With men still dominating even in countries that consider themselves progressive, the world needs more women leaders and more men standing up for gender equality, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday.
“It is true, I am a man, but we need all men to stand up for women’s empowerment. Our world needs more women leaders. And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality,” Guterres told the Commission on Status of Women (CSW), which began its annual session this morning. He was among the UN’s several senior leaders addressing CSW, the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
With the nearly one billion women entering the global economy in the next decade, empowerment will unleash the potential of all these women and girls – and they will lead the world to a new future.
He also cited one study showing that women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth over the next decade.
Furthermore, he stressed, when women meaningfully participate in peace processes, the chance of sustainable peace goes up by 35 per cent over 15 years. He asked UN Member States to move beyond the current level, where women make up just 3 per cent of UN peacekeepers.
Promising that the UN and he personally will support efforts for gender equality, Guterres said “Do not let us off the hook. Keep our feet to the fire.”
He announced that he is joining the International Gender Champions, a global network that brings women and men decision-makers together to break down gender barriers, encouraging other senior leaders to do the same.
In her address, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted a slow progress in gender equality.
“The much-needed positive developments are not happening fast enough, nor are they reaching tipping point in numbers of lives changed,” she said. “Let us agree to constructive impatience.”
She pointed out that more than half of all women workers around the world – and up to 90 per cent in some countries – are informally employed, including care givers whose other life opportunities can be limited while they perform the unappreciated and valuable unpaid work of care at home. There are 190 million women in the informal sector in India alone, she noted.
Women are also clearly earning consistently less than men – a gap that women regard as ‘daylight robbery,’ Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
There are numerous gaps exist, including in access to digital technologies. Investment in a pipeline of girls well educated in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics subjects could increase the proportion of women in the digital industry workforce from the current 25 per cent and build skills matches for the ‘new collar’ jobs, she said.
“What you agree to do during this CSW could be an accelerator for the implementation and achievement of the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development],” she said.With its priority theme ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work,’ CSW’s sixty-first session will run through 24 March.
Reporter. UN Commission on Status of Women opens. The Nation, March 13, 2017.