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Gender Equality

Insight into Gender Equality


Helen Clark - UNDP Administrator

“First and foremost, gender equality is a matter of human rights. It is also a driver of development progress. Unless women and girls are able to fully realize their rights in all spheres of life, human development will not be advanced."

Asha-Rose Migiro - Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

“Anti-poverty policies must start from the fact that women make up the majority of those living in poverty. They must target industries which employ mainly women. They should focus on the informal economy, which is predominantly female. And they should acknowledge that women’s work is more vulnerable to economic shocks. Policies must improve women’s social and legal protection and raise awareness of the link between gender and poverty."

Kofi Annan - Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006.

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance."

Maria Magezi - Women and Gender Activist, Programme officer with the NGO, Akina Mama wa Afrika

“Though gender equality is being pushed for, to an extent there has been failure by the implementers or advocates of gender equality to actually transform the institutions where this happens, which means that work is being done on the surface in the name of gender equality but in actual sense the root causes - such as patriarchy - are not being tackled, which makes the struggle unfruitful and has led to many projects... to being women-only projects."

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka - United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN Women.

“To close the gender gap in South Africa would achieve a much more fulfilling life for men and women. The nice thing about closing the gender gap is that you actually liberate men."

Irina Bokova - Director General UNESCO

"It is increasingly clear that a cross-cutting approach to gender equality is essential not only to the realization of women’s rights, but to the achievement of the wider goals of development and peace. [...] We need to rethink internationally agreed development goals in terms of the missing link of gender equality with a view to ensuring that women’s rights and potential are woven into the social and cultural fabric of all nations. All the development goals reinforce each other, but none can be reached without empowering girls and women with the capabilities and confidence they need to live in freedom and dignity."

"We have to become more convincing in getting across the compelling evidence on the extensive benefits of girls’ and women’s education, from better child and maternal health, reduced risk of contracting HIV and AIDS and lower fertility rates to higher incomes and productivity gains."

"Let me make one last point in favour of gender equality. UNESCO’s Constitution opens with the affirmation that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. Can there be any doubt that the defences of peace are more secure when women are able to play a key role in their defence? Gender equality can be seen as integral to the culture of peace. As agents of change and decision-makers women are arguably the missing link between us and the more prosperous, equitable and peaceful future to which we all aspire."

Leila Aboulela - Sudanese writer who writes in English. Winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and Author of Lyrics Alley, Minaret, Coloured Lights and The Translator.

"All through life there were distinctions - toilets for men, toilets for women; clothes for men, clothes for women - then, at the end, the graves are identical."

Alison Maitland - Writer, speaker and former Financial Times journalist who specialises in leadership and the changing world of work.

"I do think it’s possible that some countries in the developing world will actually leapfrog countries in the developed world in terms of closing, in terms of the speed with which they close the gender gap."

Nilcéa Freire - Minister of the Special Secretariat for Policies for Women (SPM) in Brazil.

“The cost of not closing the gender gap will be, in the future, a developmental crisis, with economic implications, and also in the growing of the country."

Amanda Keifer - International Policy Analyst at Advocates for Youth

“A number of governments have championed the most controversial issues in an incredibly hostile environment. But we have also seen hateful and regressive rhetoric from governments and far-right civil society organisations. There is no reason that sexual and reproductive health and rights should be so controversial in 2014."

José Graziano da Silva - FAO Director General

“For many women, their autonomy depends on land. In the final analysis, land means belonging to a place and to a culture. This is why when speaking about landless men and women we are talking about people without a past, without a present and without a future."

Ban Ki-moo - Eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations

“Justice is central to the effort to help women become equal partners in decision-making and development. Without justice, women are disenfranchised, disempowered and denied their rightful place. But with sound legal and justice systems, women can flourish and contribute to the advancement of society as a whole, including by helping to improve those very same systems for future generations – daughters and sons alike."

Thabani Jali - Former judge Thabani is Executive Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Southern African Governing Board, where he assists in the strategies and positioning of the firm, including issues of governance and transformation.

“I shudder to think of a business which thinks in about 2015 it will try to survive and be competitive out there in the market whilst it only has a workforce which is 100 percent white or male."

R (Gopal) Gopalakrishnan - Executive director of Tata Sons, chairman of Rallis India and of Advinus Therapeutics, and vice chairman of Tata Chemicals.

“Leaders do two things. It’s like a double helix DNA. One is, they exhibit technical skills in marketing or advertising or accountancy and the second part of the double helix is they bring people skills. Now the first skill of technical skills can be taught. Nobody teaches you people skills. And what differentiates women leaders is that they bring a different dimension to people skills. Women solve problems differently from men and they use people skills for that largely."

Leonid Kozhara - Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

“Women have proved time and time again that they are builders of peace and tolerance in their own communities; yet they continue to face discrimination, obstacles and even violence."

Eleonora Mitrofanova - Chairperson of the UNNESCO Executive Board

“I have no doubts regarding women’s great peace-building and constructive potential. Only with equal efforts and commitment, from both women and men, can we reach mutually profitable economic development, social cohesion and peace. That is the very essence of a harmonious life in our families, in our societies, and on our planet."

Emma Watson - Actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador

“If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals."

Nivedita Menon - Malayali feminist theorist, author, and currently a professor teaching political thought in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory.

“Demanding wages for housework (…) forced recognition of the fact that the domestic work which women do has economic value. But many feminists feel that this demand leaves untouched the sexual division of labour - indeed, measures like paid maternity leave (…) can be seen as a form of wages for motherhood’ but(…) it fixes women more rigidly into work defined as ‘women’s work’."

H.E. Mr. Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman - Minister of State for Education, Pakistan

“Offering girls basic education is one sure way of giving them much greater power – of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. Education in today’s world is not a choice nor a luxury, it is a fundamental right of every child and the government is responsible for providing appropriate schooling to every child regardless of caste, creed and gender."



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