Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, data estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime. As countries went into lockdown, reports on domestic violence have spiked.
Kicking off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and as part of the global Orange the World Campaign, the BKMC hosted a virtual High-Level Roundtable titled “Tackling the Shadow Pandemic – Violence against Women During COVID-19 Times” on 26 November 2020. The multi-stakeholder event aimed to highlight the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on violence against women and girls (VAWG).
Ban Ki-moon and Heinz Fischer, Co-chairs of the BKMC, opened the BKMC’s Orange the World event showing their support in emphasizing that VAWG violates our common values as humanity.
“VAWG does not only affect victims, it impacts the entire society through multiple generations. We must engage in an open dialogue and bring all stakeholders to the table. Every field, every sector must be involved.” – Ban Ki-moon
Heinz Fischer highlighted the life-threatening aspect of VAWG and underlined that women’s rights are also human rights: “Only solidarity, empathy, and the will for action can turn this shadow pandemic around and give women and girls the rights and dignity they deserve.”
In a special message, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director called for “all hands on deck” to address the silence around VAWG and the discrimination against survivors: “We must engage as allies in this situation, and that includes men and boys.”
The highlight of the OTW event was the high-level roundtable discussing how to tackle the Shadow Pandemic with the outstanding panelists Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Angela Cretu, CEO of Avon, Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women Asia and Pacific & Trisha Shetty, women’s rights activist and founder of SheSays.
Helen Clark highlighted the need to have more women in leadership to formulate gender-responsive responses against VAWG, arguing that “More attention is paid to issues that address women when women are there to do something about it”.
Along with raising awareness for domestic violence, Angela Cretu stressed that the private sector provides the necessary economic measures to empower women: “Only 10% of women report abusers to officials in fear of losing their children or livelihood. Businesses, together with governments need to create opportunities for women to gain financial freedom.”
With a unique perspective from the Asia & Pacific Region, Mohammad Naciri underscored that victims are not only trapped at home with their abusers, but digitalization has enabled the rise of online harassment and online misogyny: “We need to expand the legislation that criminalizes harassment as stalking. This does not exist in some countries.”
Considering the dramatic increase of domestic violence cases, Trisha Shetty especially advocated taking action by investing in support services for survivors and advocating for leadership that celebrates women’s dignity and proactively acts against VAWG.
Trisha emphasized,“…we are leaving far too many behind. It is costing us progress to our society and economy.” Ending violence concerns everyone!
Watch the whole event:
Special Message from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka:
To learn more about orange the world click here.
Part of the European Forum Alpbach, this week, BKMC CEO Monika Froehler joined fellow speakers Dr. Katharina Mader (Dept. of Economics at the University of Vienna) and Dr. Mireille Ngosso (medical doctor and social democratic politician in Vienna) for a virtual discussion on the role of women during crises.
The session was hosted by the Initiative Group Alpbach Vienna (IG Vienna) and moderated by Elisabeth Lechner (President of IG Alpbach Vienna). The speakers focused on women’s role at the forefront of the Covid-19 crisis and the structures of inequality that the pandemic has brought to light.
Dr. Mader shared results from her recent study with more than two thousand participants on the impact of the pandemic on the distribution of unpaid work in Austrian households (childcare and housework). The survey paints a picture of urban, middle-class women affected by the crisis; mothers in two-parent households were found to be responsible for the same amount of unpaid care work as those in single-parent households. These initial findings illustrate that, at least in this cross-section of Austrian society, the pandemic has not altered gender-specific norms in terms of unpaid and housework.
Dr. Ngosso started her intervention by sharing her personal experience growing up in crisis – fleeing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a child and later living in a women’s shelter for over a year with her mother in Vienna. She emphasized that the current situation for African women who have lost their livelihoods is evidently much worse than the experience of Austrian women.
She also mentioned that 88% of care workers in Austria are women. However, pointing out that women have had to double burdened themselves to take care of their homes and children while holding jobs. She also shared that 85% of those now unemployed in Austria due to the pandemic are women. Additionally, she said that working hours should be made more compatible so that women can have the opportunity to work full-time jobs and not be forced into part-time work. Dr. Ngosso finished with a call to action, emphasizing that it is the responsibility of political leaders to tackle gender inequality and unequal pay especially when comes to social services jobs.
Lastly, Dr. Ngosso was asked to share a bit about her work in organizing the Black Lives Matter demonstration held in Vienna. She shared her surprise to see 50.000 people join the event, showing a strong sign of solidarity.
BKMC CEO Monika Froehler’s keynote speech focused on three aspects of women in crises: women leaders during the pandemic, women’s situation in the pandemic, and the opportunities that can come from this challenging time.
She shared that only 7% of humanity is currently governed by women even though half of the world population is women. She then noted that, in the current crisis, women leaders are outperforming their colleagues in responding to the pandemic by utilizing a more collaborative approach. She added that, while this observation is profound, it does not mean that women are innately better leaders than men.
Froehler continued by sharing the various challenges that women and girls are met with globally from child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), unequal pay, domestic violence, sexual violence, violence as a weapon of war, a lack of access to education, lack of property rights, and more. In addition, women are now facing additional negative and disproportional impacts from the pandemic.
Lastly, Froehler highlighted the opportunities that exist, emphasizing that, “Women are indeed the solution to much of this.” Women should be empowered to use an entrepreneurial mindset, to tackle climate change, to be active participants in peace-making processes, and to take on the diverse challenges we are confronted with globally.
At the end of the session, concluding that women are suffering more from the current pandemic than men, the floor was opened up for questions. One question that came up often was about the role of men in this process. Dr. Ngosso responded that “Men and women have to work together, side-by-side for change.” Dr. Mader called on men to be, “Active fathers – you are setting an example.” Lastly, Froehler added, “Men are half of humanity and we must work in collaboration to achieve what we want to achieve.”
Learn more about Forum Alpbach here.
“I don’t want you to lower your expectation, but I want you to lower your self-criticism.” – Helena Zimmerdahl from the Embassy of SwedenWomen’s Empowerment Program (WEP) is in its full swing! As a part of BKMC’s Women’s Empowerment Program, WEP GCC fellows participated in a Round Table hosted in Diplomatic Academy of Vienna on November 19. At this Round Table, Susanne Keppler-Schlesinger, Deputy Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, featured as a moderator at the Round Table. Speakers were: Lulua Asaad from UNODC, Maggie Childs from Metropole and Austrian Startups, Mona Ali Khalil from MAK Law International, and Helena Zimmerdahl from the Embassy of Sweden to Austria. Lulua Asaad asked the fellows a critical question: “What does leadership mean to you?”
She also added that leadership is not about a position one is in, but responsibility leaders are capable of taking in their world. Regarding women’s empowerment, Mona Ali Khalil said,
“It is important to have support from women within your network, while not neglecting the role of men.”
As an international lawyer, she stressed that gender parity policies should be actual actions rather than lip service and should effectively address sexual harassment/sexual discrimination issues that still exist everywhere across the sectors. Minister-Counselor Helena Zimmerdahl pinpointed ‘transparency’ as an important trait of a good leader and said we must “speak up” for ourselves to make our voices heard. Zimmerdahl also advised the fellows to
“Empowerment of women requires men who are enlightened and women who are willing empower each other.”
Maggie Childs emphasized the need for getting help from mentors, friends and other experts when necessary and said,
“look at yourself and your accomplishments from the outside” in order to empower themselves.
A follow-up workshop was facilitated by WEP Project Coordinator Viola Christian from the Ban Ki-moon Centre. The fellows were grouped into 5 and discussed advice and points made from the Round Table, which they created their own manifesto with. © BKMC / Eugenie Berger For more photos of the event, visit BKMC album.
“You don’t have to know everything before you do it… It is lonely at the top. You need to have your private space and friends who just listen to you. Having those friends would make you feel less lonely.”
“Human beings sometimes forgive, but nature never forgives,” said Ban Ki-moonas he was giving a speech on the topic of “Multilateralism in a Turbulent World” at Stanford University on April 19th, 2019. “The world is going through pronounced changes,” he said, regarding the current state of climate change. Ban stressed that there needs to be more action taken to prevent and/or adapt to climate change, and the necessity of the global citizen responsibility — specifically that of the youth and women — is paramount.
“The challenges we face are simply too numerous to be left in the hands of a few leaders,” said Ban, encouraging the audience to act as global citizens.He also expressed optimism about the Paris Agreement that was implemented at the end of his term and disappointment in the current US government’s decision to withdraw from it. Ban called for further collaboration between the US and China in addressing climate change. Read more: https://bit.ly/2UQXxx9
Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”
Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA 12th of February, 09:00 – 13:45 Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, KuwaitDear Co-chair President Heinz Fischer, Your Excellency Mariam Al Aqeel, Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi, Your Excellencies Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Salam Alaikum! First, I would like to thank the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing today’s “Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”. The title of this event truly embraces the fundamental vision and mission of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The Ban Ki-moon Centre was founded one year ago as a quasi-international organization, dedicated to the empowerment of women and youth to strive as global citizens. Since then, it has been actively engaging with numerous partners and has gained the support of committed stakeholders and entities who all seek to make this world a better place for all. Upon the generous invitation of the State of Kuwait, the Centre is currently holding its third Board Meeting in this beautiful country. Our Board is very thankful to receive the opportunity to gather here and chart the course of this young and thriving organization. The past days have been filled with productive and intensive talks about the Centre’s achievements and about what lies ahead in 2019 and beyond. We have had the unique chance to meet with the most respected leaders of this country and discuss further opportunities of cooperation between the Ban Ki-moon Centre and the State of Kuwait. Furthermore, it has been a wonderful experience to dive into Kuwait’s extraordinary culture, traditions and heritage. Ladies and Gentlemen, The work of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. Their implementation is necessary to empower women and the youth to live in a world, in which all people can thrive as global citizens. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals is one of the UN’s most significant achievements. It builds on the Millennium Development Goals and provides humanity, and our planet, with a collaborative blueprint to ensure the future we want. Adopted by 193 countries in New York in September 2015, the SDGs offer us a way forward to confront the most critical issues of our time. These include poverty, education, inequality, climate change, public health, and gender equality. Sustainability means ensuring prosperity and environmental protection without compromising future generations and our planet. And it means that women and girls are afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. Half the world are women and half the world are under the age of 25. To achieve sustainable development, it requires the active participation of us all, especially of women and youth, those whose futures most depend on the realization of the goals. During my time as UN Secretary-General I understood that young people and women are absolutely essential to solving so many of the world’s biggest challenges. Indeed, without the engagement of women and youth, we will not succeed. That is why in 2010, I established UN Women and in 2013, I appointed first ever UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi who is now a member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre. So we must do more to engage and empower these two groups as they are the enablers to achieve sustainable development. By doing so, we can help unlock their unbridled potential as the agents of change and dynamic global citizens of tomorrow. Ladies and Gentlemen, We have taken significant leaps forward in the field of global development in recent years. The international community, guided by the United Nations Millenium Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, has undoubtedly improved human welfare around the world. Extreme poverty rates were cut by half in 2010. This represents over 1 billion people and is truly an incredible achievement. During this period, the under-five mortality rate has been halved and rates of maternal deaths have been reduced by 45 percent. And since 1990, 2.1 billion people have benefited from access to improved sanitation and over 2.6 billion people now have improved sources of water. But there is still much work to be done. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s workers and their families still live on less than $1.90 a day. Over 6 million children perish each year before they reach their fifth birthday. And 663 million people remain without drinking water. This figure is in danger of worsening as a result of climate change-accelerated droughts. Inequality is also growing, both between and within nations. Since 2000, 50 percent of the increase in global wealth has only benefitted the top 1% of the world’s population. Even more jarring, a recent report indicated that just 42 rich individuals hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who comprise the poorest 50% of the global population. Challenges to the post-Second World War international order and our multilateral institutions are being felt in a variety of spheres. Our world is going through pronounced changes and this is resulting in elevated uncertainties and new risks. Tariffs and protectionism are threatening free trade, conflicts between the US and its traditional allies such as Canada are growing, and US trade wars with China and the EU are expanding. Human rights are under threat as nationalism and xenophobia spreads. Development and humanitarian funds are being slashed. Our climate is changing, and this is bringing dire risks to our ailing planet. At the same time, new technologies are altering how we communicate, live, and work. Sweeping advances in the fields of AI, blockchain, biotechnology, and robotics will alter the future of our countries, cities, businesses, and interpersonal relationships. Under this backdrop of waning internationalism and dizzying change, we must continue to work together through expanded partnerships and cooperation. We must also forge ahead through a driving commitment to global citizenship to help cope with these seemingly insurmountable challenges. At the same time we must acknowledge the progress that we have made in key areas and I am confident that we also have invaluable opportunities to change the world for the better. Much of this progress is grounded in the power of partnerships and cooperation to achieve our development goals. And much of this hope is driven by my belief in education, youth empowerment, and action. Young people are such a crucial part of the ultimate success of the United Nation’s efforts to ensure a more peaceful and sustainable world. Ladies and Gentlemen, The 2030 Agenda promises to leave no one behind – and help the furthest behind first. In a decade as Secretary-General, I have seen what is possible when we work together. The United Nations, governments and the private sector are collaborating more, with important results. We will need to activate business as never before, and quickly. We need to spread the word far and wide that every business has a responsibility to improve our world. Nearly every UN entity is partnering with companies to advance common objectives, from disaster relief and sanitation, to women’s empowerment and education. This is why the third Session of today’s symposium about “The Role and Efforts of the Private Sector in Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development” is absolutely essential. I am looking forward to listening to the insights of Kuwait’s experts in this regard. We have learned that the SDGs point the way toward the business activities and markets of the future. Now is the time to mobilize the global business community as never before. The case is clear. Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals will improve the environment for doing good business and building markets. Trillions of dollars in public and private funds are to be redirected towards the SDGs, creating huge opportunities for responsible companies to deliver solutions. The SDGs are unprecedented in their ambition – but the fundamental ways that business can contribute remain unchanged. Companies need to do business responsibly and then pursue new opportunities. In short, companies must not make our world’s problems worse before they try to make them better. Ladies and Gentlemen, Global citizenship is an important concept that can serve as a unique tool to help solve some of our most pressing challenges and assist us in reaching our global goals. Global citizens are those who identify themselves not as a member of a nation, but instead, as a member of humanity more largely. They are understanding and tolerant of other people and cultures. They fight for the protection of our planet and human rights. They are committed to service and helping others. They build bridges rather than construct walls. They look beyond the narrow prism of national and personal interests and work for a better world. And to establish long-term solutions, we need inclusive and participatory action from young global citizens as an essential ingredient to leverage the great potential of partnerships that I spoke of earlier. Let us act as Global Citizens. Let us look beyond national borders and empower each other to thrive in a peaceful and prosperous world. For the first time in history we can end poverty, for the first time in history we are all interconnected and have the knowledge of humankind at our fingertips. We have more tools at hand than ever before. Particularly the young need to be given the right opportunities to build “their tomorrow.” Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Moving forward, to have a more secure world, we must base our growth on sustainability and equality. The foundation must be human rights and, as we continue to grow, we must remain resilient and open to change. We all have the power as global citizens to be a part of insuring the sustainable development and progress of our communities, countries, and world. The SDGs are the pathway for our future and the roadmap for our continued success as human beings. This Symposium is a platform for exchanging views, listening, and understanding opinions and the positions of others. This can lead to new ideas and the birth of new initiatives, collaborations, and successes. Please allow me to conclude my remarks by saying that despite the challenges we currently face, if we join together in strong partnerships and move forward as global citizens, we can achieve our global goals and create a brighter future for all. Shukran. Thank you.
Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”
Hosted by the Ministry of Planning and the MOFA 12th of February, 09:00 – 13:45 Location: Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, KuwaitDear Ban Ki-moon, Your Excellency Mariam Al-Aqeel, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Your Excellency Khaled Mahdi, Secretary-General of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Your Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, I want to say that it is a great pleasure and honour for the delegation of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens to be here in this wonderful country and to participate in the Symposium on “Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship”. My first intensive contact to Kuwait was in 1981 when I accompanied Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky on his State visit to Kuwait. I was able to visit Kuwait for a state visit exactly ten years ago, in February 2009, when I learned to appreciate the great hospitality from His Royal Highnesses Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. I took away great memories from this visit. Today’s Symposium about Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship clearly underscores the vision of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. Our work at the Centre seeks to empower women and youth to strive as global citizens in a peaceful and prosperous world. This work cannot be done without a dedicated Board that serves as the backbone of our organization and of course our partners, such as the State of Kuwait, who support us and contribute to the resources that we need to be successful. Leadership, mediation, advocacy, education, and also compassion are cornerstones and mechanisms that we have identified to be most valuable in the implementation of our goals. Ladies and Gentlemen, Women represent 50% of the population globally. Nevertheless, the history of civilization is coined by the discrimination of women in various cultures and eras. Women’s rights have been infringed and the burdens of life have been lying much heavier on women’s shoulders than on men’s. In the 18th century, during the period of Enlightenment, Europe finally started to have serious discussions about women’s rights and equality. The idea of universal fundamental and human rights based on human dignity and to be granted regardless of origin, race, sex or religion etc. was introduced to politics and incorporated in the goals of progressive movements and in the texts of modern constitutions. Documents of the French Revolution and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America did pioneer work in that regard. The 20th century was characterized by movements towards the political equality of human beings. In 1918 and 1919 Germany, Austria and other European countries introduced women’s active and passive right to vote. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations was passed in 1948 and the European Human Rights Convention followed five years later in 1953. In the last 50 years the question of equal rights for women and men is less a legal question, but a question of practice and reality. More and more legal regulations in politics, economy and society seek to decrease the gap between theoretical equality and practical discrimination of women. A central initiative for that purpose are the Sustainable Development Goals, especially with Goal 5 for Gender Equality. Global initiatives against the discrimination of women and for women’s empowerment bring people together to raise awareness. Ladies and Gentlemen, History shows that we have come a long way. We achieved a lot but there remains a lot that is to be done. It is estimated that an alarming 1 in 3 women globally will suffer from violence during their lifetime. Violence against women continues to persist and to pose an extreme obstacle to their ability to live in dignity and to their general well-being. In the political sphere, female heads of states or heads of government are somewhat present but continue to be a very rare minority. We need more women in parliaments and as political leaders because politics concerns women as much as it concerns men. To achieve full gender equality in our societies, politics must serve as an example: women belong in leadership positions because we cannot afford to forget the skills and competencies of the female half of our populations. The economy also demonstrates various aspects in which women are disadvantaged. In Europe, for instance, women’s salaries are up to one third less than men’s salaries. This must be adjusted and rectified. Fairness and equality mean that women’s work is valued just as much as men’s work. Europe has made major progress in the field of education. In the 50s, while I was studying, the percentage of female students was 20%. Then, in the 80s, when I served as the Austrian Minister for Science and Research, more than a third of all students were female. Today, in Austria, women make up over 50% of all students and this also goes for many other European States. Men have a clear advantage over women when it comes to university professor positions, showing the obstacles that women face to access leadership positions. Women’s empowerment must also be regarded as a global issue and put into the bigger picture. It is a key to peace, to eliminating all forms of violence, and to enable families, communities, and nations to thrive Today, it is particularly interesting to us that we shed light on the advancement of women’s empowerment in the State of Kuwait. Preparing for this visit, I learned that when it comes to women’s empowerment in the region of the Gulf states and even the whole Middle East, Kuwait has an indeed pioneering role. Women in Kuwait are amongst the most emancipated in the whole region. Especially the last 50 years brought significant change for women in Kuwait. Women’s political rights are increasingly respected, giving us hope that we are on the right path. The General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development of Kuwait is the entity in charge of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and thus, also of Goal Number 5. Under the directorship of Khaled A. Mahdi, the Secretariat has been keen on implementing the Global Goals. Today’s Symposium on Empowering Women and Supporting Youth in Development and Global Citizenship reflects this commendable ambition and gives us the chance to discuss the steps that have been done already to make this world a more peaceful and prosperous place for all. Thanks to you and your Secretariat, experts from around the world are gathered here today to exchange ideas and concrete action plans to implement the SDGs and promote the concept of Global Citizenship. My deep appreciation also goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Ahmad Al Sabah who are generously hosting today’s third Board Meeting of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. Our good friend, his Excellency Ambassador Sadiq Marafi has been a committed and generous Board member of the Ban Ki-moon Centre right from the very beginning and is a great partner for all initiatives to foster women’s empowerment. We are very grateful for your support. We are looking forward to intensifying our work with Kuwait and in particular with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and to identifying further opportunities for cooperation. Let us unite our efforts to reach the great and important goal, namely equal rights and chances for men and women globally in our present world. Thank you very much.
- Nour Barakeh: With a background spanning scientific studies and artistic work, she supports the establishment of sustainable educational projects focused on empowering people to transcend the effects of war. She wrote a theater piece “Not Our Fate” that has been recently performed at European Forum Alpbach as well as at the Weltmuseum Wien hosted by Österreichisches Parlament. She also acted in the play herself.
- Dooa Al Zamel: She is one of a few survivals from crossing the dangerous #sea from Syria to Europe relying on a boat filled with hundreds of migrants most of whom were killed when attackers sank the vessel. While surviving days alone at sea, Al Zamel also saved the life of an infant and became the subject of a best-selling book “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea.”
- Suad Mohamed: From Somalia, she has lived in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, and Austria. She speaks five languages and is currently learning her sixth: German. As a pharmacist, Mohamed works as an Assistant Consultant in the Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz and as an interpreter at Diakonie Österreich. Her aims are to spread awareness about refugee and migration issues, to improve the healthcare and pharmaceutical systems in developing countries, and to empower women.