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More than 300 global leaders gathered today in Santiago, Chile, to take part in a high-level conference on women in power and decision-making as part of UN Women’s global Beijing+20 campaign. It aims to galvanize political support to achieve gender equality and honour commitments made by 189 governments to uphold the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
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Using an explosion of colour and audacious costumes to tell the story of brave women everywhere, the traditional samba school of Mangueira paid tribute to the women who fight every day to overcome gender inequalities in their parade. It is one of several national events for UN Women’s global Beijing+20 "Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!" campaign.
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Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will open the week-long gathering in Paris, which will focus on how mobile technology can be leveraged to empower and improve education for women and girls everywhere.
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She was brought up by a single mother in rural Jamaica, in a family of modest means. Today she is the Commanding Officer of Jamaica’s Coast Guard, the first woman to attain the prestigious position in the island state, as well as the entire Caribbean region. Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman learned early in life never to accept ‘no’ for an answer. Her mantra: “I can do that!”
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Bursting through the barriers of the male-dominated profession of competitive sport, Nawal El Moutawakel is the first Arab, African, and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal, which she did for the 400-metre hurdles in 1984. She followed up her win serving as the first Minister of Sports in Morocco.
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She is the first woman to ever ski alone, without the assistance of a guide or supplies, from the outside world to the South Pole. She climbed Mount Everest, getting to within 1,900 metres of the summit before having to turn back due to altitude sickness. She sailed and skied across Antarctica’s landmass, and lead the first group of women over the Greenland Ice Cap unsupported. And she is also the author of several books and educational curricula including Nice Girls Do Not Ski to the South Pole and Can I Do It? From Dream to Reality.
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At a winery at the end of a town in rural Herzegovina, a 32-year-old woman stands amid barrels of wine, staring across the vineyards. Her name is Sanja Juričić-Franić. Together with two more women, her sister and her mother, she leads the “Gangaš” winery in Čitluk, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A wife, mother and successful entrepreneur, she is an enologist who has had to combat prejudice and stereotypes in this male-dominated profession.
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Nearly 20 years ago, the world came together in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. There, 189 governments adopted a visionary roadmap for gender equality: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Some 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists pictured a world where women and girls had equal rights, freedom and opportunity in every sphere of life.
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Scott Taylor is a Policy Analyst and Graduate Research Fellow at the Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership in New York, where he is pursuing an MA/PhD in International Relations. The 31-year-old California native is also currently interning within UN Women’s Programme Division for Africa.