12 June 2014
Power of Empowered Women
Message by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Power of Empowered Women
Palais des Nations, 12 June 2014
I commend the initiative of the Women Ambassadors to the United Nations in Geneva and the International Trade Centre to focus attention on the nexus between women’s empowerment and economic development.
Gender equality is, first and foremost, a fundamental human right. But empowerment of women is also one of the most effective multipliers in development. When women are educated and enabled to contribute, all of society gains through economic growth. Women’s empowerment in all spheres of life – in education, in the workforce, in political decision-making – must therefore be at the heart of our post-2015 development agenda.
While we have narrowed the gap in employment between women and men, progress is too slow and too uneven. Women are still more likely to be trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs without benefitting from the protection of labour laws. All too often women continue to earn less than men for doing the same work. And despite research that establishes the positive economic impact of women in corporate leadership, their numbers are limited in the company boardrooms.
While girls are increasingly completing school and university, work choices often remain restricted by law and social norms that dictate whether and what work is appropriate. We need to change both legal frameworks and individual mind-sets that prevent women from working and making informed decisions about their own lives.
The inequalities and prejudices faced by women often run deeper than we are ready to admit. This in turn affects our ability to put in place adequate measures because effective remedies require accurate diagnosis in the first place. Awareness-raising, compilation of good data and continuous assessment of progress continue to be an essential part of the challenge before us.
Together, we have an obligation to ensure that women’s skills and talents are harnessed. This requires concerted action at all ends of the policy spectrum – providing education and training that prepares for the 21st century job market, ensuring access to health systems, combating violence and exclusion, and facilitating meaningful participation in political processes. Women need to be active decision-makers, at all levels, if we are to unlock their full economic potential.
The empowerment of women is a key aspect of the work of International Geneva in the promotion of peace, rights and well-being for all. The gender perspective is integrated in all of our efforts, whether it is framing norms and standards, providing technical assistance or monitoring progress, helping to make a positive difference for women across the world. And it will be central to our efforts in implementing the post-2015 development agenda where the partners in International Geneva will play a key role.
Empowered women help families, communities and countries to reach their full potential. It is in our collective power to make that happen.