UN Secretary-General’s Message on International Women’s Day


We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation.

More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world.

I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment.

Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.


Five things to make your city liveable


By Robert Glasser*

Do you want to make your city the most liveable place in the world, or as good as?

It can be done but it requires hard work and an understanding of how to prevent disasters and avoid planning mistakes which will only bring misery in the future.

If we are to leave no one behind in the race for sustainable development, we need to get ready for an uncertain future as the numbers of people living in urban centres surge towards 6.4 billion by 2050 when climate change is likely to have an even more significant impact on urban life.

Over the last twenty years, extreme weather events have doubled and now account for 90% of all major recorded disasters. Earthquakes and tsunamis kill more people but extreme weather events displace over 20 million people each year. Disasters cost the global economy over $500 billion and push 26 million people into poverty every year.

No country, city or town will be spared the impacts of climate change and there are some fundamentals to be aware of when you consider how well your town or city is doing when it comes to managing disaster risk. As the World Urban Forum opens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week here are five things to think about:

No. 1. Access to a good early warning system. We need to reduce the likelihood of people dying in urban disasters by ensuring that basic early warning systems are in place and that these warnings reach people, and are understood and acted on. People need to have a safe place to go until the storm passes or the flood eases.

No. 2. No one should be living in harm’s way. We need to reduce the numbers of people affected by disasters by ensuring that land use regulations and building codes are implemented. This helps to ensure that people live, work and study in safe areas and in buildings constructed to the standards required by the risk profile of the location. If the risk is too high, don’t build.

No. 3. Don’t throw good money after bad. The most expensive school, hospital, road, public utility …is the one that has to be re-built after it has collapsed in a storm or an earthquake. Building back better is an opportunity but building better in the first place avoids unnecessary reconstruction costs that take resources away from areas such as education and health which would benefit society as a whole. Make sure the private sector and government agencies do not embark on critical infrastructure projects without factoring in present and future disaster risk.

No. 4. Don’t leave anyone behind. Everyone needs to be involved in preparing for a disaster, whether it’s having an emergency kit ready, knowing an evacuation route or looking out for a vulnerable neighbour. Preparedness and response planning must include women and girls, youth, people living with disabilities and older persons. People who may be vulnerable often have an acute understanding of disaster risk and how to manage it. When
developing strategies for disaster risk management, involve the whole community. This is essential to building resilience. Continue reading

28 years of service to the United Nations

At a recent Town Hall held for United Nations (UN) Namibia staff, UN Resident Coordinator Kiki Gbeho honoured Mr Abisai Kapolo from UNICEF Namibia with a long service award.

Fondly referred to as Tate Kapolo, the award was in lieu of his 28 long years of service. He was part of the United Nations under Resolution 435, witnessing Namibia’s Independence as part of the organization and later transitioned to working with UNICEF Namibia.

Gbeho lauded Tate Kapolo as a true champion of human rights who holds the UN value in the highest esteem.

An emotional Tate Kapolo dedicated his accolade to his mother and thanked the UN for allowing him to serve and execute its in Namibia.

Staff Town hall sets the tone for the New Year

Staff members from agencies, funds and programmes comprising the United Nations System in Namibia (UN Namibia) were called together for the first town hall meeting of 2018, held under the theme: “Together we can bring about change in 2018”.

Staff were applauded for the achievements and hard work from the previous year, and encouraged to work even harder because the UN faces bigger challenges. The UN Resident Coordinator, Kiki Gbeho expressed her gratitude to the UN Namibia family and was confident about the direction UN Namibia is headed toward ‘delivering as One’.

‘‘Going forward, we should look at the broader direction of where we can take Namibia, reposition the UN agenda 2030 and challenge ourselves’’, she said.

She reemphasised the appointment of Ms Bience Gawanas (UN Special Advisor on Africa), as an indication of full gender parity in the UN and a great opportunity to set and reinforce the programme of the UN in Namibia.

Message from the UNSG

As part of the proceedings, staff members viewed the UN Secretary General (UNSG), António Guterres’ 2018 video message titled: “An alert for the world: 2018 Message.”

“As we begin 2018, I call for unity. I truly believe we can make our world more safe and secure.  We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values.  But we can only do that together.  I urge leaders everywhere to make this New Year’s resolution: Narrow the gaps.  Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals.   Unity is the path.  Our future depends on it.  I wish you peace and health in 2018,” the UNSG said. The video can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2mo14in

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Ms. Bience Gawanas of Namibia appointed as Special Adviser on Africa

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Bience Gawanas of Namibia as Special Adviser on Africa. She will succeed Maged Abdelaziz of Egypt to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. The Secretary-General also wishes to extend his appreciation to Mr. David Mehdi Hamam who served as Acting Special Adviser since Mr. Abdelaziz’s departure.

Ms. Gawanas is currently Special Adviser to the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Namibia. Prior to this, she was Special Adviser to the Minister of Health and Social Services. A champion of women’s health and rights in Africa, she has been commended for her role in initiating far-reaching campaigns such as the continental Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

Ms. Gawanes was elected for two terms as the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2003 and 2008, during which time she was responsible for advocacy as well as the harmonization and coordination of regional and continental policies and programme on promoting social development. Her portfolio included health, HIV/AIDS and nutrition, migration and population, arts and culture, the welfare of vulnerable groups, labour and migration, and sports. Prior to her work as Commissioner, she was Ombudswoman of Namibia (1996-2003). She has also worked as a lawyer at the Legal Assistance Centre, a human rights NGO (1990-1991) and as a lecturer on gender law at the University of Namibia (1995-1997).

She has served on various taskforces and commissions, including the UNAIDS Global Task Team on Improving AIDS Coordination Among Multilateral Institutions and International Donors, the Task Force for Scaling-Up of Education and Training of Health Workers, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, the Commission on Accountability and Information on Women’s and Children’s Health, the Global Steering Committee on Universal Access, the Commission on Accountability and Information on Women and Children’s Health, and the Lancet-Oslo University Commission on Global Governance for Health.

She holds an LLB Honours degree from the University of Warwick, UK, and an Utter Barrister Degree from the Council of Legal Education School of Law/Lincolns Inn, UK. She also holds an Executive MBA from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and an honorary doctorate degree in Law from the University of Western Cape. Born in 1966 she has three children and four grandchildren.

New York, 15 January 2018

UN Staff celebrate World AIDS Day and Staff Day

UN Namibia staff members gathered in large numbers to attend the joint internal commemoration of World AIDS Day and Staff Day to learn more about UNAIDS most recent HIV/AIDS report and to celebrate the achievements of 2017.

Staff were encouraged to support advocacy around HIV/AIDS in their immediate families and communities. The UNAIDS Representative to Namibia, Dr. Tharcisse Barihuta presented a summary of the HIV/AIDS report and shared a message from the Minister of Health and Social Services Hon. Dr. Haufiku to all staff to take an active role in reducing stigma.

The celebration of the UN Staff took centre stage when the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country team rose from their seats to applaud their teams for a year of great successes.  Following a slideshow highlighting the work across the UN System, the UN RC handed over long term service certificates to staff from the various agencies for 15, 20,25 and 30 years of service. UN Staff members each received a SDG color wheel pin from UNIC Windhoek to carry the SDG branding everywhere they go.

With the festive season underway, UNDSS delivered a security briefing on how to successfully navigate the season to avoid theft and loss. With road accidents being one of the highest in our country, a call was made to all staff to adhere to the speed limit and ensure compliance to rules of the road.

#MondayMenu: 11 – 17 December 2017

#MondayMenu: 11 – 17 December 2017

UN Namibia: What’s happening at UN Namibia this week? Check out the #MondayMenu for 11 – 17 December 2017.

11 December is International Mountain Day, an occasion to highlight how climate, hunger and migration are affecting highlands and to ensure that sustainable mountain development is integrated into the 2030 Agenda and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Learn more: http://bit.ly/1btA8OV

Neutrality — defined as the legal status arising from the abstention of a state from all participation in a war between other states, the maintenance of an attitude of impartiality toward the belligerents, and the recognition by the belligerents of this abstention and impartiality — is critically important for the United Nations to gain and maintain the confidence and cooperation of all in order to operate independently and effectively, especially in situations that are politically charged. For this reason, International Day of Neutrality is commemorated annually on 12 December. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2ibnIN4

A workshop to draft a National Strategy on Health in All Policies will be held from 12-14 December in Okahandja. The aim will be to draft a National Strategy on Health in All Policies with the aim of capacitating government to be able to assess different industries policies on the health of the population and to provide alternative for more health promoting policies.

Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Training Workshop will be taking place from 12 – 15 December in Windhoek, Namibia.

After Action Review (AAR or Post-Outbreak Review) for the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) Outbreak that was reported in Omaheke and Omusati regions earlier this year.  The aim of this workshop will be to identify best practices and challenges encountered during the response to the CCHF outbreak and to identify/evaluate prevention, preparedness, and coordination and risk coordination mechanisms in responding to future CCHF and related public health threats. The AAR will be taking place from 12-17 December 2017, C’est Si Bon Hotel in Otjiwarongo, Otjozondjupa region.

U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                                    N A T I O N S   U N I E S



10 December 2017

This year’s commemoration of Human Rights Day marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of seven decades since the adoption of one of the world’s most profound and far-reaching international agreements.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the equality and dignity of every human being and stipulates that every government has a core duty to enable all people to enjoy all their inalienable rights and freedoms.

All of us have a right to speak freely and participate in decisions that affect our lives.  We all have a right to live free from all forms of discrimination.  We have a right to education, health care, economic opportunities and a decent standard of living.  We have rights to privacy and justice.  These rights are relevant to all of us, every day.  They are the foundation of peaceful societies and sustainable development.

Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration in 1948, human rights have been one of the three pillars of the United Nations, along with peace and development.  While human rights abuses did not end when the Universal Declaration was adopted, the Declaration has helped countless people to gain greater freedom and security.  It has helped to prevent violations, obtain justice for wrongs, and strengthen national and international human rights laws and safeguards.

Despite these advances, the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration are being tested in all regions.  We see rising hostility towards human rights and those who defend them by people who want to profit from exploitation and division.  We see hatred, intolerance, atrocities and other crimes.  These actions imperil us all.

On this Human Rights Day, I want to acknowledge the brave human rights defenders and advocates, including UN staff, who work every day, sometimes in grave peril, to uphold human rights around the world.  I urge people and leaders everywhere to stand up for all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural — and for the values that underpin our hopes for a fairer, safer and better world for all.

#MondayMenu: 27 November – 3 December 2017

UN Namibia: What’s happening at UN
Namibia this week? Check out the
#MondayMenu for 27 November – 3
December 2017.

UNDP Namibia is hosting the National
Human Development Report workshop
this week from 27-28 November.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child
Welfare is launching 16 Days of Activism
in Omusati Region on 28 November under
the theme, “From Peace in the Home to
Peace in the World: Make Education Safe
for All!”

IOM will be hosting a National Dialogue on
the Migration, Environment and Climate Change Assessment on 29 November 2017 at the
UN House.

29 November is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
World AIDS Day commemorations will be taking place in Katima Mulilo from 30 November
– 1 December. HIV partners are involved in the commemoration.

Did you know? An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in
forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage. The International Day for the Abolition of
Slavery, commemorated annually on 2 December, focuses on eradicating contemporary
forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of
child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed

International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote the rights and well-being of
persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase
awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social,
economic and cultural life.

UN Namibia staff orange the UN house and pledge to #BreakFree

Bold, bright orange tones were the order of the day on Friday, 24 November when UN staff helped #OrangetheWorld and took personal action towards building a non-violent society. Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the UN Namibia family dressed in different hues of orange to mark the day and draw attention to the need to end violence across the globe.

The day signified the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a campaign that ends on Human Rights Day, 10 December.

The UN Namibia set up a booth at the entrance of the UN House in Windhoek, encouraging staff members and visitors to showcase their support and amplify the message of this year’s global theme: “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”.

The theme reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls. Launched in 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world. Continue reading

We Recycle!

Every day, Namibia’s 2.4 million citizens produce 3,000 tons of waste.[1] In efforts to reduce waste and promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Windhoek did its part to contribute to a greener Namibia. On 10 October 2017, UNIC Windhoek recycled huge piles of outdated publications from the United Nations Library in support of the SDGs addressing climate action.

Preserving our environment requires targeted efforts to protect, restore and promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystems.[2] Goal 15 of the SDGs promotes the protection, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combated desertification and reversed land degradation and biodiversity losses.[3] In the period 2010 – 2015, the global net loss of forest area dropped from 7.3 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 3.3 million hectares.[4] While this is promising, we still have a long way to go. We can all work together to use less paper, recycle and protect our environment.

Did you know that paper fibers can be reused and recycled up to 7 times?[5] The next time you pick up a piece of paper, try to think of it as 7 future pages, not just the 1 in your hand. Recyclable items that are improperly disposed of are no longer useful and could end up contaminating the environment, in landfills or incinerated. Recycling allows useful materials to be recovered and reused to prevent entrance into the waste stream. Every ton of paper that is recycled is a ton of paper that does not go into a landfill. Even every 1-ton of paper saves 10 giant trees![6]

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