During the 36-year-long Guatemalan civil war, indigenous women were systematically raped and enslaved by the military in a small community near the Sepur Zarco outpost. What happened to them then was not unique, but what happened next, changed history. From 2011 – 2016, 15 women survivors fought for justice at the highest court of Guatemala. The groundbreaking case resulted in the conviction of two former military officers of crimes against humanity and granted 18 reparation measures to the women survivors and their community.
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Women's full and equal participation at all levels of society is a fundamental human right. During times of conflict, women's participation in resolving conflict and negotiating peace is especially important to ensure that women's rights are protected, experiences are recognized, and that peace lasts.
Tanya Gilly Khailany, from Iraqi-Kurdistan, is a former member of the Iraqi Parliament (2006 – 2010) and a co-founder of the SEED Foundation, an organization that works with survivors of violence and trafficking in Iraq. An outspoken women’s rights activist, Ms. Gilly Khailany was one of the key parliamentarians who legislated the 25 per cent quota for women in Iraqi provincial councils. As an expert on political participation and peacebuilding, she recently spoke at a side event on the margins of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly on 26 September in New York.
Faidah Suleiman is the Superintendent of Police, Gender and Children Desk in Tanzania. With 20 years of police experience, she has been part of the Gender Desk since it was established in 2009. In 2014, UN Women, with support from the Governments of Norway and Sweden, partnered with the Gender and Children Desks to improve the quality of services provided. Today, there are 417 Gender and Children Desks nation-wide, which received more than 31,000 reported cases of violence against women and girls in 2017.
A group of United Nations agencies has issued a joint statement calling for a ban on tests meant to assess the virginity of a girl or a woman, which is a common practice in at least 20 countries. The statement, which was issued during the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) in Rio de Janeiro, stresses that such tests are both unscientific, and a violation of human rights.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2019, which will take place on 8 March, is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. The theme will focus on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.
Marking International Day of Rural Women, on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on countries to ensure that women and girls living in rural areas can enioy their human rights as this would enable making “progress for all”.
At thirty, Olga Macz is a teacher and entrepreneur, and a force to be reckoned with. She leads a women’s group in Campur, a small municipality in the mostly rural Alta Vara Paz department of Guatemala, which makes and sells organic shampoo. For many of the women, this is the first time that they are making their own money and making decisions.
Alphonsine Nyiranzeyimana, a farmer from Cyahinda, in the southern part of Rwanda, says that learning new farming techniques completely changed her life. She’s not exaggerating. Today, Nyiranzeyimana is the leader of a farmers’ cooperative and the yield on some of her crops has more than doubled. The agricultural sector accounts for a third of Rwanda's GDP and more than 70 per cent of Rwandan women are engaged in farming activities since their childhood. Yet, they don’t have the same access to land, production inputs, finance or markets as men.
On the International Day of Rural Women, UN Women calls upon the international community to work with rural women and girls everywhere and to invest in the sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection that can revolutionize their livelihoods, well-being and resilience.