Why women matter for peace

24 Jun 2014 by Radhika Behuria

 Committed to the improvement of women’s rights in Nepal at all levels, Shashi Kumary Adhikary (centre in the photo) organized awareness and legal education programs at the village level.
"It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern wars." These are not the words of a woman who has faced the violence and ferocity of conflict, but words of Major General Patrick Cammaert, who served as the Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The nature of modern conflicts has changed: almost 90 percent of casualties are civilian, of which the most vulnerable are women. As witnesses and victims to conflict, they are overlooked as participants to peace processes. They are too often sidelined in dialogues and negotiations on peace and security, arenas still seen by much of the world as the domain of men, with the association of guns, money and power. What is often disregarded is how much women know about conflict, and therefore how much they can contribute to peace. Women experience war differently than men. They are victims of sexual violence, often used as a systematic tool of war, which has lasting impact on their lives and the lives of their families and communities long after the war is over. Women can bring new understanding of a conflict, and with it, insights … Read more

How citizen-led data is supporting policies in Viet Nam

04 Jun 2014 by Jairo Acuña-Alfaro and Pratibha Mehta

  Provinces across Viet Nam are now starting to shape their policies in response to priorities and experiences that citizens report in UNDP Annual PAPI Survey. Photo: UNDP
The relationship between governments and citizens has undergone a sea-change in most developing countries in the last decade, riding a tide of economic aspirations that are swelling the ranks of the middle class. Viet Nam is no exception. There seems to be a general rule of thumb: the more prosperous and educated citizens become, the more they want efficient and accountable governments.   Citizen-led monitoring and accountability are emerging as key features of the new Post-2015 development agenda as a means of enabling citizens to define the issues they believe should be prioritized in the development process. They are also vital if governments, both local and central, are to be held to account. With Viet Nam’s entry into the club of middle-income countries, citizens are increasingly demanding a public administration system that promotes equitable development, and spreads the dividends of prosperity across an ever-widening sphere. Citizens expect greater participation in the decision-making processes of public policies, as well as in their implementation and monitoring. It was in this context of increasing demands for greater citizens’ voice in government affairs that UNDP Viet Nam and its national partners looked for innovative ways for the government and citizens to better communicate with each other. … Read more

How can mega-cities innovate to reduce traffic congestion?

29 May 2014 by Matthew David Viccars

 Infrastructure can't keep up as the number of cars on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital increase at breakneck speed, slowing traffic to a crawl. Photo: Mohammad Asad/UNDP
How do the 15 million residents of the Bangladeshi capital get to work? ‘Slowly’ is the answer. It’s common for a short commute across Dhaka (let’s say 7km) to take longer than an hour through perpetually gridlocked traffic. Transport is a big problem for anyone who needs to move about in this mega-city and it affects all residents rich and poor alike, stealing their time and exposing them to unnecessary pollution and stress everyday. Dhaka’s now infamous traffic jams keeps people from their families and has been equated to a loss of 3.86BUSD in productivity each year. That’s 3.3 percent of 2012 GDP!  So we thought us boffins at the UNDP should look into doing something about it. Now we’re avid (sometimes fanatical) supporters of public transport and cycling here at the UNDP. In fact in the last few years, cycling’s caught on massively among young people! So the solution to us was clear, let’s install bus and bike lanes. Easy, jobs done we can all go home! Right? WRONG! If that’s all it took to fix Dhaka’s choked transport system it would have been done long ago. We quickly recognized that other organizations and people, many smarter than us, have … Read more

Working women’s empowerment into conservation initiatives

15 Apr 2014 by Doley Tshering

 Ensuring gender equity is the only path to sustainable development. Photo: UNDP
It is 6:00 a.m. My mother wakes me. Her motto: anyone who sleeps late is “not going to be able to eat their food warm”. It’s a Bhutanese phrase meaning one is unable to feed oneself or meet the needs of the family. As early as it feels to me, I know she has already spent two hours feeding the animals, fetching a mountain of leaf litter (to serve as bedding for the cows and later be used as compost), and cooking breakfast for all of us. This is how most women in my village begin their days. After breakfast my mother and other women tend crops, walk through the forests to collect firewood or leaf litter, and travel far to bring water to irrigate the fields.   Women play the dominant role in natural resource management, agricultural production and the well-being and very survival of many rural families. Despite the fact that women also play a critical role in the conservation, management and use of biodiversity, their contribution is often overlooked; they are ‘invisible’ stakeholders. For effective natural resource management they must be seen and heard for the simple reason that this is the most equitable and effective strategy to make … Read more

100 days after Haiyan, the Philippines transitions to recovery

14 Feb 2014 by Jo Scheuer

February 16th marks 100 days since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. The emergency response is almost over and the beginning of long-term recovery has begun. I have been to the Philippines twice since Haiyan struck. In the early days, I went to help coordinate the response to this tragedy. Just recently I returned, to advise on the transition to long-term recovery. The progress over 100 days has been remarkable. Immediately after the storm, UNDP began helping the government prepare for recovery. For example, only weeks after Haiyan, we facilitated a visit to the Philippines from the Government of Indonesia, bringing Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who led the reconstruction effort in Aceh-Nias after the 2004 Tsunami. He attended a Philippines cabinet meeting on recovery, sharing with his colleagues the challenges and lessons learned from Indonesia. This visit may have been low-key – but was very valuable to the Philippines authorities – and it led to UNDP experts starting to work with the government to plan, prepare and budget the recovery. But attention must now shift beyond the first 100 days and focus on the future. It is essential that we build resilience into the new cities that rise from the rubble. Disaster risk reduction … Read more