Sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security cannot be achieved without gender equality, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today, citing evidence of the beneficial impact of women’s empowerment.
“Numerous studies have found that companies with a more balanced representation of women and men in their top management teams considerably outperform those where such representation is low,” she told the International Forum on the Role of Leadership in Promoting Gender Equality in Kigali, Rwanda.
She cited numerous advances in the past decade as States have devoted greater focus to overcoming occupational segregation; introduced measures to support women’s equal access to economic resources, including credit and land rights;, increased access to education for girls at all levels; and established comprehensive legal, policy, and institutional frameworks to end violence against women and girls.
“There is a growing recognition among Governments and in the private sector that investing in women and girls has a powerful multiplier effect, on productivity, efficiency and economic growth,” she said. “So, there are many good practices from which to learn. The challenge ahead is to expand and apply such practices more systematically, particularly in areas where more needs to be done.
“The costs of inequality – for women and girls, for their communities, for economies at large – are too high,” she added, citing estimates by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) that the region loses up to $47 billion in output each year due to lack of female participation in labour markets.
“The global economic and financial crisis has generated a new sense of urgency for committed and accelerated action to address gender-based discrimination, violations of women’s human rights and violence against women,” Ms. Migiro stressed, calling for leadership at every level and in many forms to ensure greater participation by women in political decision-making, and in corporate boardrooms, and fair selection and promotion processes within political parties.
“Gender equality is a key goal in itself,” she added. “But it is more than that. Women’s empowerment is an essential means to achieving sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security.”