The United Nations joined Chinese groups today in launching a new small-business fund that seeks to further empower women in the world’s most populous country.
“Investing in women and girls is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do from a social and economics point of view,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan said at the launch in Beijing of the new partnership between the All-China Women’s Federation, Mary Kay China, and UNDP.
“All studies clearly suggest than one of the main accelerators to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is investing in women and girls and through the political and economic empowering of women,” she added of the eight ambitious targets set by the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 to slash hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, a host of diseases and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.
Ms. Grynspan noted that over the last decade, the All-China Women’s Federation and Mary Kay had forged “a truly exceptional partnership” to provide female entrepreneurs with the financial and intellectual support, guidance and confidence that they need to excel, and she praised the strong progress China has made both in achieving the MDGs and advancing gender equity.
Yet despite this progress, “women across the country and indeed, throughout the world, are still less empowered than men, be it economically, politically or socially,” she said.
“There is no country in the world that has achieved gender equality, and as in China we find all around the globe women being disadvantage with respect to salary differentials, labour force participation, access to social protection, access to property rights, political representation and the challenge of gender-based violence,” she added.
She blamed the “invisibility and undervalue” of women’s role and their contribution to society and the blindness of many policies and decisions for the persistence of inequality. “That is why we are convinced that progress will be slow if we leave it to a natural evolution,” she added.
“We need to help progress by coming together, educate and raise awareness of women’s needs and valuable contributions to society and to progress, recognizing that the form and evolution of this progress will be specific to each context.”