Ms. Northover stressed the importance of addressing the social norms of males and females, focusing on eradicating female genital mutilation and discussed the difference between male and female violence. She further stated that gender equality is essential to SDGs focused on eradicating poverty. Ms. Nordstrom presented evidence of gender discrimination through statistics in order to show where it exists. This information is necessary in the effort to improve the lives of women.
It is difficult to change social norms–no country is free from discrimination. Indeed, while some nations have excellent constitutions that promote equality, customary laws and norms may actually prevent the implementation of those laws. Gender equality is a prerequisite for a transformative agenda that empowers women and men and allows people to contribute to their societies. Today’s speakers affirmed that there should be a world in which all people are free from violence, benefit from public services (education and health), have sexual and reproductive rights, economic and ownership rights, access to assets, and paid employment.
Ms. Nowacka discussed gender gaps in employment, education, and mortality rates. More specifically, she examined laws that discriminate against women, the prevalence of early marriage, and the effectiveness of legal implementation. Customary laws negate progressive gender equality codes in many countries. Gender equality, she said, requires constant vigilance and investment. Ms. Nowacka focused on the effect of early marriage on female education, employment, and income and addressed the need to invest in human capital. Mr. Crownover introduced a program that educates adolescent males on gender equality. Ms. Chandra highlighted the weak practice of gender equality laws, saying that women are viewed as a burden (especially through the dowry practice), which has led to increasing cases of missing girls. People do not want to invest in their daughters. Stronger measures need to be taken within the government to ensure laws are followed.
Meeting: OECD Development Centre side event to 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Jointly held with the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finalnd: Achieving Beijing: The Role of Social Norms for Gender Equality
Date & Location: 11 March 2015, Conference Room 7, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Moderator Baroness Lyndsay Northover, Department for International Development (DFID), UK, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development; Nina Nordstrom, Director, Unit for Human Rights Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Helsinki; Keiko Nowacka, OECD Development Centre, Gender Programme Coordinator; John Crownover, Care International, Programme Advisor and Gender and Youth Development Expert; Shailaja Chandra, Former Chief Secretary of Delhi
Written by WIT Representative: Ellie Guner
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey