VSO event for International Women’s Day
“Women in Power” Reception
Tuesday, 3rd March 18:00 – 20:00
Embassy of Ireland, London
Moez Doraid, Director, Coordination Division, UN Women
 It is a pleasure for me to join you at this reception tonight to celebrate
International Women’s Day. Every year people all over the world gather
together to acknowledge all the gains women and girls have made since
the First International Women’s Day in 1909 when it was designated in
honour of garment workers’ strike in New York, and later in 1975
during International Women's Year when the United Nations began
celebrating on 8 March.
 It is also a time to reflect on the challenges that remain and future
actions needed to advance gender equality and bring about real
transformative change in the lives of women and girls globally. The
global theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Empowering
women, Empowering Humanity”. It is very much related to our focus
tonight on political empowerment.
 This year, International Women’s Day takes on particular significance as
we mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration
and Platform for Action (Beijing+20). The Beijing Platform for Action
is a comprehensive global policy framework for gender equality,
the empowerment of women and the realization of the human
rights of women and girls. National reviews supported by UN Women
have been conducted over the last year in 165 countries that have
produced reports on their implementation of the Platform. A review of
their implementation will be considered by Member States in the 59th
session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) next week in
New York.
 The deliberations of the CSW, particularly through the focus on the
linkages between the implementation of the Platform for Action and the
opportunities for strengthening gender equality and the empowerment
of women in the post-2015 development agenda, will add an important
contribution to the ongoing intergovernmental deliberations on the
post-2015 development agenda. The upcoming CSW’s outcome, in the
form of a Political Declaration is currently being negotiated by Member
 Since the Beijing conference, there have been some areas of progress,
for example :
o Better laws promote gender equality, address violence against
women and girls, and repeal discriminatory legislation;
o Girls’ enrolment in primary and secondary education has
o There have been increases in women’s participation in the labour
force, especially in Latin America.
o Most regions have made progress in increasing women’s access to
contraception, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
 However, significant deficits remain :
o Violence against women remains a universal phenomenon one of
the most prevalent forms of violence and of the most plagued by
both silence and impunity.
o No country has achieved gender parity in women’s participation
in public life or in the economy: In 20 years, women’s
representation in national parliaments has only increased to 22
percent, a far cry from the goal of gender balance.
o Women continue to be overly represented in the informal
economy and lack access to decent work. The gender pay gap is a
universal phenomenon.
o Women also continue to do a disproportionate share of unpaid
care and domestic work
 These deficits show that gender inequality and gender-based
discrimination continue to be deeply entrenched in the minds of
individuals but also in the way institutions and societies function.
One of the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action is
women in power and decision-making- Our main topic of this evening.
 Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
called for ‘gender balance’, women remain a minority among political
As of January 2015, only 22 percent of all national
parliamentarians are women; albeit up from 12 per cent in 1995.1
There are 10 women heads of state (6.5 percent) and 14 women heads
UN-Women calculations based on data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
of government (7.2%); and only 15.8 percent of all parliamentary
speakers are women.
 The overall goal of UN Women’s programming on leadership and
political participation is that “Women lead and participate in decisionmaking at all levels”. Over 60 UN Women country offices work on the
area of women’s political participation.
o I will mention three cases as a sample. [FROM THE UK
Committee supports the African Young Women Leadership
Program (AYWLP), a 4-year initiative that began in 2010. Its aim
is to contribute to the empowerment of young women in Africa by
offering them opportunities to develop their professional skills
and become agents of change.
o In Mexico, women’s political participation increased in 11 of 13
state congresses that held elections during 2013, from 24% to
31%. This increase was supported by UN Women, in conjunction
with other UN agencies and national partners through the SUMA
project, a multi-stakeholder effort that engaged women MPs,
women in other decision-making positions including indigenous
women leaders. The SUMA Initiative was instrumental in lobbying
for constitutional provisions to establish gender parity in political
representation that were approved.
o In Cameroon, an unprecedented number of women were elected
in 2013, resulting in an increase from 14% to 31% of seats in the
National Assembly. UN Women supported multi-stakeholders’
efforts to integrate a gender equality perspective in electoral
management, and enhanced capacities of aspiring women
candidates, resulting in more gender responsive electoral
 Let’s all recognize that women’s political participation is a human right.
It is also instrumental for advocating other human rights and for
So what does that mean for the post-2015 development agenda and
other processes?
 Women’s full participation and leadership in the implementation of the
post-2015 development agenda is fundamental for democratic
accountability and the legitimacy of the new agenda.
 One of the targets in the proposed goal 5 (achieving gender equality and
empowerment of women and girls) of the SDGs is ‘ensure women’s full
and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership
at all level of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
 It is our hope that the proposed goal 5 and related targets proposed by
the Open Working Group of the General Assembly and the integration of
gender perspectives through the entire framework will be will be
agreed to by all Member States.
 If we are serious about ending gender inequality in our life time, then
we must reaffirm and build on the commitments of Beijing back in 1995,
where governments recognized that “a transformed partnership based
on equality between women and men is a condition for people-centered
sustainable development” (Beijing Platform, para 1).
 Based on the lessons learned from the implementation of the Platform
for Action, urgent action is required in five priority areas to accelerate
progress: first, transforming discriminatory social norms and gender
stereotypes; second, transforming the economy to achieve gender
equality and sustainable development; third, ensuring the full and equal
participation of women in decision-making at all levels; fourth,
significantly increasing investments in gender equality; and fifth,
strengthening accountability for gender equality and the realization of
the human rights of women and girls.
 However, at this stage of the post-2015 process we can see that
references to gender equality are absent in the sections of the “Elements
paper for Declaration Discussion” that was issued on 5 February by the
Co-facilitators of the intergovernmental negotiations on post-2015 (the
Permanent Representatives of Kenya and Ireland) with the exception of
the penultimate section on commitment. Again, if we want to see real
progress on this issue, a gender equality perspective MUST be reflected
in ALL the elements of the final outcome of the post-2015 negotiations,
that is to say, not only the declaration itself, but also the goals and
targets, the means of implementation, the global partnership, the
follow-up AND the review.
 Within the potential Goal 5 (which I mentioned to you earlier) on
achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls that
was formulated by the Open Working Group last summer, there are a
number of targets focusing on a range of issues such as discrimination,
eliminating violence against women and harmful practices. Within
these, there are some key priorities. For instance, while (in target 5.4)
we must recognize unpaid care and domestic work through the
provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies
and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and
the family we must also ensure that unpaid care is REDUCED and
Furthermore the target should NOT have any
conditionality as its current formulation does by framing it as
“nationally appropriate”. Similarly, (in target 5.a) we must also ensure
that women have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access
to ownership and control over land and other forms of property,
circumstances and NOT only “in accordance with national laws” as the
current formulation of the target states. Additionally, (in target 5.5)
while it is important to ensure women’s full and effective participation
and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in
political, economic and public life, we must also ensure the participation
is equal.