“Gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge of our time.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, September 22, 2016.
To address this challenge the Secretary General championed the 2010 creation of UN Women, the UN’s newest entity. To focus attention on concrete actions in the economic sphere he created the “High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment” of which I am a member.
The Panel presented its initial findings and commitments last week during the UN General Assembly Session in New York. Here is the Secretary General, with the the co-chairs, and the heads of the IMF and the World Bank, the Executive Director of the UN Women, and the moderator and founder of All Africa Media, each of whom is a panel member.
The findings are set out in the Panel’s initial report. Key to the report is the identification of drivers of change, which have been deemed by the panel to enhance women’s economic empowerment:
- Breaking stereotypes: Tackling adverse social norms and promoting positive role models
- Leveling the playing field for women: Ensuring legal protection and reforming discriminatory laws and regulations
- Investing in care: Recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid work and care
- Ensuring a fair share of assets: Building assets—Digital, financial and property
- Businesses creating opportunities: Changing business culture and practice
- Governments creating opportunities: Improving public sector practices in employment and procurement
- Enhancing women’s voices: Strengthening visibility, collective voice and representation
- Improving sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis
Chapter Four of the report describes a range of actions that are being undertaken by Panel Members for each of the above drivers. For example under the Building assets driver: DFID and the government of Tanzania are extending land rights to more than 150,000 Tanzanian women by the end of 2017. Tanzania will use media to educate people on women’s land rights and laws pertaining to property ownership. Clearly this is a concrete action that can serve as a precedent for others.
As a panel member, Mozilla is contributing to the working on Building Assets – Digital. Here is my statement during the session in New York:
“Mozilla is honored to be a part of this Panel. Our focus is digital inclusion. We know that access to the richness of the Internet can bring huge benefits to Women’s Economic Empowerment. We are working with technology companies in Silicon Valley and beyond to identify those activities which provide additional opportunity for women. Some of those companies are with us today.
Through our work on the Panel we have identified a significant interest among technology companies in finding ways to do more. We are building a working group with these companies and the governments of Costa Rica, Tanzania and the U.A. E. to address women’s economic empowerment through technology.
We expect the period from today’s report through the March meeting to be rich with activity. The possibilities are huge and the rewards great. We are committed to an internet that is open and accessible to all.”
You can watch a recording of the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment here. For my statement, view starting at: 2.07.53.
There is an immense amount of work to be done to meet the greatest human rights challenge of our time. I left the Panel’s meeting hopeful that we are on the cusp of great progress.