honoured to receive this award and pleased that work in gender equality is being recognised in this year’s Honours List. I remain committed to supporting long-term change and improvement to the lives of women and girls providing justice, gender equality and economic opportunities. I see the strategic role of UN Women coupled with its grassroots programmes as a major opportunity to bring about change.”
Dr. Wendi Momen is a member of the Board of UN Women UK, was National Secretary until 2012 and is a trusted advisor as her wisdom and experience are invaluable to the ongoing work of the organisation.
This Birthday Honours List has been referred to as the ‘gender-balanced awards’ and those honoured span 19 – 99 years old.]]>
So, we are holding a “Briefing” event on 26 June, at 6pm in the IPU room, Houses of Parliament. Toni Ann Brodber – UN Women’s Programme Director for Pacific Islands – is in London at that time and will also be joining us to present some of the recent UN Women programmes in her area.
This Briefing event is for members only. Please register with us if you would like to attend as places are limited. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance.
The postponed AGM will now take place on 24 September 2014 at 6:30 pm and we will confirm the venue in due course.]]>