This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Shift mindsets that deny equality for women in all walks of life, urges UN chief
The COVID-19 crisis has erased years of progress towards gender equality and highlighted the need for immediate action to take advantage of the “transformative power” of women in all walks of life, UN chief António Guterres said on Monday.
In comments to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, the UN Secretary-General insisted that all countries should actively include women in their plans to prepare for the future after the pandemic has passed.
“A better future depends on addressing this power imbalance”, Mr. Guterres insisted, in reference to the fact that men still outnumber women 3:1 in parliaments worldwide, and in many other spheres.
“When women lead in government, we see bigger investments in social protection and greater inroads against poverty. When women are in parliament, countries adopt more stringent climate change policies; when women are at the peace table, agreements are more enduring.”
Mr. Guterres noted that “the COVID-19 crisis has a woman’s face” – as most essential frontline workers are women – before outlining how Governments could help women and girls with specific measures such as boosting investment in childcare.
“The formal economy only works because it is subsidised by women’s unpaid care work,” the UN chief maintained.
Blaze kills migrants, guards in Yemeni capital Sana’a
A fire at a migrant holding centre in Yemen has killed at least eight people and likely claimed the lives of many more, the UN migration agency IOM said on Monday.
In an alert on Twitter, IOM regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Carmela Godeau, said that the agency had provided emergency healthcare for 170 people in the capital Sana’a.
More than 90 were seriously hurt, Ms. Godeau added, noting that the cause of the blaze remains unclear.
Guards were also likely among the victims, she said.
IOM will continue to monitor the situation and distribute food to those in need, Ms. Godeau noted.
“This is just one of the many dangers that migrants have faced during the past six years of the crisis in Yemen. All people, including migrants, should be afforded protection and safety.”
Despite years of conflict between the internationally recognised Government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and mainly Houthi militias who control Sana’a and beyond, the country remains a staging post for migrant workers from East Africa seeking work in the Gulf countries further north.
IOM estimates that thousands of migrants have become stranded in Yemen after COVID-19 movement restrictions were imposed across the Gulf region and Horn of Africa States.
10 million additional girls at risk of child marriage because of to COVID-19
An additional 10 million girls are at risk of child marriage over the next decade because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, warned that “COVID-19 has made an already difficult situation for millions of girls even worse”.
She explained that the pandemic had forced schools to shut, leaving children isolated from friends and support networks, and that the rising poverty and parental deaths caused by the coronavirus had heightened the risk of them marrying young.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, 100 million girls were at risk of child marriage in the next 10 years, the UN agency said, noting that girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences.
These include a greater likelihood of experiencing domestic violence and dropping out of school; teenage girls also face an increased risk of early and unplanned pregnancy, complications with childbirth and death.
According to UNICEF, globally, an estimated 650 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, with about half of those in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.