Rebeca Grynspan: Remarks on green growth and gender economic empowerment at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting

May 26, 2011

Rebeca Grynspan

UNDP Associate Administrator
UN Under-Secretary-General

on green growth and gender economic empowerment
at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting

Closed session on New Paradigms for Development

Paris, France, 26 May 2011


I.    Green growth

  • The question we need to answer from a development perspective is how to make green growth not only green, but inclusive and equitable as well, within and between countries.
  • In advancing green growth there is an opportunity to advance human development. Clean energy will be key.   
  • The International Energy Agency estimates that the additional annual investment cost required to finance clean energy development could  be as high as 500 billion US dollars per year on average, from now to 2030.  But figures show that as much as 90% of the funds currently dedicated to developing clean energy go to G20 countries..  
  • International assistance is needed to increase the percentage going to poor and small countries. With catalytic public funding, countries can develop the capacities, policies and effective institutions they need to attract private and public investment and spur low-carbon development.
  • To realize green and inclusive growth, developing countries will need to ensure that this investment reaches poor communities – and expands access to reliable energy services. We know the development benefits of doing so are multifold. Energy access helps to keep children in school, makes health services available longer, and frees women from the burden of time-consuming and backbreaking domestic chores.

II.    Gender economic empowerment

  • Let me congratulate the OECD on its 50th Anniversary and commend the vision of its Secretary-General Mr. Gurria,  as well as US Secretary of State Ms. Clinton for her leadership in development and gender equality.

UNDP’s position:

  • UNDP welcomes the US initiative to bring international partners together to intensify efforts on women economic empowerment and to make gender data more comparable and useful by developing  common indicators for future analysis. This is an area that is critical for achievement of the MDGs and for advancing inclusive and equitable growth.
  • Although women’s economic empowerment is considered a key determinant of poverty reduction and MDG achievement, we lack a common definition of the elements of women’s economic empowerment. This initiative can make a major contribution to efforts to achieve the MDGs by creating a common, conceptual framework , with key elements and indicators, for the international system and countries to use to advance women’s economic empowerment.
  • There are a variety of definitions and frameworks used for women’s economic empowerment. In Innovative Approaches to Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment, which UNDP published in 2008, we identified three overlapping areas with a direct bearing on women’s economic empowerment. They are economic opportunity, such as promoting decent work and improving access to finance; legal status and rights, such as improving property, inheritance and land rights; and voice, inclusion and participation, such as developing mechanisms that enhance women’s effective involvement in decision-making bodies in the economic arena.  In each of these areas, we need to be able to track progress using data that is comparable across countries and regions.
  • UNDP has been at the forefront of innovating new ways to measure social and economic progress and to capture various aspects of human development. In its 1995 UNDP launched a Human Development Report, UNDP launched two gender equality indicators -- the Gender Related Human Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). The GDI measured achievement in the same basic capabilities as the Human Development Index but took into account  inequality in achievement between women and men, while the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM)  captured  women political and economic advancement.
  • For the last 15 years, the GDI and GEM  have been used to track progress at global, regional and national levels through our series of Human Development Reports. They have enabled us to examine and analyze gender disparities within and between countries and regions.
  • Building on this experience, the UNDP 2010 Human Development Report introduced a new and more comprehensive measure - the Gender Inequality Index (GII), which brings together five indicators: labour force participation, education attainment (secondary level and above), parliamentary representation, adolescent fertility and maternal mortality.  The UNDP 2010  HDR included GII data for 137 countries.
  • The world average of the GII is 0.56, reflecting a percentage loss of 56% in achievement due to gender inequality. Ranging from 32% in the OECD countries to 74% in South Asia, 17%in the Netherlands or 85% in Yemen.
  • The World Bank and the World Economic Forum, and other global and regional bodies have also developed measures that have been useful for tracking progress in various aspects of women’s economic empowerment. The US initiative will help to standardize international efforts and ultimately lead to having more accurate and comparable data to guide development policy and programming.

    UNDP has made numerous investments in advancing the issue of women’s economic empowerment. The 2010 Human Development Report for Asia Pacific focused on gender equality and made a compelling case for accelerating women’s economic empowerment to secure long-term sustainable progress. The report, Power, Voice and Rights: A Turning Point for Gender Equality in Asia and the Pacific, underscored the cost of gender inequality, estimating that the under-representation of women in the workforce costs the region about $89 billion each year — roughly equivalent to the GDP of Vietnam. It called on policy makers to correct gender imbalances by supporting women’s economic empowerment, promoting women’s political voice and advancing women’s legal rights.

    In 2009, UNDP and the ILO prepared a report, “Work and Family: A new call for public policies of reconciliation with social co-responsibility,” which called for better representation of women in labour negotiations, day care, and flexible hours. The report said the reconciliation between work and family is “one of the greatest challenges of our time (and) a fundamental aspect for promoting equality in the world of work and for reducing poverty.”
  • UNDP is also working with national governments to address the gender dimensions of economic policy making and planning. We have invested in strengthening technical capacities in gender analysis to ensure that differences in male-female experiences and the barriers and opportunities they face are understood and taken into account much more fully, systematically and on an on-going basis, based on agreed frameworks.
  • In the past, efforts were focused on empowering women to have skills and access to assets and resources to engage in markets. In the last few years, we have focused on addressing the policy and regulatory barriers that exist and that prevent women from having equal economic opportunities in the market. We have invested in several regional programmes, currently underway in Asia and Africa, that are building capacity in planning and finance departments. These programmes also provide support to national statistics departments to collect, collate and analyze gender-disaggregated data.
  • In conclusion, UNDP is ready to participate in this important initiative in partnership with the OECD, UN Women and the World Bank at the global, regional and national levels. In our contribution, we will continue to bring out more evidence of why and how investing in women and girls contributes to MDG acceleration and inclusive growth and to build national capacities for generating, analyzing and using gender-disagreggated data to narrow the gaps between women and men.

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