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International Women’s Day: UNHCR affirms commitment to fighting sexual exploitation

Mr Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has affirmed the commitment of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to redouble its fight against sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment against women.

Grandi made this known in a statement issued by the UNHCR’s Office in Geneva made available to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja to mark the 2018 International Women’s Day.

According to Grandi, this year’s International Women’s day comes on the heels of a powerful global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice with the theme “Time is Now’’.

He said that the theme also echoes UNHCR’s firm commitment to uphold the rights of women and girls.

He said that in line with the theme, UNHCR would ensure that it worked to secure protection and solutions for displaced and stateless people.

“International Women’s Day is also the right moment to redouble our commitment to stamping out sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment; these are inexcusable.

“We, at UNHCR, have been at the forefront of this fight and will continue to be and there is no place in our organization for those who do not share and respect our core values.

“ I urge victims to speak out and stand for their rights and I appeal to anyone who has witnessed sexual misconduct in the context of UNHCR operations to come forward and report it.

“We will continue to step up our support for victims and will strive to improve even further the ways in which we prevent, report and deal with cases of sexual misconduct.

“ Societies that benefit from the full potential of women and men alike, and where the rights of displaced women and girls are fully upheld, are not just a distant aspiration.

“It is up to all of us to make them a reality now.’’

Grandi said that the UNHCR aims to build on the rich experience, capacities and aspirations of women and girls.

He said the agency would also help them realize their full potential through better access to education, decent work and legal and health services

He explained that UNHCR was doing a very concrete work to advance these goals noting that in Lebanon, women represent over 50 percent of our outreach volunteers.

He said that in the Central African Republic, three centers were now helping displaced women to improve their literacy skills, address sexual and gender-based violence, and earn a living for themselves and their families.

Grandi said that in Malaysia, sustained investments in leadership, communication, and gender equality training, had boosted the number of refugee women taking part in community decision-making by 43%.

The UN Chief said that in the listed countries and in the rest of its operations across the world, UNHCR was taking the necessary action.

Grandi said that the agency believed that it had a profound responsibility to ensure that the distinct voices of women and girls were heard and reflected at every step, and in all aspects of its works.

He said that UNHCR had also taken long-standing commitments on age, gender and diversity, and had deepened and updated them in a new policy to reflect the lessons learned.

He explained that this was to ensure that the agency was fully accountable to women, girls and all those whom it served.

According to Grandi, the UN Refugee Agency will invest in better monitoring, so that it can mark its progress in pursuing gender equality in its operations towards reaching planet 50/50 by 2030. (NAN)

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