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The United Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has launched a month-long online discussion on Women in Power and Decision-Making. Dedicated to the fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), as well as outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000), these discussions will be a contribution to the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women to take place 1-12 March 2010.

cross-posted from UNIFEM

Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic, widespread human rights violations in the world. It occurs in every country, rich and poor, and affects women and girls, regardless of age or socio-economic status.  Despite its alarming proportions and deleterious effects on so many levels, it has long been a silent epidemic that has only recently, due to decades of tireless effort and dedication by the women’s movement and concerned human rights activists, been placed high on global, regional and national policy-making agendas.

To advance UNIFEM’s work and accelerate progress in implementation and upscaling, the organization’s vision and future directions are set out in this 2008-2011 Strategy, A Life Free of Violence: Unleashing the Power of Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality. It looks at seminal reports, worldwide initiatives, and expert consensus and emerging issues in academic, advocacy and policy circles. It also provides an overview of UNIFEM-supported programming, work in progress at other UN agencies in the context of UN reform and other opportunities available to accelerate progress, such as the Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.

Under the overall theme of ending impunity and strengthening accountability, the strategy’s four pillars centre around: furthering implementation of existing commitments and promoting upscaling; aligning informal and formal justice systems with international human rights standards; addressing rape as a tactic of warfare in conflict and post-conflict situations; and targeting primary prevention with key groups, especially men and young people.     Download your own copy.

cross-posted from Sparkfly, an Ecumenical Women blogging friend

I want to preface this post by stating I have never been raped. I do not know what it is like to experience such an atrocious violation. I am writing from the perspective of an outsider who wants to stand in solidarity with her sisters, locally and globally, who have experienced this atrocious violation. I want to be sensitive to those who have been raped who may read this post and disagree with me. I believe it is every woman’s right to choose weather or not she publicly acknowledges the rape she experienced. It is her right and it is not my right to persuade her to do otherwise.

Yesterday [Wednesday, March 4] I attended a workshop called “She says no to violence”. It was sponsored by UNIFEM. A variety of panelist spoke eloquently about the need to decrease violence against women and how that was happening in the contexts from which they came. The room was warm. The day was late. My mind began to wander.

During the question and answer portion of the workshop my attention surfaced in time to hear an NGO representative say, “Of course I would rather have a gun held to my head than be raped.” She was responding to a panelist’s response to her original question and comment. Ironically, the woman who made the statement was from a women’s peace activist group. Leaving the workshop, I walked with the peace activist to the next gathering. She told me she had never been raped and that she could not imagine her personhood being violated in such a traumatic way. Read the rest of this entry »

Confidence, culture, childcare and cash: four factors which Anne-Marie Goetz of UNIFEM identifies as keeping women out of high level decision making bodies in both public and private spheres.

Confidence: women need to learn that their voices are essential for the best decision making to happen. This will only sink in when men as well as women welcome the full participation of women at every level of political and public debate. It will also only happen when women support women and don’t feel that their own individual inclusion in the elite is change enough.

Culture: we need to work for a radical attitudinal change in cultures where women are still purposely excluded from public life. And we need to ensure that women’s participation is more than token in cultures which only superficially include women.

Childcare: women need to know that their children are not losing out through their mother’s choice to participate in the world outside the home. We need to create societies where child-caring is a shared responsibility between women and men and where there is funding to allow families to pay for help when needed. Which leads us to the fourth and final factor:

Cash: women are the poorest of the poor – 70% of the world’s poor are women. Equity of pay, and social assistance proportionate to need, are essential prerequisites to allow women to offer themselves for public office.

And one final churchy question: exactly how well is your denomination doing in including women at every level of decision making? We should be leading the way, not lagging behind!

UNIFEM released yesterday its biannual global report, Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009, “Who Answers To Women: Gender and Accountability”.

From the press release:

The new report is being published at the halfway point to the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDG’s and six days before the Secretary-General of the UN will convene a High Level Meeting to examine the world’s progress towards meeting the MDG’s.

“Progress” presents new data providing clear evidence that women’s empowerment and gender equality are drivers for reducing poverty, building food security, reducing maternal mortality, strengthening justice, and enhancing the effectiveness of aid.

Download the report, or learn what it says by checking out the interactive feature on their website.  Either way, you’ll be gaining valuable material.

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    UN Radio
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    Although women are outpacing men in achieving higher levels of education, they are still more likely to pursue the humanities as opposed to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That's according to the World's Women 2015, a UN report which looks at how women worldwide are faring in eight critical areas such as health, education, work, p […]
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