UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks at the opening of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2017. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.
This report showcases the many ways in which we support work at country and global level to turn the aims of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into results for women and girls worldwide, working closely with Member States and a wide range of partners to realize rights and build resilience.
Around the world, empowered women are achieving visible progress. We know the power of positive role modelling; how vital it is for girls growing up to see the success of their contemporaries, and through education, experience and example, for it to come within their grasp. In 2016, the first year of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, we supported women to claim their right to equal treatment under the law, to gain elected office, to draw on the power of innovation and technology, and to become leaders through sports, among many other initiatives. We also supported civil society and women’s rights activists to inform and influence crucial policy discussions.
Individuals, like 28-year-old city council member Abla Al Hajaia in Jordan whose election success was backed by UN Women leadership training, or Edna Valdez in the Philippines, who at 58 is the elected president of an organization supporting migrant women’s rights along with UN Women partners in Mexico, Moldova and the Philippines, illustrate the dividends of building leadership. In total, we trained 4,000 aspiring and elected women leaders in 51 countries. Young and older, across the world, these women are demonstrating the essential role of their collective voice.
Freedom from violence is a vital corollary to these opportunities: girls and young women must have both. In the period under review in this report, 24 countries, with a combined female population of more than 1.05 billion, strengthened legislation to address violence against women and girls, with 20 adopting the national plans or strategies that enable and sustain the essential follow through of the laws passed. In university campuses across the continents, students and faculty, men and women alike, are devising creative ways to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of violence.
UN Women extended vital assistance to women survivors of Boko Haram’s terror as well as those who suffered the devastation of natural disasters. The proportion of women military experts deployed to UN peacekeeping missions doubled. We built on strong research in the sphere of women, peace and security to back the integration of gender in counter-terrorism policy, and integrate women into early warning efforts. Similarly, through inclusion of women living with HIV, national planning exercises to begin implementing the Sustainable Development Goals have been strengthened. Civil servants of national AIDS coordinating bodies in 26 countries have now increased their capacities for gender mainstreaming.
A fundamental promise of the 2030 Agenda is to leave no one behind. No one should suffer the confines of poverty or remain destitute in the wake of a crisis. Yet, women and girls are among those most vulnerable to being left behind and increasingly vocal in asserting their resilience, versatility and capabilities. In a year of visible solidarity, growing civic engagement, strong feminist activism and vital youth engagement, both women and men have rallied to protest issues affecting equality and rights, from femicide and gender-based violence to sexual and reproductive health.
UN Member States at the 2017 Commission on the Status of Women set strong deliverables on women’s economic empowerment, knowing that, without swift and decisive action, the changes in the world of work risk leaving women even further behind. They pledged to implement equal pay policies, promote decent work for women, and empower migrant, indigenous and rural women, and women with disabilities. Civil society, a vibrant, vocal and essential partner in all our work, brought its multiple strengths to this forum, and to our shared aims throughout the year.
A High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, convened by the UN Secretary-General and backstopped by UN Women, called in its final report for the transformation of economies to work for women and offered seven drivers to accelerate change. The private sector has joined UN Women to challenge gender discriminatory norms and stereotypes, support digital and financial inclusion, and exert its power to make direct change for its employees and value chains.
Together with our many partners in every part of the world, UN Women will continue to deliver for women and girls on both the premise and promise of the 2030 Agenda and its global goals, seeking equality for all.
Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director