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Women’s Vital Role in the Emerging Markets

Tue, Feb 26, 2013

Human Rights, Women and Children

BaronessGoudieSpeaking Nov 2011

A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST

I recently participated in the ‘Symposium on Gender Inequality in Emerging Markets’, at Green Templeton College, Oxford, with 50 leaders from government, public and private sectors, civil society and academics. Attendees included Jane McAuliffe president of Bryn Mawr College and an important voice in efforts to connect women’s education with global gender equity, as well as H.E. Shaukat Aziz, who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

During the symposium it was overwhelmingly agreed that gender inequality is likely to be more acute in the emerging markets and this demands both national and international action.

There are a number of ways that gender inequality can be addressed. But now is the time to stop talking and move to take action. The issues are global and the need for action in the emerging markets is crucial.

There are a number of areas where women’s roles can be improved and supported within these countries:

Education
One of the key issues is to ensure that girls have equal access to education; this reduces economic inequality by enhancing girls’ employment and productivity. We need to encourage girls’ access to primary, secondary and tertiary education, ensuring that girls enjoy safety and privacy, including access to segregated sanitary facilities, the lack of which is widespread and is an impediment to girls’ attending and continuing their long-term education.

Governments and the private sector must be encouraged to create internships and mentoring for girls who finish secondary schools.

Technology
Technology plays a very important role in alleviating gender inequality, by liberating women from isolation. The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women have pioneered this and shown that expanding women’s use of mobile telephones not only creates opportunities but can also open communication channels for women. Access to technology can also address gender imbalances by providing open access to information. By enabling further access to mobile phone applications, women will be able to access information for healthcare, legal rights, security and banking, offering women a new independence.

Empowering Women in Communities
Many women in emerging markets spend a great deal of time taking care of their families and on commercial activities in communities. Recognising the potential importance of communities as incubators of positive change, governments and civil societies should support community education programmes, centers for community development and social activities that empower women and help to bridge the gender gap.

Human and Sex Trafficking
The first step to combatting human and sex trafficking is for global leaders to recognise that it is a global crime. More enforcement laws are needed in the emerging markets prohibiting sexual and labour exploitation of women and men through domestic, international trafficking and slavery. Further work needs to be done in countries that are sources of demand for trafficking. By strengthening the controls and increasing the number of convictions against the trafficker gangs, it will start to send a message of zero tolerance. It should not be forgotten that this is now a billion pound business and linked to so much other criminal activity, including terrorism and money laundering.

Access to Finance
No one doubts that without access to finance women’s economic empowerment and gender equality is not possible. In June 2012, the communiqué of the leaders of the G20 declared ‘We recognise the need for women to gain access to financial services and financial education, and call for the GPFI and OECD/INFE to identify additional barriers women may face.’ Governments from the emerging markets must give leadership to encourage the banks in their countries to incorporate gender equality conditions in loan and credit agreements. Facilitating access to finance is a major part of securing gender equality, without finance women cannot take the steps to secure independence.

Emerging market leaders need to focus on these key areas to enable true economic development, by empowering women and not only focusing on their rights to health care and education. Access to technology, finance, supporting community projects and combatting human trafficking are all areas that need to be addressed and supported by country leaders to really deliver development and ensure that women are not only receiving the opportunities they deserve, but also have the opportunity to contribute to their economies.

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Women, Peace and Security – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Women, Peace and Security 

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the first of its kind to specifically address the unique impact of conflict on women, and women’s important contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Passed in 2000, it marked a watershed moment when the international community formally recognized the integral role of women and gender to peace and security. UNSCR 1325 has remained an essential tool for encouraging governments to fulfill their obligations to ensure women are included as agents for peace and security in all processes, and its framework has inspired further action by the UN and civil societies and governments around the world to mainstream gender into their work on conflict resolution.

 

Following UNSCR 1325, subsequent Security Council Resolutions further defined the importance of women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding. Resolutions 1820, passed in 2008, and 1888, passed in 2009,  recognize sexual violence as an issue of international peace and security and reiterate the need for a comprehensive response to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Resolution 1960 created specific steps needed for the prevention of sexual violence, and Resolution 2106 in 2013 looked specifically at accountability for crimes of sexual violence. The most recent resolution on women, peace and security, UNSCR 2122, aims to strengthen measures to improve the participation of women in all phases of conflict resolution and prevention.

 

UNSCR 1325 and successive Resolutions are an important show of international support that ensure women, peace and security are on the agenda for international organizations and governments across the globe, but there are many steps between the passage of such resolutions and their full implementation on the ground.  One tool that helps bridge this gap are National Action Plans(NAPs), written plans that specify how a country will mainstream gender, and the principles of 1325 into its defense, development and diplomatic activities. Over 36 countries in the world have drafted NAPs, and that number is growing every year.

 

In addition to government- and UN-level documents and programs, it is important to consider the work women do in more informal, Track II diplomatic and peace negotiations. Around the world, women are active as civil society leaders, and in many cases, such as Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, their grassroots work has played a major role in peace processes.

 

For more resources on women, peace and security, visit The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and SecurityPeaceWomenUSIP, and The Institute for Inclusive Security.

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