Leave no one behind

On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the UN warns about the vulnerability of native populations around the globe.

Native Americans, Indiana
Native Americans, Indiana

Forty UN agencies and other international organizations made a joint statement today, raising awareness on the critical situation of native populations on the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Despite acknowledging the progress that has been made in terms of their formal recognition in several countries, the UN alerts that they continue to face discrimination, marginalization and lack of basic rights.

Indigenous Raramuris from Mexico
Indigenous Raramuris from Mexico

“While indigenous peoples have made significant advancements in advocating for their rights in international and regional fora, implementation of the Declaration is impeded by persisting vulnerability and exclusion, particularly among indigenous women, children, youth and persons with disabilities,” said the joint statement.

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world. Practising unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics, bringing diversity and richness to the societies in which they live.

Indigenous people from Brazil
Indigenous people from Brazil

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, from 13 September 2007, defends minimum standards for the well-being, survival and dignity of indigenous peoples. The document established their rights to self-determination, traditional lands, territories and resources, education, culture, health and development. The declaration took more than 20 years to negotiate and is a benchmark of rights and reconciliation. However, many challenges remain – violence and rights violations are, in some countries, more common now than decades ago.

Indigenous experts from Canada, Congo, Ecuador and Namibia will discuss the issue at a special event at UN Headquarters in New York, on Wednesday, 9 August, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. UN offices around the world are also celebrating the day with special events and activities, including in Australia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. In order to raise awareness and promote the anniversary on social media, the UN created a branded emoji for the hashtags #WeAreIndigenous and #IndigenousDay, that will be live from 8 August to 15 September on Twitter.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

On the 20th of June, the World Refugee Day, we remember the most vulnerable group of refugees worldwide: girls and women whose basic humanitarian rights are denied. Alongside the UN motto for the Sustainable Development Goals which is to «leave no one behind», the Horyou blog stands for women empowerment and protection.

Woman in refugee camp in Democratic Republic of Congo
Woman in refugee camp in Democratic Republic of Congo

We live in a world with unprecedented numbers of refugees. The statistics of the UNHCR released this week show that, last year, the number of displaced people has reached a record 65,5 million, the vast majority living in challenging conditions in developing countries. More than a third of these refugees are women and girls in their childbearing years, being considered amongst the most vulnerable.

UN Women reminds us that women and girls face many humanitarian violations such as forced marriages and that, while many families believe they are protecting their girls through arranged husbands, many of them end up even more exposed to domestic violence and early pregnancies. Besides having their childhood shortened, they tend to drop out of school and to have their sexual and reproductive rights denied.

Woman prepares meals in a refugee camp in Cameroon
Woman prepares meals in a refugee camp in Cameroon

«On World Refugee Day, we acknowledge the unique vulnerabilities of women and girl refugees, and the need for us all to do better to serve them. We also celebrate their strength. From crisis to crisis, it is the resilience and persistence of women and girls that carries their families, their communities and their societies through hardship to durable solution», said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in a statement.

Phumzile stresses the strenght of women and girls who call tirelessly for effective services such as health and education, and who develop creative and efficient approaches to support livelihoods. «When in camps, they are rapid adopters of opportunities through new technologies, like education via mobile devices, or cash-for-work programmes that develop skills for a life outside the camp. They are the experts on safe sanitary facilities, female-friendly camp design and other aspects critical for reducing women’s risk of physical and sexual violence and increasing their capacity to live independent and fulfilled lives. We must listen to their insights and amplify them», added the UN Women Director.

Woman learns the French alphabet in a refugee camp in Cameroon
Woman learns the French alphabet in a refugee camp in Cameroon

The opportunities for these women lie in education programs, health care and open opportunities for small businesses, especially in camp areas which suffer from the lack of funds and international support. «The international community must recommit itself to placing women and girls equally with men and boys at the heart of humanitarian action for the world’s refugees. We, and they, cannot afford anything less», concluded Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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