NICOLE KIDMAN UN GOODWILL AMBASSADOR
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman receives award, donation for women’s economic empowerment
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman has received the Humanitarian Award of the Kuwait-America Foundation for her work on behalf of women around the world, along with a donation of $250,000. The funds will benefit a UN Women initiative in one of Jordan’s poorest rural areas to enhance women’s economic empowerment.
“I gratefully accept this award on behalf of a rather large group of people: the women of the world. As the Goodwill Ambassador of UN Women, I have seen that there is no limit to what women can achieve when given the opportunity,” said Nicole Kidman at the Foundation’s benefit gala dinner in Washington.
She continued: ”This is why UN Women puts strong emphasis on women’s economic security and political participation. Women need to be able to take the decisions that shape their lives and their societies. Economic autonomy means greater independence in all aspects of life: it helps women to feed their families and send their children to school so that they can get a proper education for a better future. Having an income can also provide a way out of a violent home. Working with UN Women, I have learned about the horrific scope of violence against women around the world and seen its devastating impact.”
The Kuwait-America Foundation’s contribution will support UN Women’s work in the Al-Mafraq governorate in Jordan to help women set up their own small businesses, including by being able to tap into a revolving fund, and to acquire new skills that will position them better to find jobs.
Despite major improvements in women’s access to education, social status and citizenship, women’s economic participation remains low in Jordan and has been trailing behind most countries at the same socio-economic level.
Statistics from 2009 indicate that merely 14.9 per cent of the Jordanian female populations over 15 years are economically active compared to 64.8 per cent of males.
About 20 per cent of Jordanians live in rural areas where poverty is more prevalent than in urban areas. Some of the most vulnerable groups of women, excluded from economic participation, are those living in the areas classified as “poverty pockets” by the Government.
One of the poorest governorates in Jordan is Al-Mafraq, with a total population of 281,000 and a poverty rate of 31,9 per cent .
“I know that these women will make a difference not only for themselves, but for their families and societies”, said UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman acknowledging the financial support. ”Thank you for making this possible.”
Saudi Arabia Launches First Campaign Exposing Domestic Violence Against Women
Saudi Arabia has launched its first public campaign against domestic abuse.
The ad features a woman in a black burka with only her eyes revealed — one of them bruised and bloodshot. The powerful photo includes the caption, “Some things can’t be covered — fighting women’s abuse together.”
Run by the King Khalid Foundation, the campaign focuses on raising awareness and finding more legal protection for battered women in Saudi Arabia.
The foundation also says domestic abuse in the country is much more common than reported, and many victims don't receive justice or an outlet for support.
In 2012, Human Rights Watch's World Report noted that Saudi Arabia failed to protect the rights of 9 million women and girls, adding that women in the country were banned from travelling, studying, or working without permission from male guardians. The country is also the only nation that doesn't allow women to drive.
But even with these barriers, the women of Saudi Arabia have seen slow change. In 2011, women were given the right to vote and run in municipal elections...in 2015. Just recently, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced women he would appoint to the nations’s consultative Shura Council, similar to parliament, according to Time Magazine.
UN report confirms nearly 200 women and girls raped by Congolese troops, rebels
The report, which details victim and eyewitness accounts of mass rape, killings, arbitrary executions and other gross violations of human rights, was authored by the UN Joint Human Rights Office comprised of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the DRC.
While the report also cites M23 rebels for committing atrocities, it notes that the serious rights violations committed by FARDC soldiers, in particular, were “perpetrated in a systematic manner and with extreme violence” and may constitute international crimes under human rights law, as well as crimes under Congolese criminal law.
“Those responsible for such crimes must know that they will be prosecuted,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement, calling the sexual violence outlined in the report “horrifying” in scale and systematic nature.
The joint investigation attributes poor discipline among soldiers and officers, as well as improper training and inadequate vetting mechanisms for what happened.
The investigation also expresses serous concern about the failure of the Congolese army to protect civilians, which it says stems from a lack of vetting procedures which allowed former rebels to integrate into the national army without verification of the human rights records.
Most of the cases documented happened on 22 and 23 November 2012 in and around the town of Minova in South Kivu and followed a similar modus operandi: “FARDC soldiers entered houses, usually in groups of three to six, and, after threatening the inhabitants, looted whatever they could find. One or two of the soldiers would leave with the looted goods and at least one would stand guard as the remaining FARDC soldiers raped women and girls in the house.”
“Victims were threatened with death if they shouted; some were raped at gunpoint. Most victims were raped by more than one soldier. Almost all cases of rape documented by the UNJHRO were accompanied by death threats and additional acts of physical violence,” the report continued.
During the period of their occupation of the towns of Goma and Sake in North Kivu, M23 combatants also perpetrated serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations, according to the report. The UN investigation documented at least 59 cases of sexual violence, 11 arbitrary executions, recruitment of children, forced labour, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and looting by M23 combatants.
Noting that the DRC authorities have made efforts to investigate the violations, Ms. Pillay urged DRC authorities do more to ensure justice for the victims and re-establish the confidence of the civilian population in the Congolese justice system.
Authorities suspended for further investigation the commanding officers of two of the battalions implicated in the rapes after MONUSCO sent a letter to FARDC's chief of staff requesting the formal suspension of support to these units.
Since then, the Government said it had launched investigations and recorded some 400 testimonies from victims, witnesses and suspects. It added that several arrests had been made as an interim internal disciplinary measure, and a number of officers allegedly involved in these acts had been suspended and put at the disposal of the Military Prosecutor for the purposes of the investigation.
Among these officers are the commanding officers and deputy commanding officers of the two main battalions suspected of committing these acts, as well as officers of eight other units.
The head of MONUSCO and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the DRC, Roger Meece welcomed the measures taken by the authorities and affirmed UN’s continued support for an independent, credible judicial investigation and the Congolese armed forces.
Mr. Meece added that future efforts to reform the security sector must include a systematic verification of the human rights records of combatants and their commanders in order for the Congolese army to fully ensure the protection of civilians.
On 30 March, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, signed an agreement with Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon to prevent sexual violence.
The Joint Communiqué lists commitments made by the Government, including fighting impunity for crimes of sexual violence, accelerating security sector reform efforts, creating vetting mechanisms when integrating former combatants into the national army, ensuring a better control of mineral resources, and greater support for services to survivors.
READ THE ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION REPORT ON BANGLADESH
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