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On the summit of Bolivia’s Huayna Potosí mountain, a flag proudly flies to promote the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign, a global effort to end all violence against women and girls. This year, the four women who placed it there are taking on Sajama, the highest mountain in the country to continue bringing the message to end all forms of violence against women to new heights.
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Violence against women creates significant barriers for women aspiring for political office, says UN Women. It’s critical to reform and fully implement laws to prevent and stop violence against women in politics.
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After the November 2020 national elections, women make up 49 per cent of the Legislative Assembly of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, cementing its position as a forerunner on gender parity in politics. The participation of indigenous women and stopping violence against women in political and public life are among the top priorities for the country.
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Yobanca Fernandez Flores has been a women’s rights activist for more than 35 years. She is also the National President of the Community Promoters for the Prevention of Gender-based Violence in Bolivia. Together with hundreds of women leaders in the country, the Community Promoters have formed a network of advocates who provide direct support to victims and survivors of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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As Latin America enters a critical phase of the COVID-19 emergency, recently surpassing 5 million cases and 200,000 deaths , women domestic workers are raising alarm about the lack of economic relief, healthcare and other social protection, and organizing in solidarity to help other workers.
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Alejandra Mónica Quijua Tintaya is a 34-year-old Bolivian national who packaged fruits in Santiago de Chile. She, along with other migrant workers, lost her job as cases of COVID-19 surged in Latin America. Her journey back to Bolivia illustrates the increased hardships that migrant workers are facing during the global pandemic, but also the importance women-led groups to protect their rights.
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Natalia Klinsky Amelunge is a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of COVID-19 at the National Health Fund in Bolivia and the Anita Leigue Municipal Health Center. She spoke with UN Women about the challenges that women face in the front-line response and what we can learn from them. In Bolivia, UN Women has launched public communication campaigns to make women’s role visible and to prevent the shadow pandemic of violence against women. In coordination with the government, UN Women is also distributing food, clothing and other necessities in migrant camps bordering Chile.
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Ryancia Henry is originally from Antigua and Barbuda, she moved four months ago to Montecito, California, to take up the position of Director of Housekeeping, managing a team of 60 people, at a hotel that has now closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. With international travel disrupted, and movement restrictions within the United States of America, Ryancia is among millions of workers in the hospitality industry considering what the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on her, her staff, her family and her friends.
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While parts of the Amazon are in flames across Brazil and eastern Bolivia—from fires largely caused by burning to clear arable land—communities in northern Bolivia are protecting their forests through a series of economic empowerment projects.
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During a four-country visit in the Caribbean region from 18 to 23 May, the UN Women Executive Board discussed measures to improve court processes to assist survivors of gender-based violence; observed initiatives at work to identify and mitigate the gendered risks of natural disasters; and emphasized their support towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
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Ruth Spencer, GEF/SGP National Coordinator from Antigua connects with people everywhere she goes—in the market, in church, at the parking lot or in the halls of the United Nations. She builds networks and capacity of local community groups through education, training, resource mobilization and partnership-building, especially for climate action. Recently, she has set up a network of local groups and individuals in the island of Antigua and Barbados to promote sustainable waste management. As a participant in a workshop on gender-responsive global biodiversity framework, she spoke to UN Women about women’s conservation efforts.
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Most women and girls are told to stay inside after dark for their safety, it’s one of the pitfalls of living in the sprawling city of El Alto. Once a desolate bedroom community just 15 km away from the Bolivian capital, La Paz, El Alto is the country’s second-biggest and fastest growing city.
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Women account for 53.1 per cent of Parliamentarians in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the third-highest percentage globally. Adriana Salvatierra, a role model to many, became the fourth woman to be elected as the President of the Senate Chambers of Bolivia this year. The 29-year-old is also the youngest to hold this position in the country, and in Latin America.
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Currently, Latin America is leading globally in local and parliamentary positions held by women. But the journey to political participation is fraught with rising violence and intimidation against women in politics. In the age of #MeToo, we bring you the voices of Latin American women who are raising their voices and running for office, against all odds.
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Katia Uriona is the former President of the Electoral Tribunal of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Before that, as the Executive Secretary of the national Women’s Coordinator (Coordinadora de la Mujer), Uriona played an instrumental role in advocating for Law 243 on violence against women in politics in 2012. With the support from UN Women and other organizations, she gave an important drive to the Observatory of Parity Democracy. In March 2018, Ms. Uriona took part in an Expert Group Meeting on violence against women in politics co-organized by UN Women and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Most recently, the Electoral Tribunal conducted a country wide consultative process which informed a draft Bill on Political Organizations. The new Law on Political Organizations (Law 1096) approved by the Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly on 1 September 2018, is aligned with the constitutional principles of parity and intercultural democracy.
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Nearly a year ago, catastrophic hurricanes devastated the Caribbean. After Hurricane Irma, almost the entire population of Barbuda, a small island in the eastern Caribbean, was driven to its twin island of Antigua. In Dominica, Hurricane Maria wiped out crops, equipment and infrastructure. In efforts to ensure that women both benefit from, and lend their expertise to the humanitarian response in the Caribbean, UN Women has been working with partners in the immediate aftermath of the storms and beyond.
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As the hurricane season ends in the Caribbean, and three months since Hurricane Irma caused the entire island of Barbuda to evacuate, Farmala Jacobs, Acting Executive Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda says the devastating hurricanes across the Caribbean this year show that we can no longer afford to leave anyone behind, and most certainly not women and girls.
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UN Women and UNFPA fast track funds to Antigua and Barbuda to help women and girls
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Sixty-three-year-old Salomé Miranda is among the emerging group of women construction workers of La Paz, Bolivia. Miranda started working at age seven and received no schooling, like many other indigenous girls in her community. She survived an abusive marriage and with the help of the Association of Women Construction Workers, carved out a new life for herself and her children. Today, she dreams of building her own construction company.
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In Bolivia, after studying at the UN Women-supported School for Women Leaders, an indigenous Aymara woman managed to overcome a childhood and adolescence of labour exploitation to become an advocate for women's rights.