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SDG Goal 3 in Vietnam During the U.N. Summit for 2015, world leaders decided on 17 goals that they would like to track around the world. These goals would help motivate changes for a better future and identify where these changes were most needed. Titled, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — these goals range from conserving and creating a sustainable industry in the ocean (SDG goal 14) to ending poverty in all forms (SDG goal 1). Moreover, the U.N. rates the status of a country and its ability to achieve a certain SDG by 2030. This article will provide a brief update on SDG goal 3 in Vietnam.

Vietnam, a country located in Southeast Asia, has achieved several of the goals. For instance, Vietnam has achieved the goals for quality education (SDG 4), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13). One of the goals, however, the “Good Health and Well-Being” (SDG 3) has been rated as the furthest from achievement with the “major challenges remain” status.

SDG 3: A Deep Dive

The description of SDG 3 is simple but will require a great effort to achieve; “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Some of the sub-scores — specific statistics that have led Vietnam to the depleted state of wellness and well-being goal include the high incidences of tuberculosis, traffic deaths and the percentage of surviving infants who received two Word Health Organization recommended vaccines.

Some of the greatest identified challenges include the control of communicable diseases, such as the aforementioned tuberculosis score, creating healthcare equality and accessibility. These issues share a strong connection because some new policies that have improved the control of communicable diseases in one sector are not established in others.

Improvements to SDG 3

Though the scores may be an indicator of a national problem in Vietnam, they have led to great improvements. In response to the inaccessibility score, the health service delivery has improved greatly. For example, there has been an increase in investment for healthcare facilities that are accessible to all Vietnamese. Also, the ability of Vietnamese to pay for healthcare is increasing as the coverage from insurance rises. In 2017, 86.4 % of Vietnamese had health insurance. Moreover, the National Tuberculosis Control Programme helps identify those who need treatment. This has continued to reduce the incidence over the years.

Traffic accidents are another low score for SDG goal 3 in Vietnam — something unique to the country. Accidents, injuries and deaths are all counted into the well-being score for SDG 3 in Vietnam. While the number of incidences has decreased, an estimated 14,000 people continue to lose their lives due to traffic accidents each year. The National Traffic Safety Committee and WHO have started a road safety project that works on reducing the number of deaths and accidents. The initiative holds a large focus on motorcycle safety and the prevention of drinking while driving.

What is Currently Being Done?

The inequality and inaccessibility for healthcare and sources of well-being, such as nutritious and reliable sources of food are especially culpable concerning child mortality statistics. The national statistics show a hopeful decreasing trend but have revealed stunning discrepancies between ethnic and regional groups. Highlighting this — child mortality in some mountainous regions in the Northwest and Central Highlands are four times as high as the national average. To create a way in which all children can be treated equitably, the Sustainable Health Development Center (VietHealth) has developed many programs to help mobilize primary care, screenings and disability care.

Vietnam is currently facing several different challenges in reaching the SDGs for 2030. However, with the help of (among others) the National Tuberculosis Control Programme, the road safety programs and VietHealth, much progress can be made in the next decade. Vietnam and the U.N.’s SDGs have proved to be a valuable resource for highlighting severe issues and motivating organizations and governments to improve conditions for citizens around the world.

Jennifer Long
Photo: Flickr

Tech Access PartnershipScience, technology and innovation are critical factors that contribute to socio-economic development. They are the engines of economic mobility in advanced countries and allow these regions to respond to dynamic challenges, with greater ease. However, a global, digital divide exists between developed and developing countries. This divide is caused by differences in access to technology and the infrastructure that supports it. Moreover, the digital divide has far-reaching implications beyond just a particular society’s relationship with communication technology and internet coverage. A lack of digital access also hinders access to medical technology, industrial and operational technology and production capability. Below is more information about an exciting initiative called the Tech Access Partnership which aims to address the core of the issue.

A Need Emerges

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and advanced medical devices increased, sharply. Yet, countries with limited production capability were unable to distribute the necessary resources, due to limited technical knowledge, shortage of manufacturing facilities and insufficient compliance with state regulations. These local deficiencies highlighted the urgent need to fill the gap in the production capabilities of underdeveloped regions. Through addressing these local deficiencies, these regions would enable themselves to respond effectively to the crisis and meet their citizens’ needs.

Thinking Long-Term

The Tech Access Partnership (TAP) is the United Nations Technology Bank’s latest collaboration involving the U.N. Development Program, U.N. Conference on Trade and Development and the World Health Organization. The program launched in May of 2020 to increase the production of essential, life-saving medical technology through technical expertise and market integration. By providing training and resources to developing countries, TAP hopes to create sustainable operations as opposed to temporary solutions, to bolster long-term production.

The Tech Access Partnership

The Tech Access Partnership has three main functions. First, it provides emerging manufacturers with design specifications, product information and technical knowledge to increase production capabilities. Second, the partnership also offers guidance regarding market information and production regulations. Furthermore, the scope of the project continues with providing technical support to tackle issues that arise during manufacturing processes, itself. Third, the organization acts in a partnership development capacity  by forging partnerships with private sector companies and global organizations alike. This aim is to provide expertise, optimize production and accelerate distribution.

Technology Access in a COVID-19 Era

In the past, inequalities in the field of technology have had an impact on educational attainment and opportunities for youth. Today, they pose an increased challenge — technology is a crucial component of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without access to life-saving medical technology and protective equipment, developing countries are unequipped for responding to the devastating impacts of the virus. By providing these countries with the resources and expertise to produce these items themselves, TAP promotes self-sufficiency that can speed up the path to recovery. TAP’s mission of creating equity in the field of medical technology is crucial to the pandemic response. By expanding the skills and capacity of local manufacturers, the initiative will accelerate technical innovation in the long term. This, in turn, may open the doors to improved public health and steady economic growth, in the long-term.

– Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr

office of international disability rightsOne billion people, or over 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability, according to The World Bank. Despite the widespread prevalence of disability, many people with disabilities across the world struggle to access basic services, public spaces and employment. This traps many people with disabilities in poverty and impairs their health. To address this issue, Representative Dina Titus (D-NV-1) introduced The Office of International Disability Rights Act in order to create the Office of International Disability Rights within the Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

What Challenges Do People With Disabilities Face?

Disability intersects with a range of other issues, including education, poverty and health. Though 140 countries signed the Convention On The Rights Of The Child officially recognize the “the right of the child to education,” in practice this right often does not apply to children with disabilities.

Children with disabilities are less likely to have access to education than children without disabilities. This is because access needs for children with disabilities to understand educational materials, or even be able to navigate a school building, are not guaranteed in many nations. For example, unless children with physical disabilities have access to wheelchairs, ramps and accessible school rooms, they will be unable to fully participate in school. Without sufficient access to education, people with disabilities are disproportionately poor, are often unemployed and lack financial access to healthcare. According to the United Nations, 80% to 90% of working-age people with disabilities are unemployed.

Disability rights are particularly essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations, “barriers such as physical accessibility, barriers to implementing basic hygiene measures, affordability of healthcare, limitations on health insurance, and discriminatory laws and stigma, can be life-threatening in the midst of a pandemic.” Ensuring equal access to healthcare resources can help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people, many of whom live in poverty. This is where The Office of International Disability Rights Act comes in.

What would The Office of International Disability Rights Act Do?

The office would serve multiple purposes, including acting as the State Department’s advisor on disability issues, representing the U.S. within international governance bodies on the topic of disability rights and making sure that the State Department itself is inclusive of disabled people. The Office of International Disability Rights would coordinate with civil society organizations as well as the U.S. government at large and other governments to advance disability rights around the world.

To make sure that State Department practices follow disability rights guidelines, the State Department will create disability inclusion training for personnel and develop a formal disability inclusion policy. The Office of International Disability Rights would also collaborate with other offices of the State Department to ensure that disability rights violations are properly recorded in annual reports on human rights.

If Congress passes The Office of International Disability Rights Act, the Secretary of State will brief the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate on progress made on the above efforts, as well as any recommendations for legislative actions to advance disability rights.

Why Should International Disability Rights Be A U.S. Priority?

This bill has both domestic and foreign policy precedents. In 2010, the U.S. first appointed the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the Department of State. The advisor helped incorporate awareness of disability rights as part of Department policies and annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Trafficking in Persons report. Thirty years ago, the U.S. passed the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect the rights of disabled people within the U.S. to access basic services, education, healthcare, workplaces and other public spaces.

While neither of these past initiatives has solved every disability rights issue, each helped build institutional capacity and an important framework for disability rights at home and abroad. The Office of International Disability Rights Act would help build on these initiatives, in a time when the unmet needs of people with disabilities are a quickly growing international concern.

Tamara Kamis
Photo: Flickr

National Coffee Action PlanPeru is the ninth largest global producer of coffee and the world’s third-largest producer of organic coffee. However, inefficient farming techniques and unsustainable agricultural practices have posed serious threats to the coffee sector. In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the National Coffee Council and the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the Green Commodities Programme of the U.N. launched the National Coffee Action Plan in 2018 in order to increase coffee exports, improve crop quality and enhance sustainability.

Poverty in Peru

From 2002 to 2013, Peru was one of the most rapidly developing countries in Latin America with an average annual GDP growth of 6.1%. The number of individuals living below their national poverty line also decreased during this time, with a report of only 2.6% of the population living on less than $1.90 per day in 2018.

Though significant strides have been made, human development indicators remain low in rural regions. In 2001, 50% of the rural population lived in extreme poverty, but that number plummeted to 10% in 2015. Child malnutrition and mortality rates are 100% higher in rural regions and educational performance is lower than in urban areas. Lastly, the median income in urban regions was 40% greater than that of rural regions in 2015.

Peruvian Coffee Sector

The Peruvian coffee sector creates 885,000 jobs in isolated areas that might otherwise be vulnerable to extreme poverty. According to the Green Commodities Programme, it is estimated that there are 2 million Peruvians involved in the coffee production chain. In addition, 40% of agricultural land is utilized for coffee crops. Additionally, coffee profits account for 25% of Peru’s agricultural income and created $711 million of the export revenue in 2018.

However, this sector poses certain challenges, particularly for small-scale farmers who manage one to five hectares, (two to ten football fields) and comprise 85% of total farmers. Financially, farmers often face difficulties establishing credit and responding to market price fluctuations. They also struggle to afford the requisite fungicides, pesticides and fertilizers that prevent crop destruction. Replacing diseased or aged plants, a strategy to maintain efficiency, costs approximately USD $3,000 per hectare and results in most farmers prolonging the process 10 to 20 years. Environmentally, coffee crops are subject to insects, plant diseases, changing weather conditions and effects of climate change.

Additionally, lack of technical assistance concerning knowledge for best practices results in lower productivity per hectare. This decreased production rate, along with financial and environmental uncertainties, leads to expansion into new regions. It drives deforestation and environmental degradation.

The National Coffee Action Plan 2018-2030

The National Coffee Action Plan incorporates a variety of stakeholders from the public and private sectors in order to combat inefficient practices, deforestation and small-scale farmer poverty. Beginning with the analysis of stakeholder operations and a production baseline in 2016, the dialogue was then established with the National Coffee Platform between 50 organizations. This spans the production chain in order to establish a cohesive vision. Workshops were held throughout the nation and technical groups then assessed the sector’s pressing problems. Lastly, a plan was proposed and legalized in the fall of 2018.

The plan aims to increase crop productivity from 15 quintals to 25 quintals per hectare. It will also categorize 70% of coffee exports as certified quality coffee. Both of these points are marks of sustainability and consistency. Furthermore, marketing development will occur across national and international markets to increase profitability. The plan also aspires to increase producer access to necessary financial services.

By 2030, the National Coffee Action Plan strives to increase competitiveness and sustainability in the following ways:

  1. Grow coffee exports 120%
  2. Grow parchment coffee totals to 15.9 million quintals
  3. Decrease GHG emissions by 1.73 million tonnes CO2 eq.
  4. Improve living conditions in coffee sectors

Peru’s National Coffee Action Plan recognizes the environmental, economic and social importance of developing the coffee sector and reducing poverty among smallholder farmers. Other initiatives across the global coffee sector that include brands such as Starbucks and illycaffé have promoted similar practices to advance the lives of the 25 million coffee producers worldwide. Though the nation struggles with rural poverty and deforestation, the National Coffee Action Plan displays bold steps towards envisioning a more sustainable coffee sector for both the producers and the environment.

– Suzi Quigg
Photo: Flickr

Flooding in CameroonFlooding in Cameroon is common during the rainy season, greatly impacting the northern regions. In recent years, flooding has worsened in the north and harmed access to livelihoods which has impacted those in poverty. While these natural disasters are not entirely preventable, organizations are working with Cameroon’s government to lessen their effects.

History of Flooding in Cameroon

In 2015, flooding in Cameroon displaced thousands of people. The country’s capital city, Yaoundé, as well as the large population city of Douala, are vulnerable to flooding. By August of 2015, the flooding disaster had impacted 40,000 people in those cities.

The capital itself has experienced 130 floods in the past, between the years of 1980 and 2014. All of those floods caused economic damage as well as the loss of life. Flooding in cities can also lead to disease outbreaks because bugs and bacteria can live in the still floodwater.

In 2019, flooding impacted Cameroon’s northern region. The floods greatly impacted livelihoods because about 70% of people in the area are farmers. When the Logone River overflowed, it impacted the agriculture that occurs on the floodplain next to it. ACAPS, an organization that helps disaster responders through research, reported that the flooding affected things like “fishing, rice production, and pasture.”

The region in the far north of Cameroon is also the poorest. About 75% of the population experiences greater risk during floods because poorer households often live in homes made from materials such as straw roofing. These materials are not durable long-term and are, therefore, negatively impacted by floodwater. This is not the first time the Logone river and the northern region have flooded. In 2012, a flood in the area damaged 30,000 households.

The Path to Recovery

Since 2014, The World Bank has been working on the Flood Emergency Project in Cameroon. This project came into being after flooding on the Logone and in northern Cameroon. About “100,000 are being protected from annual risks of floods,” and disaster risk management and livelihoods in the region have improved.

After the 2015 floods, the government worked to decrease the number of floods that affect cities, particularly the capital. The government built a “drainage canal network” which cost about $102 million USD, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The idea of the project is to include a waste treatment and disposal plant as well as four more drainage canals.

“The first phase of the project helped to scale down the number of floods from 15 to three annually. But much still remains to be done in order that peripheries which are still vulnerable to floods are completely freed from related risks,” said Serge Mbarga Enama, an engineer at Yaoundé City Council, to UNDRR.

The government also looked at high flood-risk areas and evicted people living in those places. The danger with evicting people from these areas is that they lack enough compensation for the loss of home and some end up returning to flood-risk areas. Others are at risk of becoming homeless in big cities like the capital.

Aside from looking more closely at those living in high-risk areas, the government adopted the “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.” It is a global agreement that would last 15 years. The goal of the framework is to raise awareness about disasters in order to reduce the effects of flooding in Cameroon.

What is Currently Happening

Since the 2019 floods, the Cameroon Red Cross Society responds to disasters. The organization was able to reach affected areas soon after the floods, only taking a few days. The organization provided first aid and support services, as well as kits filled with essential household items for those in need.

The Cameroon government is still involved with the 15-year Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and working to improve disaster awareness. The UNDRR reported that the program focuses on four key aspects:

  1. Understanding disaster risk

  2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk

  3. Investing in disaster reduction for resilience and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response

  4. To “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Cameroon will continue working on the program until 2030.

Flooding in Cameroon has a major impact on the northern region, as well as big cities such as the capital. While floods impact the livelihoods of people in high-risk areas, as well as impact poorer populations more, different things right now address these disasters. The Cameroonian government along with other organizations are working to reduce the impacts of flooding on the people.

Melody Kazel
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in AfricaOn a world map of the distribution of COVID-19 cases, the situation looks pretty optimistic for Africa. While parts of Europe, Asia and the United States are shaded by dark colors that implicate a higher infection rate, most African countries appear faint. This has created uncertainty over whether or not the impact of COVID-19 in Africa is as severe as other continents.

Lack of Testing

A closer look at the areas wearing light shades reveals that their situation is just as obscure as the faded shades that color them. Dark spots indicate more infections in places like the U.S. However, in Africa these are usually just cities and urban locations, often the only places where testing is available.

Although insufficient testing has been a problem for countries all over the world, testing numbers are much lower in Africa. The U.S carries out 205 per 100,000 people a day. Nigeria, the most populous country, carries one test per 100,000 people every day. While 8.87% of tests come back positive in the U.S, 15.69% are positive in Nigeria (as of Aug. 4, 2020). Nigeria was one of 10 countries that carried out 80% of the total number of tests in Africa.

As a continent that accounts for 1.2 billion of the world’s population, the impact of COVID-19 in Africa is even more difficult to measure without additional testing. To improve this, the African CDC has set a goal of increasing testing by 1% per month. Realizing the impossibility of reliable testing, countries like Uganda have managed to slow the spread by imposing strict lockdown measures. As a result, the percentage of positive cases in Uganda was only 0.82% (as of Aug. 4, 2020).

A Resistant Population

COVID-19 in Africa has had a lower fatality rate than any other continent. Fatality rates may even be lower than reported. Immunologists in Malawi found that 12% of asymptomatic healthcare workers were infected by the virus at some point. The researchers compared their data with other countries and estimated that death rates were eight times lower than expected.

The most likely reason for the low fatality rate is the young population. Only 3% of Africans are above 65 compared with 6% in South Asia and 17% in Europe. Researchers are investigating other explanations such as the possible immunity to variations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as higher vitamin D in Africans with more sunlight exposure.

Weak Healthcare Systems

Despite these factors, the impact of COVID-19 in Africa is likely high. Under-reporting and under-equipped hospitals contribute to unreliable figures. Most hospitals are not prepared to handle a surge in cases. In South Sudan, there were only four ventilators and 24 ICU beds for a population of 12 million. Accounting for 23% of the world’s diseases and only 1% of global public health expenditure, Africa’s healthcare system was already strained.

Healthcare workers have the most risk of infection in every country. In Africa, the shortage of masks, equipment and capacity increases the infection rate further amongst healthcare workers. Africa also has the lowest physician to patient ratios in the world. As it can take weeks to recover from COVID-19, the recovery of healthcare workers means less are available to work.

Additionally, those that are at-risk and uninsured can rarely afford life-saving treatment in Africa. For example, a drug called remdesivir showed promising results in treating COVID-19. However, the cost of treatment with remdesivir is $3,120 – an unmanageable price for the majority of Africans. These factors will determine the severity of COVID-19 in Africa.

Economic and Psychological Factors

Strict lockdowns have helped some nations in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Africa but at a very great price.

Lack of technology often means that all students stop learning and many lose their jobs. More than three million South Africans have become unemployed due to the lockdown. The lockdowns have also resulted in much higher rates of domestic violence, abuse and child marriage. Many such cases go unreported and mental health services for victims or those struggling through the pandemic are unavailable. In Kenya, the U.N. has appealed for $4 million to support those affected by gender-based violence.

The slow spread of COVID-19 in Africa has allowed the continent and leaders to prepare, and the young population will lessen the impact. Although there’s reason to be hopeful, there’s no doubt that there will be an impact on Africa’s economy and future. This calls for the need of foreign assistance – not only in controlling COVID-19 in Africa but in the recovery of the continent for years to come.

Beti Sharew
Photo: Flickr

Anniversary of the United Nations
In the 75 years since its establishment, the United Nations has led global efforts to promote human rights and eradicate poverty, especially in developing nations. House Resolution 1024, in the U.S. House of Representatives, celebrates the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and its establishment. The resolution also acknowledges the organization’s role in leading responses to global crises and promoting international peace and security.

The United Nations Purpose

Established in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations (U.N.) is an international organization that is currently comprised of 193 member states. The primary bodies that make up the U.N. are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the U.N. Secretariat. The mission of the U.N. is to maintain international peace and unite peoples around the globe in pursuit of a better world. Additionally, the U.N. provides humanitarian assistance to those in need, upholds international law and protects human rights.

The United Nations & Global Poverty Reduction

For decades, the U.N. has been a leader in global efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. The first of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere. In line with this goal, the U.N. has mobilized its member states to dedicate resources to the eradication of poverty. It has facilitated cooperation between countries to support developing countries in particular in implementing poverty reduction programs and policies.

Due to global efforts spearheaded by the U.N., poverty has decreased substantially in the past few decades. For instance, from 1990 to 2015, extreme global poverty decreased from 36% to 10%. However, the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening this progress. In addition, the U.N. warns that global poverty could rise for the time in 30 years. Nevertheless, the U.N. is committed to a comprehensive and coordinated, global response to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

House Resolution 1024 (H.Res. 1024)

The purpose of H.Res. 1024 is to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. Another purpose is to call upon the President of the United States to issue a proclamation. As a result, U.S. citizens can observe the anniversary with appropriate ceremonies and activities. The resolution praises the U.N.’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and its leadership in addressing global health issues. It also commends the U.N. for its responses to unprecedented humanitarian crises and its essential role in maintaining international peace and security.

Status of the Resolution

On June 25, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations’ Charter, Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA-13] introduced H.Res. 1024 into the U.S. House of Representatives — recognizing the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the U.N. The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Additionally, it currently has 27 Democratic co-sponsors. Moreover, H.Res. 1024 is in the first stage of the legislative process.

H.Res. 1024 commemorates the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. According to Rep. Lee, it is “vital to our global community and essential to realizing a peaceful and prosperous shared future.” She notes that, since its founding in 1945, the U.N. has played a crucial role in conflict prevention, peacemaking, maintenance and the safeguarding of human rights around the world.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Pixbay

Female Peacekeepers
Major social change starts with a shift in mentality, support from the top, persistence and structure. That is why male allies are key to the full realization of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Without support and encouragement from male leaders, which are often lacking, women will be harder pressed to participate in important political decisions. Women cannot make this change on their own, and neither can men– thus, the solution lies in working together, with men as partners.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325

UNSCR 1325 is a landmark resolution that was adopted by a unanimous vote on October 31, 2000. The resolution stresses the importance of female peacekeepers in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the humanitarian response in war zones or impoverished areas, peace negotiations, and post-conflict civil reconstruction. This resolution brings to light the urgency of providing women a seat at the political table and calls on everyone to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.

The Positive Effects of Female Leadership

Women’s leadership is essential in ensuring long-lasting peace and conflict resolution. In fact, studies show that the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years goes up by 35% when women participate in its creation. Additionally, there are more agreement provisions for political reform and gender provisions in peace agreements signed by women. Typical peace agreements often do not address gender equality: in fact, of the 1,789 agreements made between 1990 and 2018, only 353 included provisions that address women, girls, or gender whatsoever. Thus, women’s involvement in these agreements could be crucial in addressing more social and gender inequalities.

Female Peacekeepers

Women are vital in peacekeeping. They are necessary in every role, from monitoring human rights to political reconciliation to operational analysis. Women are often first responders during or after conflict and are fundamental in helping to repair devastated economies. Why, then, are they still not totally equal when it comes to political roles in maintaining peace and security? How can this problem be resolved?

The Importance of Men as Partners

One important strategy is to mobilize men. Men acting as partners to women in issues of peace, conflict, reconciliation, and post-conflict reconstruction is essential to closing this gender gap, as men currently have more seats at the political table. Our Secure Future, a nonprofit dedicated to this strategy, is taking the necessary steps to build this partnership in an effort to fully realize the potential of UNSCR 1325.  Their project, Mobilizing Men as Partners for Women, Peace and Security, began in 2018 in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. It engages global figures who agree that men must be a part of the solution in the full realization of the 1325 agenda. The project has drafted a Charter and call to action to encourage the full implementation of UNSCR 1325, along with the US Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017. This partnership of men and women will help ensure that women are equally engaged as leaders, planners, and peacekeepers in post-conflict societies.

There is still much work to be done, but the increasing trend of male support for UNSCR 1325 is certainly a step in the right direction. Tackling big issues like gender-based violence and post-conflict reconstruction are not easy feats. They require strong leaders and peacekeepers. They also require both male and female perspectives for optimal success, so conflict-ridden societies cannot prosper until the political playing field is as equal as possible.

Rochelle Gluzman
Photo: Flickr

Aid for Women and Girls
A recent hearing at the United Nations Human Rights Council illuminated the impact of COVID-19 and general global health emergencies on women and girls in impoverished communities, calling for increased aid for women and girls by the U.N.

How COVID-19 Impacts Women and Girls

The U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, made a statement to the U.N. Council for Human Rights on the consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic for women and girls stating, “experience demonstrates that insecurity and displacement fuel increases in sexual and gender-based violence, as well as other crimes and human rights violations.”

Testimonies like those shared by the U.N. News Podcast The Lid is On elaborate on the implications of COVID-19. One episode features a Ugandan activist named Zahara who reports that, in addition to increased rates of violence, rural women are currently suffering limited access to education, medical care and community support due to the pandemic.

The Deputy High Commissioner stresses that the situation for many women in poor communities is already critical. She notes that high rates of teen pregnancy, inadequate access to education and high rates of sexual violence in countries like Myanmar and South Sudan have only been exacerbated by the global COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, Al-Nashif called for greater legislation to provide judicial protection and increased aid for women and girls in vulnerable circumstances now and in the future.

Supporting Women through US Legislation

Like Al-Nashif, many members of Congress are pushing for increased aid for women and girls abroad. In addition to legislation providing international COVID-19 relief, bills are aiming to create long-term solutions to the challenges faced by women and girls. For instance, the Keeping Girls in School Act recently passed in the House of Representatives and introduced in the Senate would permit USAID to allocate funds specifically to confront “societal, cultural, health, and other barriers” that prevent girls from receiving a quality secondary education in foreign countries.

Similarly, the Girls’ Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development Act (Girls’ LEAD Act) introduced in the Senate in October 2019 seeks to create opportunities to gain experience in leadership and government through USAID. By expanding programs and aid for girls abroad, supporters of the bill hope to cultivate communities where women in leadership lift women and girls from positions of vulnerability to voices for societal change.

Looking Ahead

The U.N. has made it clear that women and girls in impoverished communities around the world suffer disproportionately during emergencies like the current COVID-19 outbreak. As such, international organizations firmly believe that increased foreign aid is critical. Legislation like the Keeping Girls in School Act and the Girls’ LEAD Act would support long-term assistance to prevent women and girls abroad from these vulnerabilities not just in times of crisis, but in everyday life.

– Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Flickr