United Nations, New York, USA, 08 March 2017 – UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka During the Observance of the International Women’s Day at UN headquarters in New York, under the theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.
by Britta Schmitz
UNITED NATIONS, March 7 2017 – As 8 March marks the International Day of Women, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has a message for women and girls around the world.
The theme of the International Day of Women 2017 is Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.
“Currently, some 770 million people live in extreme poverty, the majority of them women,“ said Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Most of them are out of work or in low-paying jobs. To get to the future with substantive equality, we will have to shift the current paradigm for women and girls.“
Women and girls typically spend more than double the time on household responsibilities compared to men and boys. On average, women and girls have a higher work burden, due to the fact that in addition to unpaid care and domestic work they often also have a paid work to sustain their families.
Unpaid labour is one of the reasons why a lower share of women and girls is employed or working in decently paid jobs. Due to their household responsibilities, women and girls have a lower exposure to education and career opportunities.
“We have to start change at home and in the earliest days of school, so that there are no places in a child’s environment where they learn that girls must be less, have less, and dream smaller than boys,“ said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
One of the factors contributing to women working in low-paid jobs is that only a small percentage of them studies STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at university. Only 25 percent of the digital industries’ workforce are women and, for example, women only hold about 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees.
“Women and girls must be ready to be part of the digital revolution,“ said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
UN Women’s ambitious goal of advancing equality for women and girls has tremendous effects on the economy and could boost the GDP by 12 trillion USD by the year 2025.
“Important changes in the provision of benefits for new fathers are needed, along with the cultural shifts that make uptake of paternity and parental leave a viable choice and thus a real shared benefit for the family. In this complexity there are simple, big changes that must be made: for men to parent, for women to participate and for girls to be free to grow up equal to boys,“ said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Goal #5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, including the urge for equal work opportunities.
UN Women seeks to change the situation for women and girls around the world by engaging both public and private sector employers and reducing the global gender pay gap of 23 percent.
“Adjustments must happen on all sides if we are to increase the number of people able to engage in decent work, to keep this pool inclusive and to realize the benefits that will come to all from the equal world envisaged in our Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development,“ said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
This year, UN Women works with Hollywood actress and new UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Anne Hathaway to raise awareness on gender equality issues in the working world. Hathaway will deliver a keynote speech with a focus on unpaid care work and parental leave at the UN Headquarters on the International Day of Women 2017.