Turkey’s Erdogan on Women Contradicts UN Charter and UDHR

Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan
Nov. 24, 2014 – Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s remarks on Monday that women are not equal to men contradict both the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he told a women’s conference in Istanbul. “It is against nature.”

The preamble of the UN Charter states that, “We the peoples of the United Nations determined… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

Meanwhile, Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by Turkey in 1949, declares that, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Turkey ranks 69th in the UNDP Gender Equality Index with particular gaps in women’s participation in the workforce, politics, and education. Fourteen percent of Turkish Parliament members are women, or 79 MPs out of 548. with Turkey ranking 96th out of 188 countries for participation in politics according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

As for employment, only 24 percent of Turkish women are employed outside the home, typically in low-paying jobs such as in the textile industry or farming.

Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

World Leaders to Make Their Debut at This Year’s UNGA

1st Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly 69th session
Sept. 17, 2014 – At least ten newly elected presidents and prime ministers will address this year’s General Assembly including three new female leaders.

As is tradition, Brazil will open the high-level segment and President Dilma Rousseff will address delegates for the fourth consecutive year when the session opens on Wednesday.

Also speaking on opening day is Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, who is no stranger to the United Nations having headed UN Women when it was founded in 2010. She left that post in 2013 to campaign for her country’s presidency and was elected in March this year. This is her second stint as Chile’s president. She previously served from 2006-10.

Bachelet is one of three women to take on the post of president or prime minister in the past year who will address the assembly. Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg is slated to speak on Friday while Central African Republic’s interim President Catherine Samba-Panza is up on Saturday.

Egypt’s President Adel Fattah el-Sisi will make his debut on Thursday as will Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko and Iraq’s Fuad Masum.

India’ nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks on Saturday and will deliver his speech in Hindi.

Other newly elected leaders making their bow are El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Costa Rica’s Luis Guillermo Solis, Guinea-Bissau’s Jose Mario Vaz and Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salman. Spain’s King Felipe is also speaking on the opening day. He assumed the throne in June.

The most recent list of speakers provided by the UN states that Afghanistan will be represented by its head of state but June’s runoff presidential election poll is still disputed and it’s not clear at this stage who will represent Kabul.

Besides Rousseff, Bachelet, Solberg and Samba-Panza, at least nine other female heads of state or government are set to address the assembly next week: Argentina’s President Christina Fernandez Kirchner, Liberia’s Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite, Malawi’s Joyce Banda, South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, as well as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Jamaica’s Portia Simpson-Miller and Trinidad’s Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Lack of Women in Military and Police Not Just a Problem in Afghanistan

Major-General Kristen Lund became the first female force commander of a UN peacekeeping mission last month.

Major-General Kristen Lund became the first female force commander of a UN peacekeeping mission last month.

June 24, 2014 – Less than one percent of Afghanistan’s 335,000 army, police and prison personnel are women, according to Ban Ki-moon’s latest quarterly report on UNAMA to the Security Council.

Of 185,131 members of the Afghan army, including air force, 1,138, are female and of the 145,939 police personnel and 5,600 prison guards, women accounted for 1,741 police officers and 273 guards.

While these low figures reflect the difficulty in recruiting female security personnel in a country where women’s rights are challenged and denied, Afghanistan is not alone in having poor female participation in military and police.

Less than four percent of the the UN’s almost 100,000 uniformed peacekeepers are female, according to the latest figures from the Dept. of Peacekeeping Operations.

But the UN is hardly to blame for these numbers as it relies on member states to contribute troops for its peacekeeping missions and, globally, women are under-represented in police and army forces.

Just 7 percent
 of Delhi’s police force are women and 16 percent of the NYPD’s most recent graduating class were women.

On the military side, women make up about 15 percent of active US army service members, while in Norway, which tops many gender equality indexes, only about 10 percent of the country’s military is female.

In 2009, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a campaign to increase the number of women peacekeepers to 20 percent in police units by 2014, and to 10 percent in military contingents. Those targets were not even close to being met.

The UN did appoint its first-ever female force commander last month when Major-General Kristen Lund, a Norwegian, was appointed head of the UN peacekeeping operation in Cyprus.

Ban’s report on Afghanistan notes that the Ministry of Defence is making efforts to recruit women, including through television advertisements but “the challenges encountered included a lack of female recruiters and facilities for women, a risk of abuse and cultural or family prohibitions.”

The Security Council will discuss Ban’s report on Wednesday.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten