UN chief announces first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment

At World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) announces creation of first ever UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment . Also pictured Justine Greening, Development Secretary, United Kingdom (centre) and Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank (right). UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

21 January 2016 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment to provide leadership and mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world.

“The empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” said Mr. Ban in a press release, issued while he attends dozens of events at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Yet despite important progress in promoting gender equality, there remains an urgent need to address structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment and full inclusion in economic activity,” he added. “If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need a quantum leap in women’s economic empowerment.”

According to UN Women, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the panel will provide recommendations for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve economic outcomes for women and promote women’s leadership in driving sustainable and inclusive, environmentally sensitive economic growth.

It is backed by the United Kingdom, the World Bank Group and UN Women, with the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, and the CEO of IKEA Switzerland, Simona Scarpaleggia, as the panel co-chairs. They will be joined by a diverse range of eminent gender and equality actors, economics experts, academics, trade union leaders, business and government representatives from all regions.

“Investing in girls and women isn’t just about basic human rights, it’s about fully unlocking the potential of half the world’s population,” said UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening, a founding member of the panel. “Strong economies need the contribution of everyone – including women – and this panel will spearhead a movement to put women’s economic empowerment on the global agenda like never before.”

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, also a founding member of the panel, said “no society, community or economy can achieve its full potential – or meet the escalating challenges of the 21st century – until all its people can achieve theirs.”

The High-Level Panel will have its inaugural meeting during the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at UN Headquarters in New York next March.

Meanwhile, the UN chief also announced the first members of the High-level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every Child who will help provide leadership and inspire actions for women, children adolescents’ health.

The group will advise the Secretary-General and guide the transition of the Every Woman Every Child movement and the newly launched Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

Co-chaired by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, the group aims to end all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents by 2030 and to support the achievement of the SDGs.

Also in Davos today, Mr. Ban and World Bank President Kim jointly announced their intention to form a new panel to mobilize urgent action towards the sustainable development goal for water and sanitation (SDG 6).

The announcement comes as countries experience water stress and water-related disasters that will grow worse due to climate change without better policy decisions, stressed a note issued by the UN Spokesperson.

“Water is a precious resource, crucial to realizing the SDGs, which at their heart aim to eradicate poverty,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The new panel can help motivate the action we need to turn ideas into reality.”

Co-chaired by the Presidents of Mauritius and Mexico, it will comprise a group of heads of State and Government from developed and developing countries.

“Achieving the water global goal would have multiple benefits, including laying the foundations for food and energy security, sustainable urbanization, and ultimately climate security,” said President Jim Yong Kim. “My hope is that this panel accelerates action in many countries so that we can make water more accessible to all.”

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