The Need for Women’s Empowerment in Policy and Intervention

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 5 February 2104

This discussion began with the executive director of UN-Women, who first asserted that women’s empowerment is key to sustainable development. She stated that one fifth of Africa has food insecurity. The solution for this problem, she stated, is to create a system in which all people who are affected by the area’s problems can help in decision-making, more specifically allowing women to become more involved in planning solutions that directly involve them. She stated that women in developing countries spent a staggering number of hours per year collecting water, about 40 billion hours to be exact, however they are not involved in the decision-making processes for cleaner water. “The women’s agenda is an agenda for half the population of all countries and needs to be integral in what we do to score high in any millennium development goals,” said Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. She felt that the progress in this area has been unacceptably slow and that there must be more action made by governments in order to align themselves with international investment organizations.

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The executive director of the UNFPA, then addressed one of the root causes of this problem: the inherent cultural ideas surrounding women. He stated that we must address the women’s place in society, providing the example that in some cultures, if a husband does not like his wife, he can pour acid on her face. These cultural norms and lack of respect for women are things that he believed contributed towards the lack of sustainable development, and stated that there is a direct correlation in the participation of women in parliament with the success of the nation, citing Rwanda’s growing economy and large number of women in parliament to support this claim. The main question that representatives of countries then posed is that if we already have all of these organizations to raise awareness about women’s empowerment in developing countries, then what is the world doing wrong and why is this issue still so prevalent. The representatives from UNWOMEN and the UNFPA responded by asserting that the solution is to ensure that women are given an education and are able to access that education. The committee seemed to agree that women needed to be given more rights, education, and power.

Meeting Title: The Role of Women’s Empowerment in Sustainable Development

Key Speakers: Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka- Executive Director of UN-Women, Executive director of UNFPA- Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Representatives from the permanent missions of Tanzania, Palau, Guatemala, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Bolivia (speaking on behalf of G77), and Ireland, representatives from the European Union and CARICOM

Written by WIT Intern: Rachel Lauren

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