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Cristina Amaral, or Kiki as she likes to be called, is Timor-Leste’s first female pilot. She grew up in the isolated district of Oecusse in a country known for its recently restored independence, and couldn’t help but notice that all pilots in her beloved country were male. After studying and balancing the care of her four siblings, she won a scholarship to attend flight school, standing up against the odds in her male-dominated profession. Today, she proudly soars high above the clouds, a remarkable figure in the aviation industry.
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In this op-ed for International Women’s Day, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka looks at the mixed progress since the 1995 Beijing Conference. She urges for recommitment and an end point to achieving gender equality with substantial action now, and full equality before 2030.
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UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has devoted her life to issues of human rights, equality and social justice and previously served as Deputy President of South Africa. In this message, she stresses that violence against women can and must end by addressing its root cause – gender inequality. She calls for greater mobilization to address the pandemic on many levels, from increasing access to services for survivors of violence to engaging all segments of society to shift cultural mindsets. This includes, for instance, getting men to stand up on the issue through UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign.
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Delphine Nana Mekounte, 60, was Cameroon’s National Coordinator for NGOs at the time of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She is now the Director General of CEFEPROD (Women’s Centre for Promoting Development), a nongovernmental organization that promotes the economic, social and cultural development of women and youth.
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Winner of the prestigious 2014 Gender Equality Advocate Award of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, in November 2013 Amelia a police officer with the Vulnerable Person’s Unit of the National Police of Timor-Leste is a powerful voice and a role model. In a country where women make up less than 20 per cent of the national police force, Amelia, who is a mother of two young children, is one of the longest-serving members of the Vulnerable Persons Unit, which has a particularly challenging mandate, dealing with crimes that are often accepted culturally within society and where survivors face various barriers in accessing justice.