Our Perspectives

Gender equality

Human development means realizing the full potential of every life

21 Mar 2017 by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

The Human Development Report 2016 emphasizes that poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups—including ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants—are being left furthest behind. Photo: UNDP
Human development is all about human freedoms: freedom to realize the full potential of every human life, not just of a few, nor of most, but of all lives in every corner of the world—now and in the future. Such universalism gives the human development approach its uniqueness. However, the principle of universalism is one thing; translating it into practice is another. Over the past quarter-century there has been impressive progress on many fronts in human development, with people living longer, more people rising out of extreme poverty and fewer people being malnourished. Human development has enriched human lives—but unfortunately not all to the same extent, and even worse, not every life. It is thus not by chance but by choice that world leaders in 2015 committed to a development journey that leaves no one out—a central premise of the 2030 Agenda. Mirroring that universal aspiration, it is timely that the 2016 Human Development Report is devoted to the theme of human development for everyone. The Report begins by using a broad brush to paint a picture of the challenges the world faces and the hopes humanity has for a better future. Some challenges are lingering (deprivations), some are deepening (inequalities) and some are emerging (violent extremism), but most are mutually reinforcing. Whatever their nature or reach, these challenges have an impact on people’s well-being in both present and future generations. … Read more

A father’s pledge – for my daughters and every daughter

08 Mar 2017 by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup in KenyaUNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup women's football tournament in Nairobi. Photo: UNDP Kenya
I just returned from Kenya, where I refereed the Global Goals World Cup. The international soccer tournament brought together everyday women and girls to play for the Global Goals that matter to them most, including gender equality and ending poverty. It was a phenomenal experience! But equally impressive was my opportunity to see first-hand the great work that UNDP is doing creating greater opportunities for women and girls. I met women whose stories of improving their livelihoods and their communities amazed and inspired me. If you’re like me, you draw inspiration from stories of real people who are actively working to build better futures for themselves and for the world. I think that’s something we all share. As a father and husband, I’m passionate about advocating for issues that matter to me personally. I want a clean, safe, prosperous planet for my daughters to grow up in. I want them to live in a world that enables them to pursue their desires, maximize their potential, and strengthen those around them. One that doesn’t hold them back or dash their hopes because of their gender. … Read more

Do more than make some noise…

28 Feb 2017 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

UNDP is working with governments, civil society, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination, which often prevent people from seeking testing and treatment. UNDP photo
The theme of this year’s Zero Discrimination Day is make some noise. Raising our voices in solidarity for compassion, diversity, equality, inclusion and tolerance is core to our common humanity. Today we renew our commitment to achieving a world free of stigma and discrimination and a world where no one is left behind. History has taught us that noise can be a powerful tool. Today we pay tribute to the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Intersex) community, people living with HIV and their friends, lovers, family members and allies who courageously mobilized to push past the chronic indifference and fear that characterized the early days of AIDS. Their tenacious advocacy means that today we have 18.2 million people on life-saving treatment and communities continue to hold governments to account, claiming their rights to participation, non-discrimination, information, access to treatment and new prevention technologies like pre-exposure prophylaxis. The global AIDS response has also taught us that noise alone is not enough. Without the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination wherever it may be found – in families, communities, workplaces or health care settings - we will not succeed in ending the suffering caused by this epidemic. … Read more

Rural communities: A hotspot for sustainable development

15 Feb 2017 by Jamison Ervin, Manager, Global Programme on Nature for Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Fatima Ahmed (centre), President of Zenab for Women in Development, with community members. Photo: Equator Initiative
The Equator Initiative has launched a call for nominations for the 9th Equator Prize, a prize recognizing excellence in communities taking nature-based actions for local development . It is for people like Fatima Ahmed, and the community initiative that she founded, that this prize was established. Fatima is President of Zenab for Women in Development in Sudan, a women’s agricultural cooperative that empowers girls and women, promotes sustainable agriculture and helps reduce deforestation. The Zenab Initiative embodies the three basic principles of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: indivisibility – we cannot achieve one goal at the expense of any others; inclusion – we can leave no one behind in our race toward economic prosperity; and acceleration – we must focus on actions that have multiple development dividends. If we are to implement the SDGs, however, we need more than guiding principles. We also need to understand how key global trends affect development. The late Hans Rosling, a renowned statistician who was often called "The Jedi Master of Data Visualization” and the “Global Data Rock Star,” did just that. Whether the topic was the role of washing machines and poverty, or the role of religion and population growth, Rosling made analytics cool, and he left a legacy of helping us look past data points, trends, and correlations, and to step back and see a larger story. … Read more

Our perspectives in 2016

29 Dec 2016

International Day of the Girl Child showed us how young women and girls are fighting inequality all over the world. Pictured here are young female computer coders in Kosovo. UNDP photo
This year UNDP celebrated its 50th anniversary and began the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was a momentous year. And helping to narrate it all was our huge network of experts and development practitioners around the world. At UNDP, one of our greatest strengths is our global reach; we’re on the ground in some 170 countries working with governments and citizens from all walks of life. Our blog is where UNDP officials and staff come to share their experience with you and offer their personal take on UNDP’s work. The blog is a space for UNDP colleagues to discuss their work and exchange ideas and opinions. But this year we also opened up our platform to outside voices through a guest blog exchange series with OECD Development Matters that focused on the SDGs. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the many blog posts we published this year … Read more

"I’m not afraid to tell"

24 Nov 2016 by Dina Teltayeva, Communications Associate, UNDP Kazakhstan

After two decades of silence, television producer Dina Tansari is speaking out about surviving sexual assault.
Over the past few months, I’ve witnessed women in Kazakhstan break their silence on sexual violence. A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) and НеМолчи (Don’t keep Quiet) has led to many women sharing their stories. One of them is Dina Tansari (pictured), a well-known TV producer. “…I was unconscious. They left me in front of my flat, rang the bell, and ran away. In the morning I couldn’t remember anything, except for my mum’s screams when she found me…,” she wrote on her Facebook wall. Dina has spoken up after two decades of torturing silence. When she was 20, her own classmates drugged her at a wedding party and gang raped her. Her mother rented an out-of-town flat for Dina when she found out about the incident because she couldn’t bear the shame that her daughter purportedly had brought to the family. Dina was left alone with her tragedy. #IamNotAfraidtoTell was started by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnichenko. The speed with which it has spread throughout the Russian-speaking social media world is shocking in itself. … Read more

Here’s the bottom line: Gender equality profits business and society

18 Nov 2016 by Susan McDade, Deputy Director, Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

 Companies committed to women’s active participation achieve greater efficiency and better personnel performance, have more committed employees, and improve hiring and their public image. Photo: James A. Rodríguez/MiMundo.org
The 2030 Agenda gives us a road map to build the world we want, leaving no one behind. Gender equality is crucial to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as a fundamental human right driving progress for all the other goals. Empowering women and girls has a multiplier effect and that contributes to promoting economic growth and development around the world. In partnership with the private sector and governments, we must work together to close gender gaps and eliminate structural barriers that impede women’s empowerment. There have already been some extraordinary advances. However, we still have a long way to go. Despite the increasing number of women engaging in paid work, on average, they earn 24 percent less than men. Women are also less likely to have access to decent work, property and formal credit. Labour force participation is also lower for women than for men. In 2015, 72 percent of working-age (15 and older) men were employed, compared with only 47 percent of women. Globally, women hold only 22 percent of senior leadership positions, and 32 percent of businesses have no female senior managers. The situation in Latin America and the Caribbean is not far from this reality. Women do 75 percent of the unpaid domestic work. Five of every 10 women are out of the labour market, and 54 percent work in informal environments, with fragile incomes and little social protection. Furthermore, among 72 large companies in the region, three have a woman as CEO or president; that’s just 4.2 percent. In this context, the private sector has a fundamental role to play in eliminating gender inequalities and fostering sustainable development. By implementing gender equality standards within their own companies, the private sector can ensure equal opportunities for women, create inclusive work environments and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals focused on gender equality (Goal 5), decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), and reduced inequalities (Goal 10). … Read more

Engaging the private sector in advancing gender equality at work

18 Nov 2016 by Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

Young women and men entering the labour force have nearly the same level of educational qualifications. But they often don't face equal opportunities at work.
Globally, young women and men entering the labour force today have nearly the same level of educational qualifications. But they often don't face equal opportunities in the world of work. Women earn, on average, 24 percent less than men. In S&P 500 companies, women hold only 4.6 percent of CEO positions and take under 20 percent of board seats. Yet research suggests that increasing the proportion of women on boards of directors is linked to better financial results and higher levels of corporate philanthropy. In rich and poor countries alike, women carry a disproportionate burden of unpaid work – for example, caring for young, elderly, sick and/or disabled family members; and in obtaining and preparing food. These tasks not only demand substantial time and energy but also can prevent women from fulfilling their aspirations and deprive economies of women’s full talents and contributions. Women’s equality in the workplace is a critical component of gender equality and sustainable development. It would not only improve the prospects of millions of women, but would also have a profound impact on the development of countries. … Read more

International Day of the Girl Child: How young women and girls are fighting inequality

10 Oct 2016 by Randi Davis, Gender Team Director, UNDP

Young women and girls throughout the world are demonstrating that they are willing and able to fight inequality and advocate for change. Photo: UNDP India
Two young women in Kosovo, frustrated by the low percentage of women in the technology sector, launched Girls Coding Kosovo, a non-governmental organization that empowers and trains women and girls in programming, engineering and computer science. A year later, the group has more than 500 participants and several products, including Walk Freely, an app aimed at fighting sexual harassment Along Egypt’s Nile River, a group of school girls travel from village to village to perform a song they wrote that is helping to change local attitudes and end female genital mutilation. They sing: ‘I am born perfect with my body whole. Why do you want to cut us, and take away the rights that God gave us?' Students at Albania’s Tirana University hired actors to enact a domestic violence incident and then projected a video of the scene around the city to test the reactions of the public. The video went viral in social and traditional media, taking the messages of the students’ public awareness campaign against gender-based violence to a wide audience. … Read more

Leaving no one behind means confronting ageism in development

30 Sep 2016 by Cailin Crockett, Gender Specialist, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

India socially excludedThe number of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050— with the majority living in low- and middle-income countries. Photo: UNDP Asia Pacific
Every year on 1 October, the United Nations observes the International Day of Older Persons. This year the Day is devoted to taking a stand against ageism, the systemic stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are considered old. Fortunately, with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the invisibility of older persons in international development programmes and policies is finally being addressed. Although the international community officially recognized the harmful consequences of ageism as a matter of human rights in 2014, the Millennium Development Goals made no mention of older persons or population ageing. It has only been through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda’s commitment to “leave no one behind” that older persons have been explicitly included in global development policy agreed to by all Member States. Why the shift? Demographics alone warrant increased attention to ageing populations. The number of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050— with the majority living in low- and middle-income countries. Gender equality goals, in SDG 5 and integrated throughout the 2030 Agenda, also compel us to finally recognize and remedy the scope of gender disparities throughout the life span and strategically include older women in this agenda. … Read more