UN Women UK Briefing Meeting September image
Members of the UN Women UK Briefing Club

OCTOBER UPDATE

Once a month, the UN Women UK Briefing Club shares trusted intelligence from the UN’s operators on the ground in countries like Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as information about policy discussions taking place closer to home relating to women’s safety in the home, workplace and in public. It’s an incredible honour to be privy to this and meet these driven and committed women.

At the October meeting, we focused on the outcome of the UN General Assembly’s 78th session in September from a gender equality perspective.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the main policy-making organ of the United Nations and comprises of all 193 member states. It provides a platform for discussing international issues and every member state has a vote on new policies and decisions.

The current emphasis is Peace, Prosperity, Progress and Sustainability.

UN Women’s focus is naturally on UN’s 5th Sustainability Goal – Gender Equality, and the situation is sadly looking very dire.

At the current rate of progress, it will take another 286 years to reform the legal frameworks to create gender equality globally – and this is of course unacceptable. We need to speed up the process.

To end child marriage by 2030, progress must be 17 times faster than it was over the last decade.

More than 1 in 10 (12.5%) of women and girls aged 15-49 were subjected to sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner in the last year.

1 in 4 women in England and Wales have experienced sexual assault, included attempts, since age of 16.

It’s our priority to speed up the gender equality progress, by using our voices; creating campaigns, sharing information and supporting women as much as each and every one of us can in our own way and capacity.

This year has been a tricky year for the UN General Assembly. Nations seem to be avoiding participation. Why? Because of leadership not meeting UN policies and goals on immigration, environment and other urgent issues.

When UN’s General Secretary, Antonio Guterres, sent out a note before the session, that only countries that can show they have ambitious policies to reduce emissions in line with the goals of the Paris agreement would be allowed to participate in the climate ambition summit, leaders got cold feet. What was worse – facing public shame or declining to come? Excuses were made, and Rishi Sunak was to be the first prime minister in a decade to avoid attending the meeting.

France’s president Macron made similar excuses to UK, most likely due to immigration connected policy reasons, and China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladmir Putin, India’s Narendra Modi were all absent.

It’s with the ambitious and brave women of our world, that hope for progress is resting. Together we need to step forward and speak up, raise awareness and ensure that more women are part of decision making at all levels. We know that with more women at the helm, our world will be more gender equal, prosperous, safer and peaceful.

There are currently 56 countries with ongoing armed wars in the world, 5 more than in 2021. Ranging from drug wars, terrorist insurgencies, ethnic conflicts, and civil wars, from Ukraine, Myanmar and Sudan to Israel and Afghanistan, trapped in the middle between the barrels are women and children. Used as weapons of war, raped, displaced and killed, it’s always the innocent who suffer the worst.

Currently, 1 in 6 children worldwide, or 468 million children, live less than 50km from or within an armed conflict. This is incredibly disturbing figures and utterly unacceptable.

The oppression and harassment of women worldwide is still prevalent, and countries like Iran and Afghanistan are stepping up the control of women rather than backing off.

Only a year ago, Mahsa Amini was murdered in Iran for not wearing a hijab, and another 300 women were killed following the protests in the country.

Closer to home, Italy is cancelling 33 birth certificates for lesbian couples, with this saying there’s only one way to be a family.

And here in the UK, parts of the government was talking about scrapping the Human Rights Act.

As women we all need to support our sisters in these countries and speak up against oppression.

But last, some good news now, because there is some good news too:

In Pakistan, only 1,2% women have owned land, but more women are now getting land titles. Owning land will generate personal income, which will give women more protection and support the whole family and more countries should follow suit.

Mexico is removing penalties for abortion.

And here in the UK, for the first time, the proportion of women in boardroom roles at listed British firms has risen above 40 per cent. FTSE 350 companies set a 2025 deadline to achieve the 40% target, which they hit three years early. Ten years ago, 152 of the 350 listed firms had no women on the board at all.

I hope you will step forward and do your part for gender equality, because with gender equality, we will achieve peace, prosperity and equality for all.

Mi Elfverson

Founder of EyeStorm Women

www.eyestorm.org.uk

If you want to get involved, get in touch on [email protected] or see campaigns and other news on:

UN Women UK

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