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By Christine Mangale, LOWC
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) launched today at a press conference the 2015 edition of the World’s Women Report on the occasion of World Statistics Day, celebrated October 20. The theme is “Better Data, Better Lives”. Speakers at the UN Headquarters launch were: Mr. Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Ms. Keiko Osaki Tomita, Chief of the Demographic and Social Statistics Branch, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and Ms. Francesca Grum, Chief of the Social and Housing Statistics Section, UN DESA.
The World’s Women Report is hailed as a “landmark on gender statistics”. The report is issued every five years, and the 2015 edition is the sixth report in 30 years. The speakers at the launch emphasized the importance of presenting empirical evidence that connects statistics and policy making. The report analyses the status of women based on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action areas of concern. It looks at both the progress and gaps over the past 20 years.
The following are excerpts from the launch:
- Women marry later but child marriage remains an issue in selected countries. 1-4 women aged 20-24 in developing regions are married before they turn 18. The percentage is higher for Southern Asia (44%) and Sub Saharan Africa (40%) – often resulting in early pregnancies, limited opportunities for education and career and vocational development. For women of reproductive age, unmet need for family planning and lack of skilled attendants at birth have serious implications on mother’s health
- Education: Education has increased globally for girls and boys at all levels, yet enrollment decreases and gender gaps widen with education levels. Women are underrepresented in tertiary fields of studies related to science and engineering.
- Women’s access to labor market has stagnated – 50% of working age women in the labor force, similar to 20 years ago. The occupational segregation of women and men continue to exist in all regions. Women are working longer than men when unpaid work is accounted for (1 hour more in developing regions and half an hour more in developed regions).
- Women’s participation in leadership positions has increased, yet at a low pace: Parliaments – Women’s representation in lower or single houses of parliament was 12% in 1997 and is 22% in 2015. Executive Branch: Women’s representation among cabinet ministers was 6% in 1994 and is 18% in 2015. Most female appointed ministers are assigned portfolios related to social issues. Judiciary: higher up in the judicial hierarchy, women’s representation declines drastically. Only 19% of Supreme Courts have a female president.
- Violence against women: a global concern: 1 in 3 women has experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. 2 in 3 victims of intimate partner and family related homicides are women. In most countries less than 40% of women who experience violence seek help of any sort. Less than 10% of women sought help from the police.
- 119 countries have Domestic Violence laws, 125 countries have sexual harassment laws, and 52 countries marital rape laws.
- Progress in most indicators monitored: yet, not enough progress/slow pace
- Wide disparities hidden in global and regional averages
- More data available, particularly on VAW (Some regions like Middle East, there is lack of data)
It was also pointed out that good governance is a prerequisite for good data collection. For more information, read the World’s Women Report, and download the very helpful infographics of each chapter of the report.
By: Nicholas Jaech, Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC)
Fifteen years ago, the United Nations Security Council adopted UNSC Resolution 1325 – a groundbreaking resolution linking the experience of women to the agenda of peace and security. 1325 was the first Security Council resolution to address the disproportionate and distinct impact of armed conflict on women. This resolution notes the importance of women’s equal and total participation as active agents “in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace-building and peacekeeping. It calls on member states to ensure women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspective in all areas of peace building.”1
Yet, 15 years and six resolutions later, significant challenges remain.
On Tuesday, October 13, 2015, in commemoration with the 15th anniversary of 1325, an open debate on Women, Peace and Security was convened by the UN Security Council to discuss the further implementation of 1325. In his opening remarks the Secretary-General reiterated women’s leadership in peacebuilding is a top priority and shared his personal commitment to seeing the resolutions implemented. His report on Women, Peace and Security highlights the following:
- A recent study of 40 peace processes showed that the ability of women to influence negotiations increased the chances of agreements being reached, was positively correlated with greater implementation and had a positive impact on the durability of peace (Par. 12).
- In 2012-13, the Development Assistance Committee of OECD spent only 2% of its $10 billion on gender equality objectives in its efforts to invest in developing economies (Par. 15).
- In 2013, economic recovery programs allocated only 4% of economic recovery spending to furthering women’s economic development (Par. 15).
- The global proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments has doubled from 11% in 1995 to 22% in 2015 (Par. 29).
In addition to the Secretary-General, Under- Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that the most under-utilized tool in peace building is women. She also introduced the Global Acceleration Instrument on Women Peace and Security and Humanitarian Engagement. This new fund will accelerate the implementation of UNSCR 1325, and as well as channel funds to women’s organizations working on peacebuilding.. Other speakers included Julienne Lusenge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, stressed the importance of including women in all parts of the peacemaking process – from the village to national levels. Yanar Mohammed, also speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said that peace will “never be established” in Iraq and Syria without the proper implementation of resolution 1325. She urged for more support for grassroots women’s organizations, And Alaa Murabit of the NGO Voice of Libyan Women, and also a member of the High-level Advisory Group for Global Study on SCR 1325 had three recommendations for the Security Council regarding women, peace and security:
- Conflict prevention is paramount to global peace and security. The UN should address underlying causes of conflict, as well as focus on justice, global disarmament, accountable media and fair economic practices.
- Need mechanisms to address crisis situations. Crises disproportionately affect women and girls, who are specifically targeted by violence. Current efforts are simply not working. The UN must create a formal and accountable protection mechanism for women in crises.
- Need for adequate resources for 1325. Specifically, there needs to be a removal of political structures that hinder funds from reaching on-the-ground efforts.2
All speakers echoed the sentiment that women are the key to the prevention of conflict and the central to the lasting-effects of peace building.
Directly after this opening segment, Resolution 2242 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council (UNSC). This resolution was supported by a record 71 countries. It has two key outcomes. The first is that it outlines actions to improve the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325. The second is proposing a broader Women, Peace and Security agenda, including countering violent extremism, monitoring sexual violence within UN Peacekeeping forces, increasing the representation of women in governments and implementing the gender recommendations of a recently-released global study. Highlights from this resolution include:
- Urges Member States to increase the representation of women in decision-making bodies at local, regional and national levels, as well as in peace-making bodies. Member States are called to finance these efforts, as well as finance the efforts to educate people on the importance of the role of women in peace making (Item 1, Page 3).
- Further encourages Member States to produce national action plans that prioritize women in the process of peace making and conflict prevention (Item 2, Page 3).
- Urges the Secretary-General and other UN entities (specifically naming DPKO, DPA AND PBSO) to strengthen their efforts to integrate the needs of women and gender perspectives into their work (Item 4, Page 4).
- Expresses the importance of civil society organizations in the realm of Women, Peace and Security (Item 5C, Page 4).
- Urges DPKO and DPA to provide the necessary gender analysis and technical gender expertise at all stages of mission planning, implementation and review. This includes more cooperation between DPKO, DPA and UN-Women (Item 7, Page 5).
- Encourages steps to be taken by the Secretary-General to prioritize the appointment of more women to senior UN positions, as well as to further expand efforts to acquire a greater number of women in militaries and police deployed to UN peacekeeping operations (Item 8, Page 5).
- Expresses deep concern over the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers and calls for trainings regarding the issue and thorough investigation on the matter (Item 9, Page 5).
The following day, Wednesday, October 14, “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace – A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325” was officially launched. This study is the product of the engagement of Member States, UN entities, regional organizations and civil society, including research institutes. During this official launch, Member States made financial contributions to the new Global Acceleration Instrument. Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the global study, also expressed her opinions of the recently-adopted UNSC Resolution 2242. While she was overall supportive of the resolution, she had serious concerns about the mixing of women, peace and security and counter terrorism efforts. She noted the need for a clear, conceptual difference between the two, and that UN intentions towards civilians and military forces cannot be blurred.
Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, a program partner of the International Civil Society Action Network, also had reservations, despite acknowledging the symbolic victory for women’s security. She was concerned about the lack of participation by civil society in the creation of UNSC 2242. Noting that no representatives of civil society had the opportunity to see the draft resolution before the open discussion on Tuesday, she declares: “I would like our colleagues in the Security Council, in governments and the U.N. to know that we, civil society are here to realize the full potential of UNSCR 1325. We are here to turn the promise of 1325 into reality.”
Cabera-Balleza adds: “The international community has to set its priorities right. We cannot wait another 15 years before we see consistent positive impact.”
We join in calling for a full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
For more information on the upcoming events commemorating UNSCR 1325 organized by some of the Ecumenical Women members, and other partners, please click here.
By: Nicholas Jaech
“Faith-based organizations are essential partners, particularly in the areas of health service delivery and addressing stigma and discrimination. The partnership with faith-based organizations is critical to ending the AIDS epidemic and making sure that no one is left behind.” – Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director
On September 27, a small group of representatives from civil society gathered to have an intimate and honest discussion with UNAIDS regarding the next 15 years of combating the AIDS epidemic. I attended this discussion on behalf of the Lutheran Office for World Community. In 2014, UNAIDS drafted and published the Fast-Track strategy, which details the pathway to ending AIDS by 2030. This strategy utilizes the 90-90-90 model, aiming for 90% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90% of people who know their status having access to treatment and 90% of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads by 2020. Should this be successful, the strategy then calls for a 95-95-95 model by 2025. In 2030, HIV/AIDS will be so contained that it no longer can or will be considered an “epidemic.”
However, during this meeting, UNAIDS admitted to a funding gap – a $10-15 billion shortfall in the implementation of this “Fast-Track” approach. The under-prioritization of HIV/AIDS often leads governments to be unwilling to legitimately undertake measures to create new revenue specifically for AIDS.
This isn’t to say that national governments are completely shying away from funding the response to the current AIDS epidemic. At a high-level event at the UN held later that day, the United States of America pledged to fund the life-saving treatment for 12.9 million people living with HIV in 2016-17, as well as funding efforts to reduce HIV among girls in 10 sub-Saharan countries by 40%. Additionally, Malawi has pledged 14% of its GDP to HIV prevention, factoring out to $148 per HIV positive person per year. This funding comes in the form of the distribution of necessary anti-retroviral drugs.
But despite this investment, the $10-15 billion shortfall remains.
However, this budget shortfall was not the most concerning reality I heard during this meeting. I was shocked to discover the disproportionate extent to which the AIDS epidemic affects women and girls around the world.
As a young person who has grown up in the United States, the face of HIV and AIDS for me has always been gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM). This is due to both the disproportionate transmission of HIV and AIDS among gay men and MSM (19 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population), but also the stigma and violent stereotypes placed upon gay men and MSM living with HIV/AIDS. Yet, when examining the new reality of the AIDS epidemic, we have to broaden our understanding of who is affected by this epidemic.
In 2013, statistics show that almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15-24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women. Globally, 15% of women living with HIV are aged 15-24, of whom 80% live in sub-Saharan Africa and adolescent girls are eight times more likely to be living with HIV than their male counterparts. Furthermore, transgender women are 49 times more likely to acquire HIV than all adults of reproductive age.
In conjunction with all of this, women and girls experience serious violations of human rights. According to UNAIDS, in sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 80% of women have not completed their secondary education, and one in three women cannot read. In South Africa, a study found that 30% of young female rape survivors were assaulted in or around their school. And in some settings around the world, up to 45% of adolescent girls and young women report that their first sexual experience was forced.
When we continue our own discussions on the advancement of women and girls around the world, the AIDS epidemic must be a central part of the conversation. The global face of AIDS is the woman: the black woman in the United States, the transgender woman in the Caribbean, the girl-child in sub-Saharan Africa and the sex worker in Southeast Asia. These populations are severely affected by the AIDS epidemic and are further marginalized in society when seeking treatment for the virus.
Our advocacy must reflect this global face of the epidemic. We as people of faith, when advocating for women and girls, have a moral obligation to insert the discussion of the AIDS epidemic onto the table. We have a moral obligation to lobby governments and the private sector to invest in ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, because failure to do so will only perpetuate the marginalization of women and girls in our world. Let us do this through partnership, communion, solidarity, and most importantly, love. Work led by love is the work of God.
So what can we do, as followers of a loving and compassionate God, to bolster the efforts of UNAIDS to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030? We must begin by urging governments to adequately fund the Global Fund. We can also make donations to local HIV/AIDS organizations, for example, the ELCA HIV and AIDS Ministry, which has established a commitment to support the efforts of ending the AIDS epidemic. This support manifests in the training of pastors for HIV/AIDS counseling, providing necessary anti-retroviral medication to rural communities, and free offerings of HIV testing. We can also support our family, friends, and neighbors living with HIV by providing food, clothes, toiletries, and other specified items to local HIV/AIDS clinics, shelters, and organizations. This can also include volunteering one’s time and energy as well. These two simple yet significant actions not only contribute to efforts to end the epidemic, but also illustrate our ability to manifest God’s love in our daily lives. As written in 1 John 3:17-18 – “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? …let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” – we are called to love and support those around us. This has to include those living with HIV and AIDS.
For further reading on combating stigma against key populations, see UNAIDS publications here.