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[Press release] UN Women and foodpanda Pakistan have reached a mutual understanding for the cooperation and promotion of gender equality in the workplace through initiatives undertaken to address and implement strategies pertaining to gender-responsiveness and an environment devoid of discrimination and harassment.
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The agreement was signed today in Lahore by Sharmeela Rassool, country representative of UN Women Pakistan, and Wajeeha Khalid, business head, Nishat Mills Ltd (Apparel Division). Nishat Mills is also a signatory of the global Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a set of guidelines for businesses to safeguard and promote women’s rights and empowerment in the workplace.
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Over 40 youth from across Nepal sent pitches for developing videos focusing on the social norm they wanted to change. Five pitches on the themes of Chhaupadi (a form of menstrual exile where women and girls sleep in small huts or animal sheds during menstruation and immediately after giving birth), caste-based discrimination, issues of queer and disability and gender identity were shortlisted for filmmaking.
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“Women and men play a multi-faceted role in peacebuilding. Violent extremism is a phenomenon that impacts everyone and men and women are equally vulnerable to being affected and recruited by extremist ideologies,” says Durr e Maknoon, Director General Outreach of National Counter Terrorism Authority, Pakistan (NACTA).
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Kamala Thapa, 39, an indigenous Magar woman, is Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Manager at the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Research and Development, a non-governmental organization in Kathmandu, Nepal.
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Sharada Bista is the founder and chair of Disability Rights Promotion Forum in Nepal. She is from Doti District, in the Sudurpaschim Province of Nepal. Her drive to fight for those rights comes from growing up in the far west of the country with a physical disability herself. "My lived experience as a woman with a disability is what drove me to become a disability rights activist. I grew up watching society discriminate, insult, and shut away people with disabilities. Determined to overcome these injustices, I knew that a community was only as strong as its members who are furthest behind,"
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A fatwa was issed against me; they condemned me for normalizing obscenity and indecency among women by persuading them to come out of their homes. … I said, ‘You should also give a fatwa against Hazrat Khadija (the first wife of Prophet Muhammad) because she was also a trader.’ “God has not made us as weak as we have made ourselves.”
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Before the pandemic, Pariyar was able to get food and other essentials on loan from shops in her village and clear the bills when she received her wages, but things became increasingly difficult for Pariyar and her family under lockdown. “Without daily wages, my debts kept adding up. The shops were reluctant to give me more food without money, so my family started cutting down on food,” shares Pariyar.
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“Society as a whole should standup and protect women against harassment,” the president told a national seminar on protection of women against harassment, adding it is our religious duty. “Harassment cannot end only with legislation but with collective effort of society”He also said that we have a similar duty to respect women’s full property rights, which unfortunately is not protected in some parts of the country.
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UN Women hosted a convention on CSR4Women – The Untapped Potential in Islamabad on September 21, 2021. The event was supported by the Government of Norway and chaired by Sima Kamil, the Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. The convention brought together business leaders, CEOs of private companies, heads of Chambers of Commerce, development partners and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) experts.
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Around 6.3 million Nepalis lack citizenship certificates, with a higher proportion among women and marginalized communities. When a person is without citizenship certificates, this can put them at the risk of being stateless. In addition, in Nepal, the citizen certificate is required for accessing most basic services such as opening bank accounts, owning property, or even buying a mobile sim card.
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More than 41 per cent of women lost their jobs during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nepal. Responding to their practical needs, UN Women with support from the Government of Finland has been ensuring their access to food and nutrition through women-managed community kitchens across Nepal. Pushpa Sunar is one of the 123 people employed in the community kitchens, which is providing an income to the women working there and helping to alleviate the care burden among other women, as well as build trust and cohesion in the communities.
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At the age of two, my leg became disabled due to polio. I didn’t realize how sheltered and protected I was from society’s gossip when my parents were alive. My parents encouraged me to pursue education – not to let polio limit life’s opportunities. Unfortunately, by 2005 both my parents had passed away. Being one of the eldest siblings, I took upon myself to look after my six sisters and two brothers. To make ends meet, I took on numerous odd jobs and used to crawl my way to clean people’s homes or wash clothes. In 2007, I pursued a fashion design course to strengthen the hand embroidery lessons I had received from my Dadi (grandmother).
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In recent months, South Asia has had some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases globally, driven predominantly by the second wave of the pandemic in India and Nepal. Since January 2020, India has reported over 30 million cases and more than 400,000 fatalities, figures that are likely substantially underestimated. Cases in Nepal rapidly spiked in mid-April 2021, with over 635,000 confirmed cases by the end of June and at least 9,000 deaths. Both countries have seen critical gaps in life-saving vaccines, treatment and tests, and in skilled human resources.
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From supplying food and hygiene products, to training health workers and nurses in COVID-safe protocols, providing personal protective equipment to front-line responders, protecting women’s livelihoods and sustaining shelter and essential services for survivors of violence, UN Women is channeling its funds, programmes and expertise to support women’s organizations on the ground. We are also working with national and state governments in India and Nepal to promote gender-responsive policies that support women’s recovery from the crisis.
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[Press release] The European Union and its partners launched a programme that aims to promote the rule of law and enhance the criminal justice system in Pakistan, with a specific focus on the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan. Anchored in the vision that an enhanced and reformed justice sector is the only sustainable solution for addressing critical and systematic weaknesses in justice delivery, the programme spans from 2021 till 2025, and is financed with EUR20 million.
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Maria Mahmood has spent the past 13 years improving the Pakistani police force to respond to the needs of women and girls. She is the role model for many women police officers. Photo was taken on 13 March 2021 in Islamabad, Pakistan. "When I started working as a police officer, I thought the process was simple and just. But I was shocked to see the deep-rooted bias of a patriarchal police force. The criminal justice system is discriminatory, and also stigmatizes victims of violence and does not provide efficient support for them."
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Since 2017, as part of the UN Joint Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls, UN Women and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have been assisting Mahmood and the Pakistani police force to better address the needs of women and girls who experience violence. The programme, which ended in 2019, was implemented by the Government of Pakistan in partnership with UN Women, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNODC and the World Health organisation (WHO), and was funded by the Governments of Australia and Spain.
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In the past 18 months, by trapping women with their abusers, COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have worsened the already-widespread violence against women while preventing many of them from getting help. But even those who do manage to contact the police come up against another long-standing challenge: a culture and system that treats the survivor as a big part of the problem.
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We have come a long way, from struggling to manage our own expenses to registering our very own company and employing women workers. It gives me immense joy that many households are prospering because of our work. When someone in need comes to me and I am able to help them, that’s what fulfilment and real joy is. So far I have transformed the lives of 200-250 women. The people who used to criticize me now come and ask how they can improve their income.