Women This Week: UN Takes On Gender Equality and Climate Change
from Women and Foreign Policy Program and Women Around the World

Women This Week: UN Takes On Gender Equality and Climate Change

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 covers November 6 to November 12.
COP26 President Alok Sharma gestures as he receives applause during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
COP26 President Alok Sharma gestures as he receives applause during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. Phil Noble/REUTERS

UN Climate Talks Turn to Gender Equality

During the second week of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), summit attendees turned to the topic of gender-responsive climate action. Some countries made commitments to address the disproportionate effects of climate change on women and girls; the United States committed to invest $14 million from its Gender Equality and Action Fund to target gender-responsive climate programming. In addition, the COP26 draft agreement includes several references to gender, including gender-responsive implementation of climate action. Some climate activists, however, criticized the summit’s approach to gender justice, arguing that COP26 sidelined civil society organizations and activists from the Global South.  

Tigray Rebels Accused of Wartime Sexual Violence

Amnesty International released a report that includes accounts from sixteen women describing rape and physical abuse by fighters in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF reportedly attacked the town of Nifas Mewcha in Ethiopia’s Amhara region over nine days in August. During the attack, fighters allegedly raped at least seventy-four women, according to the head of Nifas Mewcha’s women and children affairs office. A TPLF representative denied the allegations, but the representative also said the TPLF takes the allegations seriously. Since the conflict in Ethiopia began in November 2020, the United Nations and rights groups have accused all warring parties—including Ethiopian government forces, the TPLF, Eritrean Defense Forces, and various militia groups—of committing grave human rights abuses. Amnesty International previously released a report that alleges soldiers belonging to the Ethiopian National Defense Force and allied militias committed widespread rape against Tigrayan women and girls.

Palestinian Woman Fights Hamas Guardian Law

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Afaf al-Najar, a Palestinian woman living in Gaza, has decided to challenge a travel ban imposed by her father. Although most Palestinians in Gaza are unable to travel outside the territory due to Israeli and Egyptian restrictions, al-Najar was prevented from pursuing her studies in Turkey because of a male guardianship law. In February 2021, Gaza’s Supreme Judicial Council ruled that a male relative could file a petition preventing a woman from traveling outside Gaza. Al-Najar’s father filed such a petition, and al-Najar was immediately barred from traveling while the court considered the petition. Al-Najar responded by filing a suit to overturn the travel ban, but a series of delays have prevented a final decision from being reached.

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