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UN Women hopes $40 billion will accelerate gender equality

UNITED NATIONS (PA) – Outgoing head of the United Nations agency for women hopes that in five years, the 40 billion dollars recently pledged to promote gender equality will enable many more women to occupy positions leadership, to a reduction in violence against women and to more than 40 million women fallen into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and more – escaping the poverty trap.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in an interview before stepping down this week as Executive Director of UN Women after eight years of engagements from world leaders, the private sector, philanthropists and organizations at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris which s ‘completed on July 2 represents a historic and positive shift towards widespread investment in a wide range of women’s issues.

She said one of the main challenges she faced was “not having adequate resources equal to the scale of the problem”, and realizing that governments alone could not solve the problem. So bringing together a much broader representation of society, those “who can put money on the table”, and get them to invest in gender equality was a significant step forward, she said.

At the Paris forum, UN Women said governments and public sector institutions have made $ 21 billion in commitments to gender equality programs, the private sector $ 13 billion, philanthropic organizations 4 , $ 5 billion and organizations $ 1.3 billion. In addition, 440 civil society organizations and 94 youth-led organizations have made political and programmatic commitments, the UN agency said.

Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that the money does not go to UN Women.

“It concerns the women and girls of the world, but it concerns the issues that we have reported to governments and other stakeholders as the critical issues that impact on women,” she said.

All governments, businesses, organizations and others that have pledged money must now work themselves and implement the women’s agenda, wherever they are.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the three issues that got the most money were tackling gender-based violence, promoting women’s leadership and supporting the feminist movement. Ensuring that women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are supported, but “not as much as we wanted,” she said, and donors have also given money to organizations local.

But she said much more money was needed to tackle the impact of climate change on women, which the UN agency will call for at the November climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

In addition, Mlambo-Ngcuka said, groups of countries have come together and put money on the table to advance new issues, including unpaid care and how to reduce and redistribute the burden, including promoting a “gender sensitive police” not only to focus on bringing perpetrators to justice. but to prevent crimes from happening and promote women’s access to digital finance, including allowing them to be supply providers to the governments she will be working on when she returns home to South Africa.

“We still have work to do, but the fact that we now have this coalition of stakeholders, who are working outside the UN,” is extremely important, said Mlambo-Ngcuka.

She said there will be a follow-up to what is done each year at the United Nations General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nations body that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women.

Thinking back to her eight years at UN Women, Mlambo-Ngcuka said there have been some difficult, exciting and difficult times.

In addition to constantly having to fundraise, she said that “we have also suffered a backlash against the women’s agenda,” including under former US President Donald Trump and other conservative governments in Poland. and elsewhere “which have destabilized the rights”. She also highlighted “difficult situations” in countries like the Congo which remain unstable.

On the positive side, she said working with The Gambia to remove discriminatory laws against women was “a joy”, helping Lebanon to remove its “marry your rapist” law was also “a great victory”, all like seeing thousands of women participating in governments in India.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said she was comforted and encouraged by the rise of girls and young people who are mobilizing against climate issues, fighting for girls’ education and fighting to end child marriage in Kenya and beyond. .

All of this “will allow us to accelerate the agenda,” she said in Tuesday’s interview.

In five years, she hopes to see the global average of 25% representation of women in many forums move towards gender parity of 50%, see a much greater implementation of laws on violence against women. towards women and dramatically reduce the extreme poverty that hits the most difficult women under 30 during the pandemic.

“I’m happier starting off where we’ve come,” she said, but it’s also a tough time as the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, “lies and misinformation” abound, and “the vaccination situation is so messed up that we have countries that have not even reached 1% of people vaccinated.

What would be his legacy?

“I just hope we have changed the debate,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “This is not a fight for women by women. It’s a fight for everyone. “

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