Women have suffered most as a result of conflict in DRC and the Great Lakes region – their voices must be heard

Not a week goes by without reports of fresh fighting in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Violence and destruction have ravaged the Great Lakes region of Africa for two decades, claiming more than 5 million lives. Yet the situation rarely makes the headlines.

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By Priyanka Pruthi

On 31 July 2013, UNICEF unveils a global initiative calling for an end to all forms of violence against children, led by a powerful appeal featuring UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Liam Neeson. End Violence Against Children will help shine a light on the invisible horrors of violence and abuse that undermine the lives of hundreds of millions of children, and call for collective action to get informed, speak out and join in existing efforts with those equally concerned about violence in their own communities.

Grace Akallo was abducted by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army and forced to fight – to live. She talks about her captivity and how education became her hope, her salvation – and her impetus to fight for peace.

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WASHINGTON, D.C., 22 July 2013 – A majority of people in most countries where female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is concentrated oppose the harmful practice, according to a new UNICEF report issued today. Despite that opposition, more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM/C and 30 million girls are still at risk of being cut in the next decade.

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18 July 2013 – Children will continue to suffer the consequences of the ongoing conflict in Syria unless an urgent political solution is found, a top United Nations child rights official stressed today, citing reports of the use of children as combatants, the arbitrary arrest and detention of children, and the denial of education as schools continue to come under attack.

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Almost 50 million children and young people in conflict areas out of school, says report, with Syrian civil war worsening problem

Almost 50 million children and young people living in conflict areas are out of school, more than half of them primary age, and reports of attacks on education are rising, according to figures published on Friday.

Civil war in Syria has contributed to the sharp increase in reported incidents of children being stopped from accessing education, physically attacked for trying to go to school or having their school bombed, or recruited by armed groups, found Unesco's Education for All global monitoring report (pdf) and the NGO Save the Children. Of more than 3,600 incidents recorded last year, more than 70% occurred in Syria.

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July 12 marks Malala Day at the United Nations, championing not only one youth’s fight for girls’ education but also the power of youth movements all over the world.  It seems fitting that Malala Yousafzai celebrate her 16th birthday at the U.N., almost nine months after suffering a gunshot wound to the head by the Taliban in response to her advocacy in Pakistan for girls’ education.  Her birthday coincides with her first public speech and is mobilizing major youth engagement at the U.N.  

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Malala Yousafzai may be one of the best-known students in the world, but she is also a teacher. This month she will mark her 16th birthday by coming to the United Nations and sharing an important lesson about education -- particularly for girls around the world.

Malala is the courageous young education rights campaigner from Pakistan who was targeted and shot by extremists on her way to school. After a long road to recovery, Malala is back and determined to keep making her voice heard. 

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