Stories

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Nearly half of all refugees are women and girls, yet their voices are often absent from decision-making. A UN Women programme in Uganda trains women refugees to lead. On World Refugee Day (20 June), get inspired by the story of Grace Neima Khemis.
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Uganda hosts 1,644,870 refugees today, and nearly 56 per cent of them have come from South Sudan, fleeing conflict and hunger. Globally, nearly half of all people forced to flee are women and girls, carrying untold stories of resilience and unseen potential. Often, the communities they escape to are also poor. Yet, they persevere, dream and break barriers in search for a better life. On World Refugee Day, meet three women who broke stereotypes and are inspiring others to do the same.
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Sisa Matewa, a 39-year-old mother of five, fled the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2018 and now lives in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in Kyegegwa District, Uganda. Forced to leave behind their home and livelihoods, Sisa and her five children arrived at the Uganda DRC boarder of Bunagana with little more than the clothes on their backs and a glimmer of hope for a better future.
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Displaced by war, Poni Grace, a 23-year-old South Sudanese refugee living in Imvempi Refugee Settlement in Terego district in Uganda, experienced a journey of hardship and displacement, followed by possibility. Her story is testament to the unwavering strength found within refugee communities and the transformative power of opportunity.
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Annet Luka is a 23-year-old South Sudanese refugee living in Omugo settlement in Terego district. Luka is one of the 350 girls from refugee settlements and the host community who were identified in 2023-204 to acquire various skills through UN Women’s second chance education intervention implemented under the Leadership Empowerment Access and Protection (LEAP) project funded by the Government of Norway. Through second chance education, refugee women are gaining skills enabling them to engage in productive activities and rebuild their lives.
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New Hope Village Savings and Loan Association emerges as a lifeline for its members, offering not only financial stability but also a pathway to brighter futures.
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South African youth face significant social challenges, with gender inequalities and marginalization disproportionately affecting women and LGBTQIA+ community. To address some of the most pressing challenges, the dynamic framework aims to inspire youth-led initiatives and guide various stakeholders in transforming the nation into a more inclusive, gender-equal society.
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Filamu Dada, a segment of the Ms. President Initiative, empowered seven pairs (a producer and director) of Kenyan female filmmakers to produce internationally compliant short documentaries. The aim of the initiative was to amplify the voices of women leaders, challenge stereotypes, and promote gender equality in leadership. These documentaries not only document the leaders' journeys but also demonstrate their impact, reshaping perceptions and inspiring future generations of women leaders.
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Today, at the first side event on the margins of the African Development Bank Group’s (the Bank) Annual Meetings, UN Women presented its comprehensive Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy, aimed at accelerating gender equality and fostering inclusive economic growth, at an event co-organized with the Bank. Moreover, recognizing the critical role of collaboration, this event fostered dialogue between UN Women, the African Development Bank Group, and other key partners. This collaborative effort aims to drive transformative solutions for women's economic empowerment at the local, national, and global level, ensuring no woman is left behind. Attended by key stakeholders, including government officials, civil society leaders, private sector representatives, and international development partners, the event underscored the importance of a coordinated approach to fostering gender equality.
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As the United Nations prepares to mark the International Day of the UN Peacekeepers (29 May), paying tribute to the dedication and sacrifice made by peacekeepers around the world, UN Women spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Rubana Nowshin Mithila about her experience as a woman in peacekeeping.
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The world has a gender equality problem, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) mirrors the gender bias in our society. Although globally more women are accessing the internet every year, in low-income countries, only 20 per cent are connected. The gender digital divide creates a data gap that is reflected in the gender bias in AI.  Who creates AI and what biases are built into AI data (or not), can perpetuate, widen, or reduce gender equality gaps.
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On World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 28 May, the movement against period poverty celebrates 10 years of collective action by women and girls worldwide. Today and every day, make talking about periods a normal part of life and take action to end period poverty.
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Millions of women and girls worldwide still cannot afford menstrual products or access water and sanitation facilities to manage their menstrual health and hygiene. Periods make them miss school, work, and negatively impact their health, but it does not have to be that way.
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UN Women Deputy Executive Director (DED) Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda carried out a six-day mission in Kenya, where she saw UN Women’s work first-hand, and met with women’s rights organizations and partners, to strengthen partnerships, represent UN Women at the CSO Forum and galvanize action for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.  
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UN Women Deputy Executive Director (DED) Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda carried out a six-day mission in Kenya, where she saw UN Women’s work first-hand, and met with women’s rights organizations and partners, to strengthen partnerships, represent UN Women at the CSO Forum and galvanize action for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the country.  
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The Somali Stock Exchange, in partnership with UN Women Somalia, hosted the ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ event on 7th March 2024 to raise awareness of the importance of economic empowerment for women in business growth and development, as well as to highlight the role the private sector can play in creating opportunities for women in the workplace, marketplace, and community, with the focus on investing in women.
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The Women, Peace, and Protection joint project, implemented by UN Women, UNDP and UNSOM supported the launch the African Women’s Leadership Network (AWLN)-Somalia Chapter on 4th March 2024 in Mogadishu, Somalia. This milestone came because of leadership of the newly elected leaders of the AWLN Somalia Chapter and a concerted efforts from the UN agencies, Office of the First Lady, Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development-MoWHRD and other stakeholders including civil societies.
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Ekatapan Selina's life journey has been one of resilience and determination, marked by challenges and triumphs in equal measure. Born and raised in Turkana, Kenya, Selina, aged 45 years, is now a resident of Katikekile, Moroto district in Karamoja, Uganda.
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Lokur Pasca's narrative illuminates the profound impact of addressing social norms and empowering women to tackle the challenges that beset them. Once entrenched in a cycle of domestic violence and financial strife, Lokur's trajectory shifted dramatically through her engagement with the UN Women's Leadership Empowerment Access and Protection (LEAP) Project. Supported by the Government of Japan and executed in partnership with the Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE) Uganda Chapter, the LEAP project is dedicated to bolstering emergency protection, leadership, service access, and empowerment for women and girls grappling with the intersecting crises of drought and displacement in Uganda. Lokur stands as one among the 2,750 women and girls positively touched by this initiative.
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In 2024, UN Women and Nokia embark on the second phase of their global partnership, scaling-up the successful results of phase 1 (Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Kenya 2022-2023) to five regions. The global partnership aims to facilitate women’s empowerment through tailored online solutions. Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development recognizes that “information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies”.