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World: Lack of women in key decision-making ‘should not be allowed’ – UN Women chief

World/03-12-2021/Author and Source:

Exclusion of women in decisions that affect their lives is “bad governance [and] should not be allowed”, the UN Women chief said on Monday, International Women’s Day.

“We stand on a crossroads as we ponder the recover from a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact women and girls”, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women said at an event celebrating the efforts of women and girls to shape a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is why, at this point in 2021, when we are at crossroads, we have to bring this to an end”, she added.

Although women have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic, Ms. Mlambo- Ngcuka shone a spotlight on the lack of women at the helm of who will be guiding the COVID recovery.

She pointed to their under representation in key institutions and emphasized that building back “will not be adequate and inclusive if it does not include women in decisions that affect their lives”.

Opportunities and responsibilities

The UN Women chief highlighted the upcoming session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as both an opportunity and a responsibility of women leaders “to call for representation of women in all decision-making bodies”.

Recalling last year’s 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for action, when heads of States lamented the underrepresentation of women in their countries, she upheld that the CSW, which will open next Monday, can address this along with continuing gender inequality – both of which will help in COVID recovery and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“This is an opportunity that cannot be missed”, Ms. Mlambo- Ngcuka said.

Women battling COVID

In celebrating women who are leading their nations and communities through the pandemic, Secretary-General António Guterres said that “countries with women leaders are among those that have suffered fewer deaths and put themselves on track for recovery”.

He also noted that women’s organizations “have filled crucial gaps” in providing services and information and while women peacebuilders have played “a vital role” in public health messaging.

“70 per cent of frontline health and care workers are women – many from racially and ethnically marginalized groups and at the bottom of the economic ladder”, the UN chief said.

Right to ‘speak with authority’

Yet despite their critical roles during the pandemic, there has been a roll-back in hard-won advances in women’s rights, which he maintained harms everyone’s work towards peace and prosperity.

“In this Decade of Action” to deliver the SDGs, “we must turn things around”, said Mr. Guterres, adding, “too often, services are delivered by women, but decisions are made by men”.

“Women have an equal right to speak with authority on the decisions that affect their lives — UN chief

Just 22 countries have a woman as Head of State, only 21 per cent of Ministers are women, and women parliamentarians make up less than 25 per cent of national legislators.

“Women have an equal right to speak with authority on the decisions that affect their lives…from the pandemic to climate change, to deepening inequalities, conflict and democratic backsliding”, said the UN chief.

Power increase

While gender equality is essentially a question of power, Mr. Guterres pointed out that in our male-dominated world, “equal power will not happen by itself”.

He spelled out the need to “transform social norms…put in place laws and policies to support women in leadership…appoint women to high-level positions…tackle violence against women, both online and offline… increase access to financing for women candidates, women’s organizations and feminist movement [and] support women leaders in all their diversity and abilities”.

While Covid-19 has been “a calamity” for everyone, he said that it has also “forced a reckoning with global inequalities, fragilities and entrenched gender discrimination”.

“Women must be at the center of the recovery as we make the course corrections that the pandemic has highlighted so vividly”, concluded the Secretary-General. “This is a job for all of us”.

Gender mainstreaming

General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir highlighted that as an International Gender Champion he was working hard towards gender equality “not just when the time is right, but to make the time to discuss gender equality”.

And so he has raised the issue throughout bilateral engagements and high-level events, including in a Special Session that featured many women in science, hoping that “by passing the microphone to women” it would inspire girls and young women to fulfill their potential and participate in traditionally male-dominated fields.

“On International Women’s Day, I think it is important to reiterate the fact that women’s empowerment is something that we need to work on every single day”, the UN official said.

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World: UN Women calls on countries to accelerate progress in women assuming decision- making roles

World/05-02-2021/Author: Beth Nyaga/Source:

New analysis from UN Women shows that despite women’s increased engagement in public life, equality remains far off. For example, women serve as Heads of State or Government in only 21 countries and 119 countries have never had a woman leader; at the current rate, parity will not be reached for another 130 years.

Additionally, just 14 countries have achieved 50 per cent or more women in Cabinets.

The data, prepared for a UN Secretary-General’s report in advance of the upcoming UN Commission on the Status of Women, demonstrates global trends, persistent barriers and opportunities for women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life.

“These data really brings home the handicap so many countries are struggling with when they don’t have a balanced decision-making process. We’ve seen all too clearly how the lack of women in the public sector leaves governments desperately ill-equipped to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka.

When more women are elected and appointed to office, policymaking is better able to meet the needs of society as a whole.

Underrepresented groups such as rural women, women with disabilities and indigenous women are also better served when they are in decision making positions.

According to Mlambo-Ngcuka, transforming the balance of power is essential for solving the urgent challenges of our age, from deepening inequalities and polarization, poverty, the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, violence against women in public life is being used as a deterrent to keep more women from gaining access to power.

Cyber violence is increasingly common and is being used to silence women in government, as well as women rights defenders and members of feminist groups.

More than 80 per cent of women parliamentarians surveyed globally experienced on-the-job psychological violence; 1 in 3 economic violence; 1 in 4 physical violence; and 1 in 5 sexual violence.

Women parliamentarians recently reported experiencing nearly twice as much exposure to ill-treatment and acts of violence compared to men, with the COVID-19 pandemic potentially exacerbating violent threats.

The analysis and the recommendations for action in the report are part of UN Women’s commitment to responding to the complex problems of gender equality.


This also includes the Generation Equality Forum that aims to accelerate gender equality actions and enable the participation of all groups of women, especially young women.

The Generation Equality Forum is hosted by UN Women, along with the governments of Mexico and France, and in partnership with civil society.

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UK court rules Islamic faith marriages invalid under English law, prompting fears Muslim women’s rights now at risk

Europe/United Kingdom/16-02-2020/Author (a) and Source:

Islamic faith marriages are not valid under English law, the country’s Court of Appeal has ruled, in a move that could see many Muslim women denied rights when it comes to divorce.

The judgment delivered at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday overturned an earlier High Court ruling that Islamic marriage – known as a ‘nikah’ – adhered to the core tenets of English matrimonial law. These are now legally “non-marriages,” the appeal court’s decision confirmed.

The landmark ruling could have widespread consequences for Muslim couples and in particular for women, as it now means women who married under Islamic law have no redress in the English courts over division of matrimonial assets such as the family home when divorcing.

survey carried out in 2017 for Channel 4 documentary ‘The Truth About Muslim Marriage’, found that almost all married Muslim women in the UK had an Islamic marriage – with nearly two-thirds not having a separate civil ceremony.

Charles Hale QC, of the family law firm 4PB, was highly critical of the judgment, claiming that many Muslim women “have absolutely no rights at the end of what they believe to be their ‘marriage’. No rights to assets in the husband’s sole name, and no rights to maintenance.”

Responding to the court decision, Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters, a women’s rights organization which has campaigned on the issue of Islamic marriages, suggested the judgment could force Muslim women “to turn to Sharia ‘courts’ that already cause significant harm to women and children for remedies because they are now locked out of the civil justice system.”

However, human rights lawyer Shoaib M Khan suggested on social media that the Court of Appeal ruling may not have fundamentally developed the law, saying, «Isn’t this just trite law for decades now?»

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At least 97 killed in 2nd wave of protests in Iraq: UN report

Asia/Iraq/10-11-2019/Author (a) and Source:

Demonstration-related violence from Oct. 25 to Nov. 4 caused at least 97 deaths and thousands of injuries during the second wave of demonstrations that started in Iraq on Oct. 25, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said Tuesday.

According to a report published by the UNAMI, although Iraqi security forces displayed more restraint than in the early protests, particularly in Baghdad, the unlawful use of lethal and less-lethal weapons by security forces and armed elements requires urgent attention.

The report stated that the UNAMI has found that serious human rights violations and abuses continued to occur in the second wave of protests in Iraq.

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said the report highlighted areas where immediate action is needed to stop the vicious circle of violence, and stressed once again the imperative of accountability.

Since Oct. 25, demonstrations have been going on in Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, improvement of public services and job opportunities.

Early in October, mass protests erupted across Iraq for similar reasons.

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Informe Mundial de Human Rights Watch 2019

Por: Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide.

We scrupulously investigate abuses, expose facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice.

Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all. Human Rights Watch began in 1978 with the founding of its Europe and Central Asia division (then known as Helsinki Watch).

Today it also includes divisions covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and the United States. There are thematic divisions or programs on arms; business and human rights; children’s rights; disability rights; the environment and human rights; health and human rights; international justice; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights; refugees; terrorism and counterterrorism; women’s rights; and emergencies.

The organization maintains offices in Amman, Amsterdam, Beirut, Berlin, Bishkek, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Goma, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Kiev, Kinshasa, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Moscow, Nairobi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, São Paulo, Seoul, Silicon Valley, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Tunis, Washington DC, and Zurich, and field presences in more than 50 other locations globally. Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.

Descarga el documento: world_report_2019. Human Rights Watch


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Palestinian children’s education deeply impacted by ‘interference’ around West Bank schools, UN warns

Asia/ Palestina/ 21.5.2019/ Source:


Alarmed by a high number of reported incidents of interference in or near Palestinian schools in the West Bank since the beginning of the school year in September, the UN called on Wednesday for them to be better-protected from the effects of Israeli occupation.

“Classrooms should be a sanctuary from conflict, where children can learn and develop into active citizens”, said Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the region in the joint statement with UNICEF Special Representative, Genevieve Boutin, and UN educational, scientific and cultural body UNESCO.

Highlighting the impact of the incidents on safe access to education, the statement noted “threats of demolition, clashes on the way to school between students and security forces, teachers stopped at checkpoints, and violent actions of Israeli forces and settlers on some occasions”.

In 2018 alone, the UN documented 111 different cases of interference to education in the West Bank affecting more than 19,000 children.

“Children should never be the target of violence and must not be exposed to any form of violence”, said the two senior UN officials in the region, appealing for a safe learning environment and the right to quality education for thousands of Palestinian children.

Settlement activity ‘clear rebuff’ to two-State solution says UN rights expert

The Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory also issued a statement on Wednesday, calling on the international community to “take decisive action in response to Israel’s recent intensification of settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which amounts to a clear rebuff of a two-State solution”.

“If the settlements steps by Israel are left unanswered by the international community, we will be driving past the last exit on the road to annexation”, Michael Lynk added, stressing that the settlements “are the source of a range of persistent human rights violations”.

He said the last year has seen “a marked rise in incidents of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank” whereby “in many cases, Israeli forces, obligated to protect the Palestinian population under international humanitarian law, stand idly by while olive trees are destroyed, livelihoods are damaged, and even while people are injured or, at worst, killed.”

He said the events in the West Bank village of Al Mughayyir on 26 January were a “sobering example of this extremely troubling phenomenon, where a Palestinian villager was shot dead in the presence of Israeli settlers and soldiers. These incidents not only violate numerous human rights such as the rights to life, security of the person, and freedom of movement of Palestinians, but also serve to expand the area of land over which Israeli settlers have control,” Mr. Lynk stated.

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Where’s the aid money gone? Afghan girls’ struggle for education (Vídeo)

Asia/ Afganistan/ By: Melissa Fung/ Source:

Despite billions of dollars being poured into girls’ education in Afghanistan, conditions at schools remain rudimentary

Kabul, Afghanistan – «See, this is our school. You can see where the girls are.»

Sixteen-year-old Mahnoz Aliyar is one of the 14,000 students of Kabul’s Sayedul Shohada school. The road leading up to the school gate is not paved and potholes full of muddy water make it difficult to navigate. Conditions are little better inside the gates.

Mahnoz points to a big open field.

«You see? We don’t have any classrooms, we don’t have any buildings, and we don’t have enough facilities for the girls.»

Some classes are held under makeshift tents; others are held out in the open, with nothing to buffer the girls from the elements of Afghanistan‘s punishing summers and bitter winters.

While the girls persevere through rain, hail or shine, boys attend classes inside several buildings on the school grounds.

Still, the fact that girls are attending school is a huge improvement from the days of Taliban rule, when girls and women were banned from getting an education.

Thanks largely to the efforts of international donors who have spent billions of dollars rebuilding the Afghan education system, millions of girls have returned to school since the Taliban fell in 2001.

However, their exact numbers are unknown.

‘He was saying that school is not good for girls’

A 2017 World Bank report suggests that as many as 66 percent of Afghanistan’s girls are not in school. And those who are enrolled still struggle to get an education. They have to fight against a society that has long discouraged them, a corrupt system and a lack of proper facilities that disadvantages them.

Mahnoz has been a student at Sayedul Shohada since the first grade. She’s now in grade 11 and hopes to attend the American University in Kabul after she graduates next year.

«I want to learn there. After that, I want to get a job. After that, I plan to go into politics. I want to go into politics and I want to supply everything for the girls. That’s my wish.»

But it will take more than her own fierce determination if Mahnoz is to achieve her goals.

First, she needs her country to be stable. According to a recent Human Rights Watchreport, instability is one of the main reasons why so many girls are out of school. Families are less likely to send girls to school in insecure conditions than boys.

Even in the relative security of their neighbourhood, the Dascht-e-Barchi district of west Kabul, Mahnoz’s father, Allahdad, says he worries about Mahnoz and her younger sister every day when they make the half-hour walk to school. He has reason to be worried – a recent bomb blast just two kilometres from their school killed 60 people.

I want to learn there. After that, I want to get a job. After that, I plan to go into politics. I want to go into politics and I want to supply everything for the girls.


In addition to safety concerns, cultural norms still dictate many girls’ lives.

Allahdad was at first reluctant to allow Mahnoz to go to school. But she’s managed to convince him otherwise.

«Before he was saying … that school is not good for girls,» she recalls. «And the girls should work in the home, cleaning, washing, these things. But right now, he is OK. I am always saying to him the world has changed. And we should learn knowledge, we should go to school.»

Mahnoz’s father, Allahdad, at his shop in West Kabul. First reluctant, he now wants Mahnoz to study medicine at university, but she is more interested in politics [Max Walker/Al Jazeera]

If the struggle to get to school is one hurdle, girls face even more obstacles once they are enrolled.

An independent review of corruption in the education system revealed that the poor quality of education leads many parents to pull their daughters out of school.


Muzaffar Shah, the former director of Afghanistan’s anti-corruption agency, says that’s because teaching jobs often go to those who can afford to bribe their way into jobs rather than those who are most qualified.

«Our findings show that there was more discrimination against women,» he says. «Whereas males had more access to get those jobs – either through recommendations, through knowing people, through knowing influential people. And this was not the case for females.»

An estimated 75 percent of teaching graduates are unemployed, with most of them being women who do not have those connections or cannot afford to pay a bribe.

Getting more female teachers into classrooms could mean more families would be willing to send their daughters to school – many families will not accept men teaching their girls.

There was more discrimination against women. Males had more access to get those [teaching] jobs – either through recommendations, through knowing people, through knowing influential people. And this was not the case for females.


‘If there are ghost schools, who gets the money?’

The anti-corruption report also found that most schools still lack basic infrastructure, despite the billions of dollars international donors have invested in construction and rehabilitation of school buildings. Most, according to the report, are still incomplete.

«Our findings show that literally money was taken in cash to remote parts of Afghanistan by the trustees, and we had information that the money did not make it to the right people,» Shah explains.

Money was taken in cash to remote parts of Afghanistan by the trustees, and we had information that the money did not make it to the right people.


Back at Sayedul Shohada, Aqeela Tavakoli, the principal of the girls’ school, explains that Japanese donors built two new buildings for the girls five years ago. But the school shura, or local council, decided to give those buildings to the boys.

Aqeela points to a large patch of ground near one of the new buildings and says: «That is for the girls, but no one has come to build a school.»

Because of the deteriorating security climate in Afghanistan, most donors can’t get out of their embassy compounds to monitor the projects they support. That lack of oversight, Muzaffar Shah says, can often drive corruption.

«The schools are located in areas which are insecure. It’s hard to know if those schools are there or not – if there are ghost teachers, if there are ghost schools, if there are ghost principals, who gets the money?»

Girls at Sayedul Shahada school carry their makeshift blackboard to a tent. With most buildings given to the boys, the girls’ classes are often interrupted by rain [Max Walker/Al Jazeera]

‘We’ve learned hard lessons’

Jeff Cohen, the deputy mission director for the largest donor, USAID, acknowledges that his government could have done better.

«Just because as a donor, you want to build a school in this place, doesn’t mean it’s the right school to build,» he says. «I think we’ve learned lessons – hard lessons. We’ve tried to do a lot very quickly. It’s still a process. Self-reliance is a long-term goal,» says Cohen.

Self-reliance is something Mahnoz has learned in her 16 years. Asked whether sometimes it all just seems too hard, a fiery determination flashes in her big brown eyes.

«If I face a problem … I am saying to myself, that ‘Mahnoz, this situation is not good. You have to change this situation.’ And just by starting you can change first your family, then your neighbourhood, and after that … you can serve your people.»

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