Our Perspective

      • Humanitarian challenges loom in developing Myanmar | Ashok Nigam

        31 Jul 2012

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        A young girl from Myanmar attends school at a refugee camp in eastern Bangladesh. Photo: Jared Katz, UNDP Picture This

        Myanmar is vulnerable to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. The United Nations and its partners—including national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—are working with the people of Myanmar to help build greater resilience in the face of both. The worst recent natural disaster, Cyclone Nargis, struck Myanmar on 2-3 May 2008. Around 140,000 people died and 2.4 million were severely affected. On Oct. 22, 2010, in the western coastal state of Rakhine, Cyclone Giri left 45 people dead and affected some 260,000. An earthquake on March 24, 2011, in the southern part of the Shan State, near the Thai and Lao borders, registered 6.8 on the Richter scale. These and other natural disasters have caused untold human suffering. Thousands upon thousands have had to rebuild their lives from scratch. Communal conflicts have also displaced large numbers of people. In all instances, local communities and state actors have responded first. Neighbors have heroically helped one another, and religious groups and community leaders responded instantaneously. Myanmar has learned from these disasters and communities have become more resilient. But the government now recognizes that international support can help further. As a trusted partner, the UN has delivered both developmental and humanitarian assistance in Myanmar and Read More

      • AIDS 2012 offers hope, new responses | Emilie Pradichit & Mandeep Dhaliwal

        26 Jul 2012

        Washington—Science suggests an AIDS-free generation is within reach. We must reflect on lessons and human rights struggles of the last three decades of the AIDS response if we are to do better in delivering the best that science and innovation can offer to those most in need. More than 8 million people with HIV in poor and middle-income countries received AIDS medications last year, up from 6.6 million in 2010. Nearly 60 percent of the 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV in poor countries also received medications in 2011, so their babies are less likely to be infected. Since this epidemic began, we have grappled with social and structural inequalities fuelling HIV. Presenters at the International AIDS conference this week called for enabling legal environments and urgent action against stigma, marginalization, discrimination, and criminalization on the basis of HIV status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Recommendations by the UNDP-led Global Commission on HIV & the Law report, “Risks, Rights & Health,” address many of these issues. Increasingly we hear calls for the abolition of laws criminalizing HIV transmission, exposure, and non-disclosure. At a session convened by The Lancet, data showed that criminalization of male homosexual practice was associated in African Read More

      • Women Gain at Rio+20: Securing the Future We Want by Securing Gender Equality | Winnie Byanyima

        23 Jul 2012

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        The global development agenda is undergoing drastic changes, so how can we ensure that gender issues are adequately addressed in these processes? Photo: UNDP South Sudan

        The global development agenda is undergoing drastic changes, so how can we ensure that gender issues are adequately addressed in these processes? Rio+20 reaffirmed the goals of building an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable world. The representatives of more than 100 governments made over 690 voluntary commitments, including five specifically on gender equality.  But critical questions remain: Did Rio+20 adequately represent all global citizens? Will Rio+20 advance women’s rights worldwide? The outcome document references gender equality in 44 paragraphs. World leaders affirmed that gender equality and women’s participation “are important for effective action on all aspects of sustainable development.” The outcome document encourages donors and non-governmental organizations to fully integrate commitments and considerations on gender equality and women’s empowerment in development programmes and policies. The document made a “call for the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.” Despite proposals for powerful language that would have backed gender equality and women’s empowerment outcomes during the negotiation process, most were lost to numerous rounds of editing. The Rio+20 outcome document has been criticized as being too soft on gender equality. Women’s organizations have expressed disappointment with Read More