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UN offers 10 ways to eliminate the global justice disparity for women

While the world is making progress on putting women in positions of power and passing legislation to promote gender equality, these laws often don't reach those who need the most help, says new UN report.

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The report is filled with case studies of best practices like South Africa’s care centers, which UN Women hopes will prompt change in countries facing similar obstacles. “Role modeling,” as Turquet calls it, has a multiplier effect that inspires others to follow suit.

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All-women Indian police units deployed alongside UN peacekeepers in post-conflict Liberia prompted a jump in the recruitment of Liberian women to Liberia's police forces – another of UN Women’s 10 recommendations. A data analysis of sexual violence reporting revealed that both women and men were more likely to report cases of sexual violence to female law enforcement, says Mr. Seck, the statistician.

No excuses

Attempts at improving women's access to justice are sometimes rejected based on arguments that the reforms run counter to religious practice and tradition, but this report is filled with examples of improvements in places where the UN and other organizations were able to work with the communities to increase women's rights despite discrimination based on religious practice, Ms. Bachelet said.

"The report draws on examples from Burundi to Ecuador, Pakistan to Mexico, to make it clear that culture and religion cannot be used to justify gender discrimination and injustice,” she says.

She cited the UN's work in Ethiopia and Mauritania to eliminate female genital mutilation, which was already prohibited by law but still occurring regularly. UN workers sat down with religious leaders and the Koran and found that there was nothing there to support the practice. They have since been able to get local leaders on board with their efforts to get rid of the practice.

"You have to work with community leaders, religious leaders to see very deep inside what's the thing producing this kind of situation," Bachelet said.

Funds?

The report does not come tied to justice-specific funding or recommendations for where and how governments and civil society organizations should spend their money, but it will help them decide where to direct it, Bachelet said.

Of UN Women’s $300 million budget this year, $120 million is not allocated for any particular project or country and can be shifted with the organization’s priorities: the world’s least developed countries, those where women’s rights lag the most, conflict and post-conflict zones, and the “middle income” countries that often don’t meet the criteria for significant UN support but have large numbers of women living in poverty.

“If we can show how things work so we can encourage countries to really make their own investment, I think we can all say that women are so essential and you have to reflect that in your national decisions,” Bachelet said.

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