Published On: Wed, Mar 9th, 2016

IDB says region still has a way to go to accomplish real gender equality

03-07-2016WomenDayWASHINGTON – As the world marks International Women’s Day today, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says Latin America and the Caribbean needs to do more to achieve true parity between men and women.

The IDB says the region is already feeling the impact of growing women’s participation in the labour market, which has helped to dramatically reduce poverty over the past decade.

And it also noted that women today account for between 30 and 60 per cent of household incomes in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and, due to their increased access to education, nearly 23 per cent of working women have attended university, compared with 16 per cent for men.

“This is a key element for the future, because the accumulation of abilities is key to boost up economic growth,” the IDB said.

Despite the progress achieved, the Bank said a lot more was required.

It noted that there remain significant earning gaps between men and women performing similar tasks.

“Although a growing number of companies recognize the benefits of diversity, less than 10 per cent of executive jobs are filled by women. And despite campaigns against domestic violence, nearly 30 per cent of women suffer abuse in the hands of their partners or relatives,” the IDB said.

“We at the IDB are committed to gender equality both within our organization and the projects we fund. We shall continue to do our utmost in order to build a Bank and a region that are truly ‘50-50’, with full parity between men and women.”

The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later, in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap would not close entirely until 2133.

Meantime, senior United Nations (UN) officials from around the world are marking International Women’s Day with calls to “Step It Up” with more resources and greater political action to achieve gender equality by 2030.

“I remain outraged by the denial of rights to women and girls – but I take heart from the people everywhere who act on the secure knowledge that women’s empowerment leads to society’s advancement,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message.

“Let us devote solid funding, courageous advocacy and unbending political will to achieving gender equality around the world. There is no greater investment in our common future.”

Listing successes during the past eight years within the UN linked to gender equality and women’s empowerment, Ban said he has signed nearly 150 letters of appointment for women in positions for Assistant Secretary-General or Under-Secretary-General.

“We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards,” he said. “Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers.”

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” The year 2030 is the deadline for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include targets on achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, as well as ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.

The other half of the theme is a reference to UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, which asks governments to make national commitments that will close the gender equality gap, by the 2030 deadline.

As part of this initiative, more than 90 Member States have pledged concrete actions “to crack some of the fundamental barriers to achievement of gender equality in their countries,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Given the “unprecedented” expressions of political will, Mlambo-Ngcuka called for the beginning of a countdown to substantive gender equality by 2030, supported by accountability and measurable actions.

“The participation of women at all levels and the strengthening of the women’s movement has never been so critical, working together with boys and men, to empower nations, build stronger economies and healthier societies,” she said.

Promoting gender equality is also a top priority guiding the work of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.

In her message, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called the promotion of gender equality “a transformational force for more just, inclusive and sustainable development.”

She noted that despite progress, steep obstacles remain before genuine equality is a reality for all women and girls.

“The new global agenda will succeed only if every country advances the rights, ingenuity and innovation of every one of its citizens, starting with girls and women,” Bokova said, referring to the SDGs and Agenda 2030.

In Geneva, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, spoke about his conversations with Syrian women who have been affected by the country’s five-year war.

In a video message, de Mistura said he has been able to see the women’s “enormous suffering and their dignity” and yet they have retained hope and given the international community hope.

“They have, and must have, the right to be part of the political process and the negotiations which we, at the UN, are planning to have. They are part of the future of Syria, of the present and of the past. They have much to say and much to teach us,” said de Mistura, who has established a special advisory board comprised solely of Syrian women to advise him about what is really needed in political aspects of Syria.

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