UNDP launches ambitious plan to speed up progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment

The new strategy puts gender equality at the heart of UNDP’s efforts to expand people’s choices and to realize a just and sustainable world

September 14, 2022

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

New York - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched an ambitious new plan to help countries to accelerate progress over the next four years on gender equality and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025 stands to unlock progress for millions of women and girls across the 170 countries and territories in which UNDP works.  

The strategy builds on gender equality as one of the most powerful development solutions. It aims to move beyond piecemeal efforts and to instead help countries to shift power structures and the economic, social, and political systems that perpetuate discrimination.

The new plan comes at a critical moment of crises and risk for the world, and for development. The climate crisis, COVID-19, and nearly every humanitarian and development challenge are worse for women, just because they are women. During the pandemic, women have been more likely to lose their jobs, making up only 39 percent of global employment but 54 percent of job losses. Even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 women around the world experienced physical or sexual violence, and this rose in many countries during COVID-19. And at no point in history have women accounted for more than 10 percent of world government leaders.

Gender inequality also takes a toll on men and other affected groups. For men, for example, rigid gender norms can fuel risky behaviours that result in violence, poor health and lower life expectancy.

“As progress towards gender equality stalls, UNDP’s ambitious new Gender Equality Strategy will guide us in our efforts to support countries to implement structural changes that strike at the roots of this most pervasive inequality -- including efforts to tackle gender-based violence and mobilising finance to expand access to social protection,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “Indeed, the entire UN family is working together to ensure that women and girls have a meaningful seat at decision-making tables across the globe so that they can make the brave choices today to realise that sustainable, green, and equal tomorrow.”

The Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025 supports countries and communities to speed up progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment. It aims to support public institutions to deliver a new generation of policies that diminish negative gender norms. It will assist countries to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, empower grassroot networks of women to exercise their voice and influence, and boost public and private investment for gender equality. The strategy also lays out how UNDP can continue to drive forward gender equality within the organisation.

In particular, the new strategy:

  • Is grounded in UNDP’s commitment to eradicate poverty and contribute to gender-equal economies and the economic empowerment of women, accompanying countries to reinvigorate inclusive governance that promotes women’s leadership and participation in elections and public institutions.
  • Will make a difference to millions of lives, including through helping women to gain access to energy, supporting countries to expand their care services, unlocking more public and private resources for gender equality, and ensuring women’s economic security and recovery in times of crises.
  • Ensures three enablers to speed up change – digital transformation, innovations and financing for the SDGs.
  • Pushes for strong partnerships, especially with feminist and women’s organizations, as well as with other United Nations organizations, governments, and the private sector.
  • Calls for strong organizational backing within UNDP through minimum resource targets and by pushing leaders to work in new ways and put power-sharing into practice.

“This strategy responds to reflections around two key concerns: why has progress towards gender equality been so slow, and even reversed? And what can UNDP best do in response?” says UNDP Head of Gender Equality, Raquel Lagunas del Amo. “Gender inequality is a fundamental question of power, and our partners expect that we will help to open up difficult conversations around power imbalances and the distribution of resources. We believe our plan is ambitious but actionable”.

UNDP works on gender equality in all regions of the world. This longstanding support has helped countries make progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. In 2021, for example, UNDP helped 73 countries expand gender-responsive social protection and care systems. As part of UNDP’s Climate Promise, 96 percent of the 92 countries that submitted national climate action plans last year included gender provisions. UNDP also supported the registration of 38 million people to vote between 2018-2021, 80 percent of whom were women.

The Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025 is the result of a year-long development process that tapped expertise from over 1,000 people, including from 122 UNDP country offices and external partners.


Download the press release in additional languages: