UN Volunteers and other volunteers are advancing gender issues and impacting on women's lives in rural and urban settings. In line with Sustainable Development Goal 5, they are volunteering to safeguard the basic rights of women and girls, achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination, and avail opportunities for women and girls to learn, engage and lead.
Bringing opportunities to all
From education to employment, the opportunities offered to men and women in Gaza are not equal. With programs implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, this is slowly changing. Together, they promote gender equality in Gaza through volunteerism and women’s participation. There are currently 60 UN Volunteers in the State of Palestine, 26 are women.
As one of the thirteen women who served as engineers in the demolition and debris management operations of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Anima supported the earthquake-affected areas by using her skills in a traditionally male-dominated field.
“Engineering is for boys while girls are supposed to study management and work in banks,” she recalls her uncle as saying when she was still a student asking for career advice years ago.
Based in Goma, a city in the eastern DRC, Italian international UN Volunteer Serena Ricci is assigned to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as an associate protection officer. Her role is to ensure the protection of refugees, forcibly displaced women, girls, men and boys and people with specific needs.
Following the earthquake, the situation of women and girls was of special concern because they are more likely to become victims of violence and discrimination in a humanitarian emergency. Displacement, over-crowed camps, lack of privacy and lighting, limited and unsegregated wash facilities increase the risks.
UN Volunteers are an important component of UN Women’s capacity on the ground and have been at the forefront of promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR). Currently, UN Women has 34 UN Volunteers working within its programmes located in ten countries across the region. The largest group is in Kenya where 13 national and international UN Volunteers work to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation, as well as communications and public advocacy of gender equality within communities.
Data supports the existence of a significant nexus between gender mainstreaming, sustaining peace, and civic and volunteer engagement. This was the topic of discussion at a side event organized on 27 October 2016 by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN in New York.