• 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.]]>
On 26th April 2014, Charlie from The A21 Campaign and John from Standards Against Female Exploitation (SAFE) joined UN Women UKNC London Branch at the Francis Taylor Buildings, Inner Temple, and delivered powerful presentations on the world’s second fastest growing criminal industry – the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls.
The A21 Campaign focuses on the wider issue of abolishing modern slavery and injustice in the 21st century, with an estimated 27 – 30 million in bondage across the globe. It operates internationally through prevention, victim protection (through shelters run e.g. in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece), prosecution of violators, and building strategic partnerships; Charlie in her presentation focused on the problem of sex trafficking and its victims. Giving examples of people who have become sex slaves, she explained the circumstances in which women, children and men become victims, including poverty, homelessness, believing in false opportunities and dreams of better lives. She also described the long process of recovery of victims and their longing for hope again and for justice to be served.
Backed up by data, Charlie made it clear that human trafficking is our problem, as it happens on our door step. The key destination for victims of human trafficking is Europe. Every 30 seconds someone becomes a victim of human trafficking, the majority of the victims being women and girls. In the European Union trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most prevalent form of trafficking. The average age of trafficking victims is just 12 years old. Only 1-2% of victims in Europe are ever rescued with only 1 in 100,000 Europeans involved in trafficking being convicted.
John, introduced SAFE and their efforts to end human trafficking in the sex industry including the use and abuse of children and teenagers through structural prevention and proactive investigation of information generated through mechanisms such as the 24/7 reporting hotline ‘RedlineUK’. The organisation led by an ex-policeman, with his detailed knowledge of the sex industry, aims at ‘changing the rules of the game’ and is focused on tackling ‘sale of women’ rather than the ‘sale of sex’, which for some might be a controversial approach. This includes a voluntary audit backed by regular independent examination to create traffic free zones. Support for the working women on issues such as domestic violence, addictive behaviours, debt management and exiting prostitution further add to the creation of a culture of harm reduction within this all too hostile environment.
Through graphic examples he explained the mechanism which traffickers used to target and manipulate potential victims by exploiting their vulnerabilities or taking advantage of their weaknesses or innocence. In the long run, victims are left without hope and maybe even the conviction that they have but two alternatives – accept their continuing exploitation or committing suicide.
Representing different approaches, top-down and bottom up approach, both speakers had the clear message, as John said ‘the problem requires urgent attention, right now’ but warned of the unintended consequences of ill-conceived legislation reminding all present that trafficking and child sexual exploitation don’t need to be any more illegal they just need to be stopped. In order to achieve that end institutional and structural solutions are needed, and the culture which prevails within the sex industry needs to be powerfully steered towards a harm reduction agenda.
Charlie’s call that ‘One cannot do everything, but everyone can do something’ underpinned the discussion following presentations. Both individual and institutional opportunities to tackle the problem were debated along with how the UN Women UKNC could assist this cause as the eradication of violence against women and girls is one of the main goals of UN Women.
For further information please refer to their websites: A21 Campaign http://www.thea21campaign.org/ and SAFE http://www.safe.uk.net/ Brunch write up by Magdalena Randall-Schab]]>
28 Too Many is an international charity working to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Their specific focus is ending FGM in the 28 African countries where it is practised. While there are pan-African statistics on FGM, detailed information about different countries was found to be patchy. Consequently, since 2010 the organisation has begun to profile each country and has completed four profiles to date, for Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The profiles are designed to give policy makers, NGOs, governments and campaigners the evidence they need to properly understand this complex issue and inform the appropriate projects and campaigns. 28 Too Many’s aim is to reduce FGM by 10% in 10 African countries in 10 years.
There is a large variation within countries on the practice of FGM and therefore different strategies need to be in place in different regions to effectively address the needs in that area. The research has helped to identify and link organisations who are undertaking similar work. For example, in Kenya, 28 Too Many identified 157 organisations working to end FGM, largely without knowing of the existence of others they were unable to link, collaborate, share experience and resources.
The first four country profiles have shown that while FGM is decreasing overall across the countries there are still some locations where the numbers are rising. Girls are getting cut at a younger age, which may be as a result of laws against the practice being enforced sending FGM more underground. The prevalence rate is higher in rural and poorer areas.
Education of mothers has been shown to make a difference; if a girl has completed secondary education then she is less likely to have her daughters cut. Faith has also been identified as playing an important role. Bishops in Tanzania have been including information about FGM as part of Sunday school and they have been advocating and campaigning against it.
To access the country profiles and for further information please visit www.28toomany.org.
Dr Comfort Momoh is Founder of the first FGM clinic in the UK at Guy’s and St Thomas’. Comfort spoke about the complexity of FGM and the issue of prosecution. The police feel that getting the first prosecution for FGM will set an important example but the responsibility is placing health professionals in a difficult position to report women who have undergone FGM. The fear of prosecution may prevent some women coming forward for help. In France, prosecution has been carried out under neglect so that the child does not have to testify as part of the trial.
FGM has become part of the curriculum in Islington and this is an important step to reach children at the age when they are most at risk; between 5 and 12 years of age. It is also important to educate GPs as there is currently a lack of knowledge. A large number of women from West Africa who have had type I or II FGM do not realise that they have been cut. It is therefore very important for health professionals to raise the topic in a sensitive manner and provide support when necessary.
There has recently been a lot of media attention given to this issue which has helped to raise the profile and bring further funding. It is also helping to engage young people who can now more openly ask their parents about this practice and question it.
Comfort recently visited UN Women’s Headquarters in New York and heard firsthand about some of the work that is being done to eradicate FGM and support women who have been affected.
Brunch write up by Sam Bailey.]]>
“Without proper security and policing the poorest women and girls in society will be unable to take advantage of improved schooling, training, healthcare and development programmes designed to empower and move them out of poverty.”
- Jan Grasty, President UN Women National Committee, UK
The International Association of Women Police (IAWP) and the United Nations Women National Committee UK (NC UK) are collaborating in a joint panel discussion to be held on March 12, in parallel with the United Nation’s 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which will take place at nearby UN Headquarters. The panel will discuss the important issue of gender sensitivity and neutrality in policing, including mixed-gender international policing in Afghanistan and Iraq and the impact of empowering policewomen in Kosovo.
Jan Grasty, President of UN Women NC UK, said: “Recognition of gender-responsive policing and security deserves to be given a high priority. Our event highlights the importance of gender-skilled, accountable policing and security to move on the Millennium Development Goals Post-2015. We will focus on the ‘universal’ security and safety needs of women and girls.”
Key areas that will be covered by the event are:
Speakers will refer to their own experiences of international policing in challenging and fragile states.
Jane Townsley, President of the International Association of Women Police, will speak on implementing gender responsive policing in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Lebanon. Jane, a recently retired police Chief Inspector who is based in Yorkshire, UK, said: “Ensuring policing is gender sensitive is not just a matter of recruiting more women, there are more fundamental requirements to achieve real change.”
During the presentation the benefits of establishing and joining women’s associations in policing and the wider security sector will be explored. There is an important role for associations to play in gender responsive policing, changing cultures and thereby improving service delivery to communities.
Case studies will be used to illustrate challenges faced by policewomen in Afghanistan as well as the impact of access to professional development and empowerment of women officers in the Lebanon Security Force, the United Arab Emirates and Kosovo.
Among the speakers will be IAWP 2nd vice president Stephanie Harding, who has worked as a police advisor in many countries including Afghanistan. She said: “Afghanistan has powerful civil norms about the roles of women in society. When a woman applies to become a police officer to serve her country she must go through a rigorous process of approval before she can even enter or graduate from a police academy. This includes approval from but not limited to: her husband, father, grandfather, Elders, Shura, Malik or Mullahs.”
Anyone attending the event on March 12 will have the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers who are highly experienced in the field of gender-responsive policing.
The event, to be held in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Convention Centre (2nd Avenue at 35th, NY) will be moderated by Dr Tuula Nieminen of UN Women NC UK.
Agenda as follows:
On the 16th January 2014 we held a celebratory event for our third birthday in the Houses of Parliament.
Our special guest speaker was journalist, author and campaigner Natasha Walter (pictured above). She spoke about her experience of the progress of feminism in the UK since publishing her book ‘Living Dolls’, and says she has been pleased to see how over recent years there has been a popular uprising against the objectification of women. Campaigns such as the Everyday Sexism Project, and ‘No More Page 3′, are doing excellent work highlighting instances of sexism, and have been gaining huge followings.
Walter herself – although agreeing there is still a way to go on this front – has turned her own attentions to the plight of refugee women who come to the UK, often fleeing violence in their home countries only to find they are treated abysmally once they arrive. Many, in spite of having legitimate claims to asylum (50% of women seeking asylum in the UK have been raped in their home country) are held in detention centres indefinitely, often for weeks or months, a situation which takes a heavy toll on these women’s lives, and costs the state an awful lot of money.
In order to campaign against this broken system, and support those women who find themselves within it, she has established Women for Refugee Women. Her colleagues from this organisation, Rahela, and Jade, spoke very movingly about their own experiences of the system. Together they are working to challenge the legal and policy framework around keeping asylum-seeking women in detention, and to raise public awareness of the issue. Amongst other things, they are planning this year, with 1 Billion Rising, an action in front of the Home Office in Marsham Street, London on 13 February at 6pm, and are supporting this petition to stop the detention of women seeking asylum in the UK.
You can find out more about Natasha here, Women for Refugee Women here, and a timeline of tweets from the event here.
The second part of our event actively celebrated the inspirational women in our lives: members were invited to bring a picture of a woman who inspired them, and talk about why. Examples ranged from Marie Colvin to Marie Curie, from mothers and little sisters, to members of UN Women itself. Hearing their stories made for a truly uplifting and inspirational end to an evening of thought-provoking discussion.
Many thanks to our speakers from Women for Refugee Women, and to the members who shared their stories of inspirational women. We look forward to seeing you all again at our next event.]]>