Browse by Theme: Women's Voice

This year, world leaders are set to renegotiate global commitments on poverty, climate change and development financing. At the same time, the United Nations has commissioned major reviews of UN efforts on humanitarian coordination, peacebuilding and peacekeeping operations. It is therefore timely, but unfortunate and symptomatic, that the 15th anniversary review of UN commitments to protect and empower women in times of conflict is also happening in 2015, but in a silo from those wider reforms.

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How much does the average high street shopper pay attention to where their clothes come from? If asked, most people wouldn’t think of Laos – but according to a 2012 World Bank report, even though Laos’ production of garments is still modest compared to some of its more competitive neighbours (China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam), garment production is the largest manufacturing sector in the country, with an annual turnover of $200 million. The sector employs more than 20,000 people in over 100 factories, and as with other low-cost garment-producing countries, most of the garment workers in Laos are young (17-25 years old), female (85%) and have migrated from the country’s rural areas. But do the pull factors of rural-urban migration translate into a better life?

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When I arrived in Yasubi, a small and industrious village in the Okapa district of the Papua New Guinea highlands, I could see that most of the services we normally take for granted – like electricity, running water, accessible roads – were absent. Most of the hard-working, coffee-producing families live in traditional round huts, with smoke from a wood fire rising through the grass roof so that, from outside, the structure looks like some huge vegetable just pulled out of a pot of hot water.

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Promoting gender equality is a core belief of the Cocoa Life programme. For years we have been working with partners including humanitarian organisations like CARE International to implement programmes that empower women in cocoa communities, writes Cathy Pieters, Global Director of Cocoa Life, Mondelēz International.

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Goal 16 in the Sustainable Development Goals is one of the poor relations in the mix. Both more complex and contentious than many of the proposed 17, it seeks to secure peaceful and open societies as a global target, and is vital. However, to be truly transformational, and to have a chance of surviving the negotiations in 2015, gender has to be a core part of its formulation.

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Where culture is a major barrier to women accessing health care, engaging men in community-based development is an effective way to increase women’s access to health – and promote women’s empowerment more generally – even in contexts affected by conflict and natural disaster, as I saw for myself on a recent visit to Afghanistan...

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Every year, hundreds of women’s rights activists come to New York to lobby governments in the United Nations on gender equality during the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This year, CARE International has partnered with UN Women and the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat to convene a workshop during CSW to consult activists from countries torn apart by war and natural disasters on how to better protect and empower women and girls in times of crisis.

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