21 January 2016

Women’s Economic Empowerment Key to Unlocking Progress across Society, Secretary-General Tells Global Gender Parity Meeting

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Global Challenge Initiative on Gender Parity trustee meeting, in Davos, Switzerland, today:

I am delighted to be here for one of my signature campaigns as United Nations Secretary-General.  For the past nine years, I have made women’s empowerment a top priority.

I have advocated around the world — and I have promoted women leaders across the United Nations.  We are showing by example how women can make a difference — and inspire young girls to aim high in life.

I applaud all the Trustees of this Board.  You are champions of gender parity.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is firmly rooted in gender equality.  Thank you all for helping push for ambitious targets in this visionary document.  Now we have to rally all partners.

When Governments, the business community and civil society join forces to back the United Nations we can push back against the discrimination in our world.

Globally, 2.5 million women spend more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men.  In the developing world, three quarters of women are only informally employed, with no social protections.  Around the world, a woman’s pay check is barely more than three quarters of what a man earns.  This has to change.

Women’s economic empowerment is a key to unlock progress across society.  Evidence shows more money in the hands of women means more food in the mouths of children, more resources for education, better investments in the family and greater progress for the community.

Today, I am proud to announce the establishment of a high-level panel for women’s economic empowerment.  The panel will make action-oriented recommendations on how to improve economic outcomes for women in the context of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], promote women’s leadership in driving economic growth and galvanize political will.

I am pleased to announce as Co-chairs His Excellency President Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rica and Ms. Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of IKEA Switzerland.  They will be joined on the panel by other eminent leaders.  I will deliver an initial report on the panel’s work in September.

I extend my warm thanks to Justine Greening, United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development, and to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN-Women for championing this initiative.

I also thank the Government of the United Kingdom for its financial support, and President [Jim Yong] Kim of the World Bank Group, which is deeply engaged.

Together, we can make a quantum shift for women in work.

Today, I am also pleased to announce the establishment of the Every Woman, Every Child high-level advisory group.  Its members are leaders from Governments, the business community, philanthropy and civil society.  We are setting it up to relocate the extremely successful “Every Woman, Every Child” initiative into the new context of the 2030 Agenda.

This will address how it should evolve in ways that contribute to the spirit and principles of the 2030 Agenda as seen from the perspective of children, adolescent girls and women, their communities and those responsible for responding to their needs.  Women's health and their access to care and support is such an important contributor to their income and empowerment.

I thank Her Excellency President [Michelle] Bachelet of Chile and His Excellency Prime Minister [Hailemariam] Desalegn of Ethiopia for serving as Co-chairs.

When we empower, we will see benefits reverberate around the world and across generations.

For information media. Not an official record.