Investing in women’s empowerment yields huge peace and prosperity dividends, says Security Council

Investing in women’s economic empowerment pays huge dividends for peace and prosperity, says head of UN Women say it security Council Tuesday, pointing out that countries where women are economically marginalized and excluded from the labor market are much more likely to go to war.

“We have the opportunity to do things differently in 2022,” said Executive Director Sima Bahous, who – speaking to the Council on International Women’s Day – recalled the increase in military spending, the military coups, the seizures of power by force that followed the start of the COVID-19[feminine] pandemic, erasing gains in gender equality that have taken decades to be achieved. “It is clear to me, more than ever, that we need another model of leadership.”

Describing the inclusion of women in economic recovery as “an essential element” in the pursuit of peace, she said women are more likely to spend their income on family needs and make a greater contribution to recovery. . Yet post-conflict reconstruction and investment are still male-dominated – and massively beneficial to them.

the UN Women The leader explained that patterns of exclusion, discrimination and outdated gender norms drive women away from employment, land, property, inheritance, credit and technology – a scenario that plays out in all the situations on the Board’s agenda.

“Gender Apartheid”

She said she was particularly concerned about the impact of a new “gender apartheid” in Afghanistan, where female employment has fallen sharply since the Taliban took over – while in Yemen the most major humanitarian emergency in the world, reducing gender gaps in women’s participation in the labor force, would have increased the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 27%.

Highlighting that more than half of world Bankfragile and conflict-affected ‘s are in sub-Saharan Africa, where economic losses due to gender inequality amount to $2.5 trillion, she went on to note that women’s land ownership in conflict-affected countries remains dangerously low. In Mali, it is only 3%.

Part of the problem… or the solution?

She explained that private actors are often part of the problem – not just in the extractive and agribusiness industries, but increasingly in telecom platforms which have a major role to play in facilitating inclusion and preventing hate speech. and targeted retaliation.

“We need more commitment, more accountability and shared responsibility,” she said.

She urged the Council to use the resolutions on the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, to call for the meaningful inclusion of women not only in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and recovery, but also in decision-making, gender analysis and expenditure trackers.

better for business

In turn, she called on the private sector to play a bigger role in the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, which has supported more than 500 women’s organizations in 26 countries since 2016. five the financings. for women’s organizations in crisis by 2030, as requested by the Secretary-General,” she said.

The Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action – which aims to advance these issues over the next five years – could benefit from increased engagement by multilateral development banks and the private sector, to help strengthen social protection mechanisms, promote women-social enterprises prisoners and fight against discriminatory legislation.

“We have the plan and the business case to support women’s economic inclusion,” she said. “What we need is the political will to pursue it.”

Years of progress, erased

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the war in Ukraine is a clear reminder that fragility and conflict impose a terrible cost on human life. Speaking directly to Ukrainian women, she said: “We admire your courage. We share your pain. We are with you. We support you. The Fund is moving quickly to do what it can to support the people of Ukraine.

Stressing that crises – whether triggered by conflict, pandemics or economic and trade emergencies – threaten to roll back years of progress on gender equality, she said that twice as many women as men men lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis due to social weakness. protection, among other factors.

Women are also 20% lower than men in terms of labor market participation.

The world has also experienced huge learning losses: over the lifetimes of pandemic-affected generations, $17 trillion will be lost due to lack of education.

Perhaps most dramatically, 20 million girls in developing countries may never return to school, she said, adding that gender-based violence has surfaced with serious economic consequences.

As dramatic as these effects are, she said overcoming them can provide a “massive injection” of prosperity, pointing out that if sub-Saharan countries reduce gender-based violence closer to the global average, they could see long-term GDP gains. by 30 percent. hundred.

Driving change

She said gender equality is essential for growth, resilience and socio-economic stability, stressing that “it is extremely important that women and girls can reach their full potential”. Improving gender equality can spur economic growth, build the resilience of families and communities, and improve financial stability.

“We know that societies with more gender equality tend to be more resilient to violence and conflict,” she said. Yet too often, women remain excluded from decision-making.

She urged international organizations, governments and the private sector to work together to close gender gaps and improve development prospects.

For its part, IMF is “relentlessly” focused on helping its members design and implement economic policies that ensure greater resilience and growth, she said. It particularly targets social spending in efforts to improve education, health care and social protection and, therefore, create stronger societies. A country-specific approach is vital.

“Women and girls are themselves powerful agents of change,” she said, citing examples from Northern Ireland, Colombia and Liberia, where the women’s movement helped end poverty. civil war. To all the women and girls, she offered her support: “Believe in yourself. Dare to reach your full potential.

Moussokoro Coulibaly, president of the Network of Women Economic Operators of the Ségou region in Mali, said her organization supports women’s economic recovery and women’s engagement in peace and social cohesion efforts. It brings together 7,847 women and works with 120 local women’s organizations and women’s groups.

“Investing in women’s economic empowerment generates short and long-term social dividends and improves women’s participation in decision-making and conflict resolution,” she explained.

muffled voices

During and after conflicts, there is a sharp increase in the number of female-headed households. “It is through their efforts that our communities and families have remained resilient.”

Noting that social and cultural norms are used to justify practices detrimental to women’s rights, and that financial resources are often not adapted to the activities carried out by economic actors, she said that all these factors hinder the participation of women in public decision-making.

In Mali, a request for inclusion

Undaunted, she emphasized that women are the pillars of their families and communities. “We play a role in building peace. Wherever women are active, they engage in social cohesion within their communities, in local conflict resolution initiatives, in welcoming displaced persons and survivors of gender-based violence, in education of children and in raising awareness of non-violence and peace.

It is imperative that women’s empowerment be at the heart of resolutions, peace treaties and programs for sustainable peace. She urged the United Nations to facilitate women’s access to sustainable and flexible financing and to support governments in establishing and implementing policies that promote women’s economic empowerment.

“Help women participate in the economic recovery,” she stressed.

Distributed by APO Group for UN News.

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Mara R. Wilmoth