UN Women has stepped up its efforts to help end women’s experiences of sexual harassment, by appointing Purna Sen to the newly created role of Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Addressing Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination.
UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka announced the new position over night.
Sen, who is currently UN Women’s Director of Policy Division, brings a huge amount of knowledge to the appointment with almost 30 years as a violence against women and human rights activist, expert, academic, and politician.
“There needs to be greater recognition of the regularity and widespread nature of harassment that women face. Women’s accounts tell the world how pervasive this is and we will support this momentum– we want to hear from you wherever you are,” Sen said in a statement announcing her appointment.
“#MeToo has shown women’s powerful solidarity and given notice to abusers; it is incumbent on employers and others in authority to create respectful and safe workplaces.”
In response to women’s experiences of sexual harassment, Sen will focus on ensuring actions are being taken in both government administrations and the private sector. This will be achieved in two parts; firstly, by asking women to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault and secondly, ensuring practices, policies, and laws are enforced to deal with these harassments.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said when announcing the position: “We currently see practices and cultural norms that enable harassment and penalise victims. This has to change. In her new role and with her directly relevant background, Purna will help address the deep-rooted patterns of inequality and abuse of women.”
Focusing on the survivor, the role places women’s experiences at the heart of combating sexual harassment. UN Women’s leadership will aid in coordinating action on this increasingly pressing issue, which at its core addresses the gendered nature of power and the need to ensure equality for all women.
Mlambo-Ngcuka added: “Women around the world have given notice to impunity for such violence and abuse and they are right. There is an urgent need to build on the current momentum to respond, prevent and stop sexual harassment wherever it is, both within and outside the UN.”
It’s one more step in the right direction. Congratulations Purna Sen!