UN Hosts Inaugural Meeting of High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment

Swiss_Image_WEF_wpbmys1884_675x450The inaugural meeting of the High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment is taking place during this week’s Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. The Panel, which was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this year, has been created to provide thought leadership and to mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world.

The High-Level Panel will help tackle gender gaps in economic opportunities and outcomes which persist around the world, building on the growing evidence and recognition by governments and the private sector that women’s economic empowerment has a multiplier effect and boosts whole economies. Research shows that women invest their income back into their families and communities, including in health and education. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that if women in every country were to play an identical role to men in markets, as much as US$28 trillion would be added to the global economy by 2025.

Yet women continue to earn less, have fewer assets, bear the burden of unpaid work and care and be largely concentrated in vulnerable and low-paying activities. Women spend more than twice as much time on unpaid care and domestic work as men and women on average are paid 24 per cent less than men globally for the same work. Moreover, 75 per cent of women’s employment in developing regions is informal and unprotected. These gaps constrain women’s rights and hinder economic growth and productivity. Significantly scaled up actions and political will are required to ensure that governments, development organizations and others invest in the economic empowerment of women for the benefit of whole societies.

“The empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Yet despite important progress in promoting gender equality, there remains an urgent need to address structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment and full inclusion in economic activity. If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a quantum leap in women’s economic empowerment.”

In addition to meeting during this week’s Commission on the Status of Women at the UN, the Panel will also engage in a series of regional consultative meetings as it moves towards issuing its first report with action-oriented recommendations in September 2016.

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