2022: UN honors women fighting for their rights

Looking back on the past year, 2022, the United Nations wanted to pay tribute to the work of activists who have demonstrated their immense courage in defending the rights of women, victims of attacks in many countries.

The UN, which is committed to empowering women and girls, works tirelessly with activists and organizations around the world to protect women from abuse, support health policies that affect them and improve their living conditions. life

Women under the control of the Taliban in Afghanistan

August marks a year since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, sparking fears for women’s rights, already severely eroded by the regime when it ruled the country in the late 1990s. 1990.

Twelve months later, UN Women announced its commitment to continue the fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan, the only country in the world where girls are excluded from secondary education and participation. to political life.

The anniversary of the Taliban regime gives us the opportunity to remember the story of some of the women who decided to stay in their country, at the cost of a real upheaval in their lives.

First, we talk about Zarina, once one of Afghanistan’s youngest entrepreneurs, who was forced to close her once-thriving bakery amid growing restrictions on women-owned businesses, Nasima, a peace and women’s rights activist, who was forced to abandon most of her projects, but later managed to revive some initiatives, and Mahbouba Seraj, a defender of the rights of veterans, determined to stay and bear witness to the reality of his country.

Seraj’s message is food for thought for those who see Afghanistan as an exceptional case: “What happens to Afghan women can happen anywhere,” did she say.

According to her, the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade the jurisprudence that led to the national right to abortion in the United States, “destroyed years of progress, depriving women of their rights over their own bodies. Everywhere, women’s rights are suffering a setback, and if we are not careful, it will happen to all women in the world”.

Mahsa Amini: the inspiration of the wave of demonstrations in Iran

In November, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the Iranian regime’s response to protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in police custody in September after being was arrested for having, according to the vice squad“, worn her hijab incorrectly.

His death sparked protests in many Iranian cities, including by school-aged girls. The Iranian government responded by arresting thousands of protesters, including women, children, young people and journalists.

On November 22, the Office of the High Commissioner said that in just one week, more than 40 people, including two teenagers, had been killed in protests, and two days later the Human Rights Council created a fact-finding mission dedicated to investigating the protests.

I am saddened by what is happening in this country“, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, during a session devoted to the vote in favor of the mission.

As a sign of international condemnation of the Iranian repression, members of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in turn decided to exclude Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on December 14.

The CSW, which meets annually in March at the UN headquarters in New York, is considered the largest gathering of gender equality advocates in the world.

The United States introduced the resolution, which received 29 votes in favor and eight against, while 16 countries abstained.

Women facing the climate crisis

The climate crisis has been shown to disproportionately affect women and girls. In the weeks leading up to International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 6, we highlighted the ways in which women activists are improving their local environment and helping their communities adapt to an increasingly hostile climate. .

Among them are Mexican violinist Martha Corzo, who led and inspired a group of some 17,000 local environmental activists dedicated to protecting the magnificent Sierra Gorda; a group of women in Niger who involved refugees and migrants in the fight against desertification by creating a thriving market garden; and a mechanical engineer in Kenya who had to fight against gender discrimination to develop practical and affordable energy solutions.

In May, Cameroonian activist Cécile Ndjebet’s efforts to improve the lives of forest-dependent people were officially rewarded when she received the 2022 Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award, chaired by the United Nations Forestry Organization. food and agriculture (FAO).

In Cameroon, about 70% of women live in rural areas and depend at least in part on the harvesting of wild forest products for their livelihood. However, in some communities, women are not allowed to own forest property, inherit it if their husband dies, or even plant trees on degraded land.

Men generally recognize the great role that women play in improving the standard of living of families,” she said at the ceremony, “but it is important that they also agree that for women to continue to play this role, and even to develop in their function, they need secure access to land and forests”.

women in blue

Women UN peacekeepers and police officers have distinguished themselves through their service in some of the most dangerous duty stations in the world, where they have faced multiple challenges, such as threats of terrorist attacks and violence fueled by an upsurge in disinformation and misinformation in the COVID era, amid rising political tensions and deteriorating security.

On the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in May, Major Winnet Zharare of Zimbabwe received the Military Gender Advocate of the Year award, in recognition of her work with the United Nations Mission. United Nations in South Sudan, where she was a strong advocate for gender equality and the advancement of women decision-makers and leaders.

“Her diligence and diplomatic skills quickly earned her the trust of local military commanders who benefited from her advice on women’s rights and protection”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the ceremony. To add: “His approach has helped UNMISS strengthen its ties with local communities and effectively fulfill its mandate”.

In July, in a historic ceremony in South Sudan, members of Liberia’s first-ever deployment of UN peacekeepers, including several women, were awarded the prestigious United Nations Medal.

Their achievement reflects a dramatic positive turnaround in Liberia, which endured a brutal civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s before reaching a ceasefire monitored by the United Nations Mission in the country. The latter, UNMIL, has also supported humanitarian and human rights activities; and contributed to national security reform, in particular through the training of the national police and a new, restructured army.

“Our experience of 14 years of civil war and the impact of UN peacekeepers is real and tangible for those we serve on the ground,” said Elfreda Dennice Stewart, United Nations Police Officer (UNPOL).

“The peacekeepers have given us so much, and it is an honor for us to serve in this young nation under this emblematic blue flag”she argued.

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