Women decry ‘slow progress’ in gender equality

FILE PHOTO: Young girls hold up banners supporting women’s equality at the “Call to the Nation’s Conscience” ERA rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial October 12, 1981 in Washington, DC. The Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is dedicated to guaranteeing women equal opportunity and the rally was held on the final day of the NOW National Conference. (Photo by Penelope Breese/Liaison)

The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) has decried what it termed a “slow progress” in equality between women and men.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, highlighted the situation in her address to the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.

“The much-needed positive developments are not happening fast enough, nor are they reaching the tipping point in numbers of lives changed. Let us agree to constructive impatience,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

She pointed out that more than half of all women workers around the world and up to 90 per cent in some countries are informally employed.

He said the informal employment by women included caregivers whose other life opportunities could be limited while they performed the unappreciated and valuable unpaid work of care at home.

“There are 190 million women in the informal sector in India alone.

“Women are also clearly earning consistently less than men – a gap that women regard as ‘daylight robbery’.

“There are numerous gaps existing, including in access to digital technologies,” the UN Women chief said.

She said investment in a pipeline of girls well educated in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics subjects could increase the proportion of women in the digital industry workforce from the current 25 percent and build skills matches for the ‘new collar’ jobs.

“What you agree to do during this CSW could be an accelerator for the implementation and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she added.

In his remarks, President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said all of his grandchildren are girls.

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“As they grow toward adulthood, I cannot abide the thought that they will not enjoy full and equal rights with their male peers,” he said.

Thomson said he would turn to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to find faith and be assured that his granddaughters would not live in a world still lacking the basic human right of equality between men and women.

“The preamble of the Agenda, its introduction, its transformational vision, and its shared principles and commitments are all suffused with the logic of gender equality.

“Paragraph 20 declares that achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities.

“Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 is specifically committed to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” Thomson added.

Dalia Leinarte, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), said that since 2016, the Committee had begun to make references to specific SDGs in its recommendations addressed to States parties.

The Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, she said.

“Most of the 27 concluding observations that CEDAW Committee adopted since July 2016, link specific SDGs and targets, to relevant articles of the Convention.

“Linking the Convention to the 2030 Agenda has great potential in advancing women’s economic empowerment and enables the Committee to support States in implementing the SDGs,” Leinarte said.

The session is being attended by women from all over the world and the Nigerian delegation is led by the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan.

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