3By Ms. Salma Sahnoun, Intern, SNDatUN: On 7 June, the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea hosted a conference to commemorate the World Oceans Day (8 June) under the theme: “Gender and the Oceans.” Storytellers and speakers from around the world came to share their perspectives on how to ensure cleaner oceans as well as ways to promote gender equality in ocean-related activities such as; marine research, fisheries, labour at sea, migration by sea and human trafficking.

Mrs. Aunofo Havea, the founder of Vaka and Moana, was one of the panelists at the conference.  She is also the first licensed female captain in all of Polynesia, and the creator of the “Swimming with Whales Industry” in her native country of Tonga. Mrs. Havea inspired the audience with the story of her struggle to save Whales in the shores of her region since her youth. She shared the experience of the horror she felt as she watched the last whales in the coasts of her country being killed for profit by the seafood industries. This was what inspired her to engage in the advocacy for the preservation of biodiversity in the oceans as she encouraged more women to follow her lead.

Besides the emphasis on the importance of women in advocacy for the health of the oceans, another speaker, Mr. Tun Lin, spoke on the issue of human trafficking. Mr. Tun Lin, (a trafficking survivor from Myanmar) spoke about his personal experience of being sold by a ‘friend’ to fishing vessel operators from Thailand. He was enslaved and forced to work on the fishing boat for 11 years. He could not escape, despite several attempts to do so because of the threat on his family by his traffickers. Mr. Tun Lin narrated his ordeal of being tortured, sometimes with electric shocks.  He eventually escaped in 2014.  Mr. Tun Lin noted that, he was at the United Nations to share his story so that more people would become aware of the prevalence of human trafficking and modern-day slavery in the seafood industry.”

Lastly, Ms. Patima Tungpuchayakul, the co-founder of the Labor Rights Promotion 4Network, also spoke. According to Ms. Tungpuchayakul, the mission of her organization is to investigate human trafficking incidences, to rescue victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. They also offer services such as healthcare, education, and shelter to the victims. Ms. Patima  Tungpuchayakul said that her organization has so far rescued over 5000 children, women, and men who were trafficked and enslaved on fishing vessels. She noted that modern-day slavery and human trafficking in the fishing industry is not just a South Asian problem,  but that it is a global issue.  And as such, she urged the UN to come up with internationally agreed regulatory policy to ensure for just wage, safety, and human rights of men and women who work in the fishing industry.

Read more:

Watch: http://webtv.un.org,

UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea: https://bit.ly/2XQVeYd

The UN World Oceans Day: https://bit.ly/2s7zlrw





1The United Nations General Assembly, in resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women on December 20, 1991. In 1998, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence against women is a violation of human rights. However, sadly, it is still the most pervasive form of discrimination.  Violence against women is a consequence of persisting inequalities between men and women, through which discrimination thrives. Women around the world continue to face violence and discrimination within classrooms, boardrooms, and on battlefields. Some of the prevalent forms of violence suffered by women and girls are intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and child marriage.

Violence against women and girls is preventable, and the elimination of such violence is 2essential for building a healthy, peaceful society. However, as noted in the UN Secretary General’s 2017 report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms.”

Ending gender-based violence and inequality requires the concerted effort of individuals, families, civil society organizations, community, and religious authorities. After all, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”  As rightly put by UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, “denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back.”

Read more:

UN Women website: http://bit.ly/2hIfTy3

Learn about 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The theme for the 2017 campaign is “Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education.” Also download the toolkit on gender-based violence in education from this link; http://bit.ly/2zjgyOd

Explore the facts: Violence Against Women; http://bit.ly/2irh0iJ


2 By Juliana Marquee Boyd, SNDatUN Intern: Millions of people around the world are trafficked and forced into servitude or into the sex trade by criminal gangs or individuals. Often described as a “modern form of slavery,” human trafficking thrives in many societies and generates astronomic profits for the criminals. According to the International Labor Organization, forced labor, one form of exploitation into which humans are trafficked, generates USD$150 billion revenue a year, while the Global Slavery Index suggests there may be as many as 45.8 million people enslaved. A very significant number of victims of human trafficking are women and children.

On June 21st, 2017, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), representatives of governments, specialists, survivors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assembled at the United Nations (UN) to discuss strategies to combat and end human trafficking as well as to highlight the relevance of the Global Plan of Action and Sustainable Development Goals 5.2, 8.7, and 16.2. The Global Plan of Action (a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010) is a framework that helps Member States in the fight against trafficking of persons. The document is reviewed every few years by the General Assembly. The second section of the Global Plan of Action will be reviewed in September 2017. The latter seeks to promote sustainable peace and prosperity worldwide.

Some of the trafficking issues highlighted during the session were the following: 3trafficking that thrives in societies with high levels of poverty, unemployment, lack of socioeconomic opportunities, cultural issues, gender-based discrimination, and in areas affected by conflict and war. Governments were challenged to prosecute sex buyers and provide assistance to trafficking survivors. The need to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, both in public and private spheres, was also highlighted. The session affirmed the significant commitment and achievement by the governments of Panama and Sweden in combating human trafficking by promoting the decriminalization of sex workers and the prosecution of sex buyers instead.

Speaking at the occasion, the Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations, Laura Flores noted that human trafficking happens in every country; crossing multiple borders in origin and destinations. For this reason, she emphasized the need for strengthening international cooperation to combat this societal menace.

The Global Slavery Index: http://bit.ly/2uZTG09

Global Plan of Action Report: http://bit.ly/2ufWol8

United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime: https://www.unodc.org/



newsletter-1Violence against women and girls is an endemic phenomenon. It is wide spread and happens both in the public and private spheres. Violence against women and girls also takes many forms. It could be physical, psychological, sexual, or emotional. To put an end to this human menace, concerted efforts on the part of community, religious, and civic leaders is required. The media also has an important role to play in the eradication of violence against women.
The United Nations (UN) has designated November 25th as the International Day for the newsletter-2Elimination of Violence against Women. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness on the occurrence of violence against women and girls. This day also marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Campaign. The 16 Days of Activism is a time to “to raise awareness and galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.” This campaign culminates in the celebration of the International Human Rights Day on December 10. “Women’s rights are human rights” (Hilary Clinton).
newsletter-3The theme for the 2016 Human Rights Day is “Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today.” In the midst of what appears to be growing animosity among peoples, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has charged all global citizens to reach out to one another. In his words, “It’s time for each of us to step up for human rights. There is no action that is too small: wherever you are, you can make a difference. Together, let’s take a stand for more humanity.” Whose rights are you going to stand up for these days?

Read: UNiTE to End Violence Against Women: http://bit.ly/1htCGlg                                                           16 Days of Activism: http://bit.ly/109KHJ1
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women:                                                 http://bit.ly/1sXAk2J


Message from UN Women:

The Communications Procedure of the Commission on the Status of Women is a unique tool for individuals and organizations to use in order to raise awareness about injustice and discriminatory practices against women in any country in the world. Claims to the Commission on the Status of Women for consideration at its next session (14-24 March 2016) must be submitted by 1 August 2015.

To learn more click here: www.unwomen.org/csw/communications-procedure



WGGAs girls from various regions of the world were strategizing for the 2013 plan to implement the Agreed Conclusions of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women, the Working Group on Girls decided to respond to instances of violence against girls on the local level. They took the caucus statements and framed them into a tool that could be used to: 1) raise awareness of the concerns about violence against girls, and 2) find the potential to change systems and transform villages, countries, and the world into a place to live that is safe, supportive, and joyful for all children and young people.

An instance of leadership in this area was noted in August of this year and reported widely on the Internet: KENYA – GIRLS’ ADVOCACY VICTORY – LANDMARK COURT RULING THAT POLICE MUST INVESTIGATE RAPE & PROSECUTE.
The link is: http://tinyurl.com/lqefrej 

Taking courage from this report, the WGG will gather in groups and plan the future of achieving girls’ potential! If you are interested in joining part 1 of this project, please e-mail Ilaria Buonriposi at wggindicators@gmail.com  and she will send you materials to use.


“I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence
that affect an estimated one in three women in her life time.
I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets.
And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims heal
and to become agents of change.”

These were the words of the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on the commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In 1999, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) designated November 25th of every year as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In a resolution, the UNGA invites governments, organizations (including NGOs), and groups to utilize this particular day to raise awareness on violence against women, using various activities. The UN considers violence against women a very serious human rights violation and has made efforts to address this issue. In 1979, the UNGA adopted what is described by many as the international bill of rights for women, that is, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

According to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, it is particularly important to set aside a special date as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women because:

  • Violence against women is a human rights violation
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, both in law and in practice, and as a result persists inequalities between men and women
  • Violence against women impacts and impedes progress in many areas, including movements toward poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and promoting peace and security
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable and incidence can be reduced through preventative actions, advocacy, and progressive movements for women that are both possible and essential
  • Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic with up to 70 percent of women experiencing violence in their life time

The fight to end violence against women must be fought, not just by women themselves, but also by men. This notion was reiterated by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Sebastiano Cardi, at a presentation sponsored by Italian Mission at the UN to mark this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Mr. Cardi noted that “while he was the only man at the panel, the issue mainly concerns men since they are traditionally the perpetrators of the violence.”

Despite efforts by the UN, some of its agencies, and some NGOs dedicated to eradicating this societal menace, violence against women and girls still pervades in various societies and situations. The fact that one out of three women experiences violence in her life time makes violence against women and girls a global crisis that not only affects the individual but also “harms our common humanity.” There is no acceptable cultural or religious justification for any form of violence against women in this day and age.

Domestic violence

In conflict or war situations, sexual violence against women and girls is often used as weapon of war. Thousands of women around the world are being held as sex slaves both within and outside their countries by unscrupulous people. In this age of globalization and technological advancement, transnational trafficking and the use of women and girls as pornographic objects has become a multi-billion dollar industry. However, it is most shocking to learn that the most common place for violence against women and girls is within their own homes, and by the very people they love and trust. The home is the place where one is supposed to feel the safest, yet this is not the case for millions of women and girls around the world. It is within the home that some of the most horrific domestic violence occurs; such examples are girls that are sexually abused by members of their own family or given in marriage as child-brides. Additionally, the practice of female genital mutilation, which deprives girls and women of their bodily dignity and jeopardizes their physical health forever, is often carried out by members of the family.

Although women in some parts of the world fare better than others with regards to access to opportunities and protection from the state, women are still generally marginalized in many cultures. Until every segment of every society is free, no one in that society is truly free. Therefore, the fight to eliminate all forms of violence against women in every culture and society must be taken very seriously by everyone. This observation was made by Moni Pizani, the Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). He noted that “no country in the world has fully achieved gender equality and no country is free of violence against women and girls. It will take the leadership of governments, communities, and individuals in all countries to join forces, break the silence, and stand up for the fundamental rights of half of our human family.”

Stop Crime Against Women

It was to this end that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign on November 25 in 2008. This date also marks the start of 16 days of activism to end violence against women. This culminates with the UN International Human Rights Day which is celebrated on December 10 of every year. These efforts are aimed at encouraging UN agencies, NGOs, and individuals to organize activities to raise awareness and push for change in mindset within society and to call for legislation to protect the rights of women and girls by the state.

Read more: