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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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Sittie Janine M. Gamao, 32, is a Peace Programme Officer V, Ministry of Public Order and Safety in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Philippines. Gamao helps to resettle in mainstream society former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the violent extremist groups Maute/ISIS and Abu Sayyaf. She also helps widows of slain fighters.
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Aileen Hualde considers it her duty to help resolve conflict. She and other female volunteers created the Community Quick Response Team in South Upi, in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, first to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic there. Then the team worked with the local government to help almost 600 people displaced by communal conflict while giving priority to the needs of women and girls.
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This year, in honour of and the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and International Women’s Day theme, UN Women put a spotlight on the intersectionality of gender inequality and climate change with an event on the theme: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” underscoring how women and girls continue to bear the burden of climate change while leading empowerment and sustainability efforts across the globe.
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Kert Tandog has been working for two years with the Liyang Network, which raises awareness of front-line environmental activists in Mindanao. One focus is training Indigenous communities on legal literacy and land property laws.
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The Philippines Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed an agreement in 2014 to end the protracted conflict in the Bangsamoro region of the southern Philippines. But while the agreement included provisions on empowering women, women and other groups including indigenous peoples, people living in conflict-affected areas and former combatants are at risk of being pushed to the margins.
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[Press release] A joint pilot project between the Bridging Recruitment to Reintegration in Migration Governance (BRIDGE) Program and Connected Women promises to help women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) returning to the Philippines, including those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, get a foot in the door of the digital economy.
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[Press Release] UN Women and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed an agreement today to continue working together to promote women’s equality and empowerment in Asia and the Pacific. The memorandum of understanding formally extending the partnership to March 2027 was signed in an online ceremony by the bank’s president, Masatsugu Asakawa, and the executive director of UN Women, Dr. Sima Bahous. The two sides had been cooperating since 2016 under an earlier 5-year agreement.
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Over the years the people of Sulu province in the Philippines have experienced armed conflicts, violent extremism, kidnappings and multiple displacements. The province now is part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Nurrunihar Mohammad is a provincial representative for the Bangsamoro Women Commission and a former-combatant of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
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Police Lieutenant Colonel Melbeth Mondaya is Gender and Development Focal Point of the Philippine National Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. The region has long been affected by private armed groups, violent extremism and violent clan feuding. In November 2021, Mondaya participated in a workshop on women, peace and security organized by UN Women and Bangsamoro Women Commission in cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
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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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Rakhine State, Myanmar – Daw Aye Mu had always wanted to learn how to expand her small business making snacks in western Myanmar. In July 2021, she was selected to attend the UN Women and World Vision Start to Improve Your Business (SIYB) training, along with a cash grant from partner organization Meikswe Myanmar. She explains how the opportunity was a stroke of personal good fortune amid difficult times for her country.
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On December 3, 2021, winners of the annual Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards for 2020 and 2021 gathered at the ceremonial kick-off of the WEPs Winners Circle to celebrate gender equality champions and discuss how to further the work to advocate for women's empowerment, gender equality, diversity and inclusion across the workplace, marketplace, and community.
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Nine Philippines-based companies championing gender equality and women’s empowerment were recognized at the 2021 Philippines Women Empowerment Principles WEPs Awards by UN Women and the European Union, which distinguish outstanding initiatives and practices that promote gender inclusivity in the business sector. These winners will compete at the regional WEPs Awards in Bangkok on 18th November 2021.
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UN Women considers it essential to promote digital literacy so citizens and activists can counter with messages of tolerance and peace.In Mindanao, separatist groups fought the central authorities for decades; tens of thousands died. A 2014 peace treaty between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front led to the establishment in 2019 of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. But challenges persist because of the slow progress of the new governance system, communal conflict, violent extremism, and threats to social cohesion brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Naw Moh Moh Than, 18, aspires to become a teacher but she has had her journey disrupted several times. When she was in secondary school, armed conflict in Kayin State forced her and her family to flee to a displaced persons camp. With the help of one her teachers, she resumed her schooling in the nearest town but then the COVID-19 pandemic forced all the schools to close since the start of 2020. Still, Naw Moh Moh Than remained determined. She joined a sewing training that UN Women organized in the camp and made cloth masks that humanitarian groups bought and distributed to women across Kayin State, which is mostly populated by the Karen ethnic minority.
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A landmark funding opportunity to support local women’s organizations across the country to engage in conflict prevention and promote sustainable peace was launched today in the Philippines by the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF)*. This new, rapid and flexible financing is being made available for applications from women-led and women’s rights organizations.
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Since February 1, women and girls have been at the frontlines as leaders of civil society organizations, civil servants, activists, journalists, artists and influencers exercising their fundamental rights to express their hopes for the future of their country. Even before the coup, women, who make up 75 per cent of Myanmar’s healthcare professionals, were at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. Now, during a tragic surge in COVID-19 cases, many women continue in their activism and serve their communities while also assuming significant responsibilities as caregivers for sick family members, and for their children’s home-based learning.
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Gaiotree Roy lives in Joldhaka, Rangpur in northern Bangladesh. She is currently studying Master of Arts in Philosophy. She is a karate trainer and steps away from achieving a black belt, the last stage of mastery in karate. She actively contributes to preventing gender-based violence and child marriage in her community. I am Generation Equality because… “I don’t want to see girls at risk of early and forced marriage..."
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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.