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“We … have a host of cultural barriers that prevent women from seeking help. For example, victims of violence are often threatened not to go to court and are subject to extreme physical and psychological abuse. Women also find legal battles as a ‘hassle’ to their daily lives, because they have to juggle multiple responsibilities at home and work.
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Based on international standards, many policies have been put forward to ensure the safety of women and to address inequalities. However, implementation is lacking. If a woman goes to the police station to make a complaint, the system is such that they don’t often feel safe and protected.
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[Press release] During her official visit to Sri Lanka recently, the Officer-in-Charge for UN Women Asia and the Pacific met with key partners to reaffirm UN Women’s commitment to ensure that women and girls are not left behind amidst recovery from the ongoing economic crisis.
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Using her skills in palm-weaving, Lucia, 42 sells a variety of custom-made products to provide an additional income to her family. “For us, even a small income goes a long way”, she says. Lucia has been specializing in palm-weaving since 2014. However, from the beginning of her craft-making career, she has had to face persistent challenges to prove her capabilities in what she calls a ’man’s world.” The trainings and support provided to Lucia and Kamalawathi are part of a project titled Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka, which UN Women implements with the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre-Schools and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and Education Services.
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Addressing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence is an integral aspect of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. 46-year-old L.D. W Sanjeewani is a Chief Inspector of Police, serving in the Polonnaruwa Police Division in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. She has over 25 years of experience helping survivors of violence.
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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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[Press Release] In Sri Lanka, women are denied equal access to the jobs market not just because of family or social factors, but also by employers. This is the focus of a report launched by UN Women today, titled Gender Disparities and Labour Market Challenges: The Demand for Women Workers in Sri Lanka. This report is amongst the first in the country to illustrate the largely unexplored factors on the part of employers and firms that prevent women from entering the paid workforce.
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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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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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[Press release] SALAM was launched by the Governance of Labour Migration in South and South-East Asia (GOALS), a regional programme jointly implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UN Women, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The hub seeks to be a one-stop platform serving policy makers, civil society actors, social partners and other stakeholders with knowledge, information, networks, and policy solutions leading to positive changes in labour migration policies and practices.
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Bhagya Krishanthi, 43, is the owner and manager of a boarding house and a small corner grocery store in Malabe, a suburb a few kilometres outside of the commercial capital of Colombo. She built up her store from humble beginnings, first selling simple items such as coconuts, oil and eggs, then expanding into a larger variety of goods when more capital and profits trickled in.
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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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Shreen Saroor runs the Women’s Action Network (WAN) in Sri Lanka, a collective of women’s groups that empowers and advocates for women and women survivors of war, violence and other injustices. As the Generation Equality Forum – a landmark event to catalyze rapid advancement on gender equality – approaches, she calls on leaders to close the gaps between policies and implementation. The Forum is convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, in partnership with youth and civil society.