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On 22 June, at 01:30am, an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck the south-eastern provinces of Paktika and Khost in the Central Region of Afghanistan.
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I am gravely concerned by the Taliban's announcement that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives. Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right. It is an absolute prerequisite for women’s ability to exercise the full range of their rights and to be active participants in society.
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UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives.
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What does it mean to make laws gender responsive and survivor-centred in the context of ending violence against women? In simple terms, it means to ask survivors of violence about how a specific law would impact their daily lives and then draft laws with the input received. When drafting laws, it is important to engage with women, and the people that support them, such as those who work in shelters, and not just assume what the impact will be on survivors. It is extremely important to speak to survivors and ask them frankly what would make their lives easier. We ask survivors what laws would make them feel safer, and hold the offender accountable, knowing that, especially in the case of domestic violence, the relationship between offender and victim may continue.
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The rights of migrants across the Asia-Pacific region have seen considerable progress in the three years since the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) was adopted. However, much remains to be done, particularly ahead of the first international review in 2022 (International Migration Review Forum), to effectively face both longstanding and emerging challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UN Women, the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women signed a letter of intent committing to strengthen their partnership to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. The complex humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan is marked by gender-specific restrictions that directly impact the ability of women and girls to realize their rights. Afghan women and girls face unique vulnerabilities and risks as gender inequality is interwoven with conflict dynamics and humanitarian needs.
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The delay is a setback to the tireless advocacy and dedication of civil society and women's rights activists, who have long fought for a comprehensive legal umbrella that protects the rights of victims and survivors of sexual violence.
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“Women have a right to peaceful protest and to a life free of violence. In taking control of Afghanistan the Taliban authorities assume a duty to respect and protect these rights,” Pramila Patten said. “I am shocked and outraged by the images of women in Afghanistan being whipped, hit with shock batons and beaten simply for exercising their right to peaceful protest. I stand in solidarity with all Afghan women who are fighting for the respect of their fundamental rights.
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“Women’s political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. Women’s participation in all walks of life is essential for an inclusive, strong, and prosperous society in Afghanistan, both to meet the many challenges the country faces today and to succeed tomorrow. It is therefore critical that political decision-making processes are participatory, responsive, equitable, and inclusive,” stated Pramila Patten.
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In line with the statement by the UN Secretary-General, UN Women remains fully committed to support women and girls in Afghanistan. We will remain operational and engaged with our partners at this critical juncture for the country.
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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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Statement by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for World Environment Day, 5 June 2021
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UN Women joins the United Nations Secretary-General and the UN family in Afghanistan in strongly condemning the horrific attack near a school in Dasht-i-Barchi, Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed and injured scores of civilians, including many girls. Attacks such as this constitute a grave violation of the rights of children and human rights more broadly.
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We call upon Myanmar’s military and police to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly is fully respected and that demonstrators, including women, are not subjected to reprisals. We further call on the military and police to respect the human rights of women who have been arrested and are currently being detained and reiterate the calls for the immediate release of all detainees.
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As the world marks International Women’s Day, women across Myanmar are once again demonstrating their leadership and agency following more than one month of political instability and violence in the country.
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In her statement for International Women's Day, UN Women Executive Directory Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: "We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all."
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On 9 February 2021, there were several reports from Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and other cities in Myanmar of demonstrators having been injured by security forces in connection with the peaceful disobedience movement sweeping across the country. It was later confirmed that Ma Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing a 19-year old woman, who was shot in the head by security forces, was the first reported victim of this violence.
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In a statement for World AIDS Day, 1 December, UN Women highlights the need to accelerate action towards gender equality, ending violence, supporting leadership and the full enjoyment of their human rights for all young women and girls, especially those affected by both coronavirus and HIV
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Earlier this year, as containment measures were imposed across Asia-Pacific in response to COVID-19, a shadow pandemic spread – domestic violence against women and children.Women and children found themselves trapped in situations of harm, confined in the same space as their abusers, isolated from peer support and cut off from services. Just as needs grew, services, including shelters, faced severe disruption.
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Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action serves as a transformative blueprint for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.Despite a steady progress achieved in twelve critical areas of Beijing Declaration, it will take time to fully realize those commitments.Structural gaps and challenges still persist in society. COVID-19 pandemic has risked further aggravating inequalities. We should not let the pandemic stall our progress.