Our Perspectives

Women's empowerment

Making “women’s work” count

22 Aug 2017 by Bharati Sadasivam, Regional Gender Adviser, UNDP in Europe and Central Asia

The “gender chore gap” limits women’s choices, as it impedes their ability to obtain formal education, secure good jobs, and achieve equal pay. Photo: UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia
Over the next few months, the 12,000 employees based at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California will complete their move to an extravagant new campus. The “spaceship,” covering 2.8 million square feet, includes a two-story yoga studio, running paths, and even revolutionary pizza boxes that keep slices crisp. One thing it does not have, however, is day-care. When it comes to ignoring the importance of childcare for working parents, Apple is far from unique. And that omission places a powerful drag on parents’ ability to achieve their economic potential, with women suffering the most. … Read more

Every day is our day

09 Aug 2017 by Myrna Cunningham Kain, President, Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples

Couple of indigenous people9 August is a date to make visible the different realities, histories and struggles of over 370 million men and women from some 5,000 indigenous peoples in the world. Photo: UNDP Peru
When 9 August approaches, as an indigenous woman, I tend to ask myself, what does it mean for there to be an International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on the calendar? If 9 August is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, then what are all the other days? As with many of these celebrations, those of us who belong to the peoples, groups or sectors referred to by these days cannot help but ask this question, whether it is 8 March (International Women’s Day), 1 May (Workers’ Day), or many others. But for indigenous women, every day is our day, because our status as women and as indigenous is permanent. For the men and women of indigenous communities, every day is our day. 9 August is a day about us, but it is particularly relevant for those who still do not see us or do not want to see us, and who refuse to consider us as peoples with all the rights and potential to build a better, just and sustainable world. It is a date to make visible the different realities, histories and struggles of over 370 million men and women from some 5,000 indigenous peoples in the world. … Read more

Harnessing digital technology for legal identity

01 Jun 2017 by Niall McCann, Policy Advisor, Electoral Assistance, UNDP and Lea Zoric, Policy Analyst, Gender and Elections, UNDP

Woman are more likely to lack legal identity, which can prevent them from accessing services or exercising rights, like voting. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India
An estimated 1.5 billion people in the world today lack “legal identity”, meaning they do not have access to identification documents such as birth certificates, national ID cards or passports. In short, they cannot prove who they are. Lack of legal identity often results in limited access to basic public services such as education and healthcare, but it also creates a huge obstacle to economic empowerment. People without official identification often struggle to access financial services, such as opening a bank account or obtaining financial benefits. The most affected are marginalized societal groups, such as women and children, indigenous people and ethnic, linguistic or sexual minorities. As a means to tackle this global identity gap, numerous countries, over the last 15 years, have started to introduce comprehensive national identity schemes. … Read more

To end famine and secure peace in South Sudan, women are vital

08 May 2017 by Kamil Kamaluddeen, Country Director, UNDP South Sudan

Sudanese woman with cowsSouth Sudanese women are supporting families and producing what little food is available – and they are already playing a key role in building peace. Photo: UNDP South Sudan
More than 3.5 million people have been displaced and 7.5 million need emergency aid as a result of South Sudan’s three-year-old civil conflict, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Oil revenues have declined, farming and business activities have halted in many areas, and inflation has soared. The number of people classified as “severely food insecure” is expected to reach 5.5 million by July 2017, and more than 1 million children are acutely malnourished. The world’s youngest country is now on the brink of mass starvation. … Read more

Shattering glass ceilings – and walls

11 Apr 2017 by Shoko Noda, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives

Shoko Noda grade school class picture"I think that, among other things, I had upset the teacher by climbing trees with the boys during physical education class," writes Shoko Noda (front row, third from left).
Halfway through fourth grade, I opened my report card and saw that my teacher had given me a C for ‘behaviour’. Understandably, it shocked my parents. I had always gotten top grades in class. I was taken aback too. It was when I got the same grade the following semester, and read my teachers remarks, that the truth dawned on me. My teacher had written: Shoko is finally improving her selection of words, and has started to behave more like a gentle girl. I think that, among other things, I had upset the teacher by climbing trees with the boys during physical education class.  I was also quite independent-minded and expressed my views in maybe not-so-polite terms. My parents were quite happy when, with a new teacher for the next two years, I went back to getting A grades for good behaviour.  … Read more

End gender-based violence to ensure health and well-being for all

26 Mar 2017 by Natalia Linou, Policy Specialist, Gender, Health and HIV, UNDP

Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence often do not seek help for fear of stigma and a lack of accessible services. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Physical injuries are some of the more visible, and at times most deadly, consequences of gender-based violence (GBV). But the long-term mental health consequences are often invisible and left untreated. Similarly, the reproductive and sexual health needs of survivors from rape and sexual violence – to reduce the risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe terminations, and long-term reproductive complications – are often unmet, stigmatized and under-reported. But it is not only health needs which must be met. GBV is a consequence and reflection of structural inequalities that threaten sustainable development, undermine democratic governance, deepen social fragmentation and threaten peace and security. This week, UNDP and the Republic of Korea hosted an event at the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women on “Gender-based violence, health and well-being: Addressing the needs of women and girls living in crisis affected context” bringing together government officials, practitioners, and academics. … 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

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

"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

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

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