Last night, we opened the Global Network Forum for Women, with a state on the world’s priorities from Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women – UN Women. We have seen Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka pave the way, particularly in the UN, for women’s equality worldwide.
What has improved in women’s status worldwide in the last 20 years :
- Girls education has improved, especially in countries with the lowest levels,
- Countries have created gender machinery- to promote gender equality,
- Lots of laws passed– recognizing domestic violence as a crime, marital rape as a crime, women to have property rights, amended constitutions to reflect gender equality,
- Progress in maternal death & infant mortality. Not where we should be, but progress,
- Countries that targeted health services to women,
- Fight HIV & AIDS. Countries invested time, energy, research and hardwork. More people living with HIV AIDS and living a full life,
- Reduced poverty.
These efforts need to be celebrated. We have more women in visible positions of power and are at the center of the UN’s SDG agenda. We cannot expect the world to succeed, if women are not succeeding.
While Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka prefers the glass half-full perspective, she was very clear that our governments are still marginalizing women’s development. Governments only invest 10% of their funding towards gender equality (sewing machine syndrome) and continue to treat women’s issues like micro-enterprises instead of recognizing the major economic power and potential of over 50% of the population. Violence against women has remained flat in the past 20 years and we’ve been in a complex transition from domestic violence to cyber crimes.
We need to get decision makers to stop seeing women as the problem or charity case. We will not overcome inequality or poverty or sustainable peace if we do not improve the lives of women. There are only 20 women heads of state in the world. if we had more female leaders we would not be in this state. Women are part of creating the world we all want. We have to invest in women. When you leave women out, you compromise the rest of the nation.
“In every generation, there is a mission that we have to fulfill. We can either betray it or fulfill it. It is in our hands by 2030 to change the world significantly. I look forward to sprinting with you in this marathon for the next 15 years.” – Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka