United Nations Day – UN Women Schemes, Initiatives & Empowerment Work

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Every year on 24th October, United Nations Day is celebrated all over the world to reflect the official creation of the UN. Ever since its inception in 1945, the United Nations is considered an organisation of repute. Their work in several areas including gender equality, economic development and women empowerment definitely deserves a round of applause. Amongst their many wings, they have a full-fledged entity dedicated towards women. Also known as UN Women, it became operational in 2011. Their main objective is to accelerate progress towards meeting the needs of women and girls worldwide. All around the world, women are denied access to education and healthcare, and are constant victims of gender wage gaps and lack of access to decent employment. They are also under-represented in economic and political decision making. To end the oppression faced by women and offer them a better quality of life and standard of living, UN Women was formed.

United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women )
Image Source: UN India

UN Women – Flagship Programmes

Through this blog, we aim at highlighting the most important UN schemes for women empowerment, and the current work done in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Ending Violence Against Women

Violence against women and girls needs no introduction. It has been prevalent from a time immemorial. Did you know? One in three women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, which has devastating consequences. To help women who are victims of domestic violence, UN Women is constantly finding ways to prevent the same against women and girls. They are promoting steps towards their safety, protection and recovery. Some of the initiatives taken include early education, respectful relationships, and working with men and boys. For more than 10 years, they have taken steps to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

  • Leadership and Political Participation

Women across the world aspire to become effective leaders. However, unfortunately, women face several restrictions towards political participation. While they’re underrepresented as voters, they are also considered inadequate to be elected. To address these capacity gaps, discriminatory laws and obstacles, women political candidates are given training to build their capacities. Initiatives are taken to ensure women’s fair access to political spheres as voters, elected officials, candidates and civil service members. The motive is to end women electoral violence.

UN Women's Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka | UN Women –  Asia-Pacific
Image Source: UN Women - Asia Pacific

  • Economic Empowerment

As much as women make contributions towards the economy by way of their business, as entrepreneurs or by doing unpaid house work, they are still victims of poverty, discrimination and exploitation. To put an end to this, UN Women has partnered with various organisations that help women secure decent jobs and accumulate assets. Their main aim is to offer better access to resources to marginalised groups including rural women, domestic workers and migrants.

  • Women & Girls with Disabilities

Women with disabilities experience various types of impairments that may or may not come with functional limitations. Owing to their distinctiveness, they are pushed to the extreme, marginalised and experience profound discrimination. Some of the repercussions include lower social and economic status, increased risk of violence, and limited access to education and safe healthcare.

To tackle the same, UN Women are making concerted efforts that will promote disability inclusion and gender equality. To enable equal representation, they are actively involving women with disabilities in intergovernmental meetings.

  • Humanitarian Action

During times of crisis, women and girls should not be viewed as helpless victims. Instead, they too should have an active role in preparing for, and responding to, crises. UN Women works towards crisis prevention, preparedness and responsiveness by training women and girls. Just like men, they too are made a part of a humanitarian community. They are taught how to address risks, reduce vulnerabilities and promote resilience when death, injury, terror or destruction strikes.

  • HIV and Aids

A common factor that contributes to the spread of HIV is gender inequality. When women negotiate for safer sex, they face backlash because of unequal power dynamics with men. This makes sexual violence rampant, and enhances the risk of HIV transmission. Also, women living with HIV struggle with exclusion and stigma. Therefore, UN Women strives to bring gender equality when it’s working on HIV and AIDS. They continually empower women by training and guarantee their rights so that they can protect themselves from infection, overcome stigma and seek better support.

Thus, with these flagship programmes, UN Women aims at amplifying the voices of women and creating a more inclusive society.

Women Rise for All | United Nations
Image Source: un.org

UN Women’s Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably impacted the lives of women and girls. To mitigate the impact, UN Women has developed targeted responses that will aid in long-term recovery.

The response framework focuses on the following five priorities:

  • Gender-based violence, including domestic violence, is mitigated and reduced

It’s no surprise that domestic violence has dramatically increased in the lockdown. To mitigate these risks, UN Women is continuously developing strategies that will give women access to essential services including health, justice, hotlines and shelters. They’re working with local governments and women organisations of various countries at a grassroot level to deepen support and ensure safe public spaces for women and girls during the crisis.

  • People support and practice the equal sharing of the burden of care

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about several changes including school closures and an overloaded health system. This increased the burden on care and domestic work which put women at the risk of poverty and unpaid work. To challenge these stereotypes, UN Women decided to execute behaviour change campaigns, develop adequate public policies, and enhance the support given to domestic workers. A campaign called #HeForSheAtHome was also run to inspire men and boys to balance the workload in a household.

  • Social protection and economic stimulus packages serve women and girls

A lot of women in rural and backward areas are still victims of informal employment. They’re subject to lower wages with little or no income security and social protection. The economic empowerment of women is severely threatened due to the pandemic. To address this impact, UN Women decided to extend their support toward women-owned enterprises, conduct social and economic assessments, and create more opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Kudos to UN Women for continuously making the world a better place to live in for women and girls all over the world. Their relentless efforts have managed to uplift the lives of human-beings who were battling violence, inequality and economic insecurity for years.

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