Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib will help launch the next major phase of a global campaign against sexual violence on campuses at this year’s opening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York on September 20.
The campaign will be part of a wider focus on combatting gender violence and advancing women’s empowerment during the start of the General Assembly meeting, which is attended by most of the world’s leaders.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information Cristina Gallach said in Pretoria this week that the UN would launch the next phase of the campaign against gender violence on campuses with Habib and nine other university rectors from around the world.
Gender violence at universities “seems very strange, but it is a global phenomenon”, she said.
The campaign would be part of a wider campaign to be launched at the General Assembly, through the appointment of a high-level panel to promote gender equality, with a strong emphasis on economic empowerment of women.
UN officials said the 10 university principals were known as Impact Champions. Together with 10 Impact Champions from among heads of state and 10 from among global corporate leaders, they form the Impact 10X10X10 group that was established last year as part of the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign to engage men more actively in the fight for gender equality.
Head of the Wits Gender Equity Office Professor Jackie Dugard said the 10 university principals would all be meeting for the first time in New York, where a report would be published on the progress they had made so far in implementing their pledges to combat gender-based harms and violence on their campuses.
All 30 Impact Champions would also meet for the first time to decide how they should carry the campaign beyond their own institutions into society at large.
Gallach, who is in South Africa for a seminar on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, said another big event at the UN on September 19 would be a summit to try to address the issue of migration.
“This has arisen as a key issue that has to be addressed in a global manner by all countries; those that see people moving out, those that see people in transit, those that are welcoming and receiving refugees and migrants.”
The aim would be an agreement by member states on that day to work towards a global compact for addressing the massive movement of people. She added that US President Barack Obama would chair another meeting at the UN the next day, aimed more specifically at the issue of resettling refugees.
The UN’s website says this will be the first UN summit on large movements of refugees and migrants and will seek a “more humane and coordinated approach”.
Gallach said the opening of the General Assembly would also commemorate the adoption a year ago of the Sustainable Development Agenda – the decision to aim to achieve 17 broad Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
One of the key elements of this agenda is stopping climate change, and so Gallach said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had asked member states that had already ratified last year’s COP 21 climate agreement in Paris to meet other leaders at the UN to encourage them to ratify it so it could be entered into force.
– African News Agency (ANA)