UN launches initiative to highlight commitments to end violence against women and

“We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation,” said the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet. According to UN women, currently, there are 125 countries which have laws that penalize domestic violence. However, up to seven in 10 women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.The new initiative, COMMIT, asks governments to make national commitments that will be showcased globally, encouraging countries to come up with new policies to protect victims.“We hope to see new and improved laws and national action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free health and legal aid to survivors,” Ms. Bachelet said. “We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls.” “We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women,” she added.There are high expectations that governments will agree on framework to tackle violence against women and girls in March at the next session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is expected focus on this issue, UN Women noted in a news release.The announcement of the COMMIT initiative comes days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which falls on 25 November. read more

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Deprived of school future of 24 million children in conflict zones under

“Children living in countries affected by conflict have lost their homes, family members, friends, safety, and routine. Now, unable to learn even the basic reading and writing skills, they are at risk of losing their futures and missing out on the opportunity to contribute to their economies and societies when they reach adulthood,” UNICEF Chief of Education Jo Bourne said. The analysis highlights that nearly one in four of the 109.2 million children of primary and lower secondary school age – typically between six and 15 years – living in conflict areas are missing out on their education. South Sudan, which was thrown into turmoil when conflict erupted between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar two years ago, killing thousands, displacing over 2.4 million people, and impacting the food security of 4.6 million, is home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children. Over half (51 per cent) of primary and lower secondary age children have no access to an education. Niger is a close second with 47 per cent unable to attend school, followed by Sudan with 41 per cent and Afghanistan with 40 per cent. In countries affected by conflict, collecting data on children is extremely difficult and therefore these figures may themselves not adequately capture the breadth and depth of the challenge, UNICEF stressed. The agency fears that unless the provision of education in emergencies is prioritized, a generation of children living in conflict will grow up without the skills they need to contribute to their countries and economies, exacerbating the already desperate situation for millions of children and their families. Education continues to be one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals. In Uganda, where UNICEF is providing services to South Sudanese refugees, education faces an 89 per cent funding gap. “School equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the conflict is over, and in the short-term it provides them with the stability and structure required to cope with the trauma they have experienced,” Ms. Bourne said. “Schools can also protect children from the trauma and physical dangers around them. When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation and recruitment into armed groups.” During episodes of instability and violence, schools become more than a place of learning. UNICEF is working to create safe environments where children can learn and play to restore normalcy to their lives. Despite these efforts, security restrictions and funding shortfalls are affecting education and the distribution of learning materials in conflict situations. read more

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