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UN Women

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

UN Women

What to study?

For Prelims: About UN Women- composition, objectives, programmes and significance.

For Mains: Gender violence during lockdown period- reasons, impact and ways to address them.

Context: The UN Women has urged member-states to include prevention of violence against women in their action plans on COVID-19. It has also called the rise in gender-based violence a “shadow pandemic”.

Other suggestions made by UN Women:

  1. Member states should consider shelters and helplines essential services.
  2. Helplines, psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted, using technology-based solutions such as SMS, online tools and networks to expand social support, and to reach women with no access to phones or Internet.
  3. Police and justice services must mobilise to ensure that incidents of violence against women and girls are given high priority with no impunity for perpetrators.

Why these measures are necessary?

Globally 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. The number is likely to increase as security, health and money worries heighten tensions and strains are accentuated by cramped and confined living conditions.

How lockdown is worsening the situation?

According to emerging data, violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has ‘intensified’.

  1. As per data compiled by the U.N. body, France has seen a 30% increase in domestic violence since the lockdown on March 17.
  2. In Argentina, emergency calls for domestic violence cases have increased by 25% since the lockdown on March 20 and Cyprus (30%), Singapore (33%) have also registered an increase in calls.
  3. Canada, Germany, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. have also registered an increase in cases of domestic violence and demand for emergency shelter.

About UN Women: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women:

UN Women is the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment:

  • Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW).
  • International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).
  • Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI).
  • United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The main roles of UN Women are:

  • To support inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in their formulation of policies, global standards and norms.
  • To help Member States to implement these standards, standing ready to provide suitable technical and financial support to those countries that request it, and to forge effective partnerships with civil society.
  • To hold the UN system accountable for its own commitments on gender equality, including regular monitoring of system-wide progress.

Sources: the Hindu.