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Chief Correspondent at the United Nations for the Associated Press (AP) and an icon in the field of journalism, Edith Lederer of the U.S. has had a long tryst with issues of gender equality and led the AP team at the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She was also one of the first female war reporters at a time when it was still fairly rare for women to be covering the news from the battle front, and the first woman to head a foreign AP bureau, in charge of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. With a long list of accolades, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from International Women's Media Foundation, she has reported for the AP for nearly five decades.
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Experiencing a harrowing train accident that robbed her of an arm and a leg at 19, Şafak Pavey, chose to overcome her challenges by immersing herself in the dual causes of gender equality and the environment. As the first Turkish woman parliamentarian with disabilities, she is a role model for many. She has also worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in conflict zones, produced three books, and now contributes to law-making for her country. Her mission is promoting equal rights for people of all races, creeds and religions. Winner of the International Woman of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State, she is a force to be reckoned with.
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She is often called the shining hope for people with disabilities.  Abia Akram, age 30, is an educated woman, and proud of the two Master’s degrees she holds. She personifies the cause she champions: that education can be the catalyst in a world where those with disabilities are not always taken seriously. The first female with disabilities from Pakistan to win the much sought after U.K. Government’s Chevening scholarship, Akram has continued to push for change,...
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As a youngster, she was often at her father’s side, discussing current affairs and the evening news. Her father would ask her to give him a recap of the evening news, and she wouldn’t miss out on this opportunity to show her knowledge, especially in a world that often ignored the visually impaired. Florence Ndagire became the first visually impaired lawyer in Uganda, a country that though modern in many ways, does not often create educational curricula and materials for the...
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It all started on a hot summer day near the southern city of Coimbatore in India. Struck by his wife’s statement that she could either have milk or sanitary napkins, Arunachalam Muruganantham, a man from a poor household who had only gone to school till the age of 14, decided to do something. He wanted to get to the bottom of why women in his community were using rags instead of sanitary towels, rags so dirty, that he would not even use them to clean his scooter. Was this a financial problem? Or one that occurred due to the lack of information about women’s hygiene? The answer was both: after doing some informal research in his village, he found that less than one in ten women were using sanitary napkins. They were expensive and women could not afford them, and they also did not know the adverse health consequences of what they used instead, sometimes sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash and mud.
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India’s Rafiq Pathan stands at the forefront of efforts to end discrimination towards girls, and symbolically plants a fruit tree every time a girl is born. He treads on the difficult path where few men have gone before, undertaking grass-roots advocacy to change the hearts and minds of parents, many of whom value boys more than girls.
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Message by UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman. Launch of Beijing+20 campaign: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity - Picture it!
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Accusations of sorcery are widespread in the communities of the highlands in Papua New Guinea. Often for deaths or illness, for theft or accident, the cause is believed to be sorcery, with the villain more often than not being allegedly a woman. Protecting many such wrongly accused women is human rights defender Monica Paulus. Fearless, determined and outspoken, she rescues women and girls accused of sorcery, preventing many from violent punishment, or death.