Challenges facing global women in light of ‘Year of the Woman’

World Today

The past year has seen women’s movements grow and spread around the world.

In fact, in the U.S. 2018 was labeled the “Year of the Woman.” That’s because a record number of women ran for political office and many won.

But, as CGTN’s Nick Harper reports, the Year of the Woman had little influence, where governments were unable or unwilling to tackle issues that affect women.

In South Sudan, women are coming forward to relive the nightmare of rape or other acts of sexual violence as their attackers stand trial.

The mobile court, supported by the United Nations, is hearing cases in the northern town of Bentiu for the first time in over four years. The U.N. just ended its annual End Violence against Women campaign.

“Violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play. We need to do more to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Antonio Guterres the United Nations Secretary-General.

Women’s movements like #MeToo have spread around the world, demanding an end to sexual harassment and violence.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize even paid tribute to two people working to combat sexual violence in Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

But rape continues to be used as a weapon of war.

“We must think and believe it can be eliminated. And the U.N. can do a lot together with its member states. I think the good thing there is that lots of states, countries come forward and say that they want to do things – the rhetoric is there, the awareness is there. But the reality is so far behind,” said Asa Regner, the United Nations Women, Deputy Executive Director.

And although globally, the fundamental issue of protecting women’s rights is the same, conflict countries often struggle to sufficiently deal with that.

“I don’t think any government or multi-lateral organization has really figured out to relate to the core elements of the MeToo movement and translate it into something meaningful for their own populations, especially in situations where populations are at risk,” said Simon Adams at the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect.

And in terms of gender equality, the U.N. is leading by example. This year, it achieved gender parity in its senior management team and among its officials leading in country teams.

But in many of those places, the laws work against those goals from discriminatory land rights, to laws about child marriage and female genital mutilation.

Although the U.N. is pushing countries to improve accountability, this year, South Sudan saw 1,157 rapes, the highest on record since 2015. All of which, the U.N. said, is denying women basic human rights.