Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Helen Clark
Helen Clark
Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand

World leaders have given high priority to achieving gender equality in the new global development agenda, which is unlike any preceding development framework in its scope and approach, and in the extent to which it affirms and integrates both gender equality and women’s empowerment.

To ‘leave no one behind’ – an overarching objective of the 2030 Agenda – requires addressing the inequalities and disempowerment which hold women and girls back. This must be at the heart of strategies to achieve sustainable development.

At the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting in Apia, Samoa, the Secretariat stressed the economic value of gender equality across political, business and civil sectors. Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth’s first female Secretary-General, committed herself to re-invigorating the organisation’s commitments on gender equality and the global goals, pointing out that with 52 diverse nations and a population of about 2.4 billion, the Commonwealth is full of potential to change the world for women.

Equality still elusive

While women around the world are engaged in public life and are demonstrating that they are powerful agents of change, true equality across all spheres remains elusive. The inequalities women may experience include unequal access to economic resources and assets; discrimination in the workforce, leading to less pay and opportunity and to vulnerable employment; a disproportionate burden of unpaid work; low levels of participation in decision making; sexual and gender-based violence; and the disproportionate impact of climate change, natural disasters and environmental degradation...

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