Messages from the Resident Coordinator
U N I T E D N A T I O N S
Remarks at the launch of the 16 days of activism campaign to end gender based violence
delivered by Ms. Mikiko Tanaka
Resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative
25 November, 2018
As voices against Gender Based Violence grow stronger and louder, this year’s Global theme is Orange the World: #HearMeToo. Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to fulfill women and girls’ human rights. All in all, the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - to leave no one behind - cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls.
SDG 5 is about achieving Gender Equality and includes the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and girls. UNDP supports national partners to develop and implement the required legal and policy frameworks to combat sexual and gender-based violence in collaboration with sister UN agencies.
UNDP is partnering with UN Women to compile comprehensive national data on prevalence, nature and response to Gender Based Violence including violence against women.
UNDP and UNAIDS work with civil society organisations for legal change to end discrimination and violence against LGBT.
UNDP also works to mainstream gender equality throughout their development activities. UNDP works with FAO to strengthen disaster management capacities of women in rural communities – a gender strategy for disaster risk management in the agriculture sector will soon be launched.
The Gender Inequality Index in the 2018 Human Development Statistical Update by UNDP shows continued gender-based inequalities in Guyana.
In Guyana, 32 % of parliamentary seats are held by women, which is highest in the Caribbean region, but there is still scope for parity. Girls and young women do better than boys and young men in education, but female participation in the labour market is 40 % compared to 75% for men. Women on average earn only half the income of men.
Although a growing number of Guyanese women today actively participate in the public, professional and informal economy sectors, women and girls still face numerous gender-related barriers which hinder their social and economic empowerment.
Violence against women – particularly domestic violence – remains socially and culturally accepted nation-wide and is directly linked to the power control men try to exercise over women. Sexual violence against women and girls also remains prevalent and lack of punishment for perpetrators further reinforces abuse.
Data is not available but reports from women indicate that sexual harassment in the workplace is quite common. As women around the world speak out and stand up against sexual harassment, the UN System wishes to work together with the Ministry of Social Protection to take concrete steps to eliminate sexual harassment.
Eliminating gender-based violence requires holistic and persistent approaches to secure a safe, respectful and dignified environment for women and girls in everyday life from home to school, workplace, streets and transport, public services, stores, markets and in communities.
Let me end with a message from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres:
“This year’s theme highlights the UNs support for survivors and advocates and it is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play. Orange the world: #HearMeToo is a global movement that we celebrate today, as we look forward to the coming 16 days devoted to ending gender-based violence. Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free of fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.”
U N I T E D N A T I O N S
MESSAGE ON UNITED NATIONS DAY 2018
Ms. Mikiko Tanaka
As people all around the world seem increasingly polarised in their differences, Guyana must unite behind the idea of a safer, more cohesive and more sustainable future, with no one left behind. The 2030 Agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) presents an exciting future vision for Guyana - no poverty, zero hunger, access to sanitation and safe drinking water for all Guyanese. These goals and others aim to preserve Guyana’s rich cultural and environmental heritage by promoting a nation whose laws, economy and infrastructure allow everyone to participate equally in them. These goals are ambitious, but they are attainable.
The 17 SDGs are necessarily overlapping and interconnected. SDG 5, Gender Equality, is particularly important for the achievement of the other 16 SDGs. Gender equality is not just about girls and women; it is about fostering a society in which no one is limited by other people’s standards, where every citizen’s strengths are utilized, and where everyone can enjoy the full benefits of free choice and equal opportunities. In Guyana, we are starting from a point in which gender-based violence, social stigmas and unequal access to the job market are important reminders of the task ahead. I’d like to touch on just some of the ways in which the United Nations is putting gender equality at the forefront of all of our work in Guyana.
UN Environment leads the UN Country Team in their role to support the Government in elaborating the Green State Development Strategy, incorporating the SDGs. Gender equality is a cross-cutting principle to ensure a better life for all Guyanese.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has conducted research on gender in the workplace with a view to promote decent work for both women and men. In one area where many women are employed, ILO helped register the Red Thread Domestic Workers’ Cooperative to improve the employment situations for domestic workers throughout Guyana.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting women in indigenous and rural communities in managing community enterprises and being prepared for risks from climate change. Access to early warning systems, access to microfinance and women’s networks are some of the ways in which women’s capacities are being strengthened.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is also placing emphasis on assisting rural women to improve resilience to disasters by introducing agriculture best practices in seven (7) villages where women farmers are most vulnerable. FAO ensures that gender is mainstreamed in all of its programme in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, food and nutrition security and sustainable management of natural resources.
The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) have provided support to mainstream gender in health planning and programming. Work is ongoing with the Ministry of Public Health to ensure universal health for everyone inclusive of access to services and health coverage and healthcare providers trained in responding to Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence against Women.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) are all helping to strengthen Health and Family Life Education in schools to reduce teenage pregnancies while making sure that teenage mothers are able to continue studies. UNAIDS helped Guyanese women living with HIV to participate in a Caribbean leadership training to empower women and reduce stigma in HIV programmes.
UNWOMEN is undertaking a prevalence survey of gender-based violence in Guyana that would inform policies and actions to prevent and curb gender-based violence and to support victims and survivors. In so doing, quality gender equality statistics will be made available to meet policy and reporting commitments.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is strengthening national systems to prevent and curb human trafficking, where women and girls are vulnerable targets that require particular attention and protection. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also works with IOM in protecting women and girls among migrants from exploitation.
These are just a few examples of how gender is being incorporated into all areas of the UN’s work in Guyana, with the aim of assisting the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana in building a safer, more inclusive and more equitable society. The UN remains committed to working to reduce inequalities in all its forms. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says, and we believe, that we do not give up this work “…because we know by reducing inequality we increase hope and opportunity and peace around the world.”