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Myanmar’s population is facing a double crisis from the COVID-19 and the military takeover of February 2021, which is steadily wearing out their social and economic resilience.
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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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Ko Aung Lin, a 36-year-old famer and a member of the Mro ethnic group, lives in Ah Htet Myat Lay village, Ponnagyun Township, in Sittwe of Rakhine state in Myanmar’s far west. He is the only man among the 10 volunteers chosen in Rakhine for a joint project by UN Women and United Nations Population Fund to prevent violence against women and girls and help survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions delayed the start of the project.
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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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Upon her return to Myanmar in 2019, she invested her savings of MMK 200,000 (USD 122) in her online business. “Doing business was not really in my plan while I was in Thailand,” she said. “But I knew that I am good at using phones and social media. I knew the area and some people. When I returned to Myanmar, I felt certain I could start my online shop. I am still young and can get around easily to take orders to customers, especially with my motorbike,” she said.
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After 11 years away, Aye returned to Myanmar in 2014 pregnant and with around 10 million MMK (USD 6,075) in savings. She spent most of that on a house and used 1,500,000 MMK to start her sewing business in 2015. She felt that she was at her best when sewing, and also felt confident that she had learned to be punctual, systematic and disciplined. Ni Ni Aye says she dreamed of starting a clothing business back in Thailand ever since she started working in Thailand. “I remitted half of my salary to my parents and I saved the other half for my dream business.”
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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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An initiative in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, north-western Pakistan, is teaching women, and the wider public, about their right to feel safe in public spaces, and what they can do to fight harassment and violence, including on public transport. Information stands have been set up in bus stations, containing leaflets on what constitutes harassment, and what legal resources are available for women if necessary.
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To prevent an added humanitarian crisis in the already-vulnerable Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 24 Rohingya volunteers are working with UN Women to mobilize their communities and raise awareness on COVID-19.
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In Pakistan, women from marginalized social classes face multiple challenges and are often only able to work from home. Of the estimated 20 million Home-Based Workers (HBWs) in Pakistan, 12 million are women, and according to UN Women’s Status Report 2016 on Women’s Economic Participation and Empowerment in Pakistan, women account for 65 per cent of the PKR 400 billion (USD 2.8 billion) that HBWs contribute to Pakistan’s economy.
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Khawng Nu* was 22 years old when she was trafficked from the state of Kachin, northern Myanmar, to China. There are few job opportunities in the conflict affected and impoverished state, so when a woman from her village offered her work in a factory in China, Khawng Nu happily accepted. Upon arrival in China, she discovered that her womb would be the ‘factory’. “They give pills to women and inject them with sperm for them to carry babies for Chinese men..
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Tractors and dump trucks busily transporting material for a coal-fired power plant bustle amid the softly sweeping sand dunes of the sprawling Thar desert, in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Powering her orange dump truck, Rukhsana, 37, seems unstoppable in making a mark in this male-dominated field: “Through this driving training, I gained the strength and courage to face the world. Initially, I got a lot of criticism from my...
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Launched for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in November 2016 through social media, UN Women Pakistan’s #BeatMe campaign gives an unconventional twist for women’s rights and their equality.   In challenging stereotypes in a country grappling to end violence against women and in public and private spaces, the #BeatMe campaign, spearheaded by a one-minute video, aims to inspire women and reaffirm that they are...
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“It’s a nightmare what we have gone through - displacement, camp life and survival” “Disasters affect everyone, but for women the impact is doubled”“We have seen our women give birth while being evacuated - many had miscarriages as we ran and walked the 8-hour route to safer grounds [camps]. They should have been provided with health facilities along the way. One mother put her baby in a carrier bag as she couldn't carry the child - it was dead when she...
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Shahzadi Gulfam has had the pleasure of serving in 4 different UN peacekeeping missions. In August 2011 she was awarded the first-ever UN International Female Police Peacekeeper Award for her many years of achievements including supervising 150 police officers conducting criminal investigations, and being the first female to represent Pakistan in the UN’s Mission to Bosnia Herzegovina in 1997. Currently she is a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Punjab, Pakistan. Q&A with...
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Every year we commemorate the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers on 29 May, paying tribute to those who served in UN peacekeeping operations and honoring those who lost their lives in the cause of global peace. This day - along with 5 June observed as Pakistan’s Peacekeepers Day in honour of 24 brave Pakistani soldiers who sacrificed their lives while ensuring safety of the people of Somalia in 1993 - re-iterates Pakistan’s commitment with...
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She was a perfect target for human traffickers: an orphan, 20 years old, poor and with little chance to make any income, living with her siblings and grandmother in Yangon. So the woman left when a broker promised a job in Meiktila, in the Mandalay Region, about 518 kilometres (322 miles) north of Yangon by road. But when she arrived, she...
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Author : Faria Salman Photo: UN Women Pakistan Muniba Mazari , 29, is Pakistan’s first National Ambassador for UN Women - the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, appointed in December 2015. In her first International Women’s Day message Muniba shares: “No one can empower a woman but herself. When you empower yourself you empower your whole generation. This International Women’s Day take the charge of your own life and tell...
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Imagine if you could order delicious homemade food for lunch and have it delivered at your work or home every day, while at the same time contribute to empowering a female home based worker. This vision may soon be a reality in Pakistan. Recently UN Women organized a skills development workshop in Lahore on ‘Women and Food Tech Sharing Economy: Employability and Empowerment’ to enable Pakistani women to focus on self-efficiency and resourcefulness through innovation. The training...
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Following the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s announcement on 21 January 2016 of the first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, the UN announces Ms. Fiza Farhan from Pakistan as a Member of this High-Level Panel. As a Panelist, Ms. Fiza Farhan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Buksh Foundation will provide recommendations for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve economic outcomes for women and promote...