Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the UN-Women-World Bank event on financing for gender equality, in Addis Ababa on 14 July:
I thank UN-Women and the World Bank Group for bringing us together to focus on the crucial issue of financing for gender equality.
From my recent review of the 20 years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, it is clear that we have not invested sufficiently in gender equality. We know that persisting gaps in gender equality and women’s empowerment in the world have been a barrier to the full achievement of each of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
This has been explicitly confronted in the course of negotiating the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and, of course, in goal 5 of the new post-2015 development agenda. It is also reflected in the multiple targets across the new agenda relevant to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Currently, less than 10 per cent of official development assistance targets women. And many gender equality policies and programmes remain unfunded by domestic resources.
This has to change now if we are to achieve sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and development. This meeting is an opportunity to share understanding of what has worked most effectively, and to mobilize our commitment behind that.
Gender-responsive budgeting and planning processes — such as those in the United Republic of Tanzania that provide free primary schooling or farm input subsidies — can help ensure that public revenue is raised, prioritized and spent in ways that benefit women and girls.
Accounts from Cambodia, Costa Rica and Sri Lanka show us how reducing spending on security and the military can effectively redirect financing into social programmes. Enforcing existing tax obligations can also yield significant revenue from the private sector for this purpose.
The business community has a key role to play in creating decent employment, equal pay and supporting women’s leadership. It should also take full account of the gender implications of its investments and internal operations.
Women’s economic equality and participation is good for business. We must be mindful that financing for development does not only happen at the macro level.
Ensuring financial inclusion for women on the ground will be very important to making inclusive development a reality. Access of women to financial services, and to other productive resources, will be key.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is clear about the need to invest in policy-making and legislation to ensure women’s equal rights and their participation and leadership in the economy.
I commend Member States on working to ensure that our bold post-2015 goals are supported by an equally ambitious development financing agenda. Adequate financing must also reach gender equality institutions and civil society organizations.
These groups play a crucial role in planning, implementing and overseeing the important work of turning national gender equality commitments into concrete actions and programmes.
It will take the concerted efforts of all of us to implement the right financing policies and allocations to ensure that women and men, girls and boys will benefit equally from the new global sustainable development framework. This is their right and it must be our legacy.