Women’s empowerment and corruption prevention can go hand-in-hand

17 Apr 2014 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán

woman riding bicycle A woman in India with a state-allotted bicycle that had been denied her without explanation. UNDP helped members of her community learn about their legal rights, empowering them to secure their entitlements, like bicycles. (Photo: Shubhangi Singh/UNDP India)
A recent discussion at the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women initiated by UNDP and partners highlighted what an asset grass-roots women’s organisations can be in the fight against corruption in their communities. The discussion was based on country stories about how women-led strategies strengthened transparency and accountability, leading to prevention of corruption. By way of background, UNDP funds and supports a programme in partnership with the Huairou Commission (a global network of grassroots women’s organisations) that so far has mobilized 2,300 community members and trained more than 500 people on social accountability strategies in Brazil, Nepal, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Uganda. Not only did women lead anti-corruption initiatives, their involvement also reaped important gender equality gains. For example, in less than a year, the programme yielded results that speak for themselves: in the town of Jinja in Uganda, because of women’s collective fight for land rights, 35 women received land deeds in their names, and 120 women are in the process of obtaining these deeds. In Brazil, since the start of the programme, 3,000 land deeds were granted to women as rightful owners. Corruption is not gender-neutral. For example, in many developing countries, women are often … Read more

In search of win-win ways to address climate change

16 Apr 2014 by Jacques Van Engel

rising water in Bangladesh Bangladesh has been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as one of the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels. (Photo: UNDP in Bangladesh)
Compelling scientific evidence indicates that reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) might slow down global warming by up to 0.5⁰C between 2010 and 2050. These SLCPs are agents with a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere that warm the climate, like black carbon, methane and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that by reducing the presence of these pollutants we could prevent more than 2 million premature deaths  worldwide each year, and an annual crop loss of more than 30 million tons after 2030. But if nothing is done, the impacts of climate change could translate into devastating consequences for sustainable development. The world is relentlessly trying to find solutions that reconcile economic growth and development with the need to control the increase of greenhouse gases. So is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). By addressing short-lived climate pollutants we are implementing a model with positive impact on climate change, while improving the environment, economies and people’s health. And we are not alone. UNDP is a partner to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) and focuses on reducing the negative impact of HFCs on climate and energy use. This is … Read more

Sierra Leone: From 'blood diamonds' to long-lasting development

11 Apr 2014 by Silke von Brockhausen

The kids are running on the grassland.Since the civil war, the UN flag has been a symbol of hope for the population in Sierra Leone. Wherever we pass, kids come waving and screaming towards our cars, which have huge UN logos, and adults casually give a thumbs up. (Photo: Silke v. Brockhausen/UNDP)
Our two white UN vehicles are carefully moving down the dusty and bumpy road between Kenema and Koindu in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. We pass dozens of burnt ruins of what were once sturdy brick and stone homes, some with hundreds of bullet holes in their walls – eerie remnants of Sierra Leone's brutal civil war. About 1,200 of former warlord Charles Taylor's rebels launched their devastating campaign here, leading to years of fighting that killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million people (about a third of the population), disrupting nearly every national institution. After more than 15 years of successive peace operations, the last United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), closed at the end of March. Since the civil war, the UN flag has been a symbol of hope for the population in this troubled region. Many of the over 17,000 blue helmets that arrived with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) also helped to restore peace and bring back a sense of security in this district of Kailahun. Wherever we pass, kids come waving and screaming towards our cars with the huge UN logos, and adults … Read more

Dignity and human rights lie at the heart of our work

07 Apr 2014 by Lamin Manneh

UNDP Rwanda
Today, the world is joining Rwanda, now a thriving country, to mark the twentieth commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Sadly, the United Nations system and the world couldn’t stop the events unfolding on the ground. Worse, the United Nations could not even save many of its national staff. The consequences of failing to heed the warning signs of the genocide are forever engraved in our minds.  The United Nations and the international system are better prepared to anticipate, prevent, respond to crises and protect their staff. In addition, the world now has important mechanisms to end impunity, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, large scale human tragedies are still happening. As we speak, millions are being affected in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, for instance. This is one the reason why UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon launched the “Rights up Front” Action Plan.  In essence, the Rights up Front Action Plan seeks to strengthen the United Nations’ ability to prevent large-scale violations of human rights, particularly in conflict situations. The plan is framed by several guiding concepts: First, the United Nations must respond to the early warning signs of mass … Read more

Stories from Laos: "I'm the first female bomb disposal expert"

04 Apr 2014 by Chantavone Inthavongsy

Chantavone Inthavongsy at work. Credit: UXO Lao PDR
During the second Indochina War between 1964 and 1974, more than 2 million tons of bombs, including cluster bombs, along with other ordnance were dropped on my country, leaving a quarter of all villages contaminated with unexploded devices. As a child, I heard many stories of people who had been injured – losing limbs and sometimes their lives. I wanted to do something to help. When I was just 20 years old I trained with UXO Lao, the national clearance operator. They taught me to be part of a team that detects, removes and safely disposes of these dangerous explosive devices. I felt nervous about the job, but I was assured that, as long as we followed instructions, it would be safe. I was the only woman to pass the test and become a team leader straight away! I became responsible for a team of 10 people. We were detecting and destroying unexploded ordnance five days a week in the fields and mountainsides across the province. It provided me with valuable experience and I was very proud of my job. After six years, I was promoted to Senior Explosive Ordnance Deminer and was, until last year, the only fully qualified woman … Read more

Empowering the world’s largest generation of youth | Magdy Martínez-Solimán

31 Mar 2014 by Magdy Martinez-Soliman

young people volunteeringArab youth volunteering in Syria. (Photo: UNDP)
Our world has 1.8 billion young people. One third of them live in countries that have suffered a violent conflict, and 75 million are unemployed. It is not time for business as usual, and as UNDP is launching its first global Youth Strategy, “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future," in Tunis, working with young people, particularly those who are in need, is indispensable if we are to achieve sustainable human development. In the Post-2015 Consultations, youth are demanding education, jobs, honest and responsive governments, and participation in decision-making; they have innovative ideas and are willing to engage, even to take risks for the causes they believe in. Young voices not only deserve to be heard — young people need to be listened to and their views must count. Doors need to open up.   UNDP is determined to play its part by strengthening its cooperation with young women and men themselves, their own organisations, other partners in the UN system, governments, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector. In a recent study, we showed how the political representation is systematically much older, in all regions of the world, than the society it represents and rules. The age gap needs to be reduced … Read more

The only way to make real progress against poverty and inequality | Antonio Vigilante

31 Mar 2014 by Antonio Vigilante

fish farmers in Cambodia Fish farmers in rural Cambodia adapt to climate change thanks to a project funded by the European Commission. (Photo: Alejandro Boza/UNDP Cambodia)
This year marks the 10th anniversary of UNDP’s partnership with the European Union. This relationship was forged based on the reality that the only way to make real progress in the fight against poverty and inequality is through coordinated multilateralism – and it has.   In the last decade, the EU has provided 3.3 billion Euros to UNDP activities in 115 countries, bringing about tangible results: • In Pakistan, the UNDP-EU partnership supported about 5.5 million people to rehabilitate 4,000 villages after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. Temporary employment benefitted 1.3 million people, 40 percent of which were women. • Elections in 53 countries have been supported by the partnership • 28 countries have been helped to better prepare for natural disasters. • Within the framework of the Poverty Environment Initiative, which supports 24 countries across several regions, the partnership has helped countries incorporate poverty-environment linkages into national development planning. • In the area of climate change, the partnership supports 25 countries to carry out nationally driven climate-change mitigation actions. One of the key factors that make the partnership effective is that the cooperation takes place at multiple levels: policy, advocacy, knowledge-sharing and programmes, each feeding and complementing one … Read more

The only way to make real progress against poverty and inequality

28 Mar 2014 by Antonio Vigilante

This year marks the 10th anniversary of UNDP’s partnership with the European Union. This relationship was forged based on the reality that the only way to make real progress in the fight against poverty and inequality is through coordinated multilateralism – and it has.  In the last decade, the EU has provided 3.3 billion Euros to UNDP activities in 115 countries, bringing about tangible results: •    In Pakistan, the UNDP-EU partnership supported about 5.5 million people to rehabilitate 4,000 villages after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. Temporary employment benefitted 1.3 million people, 40 percent of which were women. •    Elections in 53 countries have been supported by the partnership •    28 countries have been helped to better prepare for natural disasters. •    Within the framework of the Poverty Environment Initiative, which supports 24 countries across several regions, the partnership has helped countries incorporate poverty-environment linkages into national development planning. In the area of climate change, the partnership supports 25 countries to carry out nationally driven climate-change mitigation actions. One of the key factors that make the partnership effective is that the cooperation takes place at multiple levels: policy, advocacy, knowledge-sharing and programmes, each feeding and complementing one another. This … Read more

Innovating for the Rule of Law? | A. H. Monjurul Kabir

25 Mar 2014 by A. H. Monjurul Kabir

 The 'My World, My Georgia' campaign used micro-narratives as a new way to collect and analyze data. Photo: UNDP in Georgia
Law students and legal researchers from the University of Oxford asked me recently whether the rule of law agenda could be more innovative, and I do believe that we need a fundamental transformation in the way we do our rule of law and governance work at all levels. There are many barriers to accessing justice and ensuring rule of law, especially where there are high levels of poverty, exclusion, marginalization and insecurity. Laws and justice institutions – formal and informal – may be biased or discriminatory. Justice and security systems may be ineffective, slow, and untrustworthy. People may lack knowledge about their rights. There may be a culture of impunity for criminal acts. Despite all these, more can be done to ensure that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups benefit from rule of law, legal empowerment and access to justice, which expand their opportunities and choices. Doing more with less is the challenge here. Our traditional structures, systems and processes are proving inadequate to deal with new development challenges. Our justice system is not the most transparent or data-friendly and bringing information to light is no easy task. We are in need of new ideas, resources and unconventional ways of collecting and … Read more

How to enhance the skills of girls, boys and youth | Martín Fuentes

24 Mar 2014 by Martín Fuentes

Childs in ZimbabueThe Human Development Report Panama highlighted a number of key socio-emotional skills that must be strengthened by parents and families Photo: UNDP Panama
The 2014 Human Development Report Panama discusses early childhood, youth and formation of life skills. This report examines difficult themes, such as job training, family and education, and whether young people study and/or work. One obvious way to approach life skills in many countries in the region would be to focus on job training, either because the productive sectors require a permanent supply of qualified personnel or because a country is strongly committed to a knowledge-based economy. But concern about job training is important but short-sighted; it is more important to train people who are also motivated to work. Indeed, although applied skills are easier to learn, many employers recognize that it is more important to hire individuals who are creative and take initiative, difficult skills to learn. Therefore, it is important to provide good training in the basic skills of "learning how to learn,” — rather than having a wealth of information, it is more important to know what to look for and where, and to be capable of discerning what is relevant. However, beyond seeing training as basic building blocks with which to construct something more complex, there are a number of key socio-emotional skills that cannot be strengthened … Read more