UN Women UK: Working for women's empowerment and gender equality

Progress for Women Is Progress for All

Latest news

Keep up to date with the latest news on international women's issues and UN Women activities around the world. UN Women in New York produces an electronic newletter UN Women Currents at least six times a year.

Read the most recent UN Women Currents issue here

UN Women seeks funding to provide shelter and services for women in Haiti

January 2010

New grants from the UN Women Trust Fund to End VAW

January 2010

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

December 2009

UN Women celebrates the 30th anniversary of CEDAW

December 2009

Women, Poverty and Microfinance: London conference

October 2009

A more powerful UN agency for women

October 2009

UN Women asks Who Answers to Women?

August 2009

Director of UN Women's Brussels Liaison Office speaks in London

June 2009

UN Women UK AGM and a new President

May 2009

Avon UK partners with UN Women to target domestic violence

March 2009

International Women's Day: a message from UN Women

March 2009

UN Women support for women in Afghanistan

March 2009

UN Women in action at CSW March 2009

March 2009

UK parliamentarians support UN Women's Say NO campaign

December 2008

Women, Culture and Democracy: London conference

November 2008

UN Women supports new initiatives to end violence against women

November 2008

5 million join the Say No campaign

November 2008

Historic election result for Rwandan women

October 2008

Unanimous Security Council Call to End Sexual Violence

May 2008

UN Women’s 2008 Annual General Meeting

April 2008

Nicole Kidman urges support for Say No campaign

February 2008

Briefing for parliamentarians on justice for women in Iraq and Burma

February 2008

Review of international development in Scotland

February 2008

Secretary General launches new campaign at CSW 2008

February 2008

UN Women in action at CSW 2008

February 2008

Kenyan women condemn violence in post-election strife - January 2008

February 2008

UK funds further work by UN Women in Rwanda - January 2008

January 2008

11 Million Takeover Day at UN WomenUK

November 2007

Women and Work Conference November 2007

November 2007

New President for UN Women UK

November 2007

Say No to Violence against Women

November 2007

UN Women support for women in six conflict-affected countries

October 2007

UN Women Executive Director moves to new role

August 2007

Breaking the cycle of violence against women and the spread of HIV/AIDS

July 2007

Men wanted! A call from UN Women's National Committees

May 2007

Men wanted! A call from UN Women's National Committees

May 2007

UN Women UK supports International Women's Day

8th March 2007

International Day against Female Genital Mutilation

6th February 2007

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 2006

UN Women welcomes proposal for a new UN women's agency

November 2006

UN Women Goodwill ambassador Nicole Kiddman visits Kosovo

October 2006

HIV/AIDS – time to deliver for women and girls

14th August 2006

UN Reform: proposals from UN Women UK and other women's organisations

July 2006

UN Reform: the importance of a focus for women's issues

Representatives of the UN Women National Committees, the support network which involves 16 countries, met in Finland at the beginning of May. UN Women UK President Juliet Colman attended. A major topic of discussion was the forthcoming review of UN organisation. The meeting took the position that the outcome of UN reform must ensure that there is a stronger women's agency with increased authority, status and resources.

A high-level 15-member panel, which only includes three women, was appointed by the UN Secretary-General in mid-February to examine how the UN system can work more coherently. This group will be making recommendations on how to redesign the system to create a more tightly-managed and effective UN. This panel is due to complete its work by the end of the summer to allow for formal presentations of its recommendations at the next session of the UN General Assembly in September, with possible implementation in 2007.

UN Women UK and the other National Committees will be making representations to the panel about the importance of a high-level focus for women's issues. Our strongest starting point is the Millennium Declaration with the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is generally agreed that meeting the MDGs will depend on achieving equality for women. Equality will only be achieved through concerted effort and enhanced programmes for women. The best way for this to be accomplished is to create a stronger strategic focus in the UN for women's issues – well financed and resourced and bringing together all of the existing and proposed UN women's programmes.

There is a view that women's rights can be addressed by 'mainstreaming' gender issues, making everybody responsible for achieving change. Most women advocates know that at the present time this approach would in practice weaken UN efforts to achieve women's rights and dilute the modest gains that women have secured.

Organisational boxes and titles are not the prime determining factor of programme success but they do convey a sense of priority and can have a major impact in resource allocation decisions. The creation of a strategic focus for women's programmes would send a powerful signal that the UN was committed to gender equality for women around the world. The symbolism and the additional resources would send a resounding message to women that their issues and concerns are now front and centre on the world's agenda.

UN Women support for women's centres in Afghanistan

One of the projects which UN Women UK and other National Committees support through fundraising is the development of women's centres in Afghanistan. The centres are bringing opportunities to women in the provinces to participate in the social, economic and political rebuilding of the country. We recently received the latest report from UN Women in New York on the progress of this project.

Women using the facilities at one of the centres

Eleven centres are now operational although the security environment has had a severe impact on the ability to keep at least two of them open continuously. The services they offer have reached over twelve thousand beneficiaries (women and girls) since the first centre opened in 2003.

Meeting a need

UN Women supported the establishment of the centres in response to the urgent need for meeting places for women to discuss their priorities, gain access to social services, and improve their education and skills. The principles of community ownership provide the basis for operating the provincial centres, and they bring together a number of local organisations offering a range of services including health education, literacy classes, income-generation and vocational skills training, legal and psychological support, child care and computer training. The centres also function as a much-needed support network for women's empowerment at the provincial level, since facilities of this kind did not exist previously.

Making progress

Achievements in 2005 included:

  • Nearly doubling the number of users of the centre services since the previous reporting period.
  • Improving economic prospects for women through business skills development, training in production for the market, microcredit initiatives and market linkages facilitated by the Afghan Women's Business Council. Almost half of women using centre services participated in income-generating programmes such as fruit drying, food preservation, handicraft production, shoemaking and computer courses. Microcredit groups have been provided with seed funds through UN Women, local NGOs and organisations such as Grameen Bank. Of special note are the Women's Fair Days, open-air markets which generated great enthusiasm and potential, and the Kabul tailoring initiative, in which ten women and a project leader, mentored by a professional Italian fashion designer, worked to produce a clothing line.
  • Raising understanding among women of human rights and the key national processes of nation-building, reform and reconstruction.
  • Increasing access to legal aid and counselling through the services of professional associations of women's lawyers as well as access to psychosocial counselling.
  • Strengthening the independent management structure of centres.
Looking forward
Women using computers at one of the centres

In 2006 UN Women will work to enhance the management skills of the centres' leadership and stakeholders, build capacity for more training and service provision, facilitate a support network among the provincial and community centres, and promote their overall visibility. While the centres have made much progress, there remains a great need for ongoing support to ensure that these young institutions can take root and grow.

8 March 2006

UN Women UK supports International Women's Day

“Today half the world's population seeks recognition of their disadvantaged position in society and that progress for women is progress for all”, says Juliet Colman, President UN Women UK

UN Women UK is supporting International Women's Day on Wednesday 8th March 2006. The day is recognised around the world as the day to commemorate and celebrate women's achievements in every country and every walk of life, as well as to raise awareness of the terrible struggles that women have to face in order to survive. International Women's Day is an annual event, and this year the theme is 'Women in decision-making: meeting challenges, creating change'. UN Women UK particularly supports UN Women's work in encouraging women's participation in conflict prevention and peace building.

Events will also be taking place around the world to commemorate the day. In Britain, UN Women UK has been participating in university events, ranging from panel discussions to theatre productions exploring women's lives, to raise awareness of women's issues and of UN Women's work. Members will also be taking part in events organised by local and national government to represent UN Women.

International Women's Day 2006 marks a special occasion for UN Women, as 2006 sees UN Women's 30th birthday. International Women's Day is taking place during the 50th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission, as part of the UN's work on gender equality and empowerment of women, meets every year for Government delegations, UN agencies and NGOs to participate in discussion and debate. The UK is currently Vice Chair of the Commission and is represented by Tom Woodroffe.

Juliet Colman, President of UN Women UK, says...

“On International Women's Day, we have an opportunity to highlight the inequalities that exist in different parts of the world. Women suffer from cultural and traditional attitudes and practices that prevent them from realising their full potential. UN Women UK works to raise awareness of the struggle that many women face and promote change to a fairer world for all.”

To see the UN Secretary General's message for International Women's Day visit www.un.org/events/women/iwd/2006/message

3 February 2006


UN Women announced last week that the Australian actress Nicole Kidman has become a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN agency. She told reporters at a press conference that she has a particular interest in raising awareness of gender-based violence and this year will be travelling with Noeleen Heyzer, UN Women Executive Director, to visit UN Women initiatives around the world. Countries she is likely to visit include Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Afghanistan and Cambodia.

'I don't pretend to be an expert on the issues that UN Women addresses,' she said. 'But I'm here to learn and lend support to help make visible the very real and immediate problems, and the successful strategies that UN Women and the women they support work on every day.'

The Academy Award winning actress first shot to fame with the 1989 thriller Dead Calm and has rarely been out of the limelight since then. Her other films include Eyes Wide Shut (the last film directed by Stanley Kubrick), Cold Mountain and The Hours. The publicity has given her a platform which she has used to raise awareness of a range of charitable work. She is the UNICEF Ambassador for Australia, an Ambassador for the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, and the Honorary Patron of FARA, a UK-based charity helping orphaned children in Romania.

Noeleen Heyzer welcomed Nicole at the press conference, saying that her visibility 'will be a gift to the hundreds of millions of women whose human rights have been violated, and it will be an inspiration for all those who work tirelessly, away from the spotlight and against many odds, to address this pandemic of violence.'

UN Women UK extends its warmest congratulations to Nicole Kidman on her appointment and looks forward to a strong relationship between her and UN Women.

More details can be found on the global UN Women website at http://www.unifem.org/news_events/goodwill_ambassadors/nicole_kidman.php

15 January 2006


One Year Later - A Report Card

One year after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster struck countries in South and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Africa, the affected communities have slowly begun to put the pieces of their lives together.

“When recovery and reconstruction programmes respond to the realities and needs of women and support their leadership and organizing, many local and effective solutions can be scaled up and women's voices and networks empowered to build the policies and institutions necessary for a more just and sustainable future.”

- Noeleen Heyzer, UN Women executive director

The Indian Ocean tsunami not only destroyed lives and property but decimated communities. Within two days of the tragedy UN Women's partner organizations in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Somalia began sending information on women affected by the disaster. Women who survived were left with nothing to support themselves and their remaining family members after their homes and livelihoods washed away. Where relief operations were taking place amidst continuing civil tensions, women reported incidents of discrimination, harassment and intimidation of women and girls in rescue and distribution areas and in temporary shelters.

Even before the big relief agencies arrived, survivors were using their local networks and systems to assist each other. Drawing on these networks, UN Women and its local partners quickly compiled a databank of local organizations, identifying their key skills, assets and resource needs in order to mobilize local knowledge, systems and solutions as the most effective response to the disaster. The information gathered was provided to the UN and other international organizations so they could connect with local groups and integrate women's concerns into their operations from the start.

UN Women chose to focus its efforts in Sri Lanka, Somalia, and the province of Aceh in Indonesia because of its local networks, and because the devastation caused by the tsunami seriously intensified existing hardships in these areas arising from stark poverty and years of civil conflict.

Three priority areas for action were identified:

  • Leadership: Supporting local women's leadership and the mobilization of women's networks to give them a voice in relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts; and providing financial assistance to women's organizations to respond to women's needs quickly.
  • Livelihoods: Helping revive women's destroyed livelihoods, including restoring their productive assets, processes and supply chains, strengthening market links, and helping them to access reconstruction assistance.
  • Protection: Working with other UN, government and civil society partners to assist women's groups in advocating greater protection for women and girls from human rights violations in the relief, recovery and reconstruction period and beyond.

UN Women joined the United Nations Flash Appeal, requesting approximately US$3.5 million for its programme - contributions of about US$2.7 million have been received to date. As the recovery needs of survivors are considerably greater than can be addressed through this programme alone, most of the activities being implemented are intended as models for scaling up or as links into larger-scale interventions to be conducted with other international and national partners.

The Tsunami Disaster

One Year Later: a Report Card

United Nations Development Fund for Women: December 2005

Online access to the full report via the UN Women website at www.unifem.org/campaigns/tsunami/

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