Women's rights have been on the agenda of the whole UN system and its agencies over many years. Emanating from its triple mandate, UN Women has several key aims for their projects, focusing on empowering women, increasing women's political involvement, mainstreaming gender in national processes, greater economic security for women and ending gender-based violence.
Misaki Nakata, a former UN Volunteer, is one of many UN Volunteers who supported the mandate of UN Women in Malawi during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Social and Economic Recovery Specialist, Misaki conducted research on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on women and girls. Misaki's assignment was fully funded by Japan, as part of a dedicated programme for COVID-19 impact reduction.
Malawi is a densely populated, low-income country where poverty is widespread. This poverty disproportionately impacts women and girls. Households led by women are likely to be among the most vulnerable, with women further limited by inequality and discrimination.
In order to tackle this issue, Misaki was involved in a range of activities, including the impact assessment of COVID-19 on women and girls, budget allocations and workshops to promote gender equality and women's economic empowerment. She contributed to projects such as 50 Million African Women Speak, the Spotlight Initiative and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Sometimes, I felt difficulties in encouraging partner organizations and stakeholders to implement projects effectively and timely. Through this experience, I learned that it is essential to build trusting relationships with them to maximize budget effectiveness, and take a step towards gender equality. -- Misaki Nakata, former UN Volunteer Social and Economic Recovery Specialist with UN Women Malawi
In Turkey, we meet Nadide Kozan Manguel, a national Expert UN Volunteer Coordination Associate with UN Women.
"After spending the past ten years in different parts of the world in different capacities, witnessing the pandemic and the compounded challenges faced by women, I made a very conscious decision to return to my country and work for the rights of women and girls," Nadide says.
Nadide studied law at the University of Ankara in Turkey with the goal of defending human rights. "My first encounter with United Nations started during my Master's programme in Italy at the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), where I also had a chance to work afterwards," she explains.
As a UN Volunteer, Nadide supports the UN Women country office in its efforts to coordinate and deliver on the collective responsibility of the UN system in Turkey towards achieving gender equality and women's empowerment.
Throughout my career, I worked with various stakeholders on human rights topis. Among them, protecting women's rights was always a pressing subject for me. In Gulu, Uganda, I was deeply impressed by the dedication and the devotion of the highly professional volunteers of an Italian Foundation. This experience changed my perspective on volunteering. --Nadide Kozan Manguel, Coordination Associate with UN Women in Turkey
"I feel fortunate to work with some of the most professional, experienced, intelligent and passionate people on women's rights and learn from very respectable management," concludes Nadide.
UN Women has the leading position in coordinating gender equality and women's empowerment efforts within the UN system. Nonetheless, it is the collective responsibility of the whole UN system to work together to achieve gender equality.