Planet 50-50, Women’s Empowerment, and the SDGs

This meeting was about the importance of women’s economic empowerment and how they are directly tied with the SDGs. The first speaker, Ms. Susan Shabangu, explained that in order to address gender equality and improve the economy, the South African government is currently focusing on five critical areas: education, outcome and performance, labor markets, property and credits, and changes in poverty inequality. One example she gave of the discrimination that is still very present in South Africa was the marital laws. In South Africa, the banks require the husband’s signature for approval if a woman tries to request a loan. The minister also explained that the president of South Africa, who recently issued a directive to create more jobs for women, also translates this emphasis on the empowerment of women. She concluded with the remark that for gender equality to become a reality, it must be mainstream.

The second speaker was Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. She said that the SDGs are all about the notion of leaving no one behind. Therefore, we need to start with those who are most likely to be left behind, and in most countries they are women. The most crucial thing that women are not able to participate in is finance, so, accordingly, the SDGs are about ensuring that business is done differently, and that we value people differently. She explained that the participation of women is crucial for the economy: there is currently over $28 trillion in the global economy that is being sacrificed because of the challenges that women are currently facing. She also discusses the issue of the wage gap between men and women. The global average is 24 percent, but in some countries it’s as high as 75 percent. After the two speakers, the floor was open for questions.

Meeting: Women’s economic empowerment and the link with the Sustainable Development Goals

Date/Location: Wednesday March 16, 2016, 15:00 –16:15; ECOSOC Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Susan Shabangu, Minister of Women in the Presidency of South Africa; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Director of UN Women

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Gender Justice (Zambia)

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