Our Perspective

      • Political quotas for women: Myths & facts | Elizabeth Guerrero

        09 Dec 2013

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        Salvadorian parliamentarians celebrate the approval of the new law that addresses violence against women (Photo: El Salvador Legislative Assembly)

        Women still comprise only 21.4 percent of members of parliaments (MP) around the world. While Latin America has more than 24 percent of women MPs — one of the highest shares in the world — the region still has a long road to travel towards gender parity. The provision of quotas — an idea that began in Europe and has spread to other continents — has effectively been used to boost women’s political participation, adopted as a temporary measure to encourage political parties to nominate a minimum percentage of women. This may take place as a voluntary action by political parties or through law-driven measures which push parties to nominate a certain number of women candidates. Yet several myths remain: Myth 1: "Quotas contradict the principle of equality before the law" This argument is based on the assumption that men and women actually have the same opportunities to run for elections. But that simply does not reflect reality. In many countries women can vote, but they cannot be elected. Evidence shows that women and men do not share the same opportunities to be appointed candidates because women face a number of barriers to be nominated by political parties. Therefore, the idea Read More

      • Why gender equality at work must be a top development priority | Jeni Klugman

        02 Dec 2013

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        A woman farming in Togo, where only men inherit land. (Photo: UNDP Togo)

        “The future is grim for us women smallholder farmers,” a group from Togo told  the World we Want survey on future development goals. In keeping with local custom, they said, “Only men inherit land, although women do most of the work in fields. This keeps us dependent on men and shackles us in poverty.” Discriminatory laws represent one of many obstacles holding back women’s economic participation. Social norms, lack of autonomy, and limited access to assets all play a part, and the costs—particularly in poor and emerging countries—are steep. Gender gaps are pervasive across continents and sectors. Female farmers tend to have lower productivity, smaller plots, and grow less profitable crops. Female employees are more likely to work in temporary and part-time jobs, and less likely to be promoted. In Mexico and Honduras, women accounted for 70 percent of all layoffs during the global economic crisis. Across advanced economies, women earn 16 percent less than men, even in the same occupations, hold fewer senior positions, and account for fewer entrepreneurs. Closing these gender gaps could yield enormous dividends for development. Having as many women in the labor force as men (PDF) could boost economic growth by 5 percent in the United Read More

      • Creating a brighter future: The pivotal role of access to modern energy | Vincent Wierda

        27 Nov 2013

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        Each year, the poor spend an estimated US$37 billion on poor-quality energy solutions to meet their lighting and cooking needs. Through programmes such as CleanStart, which UNDP helped develop, low-income consumers are able to access more affordable, quality clean energy products and services, like these improved cook stoves on sale outside Kampala, Uganda.

        Reaching the 1.3 billion people without access to electricity and the 2.6 billion consumers without clean cooking solutions is a major human development challenge, yet it is also an immense investment and business opportunity. How can we take this market to the next level? How can more partnerships be brokered and supported to expand the market? What role can international organizations play in catalysing action and pushing the energy access agenda forward? Our combined experiences – in particular from those who are in the front lines of offering viable energy solutions to low-income people – are needed to build a growing movement, one that is offering a greater range of quality, affordable energy products and services to those at the base of the pyramid.   CleanStart, a global initiative co-founded by UNCDF and UNDP, aims to do exactly that by supporting poor households and micro-entrepreneurs to jump-start their access to clean energy through microfinance. In Nepal, where some 87.1 percent of the population still relies on traditional biomass fuels for cooking and heating, we are investing US $1.3 million over four years (2012-2015) to develop replicable business models for scaling up microfinance for cleaner and more efficient forms of energy for Read More