Detours Ahead for Gender Equality in International Development?

There are two new reports (and one brief declaration) from the United Nations family of which we should all be aware – as they affect women’s economic empowerment efforts internationally. First, I’m sure that we’re all aware that 2015 is the year that the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals were to have been achieved. While much has been accomplished, those goals have not been achieved, and the focus is now shifting toward SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals.

roadblocks1Last year, the “Women’s Major Group,” one of nine groups involved in the process of developing the SDGs, issued a statement highlighting “8 Red Flags,” or shortcomings, of the SDGs, stating that they lack “real ambition for the urgent transformational change that the world needs to achieve gender equality.” And in late June, during negotiations for the “zero draft” of the SDGs that will be discussed at a UN Summit this fall, the Women’s Major Group issued a Ten Red Flags declaration highlighting areas that need to be strengthened in UN efforts moving forward, including that:

  • Gender equality and the human rights of women and girls must be recognized as a cross-cutting issue critical for the success of the post-2015 development agenda;
  • Commitments to human rights and inclusivity must be strengthened; and
  • Commitments to civil society and major group participation must be strengthened.

A good summary of the history of this issue is contained in the recently-published discussion paper, “Accelerating Gender Equality Through the Post 2015 Development Agenda,” from the Australian National Committee of UN Women.

There’s a civil society organization, beyond2015.org, with over 1,000 NGO members in more than 130 countries that have joined forces to ensure a strong framework for poverty alleviation and empowerment moving forward from the expiration of the MDGs.

Thirdly, every few years the United Nations publishes a look at the progress of the world’s women with respect to their health, education and legal empowerment. The latest in that series, Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights, was recently published. The previous reports are archived on this page.

The UN has also published data compendia (every five years, from 1990 to 2010) on The World’s Women. These reports, which contain a wealth of statistical data from around the world, are archived on this page and are well worth adding to your womenabling research shelf.

New UN Women Report Published

Every five years or so, the United Nations publishes a compendium of facts, statistics and analysis of the status of women around the world. These Progress of the World’s Women reports share statistics related to education, legal justice, social and political empowerment, and economic empowerment. They are truly go-to reports that deserve a spot on every womenabler’s reference shelf.fig.4.6-1

The latest report has recently been published. Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights features an interactive web portal and downloadable chapters, some very detailed (see picture at right) infographics, as well as the full report.

Some of what’s available in this report:

  • A discussion of the negative impact on women’s rights that has resulted from the rise of extremism around the world;
  • The notion that connecting economic and social policy is key to increasing human potential and equal rights (we would agree);
  • Far fewer detailed country-level tables (which we are disappointed by, but they may be archived somewhere); and
  • A listing of ten priorities for public action, including “create more and better jobs for women” (but no mention of economic empowerment through entrepreneurship).

For a list and links to past reports on the Progress of the World’s Women, visit Womenable’s Womenabler Reference Library page. or UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women page. Finally, here’s a handy link to the 2015 report Executive Summary.

#MakeItHappen on March 8

March 8 marks the celebration of International Women’s Day. The observance began in the early 1900’s to support equal rights for women – including protesting employment discrimination, ending World War I, and voting rights. In early years the celebration date varied somewhat from country to country, but came to be marked on March 8 after a widespread strike in Russia on that date in 1917. And while, in early years the celebration was associated with socialism, its appeal has broadened and is now an official holiday in over a dozen countries. (Read a short history of the day here.)centredinternationalwomensday

This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is “Make It Happen.” The United Nations has a somewhat wordier theme this year: “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”.

There are now nearly 500 events registered in nearly 40 countries on the International Women’s Day information hub as of now, with over 1,000 expected by March 8. Check out the list and find out about an event near you – or organize your own.

And, don’t forget to share your #womensday activities on social media using the suggested hashtags: #makeithappen, #womensday, #internationalwomensday, #IWD2015, or #PaintItPurple. (Why purple? find out here.) Share photos, too. For photographic inspiration, check out this photo gallery assembled by Thomson Reuters.

Here’s to an inspiring International Women’s Day, during which you will make something happen!

The Envelope Please…

woman_silouette_ribbonIt’s a new year … and the beginning of awards season. In the world of entertainment, it’ll soon be time for the BAFTA Awards, the Eurovision Song Contest, and the Academy Awards (Oscars) in Hollywood. The call is also out for outstanding women business owners – so why not consider nominating yourself or another deserving woman entrepreneur for one of these awards:

  • The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards: Launched in 2006 by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey and Company and the INSEAD business school, these awards focus on start-up enterprises in five world regions. Nominations are open now through the end of February at this link.
  • The International Alliance for Women’s World of Difference Awards: This award recognizes a diverse group of women in corporate, entrepreneurial, public sector and social enterprises who are making a difference to their communities. Nominations are open through February 15. Learn more here.
  • The l’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science program recognizes accomplished women in scientific endeavor, as well as helps younger researchers and supports non-profit organizations focused on women in science or “beauty for all.” To learn more, visit the submitting your project or 2014 awardees pages.

If your idea for recognition is giving back to other women, then consider signing up to be a Global Community Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment, a program offered by UN Women. You can learn more and apply to be a part of it at this link. The sign-up period ends on January 29.

Three other high-profile international awards of note happen later in the year. So mark your calendars and be on the lookout for these awards opportunities:

  • The Anita Borg Institute’s Women of Vision ABIE Awards: This organization, focused on connecting, mentoring and recognizing women in computing, bestows a number of annual awards, including an entrepreneurship award. However, nominations for this award are open in December and January, and are awarded at their annual conference in May of each year.
  • Enterprising Women magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year awards recognize women business owners of accomplishment in a number of business revenue levels. Nominations are open late in the year and awards are given at the magazine’s annual summit and gala in March of each year. Click here to read more about the just-announced 2015 awardees.
  • Nominations for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award have likewise just closed. The annual award, recognizing enterprising spirit and determination in the vein of “La Grande Dame de la Champagne” Madame Clicquot, is now awarded in 27 countries, typically bestowed at a gala event in May of each year. Learn more about the award here.

Empowering Women Through Internet Access

A new report recently released by Intel adds to the body of research focusing on gaps in technology availability and usage by gender, adding to the evidence base that access to information technology increases empowerment, education, and economic well-being.
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The report, Women and the Web, combines interviews with 2,200 women in four countries (Egypt, India, Mexico, and Uganda) with data from a variety of other sources and shares the following observations:

  • Gender barriers to technology are real. On average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet.
  • Bridging the Internet gender gap can boost women’s income and income potential. Across the surveyed countries, nearly half of respondents used the Web to search for and apply for a job, and 30 percent had used the Internet to earn additional income.
  • Use of the Internet also increases women’s sense of empowerment. More than 70% of women surveyed who are online say that it is “liberating” and 85% say it “provides more freedom.”

The 104-page report concludes with a series of recommendations for action to bridge the gender technology divide. Read a news release highlighting other findings HERE, and download and read the full report HERE.

Other earlier reports on this topic may also be of interest:

Finally, womenablers may also be interested in the Research Links page of the Anita Borg Institute, which focuses mainly on research on women in technology, but is nonetheless a great resource to bookmark for future reference.