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Arunachalam Muruganantham – Breaking taboos, pioneering innovation for women’s health

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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.

A ray of light for many

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Born and raised in a remote, rural and poor Bedouin community in the eastern desert of the Kingdom of Jordan, she had to push against the conservative traditions of her village to pursue her dream of becoming a solar engineer. For Rafea Um Gomar, the path has not been easy, from living in abject poverty to facing persecution by her own family when she decided to challenge gender roles and step beyond the boundaries of her household. But she was not one to give up. She wanted to use updated technology to power up her village, stimulate women’s role in the local economy, reduce poverty and provide a better life for her four daughters and her community.

Professor Muhammad Yunus - Women at the centre of our economic activity

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Professor Muhammad Yunus established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh with the objective of helping poor people escape from poverty by providing loans without collateral to support income-generating activities. From Prof. Yunus's personal loan of small amounts of money in the mid-70s to destitute basket-weavers in Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank has advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through microlending. Today it has 8.4 million borrowers of whom 97 per cent are women, and has lent over USD 8.4 billion with a near 100 per cent repayment rate. Prof. Yunus is the recipient of 112 awards, including, the World Food Prize, the Sydney Peace Prize, and the Seoul Peace Prize. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009.

A passion for politics and the poor

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On the islands of the archipelago that make up Cabo Verde, a country off the coast of western Africa, she is a household name. One of youngest Members of Parliament in the country, dynamic, bold, and passionate, Graça Sanches, became a parliamentarian at the age of 30 through sheer force of will. With her current role, she is also the President of the Network of Women Parliamentarians, a group that collaborates with relentless tenacity to ensure that women are included in policy and legislation planning. Graça Sanches acts as a galvanizing force for the National Assembly to include women’s voices at every turn.

Jordan brings Beijing+20 campaign to youth

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Fourth World Conference on Women took place in Beijing in 1995. Why then would young people care about it, why should it matter today? That is the challenge UN Women in Jordan decided to take head on at an event recently. How can one explore the critical areas of concern under the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with young people in a way that is engaging and interactive? This was part of the joint programme led by UN Women Realizing Beijing+20 in Jordan: Women in Action!, with WHO, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP and UNRWA as partners, the team decided to put together a number of initiatives to address key challenges and achievements in Jordan for gender equality.

From global to local

Monday, September 15, 2014

Teresa Oleszczuk is a women’s rights activist who took part in the Beijing Conference in 1995. She is one of the founders of the La Strada Foundation against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery, an organization that works to combat human trafficking in Poland and in several countries across Europe.

Scoring a goal for equality

Monday, September 8, 2014

A household name in Sierra Leone, Isha Johansen is the first female President of Sierra Leone’s Football Association and currently, the only female Football Association President in the world.

In Colombia, stars unite to launch Beijing+20 campaign

Friday, September 5, 2014

Through an event incorporating words, music and other artistic expression at the Teatro Arlequín de Casa Ensamble, the United Nations in kicked off the Beijing+20 campaign in Colombia. Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the campaign launch was jointly hosted by UN Women, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and UNFPA, and brought together 230 people, including members of the local and national government, civil society representatives and the international community in Colombia.

Rafiq Pathan-On the path less travelled, changing hearts and minds

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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.

Breaking new ground, she rides ahead

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gulzhan Kokbayeva, age 27, is the only female engineer for the first subway system in Kazakhstan, a country known for housing the first space launch complex in the world, the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The 3 L’s of women’s empowerment

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A former French minister for various economic portfolios – including finance and employment, agriculture and fisheries, and trade – Christine Lagarde was the first woman to become finance minister of a G8 economy and is the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She calls for opening the door to women’s learning, labour and leadership in the economy.

UN Women launches the Beijing+20 campaign in Australia

Thursday, August 28, 2014

During her first visit to Australia as United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka kicked off the Beijing+20 campaign in the country, focusing on how Australians can be involved in an international conversation about progress made since the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.

Diversity of voices at Beijing+20 consultations in India

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Radha Bai, started as a self-help group member of the Narmada Mahila Sangh, a federation of women’s self-help groups spread over 217 villages fighting violence against women in rural areas, and providing safe spaces to earn income and learn new skills. At the Beijing+20 India Civil Society National Consultation from 11-12 August, she voiced the experiences of thousands of grass-roots women from her home state of Madhya Pradesh. "After receiving gender training and understanding about what gender inequality entails, I would go back home and count the number of times that I was discriminated against. It was eye-opening, and I realized how much women suffer in a patriarchal society." She now works as a community mobilizer, training women on issues of patriarchy, their rights and entitlements, and the damaging effects of discrimination.

Spotlighting women rights, Beijing+20 campaign launched in Uganda

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“I was not yet born when the Beijing Conference was held, but the issues raised at that time are still affecting young girls like me today,” said Esther Sagaru, a 19-year old participant, echoing many of her generation at an event in Uganda, which brought together diverse groups working on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Nepal President addresses more than 400 activists at Beijing+20 consultations

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“A nation cannot be fully thriving if women are not given their due space and their rights are not ensured,” said the President of Nepal, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav at the three-day consultation in Nepal’s capital to discuss progress on the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The meeting, held from 21-23 August, was organized in the lead up to the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, which will be commemorated in 2015.

"Say yes to gender democracy"

Monday, August 18, 2014

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.

Progress 20 years on: Beijing+20 reviews are underway

Monday, August 11, 2014

142 countries have submitted reports ahead of the global review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, due to take place in March 2015.

Dhruv Arora - Co-creator of GotStared.At & #itsnotyourfault, to end street harassment of women and girls

Monday, August 11, 2014

A digital expert and a gender activist, Dhruv Arora, 25, is passionate about both these dimensions of his work and is widely known in New Delhi, India, as the man galvanizing action through an online movement on gender issues.

UN system content on girl child

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Additional UN System material on the Girl Child.

For Nigerian girls, education is the key that opens doors to progress

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Raised in Nigeria, Nnenna Agba gained nationwide popularity when she went on the widely watched television show America’s Next Top Model. With hard-won scholarships, she graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry; she also holds a Master’s of Science degree in Urban Affairs. Nnenna is supporting the education of her four sisters in Nigeria, and is the face of Kechie’s Project, a NGO that provides scholarships to girls from Nigerian schools. Almost immediately, the importance of education took on a different meaning in my life and in the lives of my four sisters. I went on to receive a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Master's of Science in Urban Affairs.

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