Our Perspective

      • The Internet Gender Gap | Magdy Martinez Soliman

        10 Jan 2013

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        Special computer training course designed for deaf people in Damascus, Syria. Photo: UNDP in Syria

        The role of ICTs as development enablers is more widely understood today as access to new technologies, particularly mobile phones, has grown exponentially. Mobile phone subscriptions exceeded six billion by the end of 2012, three-quarters of which were in the developing world.  However, women are at a disadvantage: they are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, according to the latest Broadband Commission Report (PDF, 2.4Mb). Development presents an opportunity to effectively address this and other gender gaps.  I am speaking here  about sustainable human development, about the ability to make choices and lead a healthy, long and educated life with all that we value. Let us bear in mind that ICTs are not neutral. Existing gender inequalities, pervasive in many countries,  can be exacerbated by ICTs, when unequal access to education for example turns into digital ignorance. Not having female teachers and lack of local security are powerful triggers of girls’ dropout. Women will not be able to access ICT community centers if safety issues are not properly addressed. We are determined advocates of democratic governance and for us women's access to ICTs is a governance issue. Public policies and the private sector need to address theRead More

      • In Serbia, a new era and new social contract are emerging | William Infante

        09 Jan 2013

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        Employers in Serbia now receive tax benefits for employing persons with disabilities. Photo: Centre for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities, Serbia.

        When I was first posted to Serbia in 2001, the country and its people were still shaken and scarred by years of conflict. Returning in 2009 to lead the United Nations presence there, I was deeply impressed by the swift and substantive progress made. Belgrade had new trams and buses, neighborhoods and parks had been refurbished, and efforts to consolidate democracy, build a more inclusive economy, and establish credible mechanisms to fight corruption were well under way. Serbia is now emerging as an increasingly powerful source of security and stability in the region, contributing scores of peacekeepers to international forces, fighting organized crime, collecting and destroying some 100,000 illicit and unregistered firearms, and integrating women in the military and police forces. Ministries are moving to adopt individual anti-corruption strategies known as integrity plans, and dozens of investigations have opened since the new government took office barely six months ago. Parliament is engaged in more robust review and scrutiny, and its Speaker, Nebojsa Stefanovic, is spearheading a new initiative with UNDP to strengthen parliamentary oversight of spending. These and other governance initiatives aim explicitly to promote accountability, reduce vulnerability and risk of loss, and build the credibility and legitimacy of state institutions.Read More

      • Arab world needs broad governance reform | Mohammad Pournik

        03 Jan 2013

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        Libyan students at Tripoli University attend the first ever United Nations human rights workshop. UN Photo/Iason Foounten

        High unemployment and inequality fuelled Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010, but the Arab world needs broad governance reform to achieve sustainable, equitable growth. Ousting dictators alone isn’t enough. People want bread, but they also want social justice and freedom. Experts at the UNDP Regional Center in Cairo reached that conclusion after lengthy study, culminating in the Arab Development Challenges Report that has now been launched in capitals around the world.  Having spent nearly three decades in the field, I believe this is indeed the case—governance and rule of law are essential to the sustainable, inclusive development the Arab world so acutely needs. In Egypt, the problem wasn’t simply political exclusion--it was political and economic exclusion. Reform will succeed only when it addresses both. Unemployment remains a critical challenge, but reliably measuring joblessness is difficult in countries without unemployment insurance and a system of registering for it. Enormous challenges such as food security, water scarcity, and management of natural resource also remain. Arab states must invest better in managing water resources and improving irrigation and agricultural productivity and devise incentives for investment in renewable energy. Governance failures helped create this situation: Here we see institutions that perpetuate themselves, corrosive constituenciesRead More