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Reese Witherspoon visited the United Nations in New York City earlier today, and participated in a press conference to mark International Women’s Day. Reese talked about a variety of issues affecting women with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women Executive Director, and actress and playwright Danai Gurira. Read more about how the UN marked International Women’s Day below, and find a video of the press conference. High quality photos are in our Gallery for you. Fantastic to see Reese speaking somewhere as illustrious as the United Nations about a topic she is so passionate about.

United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day x19

Commemoration of International Women’s Day amidst unprecedented global movement for women’s rights

Rural and urban activists take centre stage as Monica Ramirez, Reese Witherspoon, Danai Gurira join the event at the United Nations

Coming on the heels of unprecedented global efforts for women’s rights, equality and justice, International Women’s Day, 8 March, will put a spotlight on the tireless work of activists who have been central to these extraordinary movements worldwide. Under this year’s theme, “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”, events around the world will capture the vibrant work of activists and their mobilization for change.

Through marches of solidarity, viral social media campaigns, cultural efforts and powerful grassroots organizing, people across the world are galvanizing for a future that is gender equal. While some of these movements have captured the headlines, other efforts persevere far away from the limelight. Rural and urban activists continue to mobilize, disrupt the status quo, and influence a broad range of policy, legislative and social reforms, from founding projects to end violence at the workplace to providing access to services for ethnic, immigrant and minority women, working every day to leave no one behind.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “We know that healthy societies include a wide mix of voices, yet millions of women around the world are being silenced and their potential cramped. The current solidarity movements have to be a tipping point for accountability; an end to impunity and the cyclical poverty of women in both rural and urban areas. Lively political activism from both men and women must target change for those who need it most”.

Today, gender inequality is rife: 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime; 830 women die every day from preventable pregnancy-related causes; and only 1 in 4 parliamentarians worldwide are women. It will be 2086 before we close the gender pay gap if present trends continue with no action.

Along with a wide range of events across the globe, in New York, prominent speakers, such as activists Mónica Ramírez, Co-founder and President of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and Marai Larasi, Executive Director of Imkaan, alongside Reese Witherspoon, Academy-award winning actor and activist and Danai Gurira, Tony-nominated playwright, actor and activist, will join Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop; President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák; UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the UN HQ commemoration event at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The event will amplify the voices of rural and urban women and activists, and identify ways in which the UN system and partners can support accelerated action towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in both rural and urban settings.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with all those fearless women standing up for gender equality, and spotlight those who often pass unnoticed. Today’s activists are empowering those most likely to be left behind, the majority of whom are women, as UN Women’s latest report, Turning Promises into Action, reveals:

– Across all regions, women are more likely to live in extreme poverty than men. This gender gap in poverty (living on less than 1.90 USD a day) is as high as 22 per cent for the 25 – 34 age group—women’s peak reproductive years, proving the challenges of reconciling work outside and inside the house.
– More than 50 per cent of urban women and girls in developing countries live in conditions where they lack at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing, and sufficient living area.

Rural women and their organizations represent an enormous potential, making up over a quarter of the world population. The theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women will focus on the challenges and opportunities they face. Rural women till the lands and plant seeds ensuring food security for their communities. As primary energy managers in households, they can lead the way in transitioning to sustainable energy and build climate resilience.

Yet, on almost every measure of development, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women. They are disproportionately affected by poverty and unequal access to land and natural resources, infrastructure and services, and decent work and social protection.

As a pre-requisite to ensure rural women rights, harmful practices against women and girls, such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, need to end. The Spotlight initiative, launched in 2017 with an initial investment of EUR 500 million by the European Union, is one of the forward-looking global solutions to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, including in rural areas.

To highlight the need of strengthening female entrepreneurship and to create sustainable businesses, another event hosted by UN Women in New York will take place on 8 March in partnership with Innovation Norway and with the presence of the Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. During this event, UN Women will announce the Champions for Innovation (GICC)—a diverse group of women and men, from actors to athletes, who will support UN Women in ensuring that women and girls can design, shape and benefit from the technological transformations and innovations changing our world. Successful female entrepreneurs will also be celebrated during the event.

Around the world, over 60 stock exchanges will host bell ringing ceremonies to raise awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality. Marking International Women’s Day globally, other events that will garner attention to women’s rights include a running competition in Ethiopia, a bicycle marathon in Timor-Leste, and a ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition in the Philippines to raise awareness on the importance of creating safe and violence-free public spaces for women and girls.

In the Arab region, an innovative Virtual Reality (VR) campaign and social experience will take place, with a series of VR films that put men and boys in the shoes of women in the context of real situations related to fatherhood, violence and sexual harassment. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, debates and documentary screenings about gender equality will take place in high schools, and a new report on women’s political participation will be launched in Guatemala. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Rohingya women refugees at UN Women’s Multi-Purpose Women’s Centres will make kites and write their demands and wishes on them before flying them, to celebrate International Women’s Day, followed by a video screening and debates on economic resilience.

Join the online conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #IWD2018 #TimeIsNow, and following @UN_Women.

(UN Women)

On International Women’s Day, UN celebrates the power of activism to bring change for ‘sisterhood of humanity’

The drumbeat for women’s rights and empowerment reached a crescendo on Thursday as the United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day with a number of powerful events, where global activists joined top UN officials calling for the recent momentum generated by grassroots movements against discrimination and harassment to tip the scales towards lasting change.

Ni una mas in Latin America, Balance ton porc in Europe, Bring back our girls in western Africa, Times Up in North America, #HeForShe and #MeToo in nearly all countries, were just some of the campaigns that have only grown from strength to strength, said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN-Women, the Organization’s Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

“We celebrate today the power of activism to bring change for all women, their solidarity and the sisterhood of humanity,” added the senior UN official.

Alongside Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka in the UN General Assembly Hall, American actor and producer Reese Witherspoon highlighted that the movement for women’s rights will continue until it achieves its goals.

“Understand that we will not leave, that we will not shut up, we want to see us represent 50/50,” said the Oscar-winning actor.

“We will defend women next to us.”

American-Zimbabwean actor and playwright Danai Gurira – who in addition to portraying Michonne in the TV series The Walking Dead and ‘Okoye’ in the blockbuster movie Black Panther – is also a noted education and women’s rights activist, testified about her own experience as a woman in her professional career.

“I drew strength [for my characters] from women from my own life in Zimbabwe,” she said.

The potential of girls and women must not be squandered, added Ms. Gurira, thanking those who stand up for women’s rights and urged many more to join in taking the stand.

In the same vein, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed that the demand an end to abusive behaviour and discriminatory attitudes against women is something that every “sensible” man and boy should want.

“Because gender equality is a fundamental human right [and] there is no better path to a more peaceful and prosperous world than the empowerment of women and girls,” he said.

“Gender inequality, discrimination and violence against women harm us all,” added the UN chief, noting overwhelming evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and countries.

In his remarks, Mr. Guterres also highlighted the importance that women’s participation brings to societies and economies. He, however, also said that while much has been achieved since the first commemoration of the International Day (in 1975), challenges remain.

“We still need to break the structural barriers that women and girls face – unpaid care work, unequal pay, harmful stereotypes, discrimination and violence,” he stressed, reiterating his call on everyone to demand gender equality and women’s empowerment together.

Also speaking today, Miroslav Lajčák, the President of the General Assembly, highlighted that many efforts have been made to ensure women’s empowerment and gender equality but added that much more needed to be done.

“For every woman who enjoys her human rights, there are too many others fighting for their own [and] for every woman living in safety, too many others are living in fear,” he said.

He expressed that the world needs to reinvigorate the focus on gender and the UN must lead the way.

“We can no longer call for gender equality without following our calls with action. We can no longer speak out for women’s rights without speaking out even lounder when they are violated and we can no longer agree that action is needed without taking it ourselves,” added the Assembly President.

Held under the theme ‘Time is Now,’ International Women’s Day 2018 celebrates the work of rural and urban activists who have transformed the lives of women around the world.

In addition to events at the UN Headquarters in New York, the International Day was also marked in all corners of the globe with a number of events, including forums, marathons, concerts and video screenings.

It also comes ahead of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, which will be held from 12-23 March.


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