Author Archives: teresadebuque

#FightRacism!

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March, on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960. This year, the theme of the International Day is “Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies.” It is observed that racist extremist movements based on ideologies that seek to promote populist, nationalist agendas are spreading in various parts of the world, fueling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, often targeting migrants and refugees as well as people of African descent. In its recent resolution on eliminating racism (A/RES/73/262), the General Assembly reiterated that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies. The resolution also emphasized that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.

2019 Theme: Mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies

We offer several social/digital cards for you to use on your social media accounts. Find them here and here.

Learn more about this Day:

Website:
http://www.un.org/en/letsfightracism/http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/
http://www.standup4humanrights.org.

For more information, see: http://www.un.org/en/events/racialdiscriminationday

Hashtages: #FightRacism#AfricanDescent#StandUp4Humanrights

UN Philippines Message on International Women’s Day 2019

By Ola Almgren*

Manila, 8 March 2019–At the start of this year, a Filipino scientist became one of the directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s preeminent organization for nuclear technology and its safe and peaceful applications.

The Filipino scientist is a woman–Dr. Jane Gerardo-Abaya. She now leads the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation Asia and the Pacific Division which provides technical cooperation support to 37 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific.

Dr. Abaya’s appointment reverberated among Filipino communities around the world and was cited by the Philippine government as a remarkable achievement in the country’s efforts to increase women’s representation at national and global centers of power.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. The theme puts innovation at the centre of efforts to build solutions that work for women and girls and achieve gender equality.

Last February 22, in observance of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, the International Labour Organization (ILO) cited four Filipino women that have distinguished themselves in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): Aileen Judan Jiao, president and country general manager of IBM Philippines and the first Filipina leader of the company; Ambe Tierro, senior managing director for global artificial intelligence of Accenture Technologies; Maria Cristina Coronel, president and chief executive officer of Pointwest Technologies; and Michie Ang, founding director of Women Who Code Manila.

Dr. Abaya and these four other Filipina game changers in STEM are truly exceptional.  Their achievements, and others with them, are examples of what has contributed to placing the Philippines among the top ten countries of the 2018 Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum that benchmarks 149 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

Still, as we congratulate the Philippines on this achievement, much remains to be done before the Philippines can truly claim to have attained Sustainable Development Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls – with the other goals of the 2030 Agenda that also need to be achieved to support this objective.  In fact and unfortunately, many women in the Philippines continue to face existential challenges on a daily basis.

These challenges include threats to their lives from childbirth.  Today, out of 100,000 Filipino women who give birth, 114 do not survive. This maternal mortality rate is higher than in other countries in Southeast Asia. It is a long way off from the Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing maternal deaths to less than 70 out of every 100,000 live births.  The recent adoption of the Universal Health Care Act, or Republic Act 11223, if fully implemented, will go a long way in addressing weaknesses of the health system that have failed to prevent deaths resulting from complications related to pregnancy.  As the Philippines moves forward, let’s all join in the call that “no woman should die while giving life”.

They also include exposure to sexual violence.  According to the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2017, 14-15% of Filipino girls as young as 13 to 17 years old have been sexually violated.  The same survey showed that two in five women, from 15 to 49 years old, have experienced physical or sexual violence and have NEVER told anyone about what had happened to them nor sought help to put an end to their torment.  And let’s not forget that young boys have also been victimized. In fact, by almost 6 percentage points, more boys than girls in the ages of 13 to 17 have experienced sexual violence.  We welcome ongoing legislative advocacy to strengthen the Anti-Rape Law in order to raise the age of consent from below 12 to 16, and to remove the “forgiveness clause” by which the subsequent marriage between the offender and the victim extinguishes the criminal action or the corresponding penalty.  Let’s all come together in a resolve that latest by 2030, all girls and women should be free of sexual violence, as should boys and men.

The four dimensions of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Gender Gap Report do not fully account for conditions that continue to hold Filipino women back in some areas, but they reflect unmistakable progress that has been achieved in improving the lives and well-being of Filipino women and girls over the years.  They also affirm that an all-of-society approach involving the government, civil society and other stakeholders can finally bridge a chasm that is as old as humanity itself.

By the same convergence of purpose, outstanding contributions by women will continue to advance society; mothers will live to see their children being born; and all persons, regardless of gender, will be free from sexual violence.

This is the future envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals and with our shared resolve and action, by 2030 we will be able to celebrate the realization of full gender equality on every 8 of March, International Women’s Day. [Ends]

* Ola Almgren is the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the Philippines.

 

Open Letter of Women Leaders on International Women’s Day 2019

We join our voices as women colleagues who have worked in governments and in multilateral organizations in support of promoting humanitarian relief, advocating for human rights principles and normative policies, advancing sustainable development, and resolving some of the world’s most complex conflicts. We ourselves have leveraged multilateralism in order to drive positive change for peoples and our planet. Now we collectively call attention to the need to achieve full gender equality and empowerment of women across all ambits of society and the critical importance of multilateralism as a vehicle in support of that.

As women leaders in our respective fields, we have struggled locally and globally to respond to challenges ranging from the elimination of hunger to achieving peace and security, and from the provision of emergency humanitarian aid in the aftermath of natural and human-induced disasters to the promotion of human rights, including those of women, children, marginalized populations, and those living with disabilities. Our work at its best was based on the principles of sustainable development and the need to build long term resilience. It has also been underpinned by our determination to have a positive impact on the lives of those with and for whom we work, particularly the most vulnerable. We are deeply convinced that for peace to be achieved and sustained, the full participation and potential of women must be unleashed.

Our shared sense of purpose and responsibility to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment derives from our experiences. Despite decades of notable advances, a reality in which opportunities, freedoms, and rights are not defined by gender has not been universally attained. Even more concerning, we are seeing in some places that the basic rights of women are interpreted as direct and destabilizing challenges to existing power structures. That can lead to efforts to roll back hard-won rights and frameworks agreed on in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment, not least those encapsulated in the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 and Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

As women increasingly occupy meaningful spaces in local, national, and international political structures and in socio-economic, scientific and sustainable development debates, and as we engage through civil society in many campaigns, we see now, close to a quarter of a century after Beijing, more movements gaining traction which seek to halt the gains made and erode the rights won by women.

This regression is what fuels our collective effort now under the banner of “Women Leaders – voices for change and inclusion”. As women leaders, we call on leaders in governments, the private sector, and civil society to reinvest in policies and in legal and social frameworks that will achieve gender equality and inclusion. Ours is a call for a redoubling of current efforts which are insufficient in many places. Above all, we seek to underscore that the risk posed by politics that seek to halt and erode gender equality is a risk not only to women, but also to all of humanity because half the population is prevented from contributing to its full potential.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on the Eradication of Discrimination Against Women, and many other global agreements, treaties, and conventions have been achieved through multilateralism and demand our collective effort in order to realize their ambitious vision. They represent the hopes and aspirations of current and future generations. Yet, these transformative agendas and agreements are increasingly and disconcertingly called into question.

We attach our names to this open letter in the belief that, by bringing together our voices and leveraging our experiences, as women leaders from diverse backgrounds, we will amplify the reach and impact of our message.

In the coming weeks and months, we will speak through different means and publish a series of opinion pieces and essays in publications around the world that draw on our diverse – and yet shared – experiences and perspectives as women leaders in our respective fields. It is our hope that this compilation of work will serve not only to impart insights on the importance of women as multilateral actors, but also to be a call to action to the women leaders and advocates of tomorrow. The space that we collectively occupy as women leaders in our fields across the public, private, and civil society spheres was not opened up easily and can never be taken for granted. It is the result of the sacrifices and struggles, of generations of women. Political forces today threaten to erode the progress that we have made at both the national level and through landmark global agendas. Whether those forces succeed will depend on whether the women leaders and advocates of today and tomorrow and all who stand with them recognize the urgency and peril but also the opportunity of this current moment and act accordingly.

Shamshad Akhtar                                             Amat Alsoswa

Valerie Amos                                                     Zainab Bangura

Catherine Bertini                                              Irina Bokova

Gina Casar                                                          Margaret Chan

Helen Clark                                                         Radhika Coomaraswamy

Ertharin Cousin                                                  Christiana Figueres

Louise Frechette                                                 Cristina Gallach

Rebeca Grynspan                                               Noeleen Heyzer

Elisabeth Lindenmayer                                      Susana Malcorra

Aïchatou Mindaoudou                                        Flavia Pansieri

Navi Pillay                                                              Mary Robinson

Josette Sheeran                                                    Fatiah Serour

Ann Veneman                                                       Sahle-Work Zewde

UN Secretary-General’s Message on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019

Gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to global progress on peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. We can only re-establish trust in institutions, rebuild global solidarity and reap the benefits of diverse perspectives by challenging historic injustices and promoting the rights and dignity of all.

In recent decades, we have seen remarkable progress on women’s rights and leadership in some areas. But these gains are far from complete or consistent – and they have already sparked a troubling backlash from an entrenched patriarchy.

Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Only when we see women’s rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance.

Increasing the number of women decision-makers is fundamental. At the United Nations, I have made this a personal and urgent priority. We now have gender parity among those who lead our teams around the world, and the highest-ever numbers of women in senior management. We will continue to build on this progress.

But women still face major obstacles in accessing and exercising power. As the World Bank found, just six economies give women and men equal legal rights in areas that affect their work. And if current trends continue, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap.

Nationalist, populist and austerity agendas add to gender inequality with policies that curtail women’s rights and cut social services. In some countries, while homicide rates overall are decreasing, femicide rates are rising. In others we see a rollback of legal protection against domestic violence or female genital mutilation. We know women’s participation makes peace agreements more durable, but even governments that are vocal advocates fail to back their words with action. The use of sexual violence as a tactic in conflict continues to traumatize individuals and entire societies.

Against this backdrop, we need to redouble our efforts to protect and promote women’s rights, dignity and leadership. We must not give ground that has been won over decades and we must push for wholesale, rapid and radical change.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, addresses infrastructure, systems and frameworks that have been constructed largely in line with a male-defined culture. We need to find innovative ways of reimagining and rebuilding our world so that it works for everyone. Women decision-makers in areas like urban design, transport and public services can increase women’s access, prevent harassment and violence, and improve everyone’s quality of life.

This applies equally to the digital future that is already upon us. Innovation and technology reflect the people who make them. The underrepresentation and lack of retention of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design should be a cause of concern to all.

Last month, in Ethiopia, I spent time with African Girls Can Code, an initiative that is helping to bridge the digital gender divide and train the tech leaders of tomorrow. I was delighted to see the energy and enthusiasm these girls brought to their projects. Programmes like this not only develop skills; they challenge stereotypes that limit girls’ ambitions and dreams.

On this International Women’s Day, let’s make sure women and girls can shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact all our lives. And let’s support women and girls who are breaking down barriers to create a better world for everyone.

[Ends]

You may view the Secretary-General’s video message at the link below:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/downloads2.unmultimedia.org/public/video/ondemand/MSG%20SG%20INT’L%20WOMEN’S%20DAY%208%20MAR%202019%20Clean.mp4

 

 

 

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February 2019

Skills in science, technology, engineering and math drive innovation and are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Women and girls are vital in all these areas. Yet they remain woefully under-represented.

Gender stereotypes, a lack of visible role models and unsupportive or even hostile policies and environments can keep them from pursuing these careers.

The world cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of half our population.

We need concerted efforts to overcome these obstacles.

We must tackle misconceptions about girls’ abilities.

We must promote access to learning opportunities for women and girls, particularly in rural areas.

And we must do more to change workplace culture so that girls who dream of being scientists, engineers and mathematicians can enjoy fulfilling careers in these fields.

Let us ensure that every girl, everywhere, has the opportunity to realize her dreams, grow into her power and contribute to a sustainable future for all.

[Ends]

The 2019 theme of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is: “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”

The Secretary-General has a video message on this Day.

 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February 2019

Skills in science, technology, engineering and math drive innovation and are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Women and girls are vital in all these areas. Yet they remain woefully under-represented.

Gender stereotypes, a lack of visible role models and unsupportive or even hostile policies and environments can keep them from pursuing these careers.

The world cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of half our population.

We need concerted efforts to overcome these obstacles.

We must tackle misconceptions about girls’ abilities.

We must promote access to learning opportunities for women and girls, particularly in rural areas.

And we must do more to change workplace culture so that girls who dream of being scientists, engineers and mathematicians can enjoy fulfilling careers in these fields.

Let us ensure that every girl, everywhere, has the opportunity to realize her dreams, grow into her power and contribute to a sustainable future for all.

Security Council Press Statement on Terrorist Attack in Sulu Province, the Philippines

New York, 29 January 2019–The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack that took place at Jolo Cathedral in Sulu, Philippines, on 27 January 2019, which resulted in 20 killed and wounded dozens other, for which Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) has claimed responsibility.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Philippines and they wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of the Philippines and all other relevant authorities in this regard.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. They reaffirmed the need for all States to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on the terrorist attack in the Philippines 

New York, 27 January 2019

The Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack on 27 January at the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu in the Philippines. He expresses his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.

The Secretary-General calls for the perpetrators of these crimes to be swiftly brought to justice. He reiterates the support of the United Nations to the Government and people of the Philippines in their efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism, and to carry forward the peace process in Bangsamoro region.

Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General

UN Philippines Press Release: United Nations System in The Philippines Condemns Jolo Cathedral Bombing

Manila, 27 January 2019–On behalf of the United Nations System in the Philippines, we were shocked to learn of the bombing earlier today at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu.

We express our deepest condolences with the victims of this attack, civilian and security
personnel alike, and offer our sympathy to all affected communities in Sulu. The United Nations condemns the attack, and any form of violent extremism, and we hope that the perpetrators can quickly be identified and brought to justice.

The United Nations stands in solidarity with all who have been affected by this cowardly act. That it occurs at a historical moment in the peace process in Bangsamoro should strengthen the joint resolve of all responsible parties to pursue lasting peace in a region that has suffered from conflict for far too long.

Manila, 27 January 2019

Ola Almgren
Resident Coordinator

Holocaust remembrance means fighting Holocaust denial

Manila, 24 January 2019 – The United Nations Information Centre Manila and the Embassy of Israel held a Holocaust remembrance commemorative event, entitled “The Undeniable Truth,” at the Emilio Aguinaldo College in Paco, Manila, Philippines.

The Holocaust is the systematic extermination of about six million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II.

United Nations Philippines Resident Coordinator Ola Almgren said, “Among all the horrors that were inflicted on humankind in the course of World War II, none was committed with such chilling and evil calculation as the one inflicted on the Jewish People.”

“[Therefore denying the Holocaust] is not just unconscionable,” said Almgren. “It is an assault on our collective memory.”

He encouraged the youth audience numbering 500 to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust, act against discrimination and defend democratic values, at a time when the emergence of Neo-Nazism and hate groups fuels rising antisemitism and other forms of hatred in many places around the world.”

Ambassador Rafael Harpaz meanwhile recalled the Philippines’ act of generosity during World War II, when then President Manuel Quezon provided refuge to Jews that had fled persecution in Europe.

Harpaz said, “Eighty years ago, not far from where we are sitting now, stood a unique voice among the leaders of the world – President Manuel Quezon. This man took a brave leadership decision during the 1930s when he stood and opened the doors of the Philippines to Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany. This was also the time when most leaders of the world preferred to shut their eyes and doors to Jews who eventually perished in the Holocaust. President of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon is a role model to the leadership of today. His action embodies the important lesson drawn from history – to take responsibility and action when needed simply because it is the right thing to do.”

President Quezon’s great grandson, Manuel L. Quezon III, led who led the panel of Filipino historians invited to the event, said that the reason that the Philippines chose to let in the Jewish refugees, along among many countries that refused them entry is that Filipinos understood what it meant to be persecuted by another country on the basis of race.

Given the Filipinos’ own struggle against colonialism by the Spaniards, they easily identified with the Jewish people being oppressed by Nazi Germany.

On the other hand, Dr. Augusto de Viana, chair of the Faculty of History of the University of Santo Tomas, said that revising history could be a good thing if it served to provide a more accurate account of past events. However, historical revisionism that is motivated by a self-interested agenda, like Holocaust denial, should be confronted and challenged.

The commemorative event also featured a piano concerto by renowned pianist Dr. Amit Weiner, who performed “Music in Times of Tragedy,” a collection of musical compositions of Jewish musicians who perished in the Holocaust.

Almgren said, at the end of his message, “Let us remember this and vow never to forget. Because no matter what people say, no matter how much time passes, no one can change this Undeniable Truth.”

Teresa Debuque, National Information Officer, of the United Nations Information Centre Manila, was the master of ceremonies.