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

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

We need more women in politics - Here’s how to make quotas work

11 Jul 2016 by Tanja Hollstein, Electoral Specialist, UNDP Moldova and Victoria Ignat, Project Manager for Women in Politics, UNDP Moldova

More than 600 women attended UNDP-supported policy forums to urge Moldovan MPs to adopt the 40 percent quota for the least represented gender. Photo: UN Moldova
The low representation of women in politics remains one of the most obvious obstacles preventing us from achieving gender equality in the world. In the Republic of Moldova, a medium income country in Eastern Europe that ranks 50th in the most recent Gender Inequality Index, we want to increase the pace of change and ensure that more women are getting involved in elections as candidates, voters, and electoral staff. In a context where gender inequality is constantly dismissed as a non-issue, we had to have data to back up our claims and push for change. So we partnered with the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission and developed the first-ever national set of statistics related to the participation of women and men in elections. … Read more

Peacebuilding through parliaments

07 Jul 2016 by Nika Saeedi, Policy Specialist, Gender, Political Processes, Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS), UNDP

 Enthusiastic women parliamentarian candidates in Indonesia. Photo: UNDP
We look to our parliaments to represent us, adopt laws that protect our fundamental rights and freedoms, and distribute resources to those in need. In such ways, parliaments are uniquely positioned to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. So why is it that they are so often absent from discussions surrounding the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda and its implementation? The adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 in 2000 acknowledged the inordinate impact war has on women, and the pivotal role women play in development, peace and security. Recent resolutions stressed the need for including women in peace talks, to prevent violent extremism and foster post-conflict reconstruction. We have learned that the probability of peace agreements lasting at least two years increases by 20 percent when women participate in the process. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals recognize the links between gender equality, strong institutions, peace and security. … Read more

Paris. Women. Now what?

19 Apr 2016 by Allison Towle, Programme Analyst, Climate Change, UNDP

women farmingIn Mali, a women’s collective helps enhance their resilience by strengthening food security. Photo: Imen Meliane / UNDP Mali
Coming off the heels of the climate change negotiations in Paris in December, which led to a momentous agreement for acting collectively on climate change, we have reason to feel proud and energized. Now our focus shifts to how we can support countries in implementing their climate targets or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This will only be possible if we tap the knowledge, foresight, engagement, and action of all segments of our societies, especially those of women. … Read more

Are women and girls more vulnerable to tuberculosis and malaria?

23 Mar 2016 by Caitlin Boyce, Policy Specialist, HIV, Gender, Rights and Development, Health, HIV and Development Group, UNDP

woman at clinicA woman visits a tuberculosis clinic in Iraq. Photo: Safin Hamed/UNDP
Are tuberculosis (TB) and malaria still a widespread threat? Popular belief says no. But, in fact, they are still grave health challenges that need more attention, especially in how they are affected by gender. The World Health Organization recently reported that TB now ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease. And the disease has a disproportionate effect on women. Today, TB kills more women globally than any other single infectious disease, and more women die annually from TB than from all causes of maternal mortality combined. Some TB symptoms can also affect men and women in profoundly different ways. For example, women have a higher prevalence of genital TB, which is difficult to diagnose and has been identified as an important cause of infertility in settings with high TB incidence. … Read more

How abnormal is normal?

01 Mar 2016 by Bakhodir Burkhanov, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Viet Nam

woman on motorbikeA woman carrys kids on her motorbikes through the street of Viet Nam. It’s a common rush-hour scene, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Photo: Nguyen Viet Lan/UNDP Viet Nam
Women zip through the streets, carrying kids and groceries on their motorbikes. It’s a common rush-hour scene on the streets of Viet Nam, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Existing stereotypes in Viet Nam confine women and men to certain roles, positions and careers. According to a UNDP report on women’s leadership in Viet Nam, few women achieve senior government positions. In the civil service, women hold very few senior posts: only nine percent ministers, eight percent vice ministers, and seven percent at director-general level. … Read more

Ending violence against women: 3 ways to innovate

07 Dec 2015 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP

Egyptian women participate in the "Reporting on Violence Against Women Innovation Camp" to share ideas on how to report violence against women. The camp was supported by UNDP, The National Council for Women, and Vodafone Egypt. Photo: Ezzat/UNDP Egypt
The status quo is unacceptable. Globally, one out of three women experiences violence in her lifetime. Both the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Humanitarian Summit Report call for innovation to end this global pandemic. Given the complexity of gender-based violence (GBV) and its main underlying cause of persisting gender inequalities - how can development and humanitarian actors innovate? As a starter, let’s put the emphasis on the changes we want to achieve and not the “solutions” we create. … Read more

It’s our shared responsibility to protect girls’ and women’s rights

11 Oct 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

A girl carries corn in Uganda.A girl takes a computer lesson in a makeshift classroom in Borghaso village, Bamiyan province, Afghanistan. The opportunities she can access will determine her chances of enjoying quality health services, education and decent employment. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan
Today, there are 250 million girls living in poverty. Gender inequality remains the most pervasive form of inequality around the world. In many parts of the world, girls suffer from inequality, discrimination and abuse, facing threats to their security, health and welfare. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes a pledge that “no one will be left behind”. To achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, a specific Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is established, with gender equality as a cross-cutting theme, and UNDP is working towards making this pledge a reality. … Read more