UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri participated in the Helsinki Conference on Supporting Syrians and the region. Lakshmi moderated and co-chairing a panel discussion on “Gender Equality in Action: Responding to the needs and building resilience for women and girls”. In her closing remarks she emphasised, that, “To promote gender equality and women’s rights, we need peace.”
We bring you ten key points of her speech.
1. She stressed that in order to achieve just and equal societies the efforts have to focus on the importance of meeting the specific needs of women and girls in humanitarian crisis and the dire circumstances in Syria and across the region and ensure that the support and interventions are grounded in strategies that build their resilience and empower them.
2. The households most vulnerable to food insecurity are the refugee female-headed households not open to sharing resources with other households.
3. Women’s rates of empowerment amongst the refugee community remain under 10 per cent; lower than it was in Syria pre-crisis. This demonstrates the rollback effect displacement has on women’s access to opportunities and public space; deepening their sense of isolation.
4. Special measures need to be taken to target and include women in resilience and stabilisation efforts need to be made for women who are at risk of being further left behind.
5. National institutions, governmental and non-governmental, are taking the lead in providing shelter and relief for women and girls at risk and surviving gender-based violence. Donor governments and multilateral organisations are ensuring that gender equality and women’s rights are prioritised in the support they provide.
6. The UN needs to continue to strive to make good on their commitments to global peace and security and ensure that these efforts are grounded in inclusion and diversity.
7. The need is to focus on a humanitarian structure that places women’s needs, rights and empowerment at its heart. This means long-term funding cycles to enable UN bodies to take an empowerment approach to those they serve. Ensuring adequate funding to the priorities of women and girls and ensuring that the interventions, such as those to support livelihoods, do not sideline women.
8. There has to be an accountability framework that ensures that everyone lives up to the global commitments in particular some of those listed during the current conference and those that were made at the World Humanitarian Summit-as detailed in the Grand Bargain.
9. Structures that bring together humanitarian, development, peace and security planning and funding for holistic responses are needed. National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security serve as a good practice for this, where humanitarian needs, development needs and security priorities are brought together under one framework with the objective of stability and peace.
10. It has to be ensured that development happens to everyone, not only refugees but also of those living in the communities generously hosting them. Many of these communities are also challenged by structural gender inequalities, and until the inequalities within the institutions and organisations are addressed, the commitment to address gender inequalities within the refugee populations cannot be fulfilled.