Call to Action: Executive Director pledges UN Women commitment to protect women and girls in emergencies
Date: 14 November 2013
Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka pledged the strong commitment of UN Women to protect women and girls in emergencies at an international meeting on 13 November in London.
At the Call to Action event, “Keep Her Safe”, organized by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), she pledged that UN Women would work with partners to ensure that women’s rights and needs are fully taken into account in humanitarian response, and that women are engaged in the design and delivery of interventions from the start.
Thanking the UK Government for its strong support for women and girls, the Executive Director said that “women in emergencies are the first line of defense. They will defend, fight and provide the best relief on the ground to their families.”
On the sidelines of the meeting, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka and World Food Programme Executive Director Ms. Ertharin Cousin, signed a joint letter for increased collaboration between the two agencies for women’s economic empowerment.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also participated in a special meeting focused on the international response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Participants including Ministers and other UN officials discussed how the international community can ensure that the response to the disaster has a special focus on protecting the rights of women and girls and preventing and responding to violence against them.
On the eve of the Call to Action event, the Executive Director addressed the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on the United Nations, the Associate Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security, and the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom. She was joined by Ms. Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
She also addressed a meeting of representatives of civil society. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka reminded those assembled that, in the near future, the 20-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action will occur, at the same time as the international community will be finalizing the post-2015 development agenda.
Calling this confluence a “once in a generation opportunity”, the Executive Director made a passionate appeal for the international community to support UN Women’s call for a standalone gender equality goal to be included in the post-2015 agenda.
UN Women’s proposal for a standalone goal includes women’s right to be heard and represented, to live free from violence, and to be guaranteed equal opportunities, choices and human rights.