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Fight For Gender Equality Faces Resistance From The United Nations: Study

Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, was sworn in December 2016 after a campaign in which many countries urged selection of a woman.

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U.N.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses delegates during the opening session of a UN Migration Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Dec.10, 2018. VOA

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has inched up slightly in the eyes of women’s groups who said on Wednesday he has delivered on some promises to make the global organization a feminist institution but faces a major backlash and resistance.

The Feminist U.N. Campaign, a coalition of women’s rights groups, advocates and U.N. staff, gave him a grade of B-, up from the C+ it gave him a year ago.

The coalition launched its report card after the secretary-general said he would be a feminist leader when he took office two years ago.

United Nations, Global warming, climate change
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

Global movement

In that time, the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and assault has become a global movement.

Guterres has promoted women’s rights and equality publicly, sought gender parity in leadership and rolled out efforts against sexual harassment and gender-based violence, the report said.

But an internal backlash and bureaucracy threaten his progress. His efforts to make structural changes have met “considerable resistance” from staff and member states that resist women’s rights, it said.

Lyric Thompson, an author of the report and a director at the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women, said she thinks Guterres has “a genuine intent and interest in being a champion” of women’s rights.

Women's March,
People carrying signs join hundreds of demonstrators in the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

“The question is can he do everything in his power to be a feminist leader who enables that transformation and who makes it the new normal?” she said to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The U.N. is “years away” from being a feminist institution, and attitudes of immunity and privilege operate to scuttle equality efforts, she said.

Just last week, a U.N. survey showed one third of its staff and contractors experienced sexual harassment in the past two years.

More than 30,000 people answered the survey, complaining of offensive jokes, remarks and sexual stories and of being touched in ways that made them uncomfortable.

The U.N. has tried to increase transparency and strengthen how it deals with such accusations over the past few years after a string of sexual exploitation and abuse accusations against U.N. peacekeepers in Africa.

The head of the U.N. agency for HIV and AIDS is stepping down in June, six months before his term ends, after an independent panel said his “defective leadership” tolerated “a culture of harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse of power.”

Women
Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, center, address the human rights conference titled “Protecting Health Rights of Women and Girls Affected by Conflict,” during the U.N General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. VOA

‘Considerable progress’

The secretary-general’s office said it was pleased that the women’s groups saw improvement in Guterres’ handling of gender issues and agreed that more needs to be dome.

Also Read: Women Living in Countries with Gender Equality have better Cognitive Test Scores: Study

“At the same time, we believe the secretary-general has achieved considerable progress within the complex U.N. system at achieving real reforms to make the U.N. a better workplace for women and men alike,” his office said.

Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, was sworn in December 2016 after a campaign in which many countries urged selection of a woman. The U.N. has not been headed by a woman since its creation in 1945. (VOA)

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Female Parliamentarians Have Increased Globally: Inter-Parliamentary Union

Women Represent One-Quarter of the World’s Parliamentarians

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Female rights
While female representation in national parliaments has increased, gender parity remains a distant dream. Pixabay

By Lisa Schlein

The number of female parliamentarians in the world has more than doubled since the groundbreaking U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 25 years ago, the Inter-Parliamentary Union said Friday. Part of the reason may be quotas.

While female representation in national parliaments has increased, gender parity remains a distant dream. However, significant changes have occurred. In 1995, the top-ranked country in terms of female members of parliament was Sweden, followed by other Nordic and developed countries.

This year, Rwanda, with more than 60% female MPs, beat 171 other countries for the top spot, followed by Cuba, Bolivia and United Arab Emirates. Sweden has been bumped down to seventh position.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union finds countries in the Americas have made the most progress in terms of representation of women in parliament, followed by Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and Asia. The Pacific, which holds up the bottom of the rankings, is the only region where some parliaments have no women. IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong said women fare best in countries that apply quota systems for their representation.

Female rights
Spectators chant “Justice” in Spanish after Chilean singer Mon Laferte was joined by Mexico’s Vivir Quintana and a chorus of dozens to perform an anti-femicide song titled “Song without fear,” during a concert by female performers on the eve of International Women’s Day, in the Zocalo in Mexico City. VOA

“Wherever quotas are being used during electoral processes, we see an increase in the women’s representation when compared with the countries where there are no quota systems. So, we continue to lay emphasis on the need for quotas to be legislated in order to achieve gender equality,” he said.

Chungong told VOA statistics show strong female participation in parliaments leads to better-designed and -implemented gender equality laws.

Also Read- Here’s How the Song “Kitna Chanda Jeb Mei Aaya” Talks About the Corruption Done by AAP

“It is more often possible to address some of those issues that may be specific to women; such as, maternal and newborn and child health to be on the agenda, women’s political participation, violence against women, sexism. Those things tend to come to the fore when you have strong women’s participation in parliament,” he said.

Chungong said he believes the MeToo movement could help boost women’s political representation. He said the movement directly confronts sexism, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, which help keep women from seeking and winning electoral office. (VOA)