Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, from September 18 to September 23, was compiled by Valerie Wirtschafter, Dara Jackson-Garrett, and Katherine Hall.
Addressing Sexual Violence by Peacekeepers is a “Number One Priority” for the United Nations (UN)
Over a decade ago, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called sexual abuse by peacekeepers “an ugly stain” on the United Nations. Today, the issue remains a challenge for current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, as reports of rape and sexual violence by peacekeepers continue to surface, most recently in the Central African Republic (CAR). At least thirteen instances of sexual abuse have already been reported in the CAR under a peacekeeping mission that is less than a year old. In an effort to address what he referred to as a “number one priority” for the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently established an External Independent Review Panel to examine the UN’s response to the allegations in the CAR and offer recommendations for ways to respond to similar cases in the future. The inclusion of women in peacekeeping forces is one possible solution to halting sexual abuse, as demonstrated by Bangladesh’s all-woman peacekeeping force; however, women currently comprise only three percent of military personnel and ten percent of police personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.
The European Commission Adopts a New Framework for Gender Equality
On Monday, the European Commission adopted a framework for gender equality and women’s empowerment to guide external relations in partner countries through 2020. The new framework is set to come into effect in 2016, as a complement to the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals later this week. The framework will focus on four issues to advance women’s empowerment: (1) promoting physical and psychological integrity; (2) ensuring social and economic rights; (3) strengthening voice and participation; and (4) shifting institutional culture to more effectively deliver on the European Union’s commitments.
In Iran, Women Press for Participation in Athletics
Last week, Niloufar Ardalan, the captain of the Iranian women’s soccer team, was unable to travel with her team to compete in the Asian Cup tournament after her husband refused to grant her permission to leave the country. Under Iran’s laws—which are based on Islamic law—married women cannot leave the country without permission from their husbands. They are also unable to obtain or renew a passport without their husbands’ signature. Ardalan’s plight has resonated with many Iranians, who have taken to the Internet to express their solidarity with her. Despite restrictive laws, women continue to press for the ability to participate in athletics: though they are still unable to attend public sporting events, women’s soccer is increasingly taking off among youths, and a small number of women are breaking cultural and legal barriers to become motorcycle racers.