By Simona Scarpaleggia
Today marks the last important milestone in a journey, which began one year ago in New York City. When the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment met for the first time last year it was faced with the seemingly impossible task of making concrete recommendations to achieve gender equality worldwide by the year 2030. Now the panel has launched the second and final report, which does just that. A breakthrough for the world of work as we know it – providing concrete and tested solutions, which can be applied in organizations all over the world. The report builds on the seven drivers identified in report 1 and comes with dozens of recommendations.
The report, entitled Leave No One Behind: Taking Action for Transformational Change on Women’s Economic Empowerment, narrows down the most important areas which require our urgent attention:
- Formal: work or employment for women within established organisations
- Informal: unpaid work, taking place in the family or community environment
- Entrepreneurial: work in women’s owned business and enterprises
- Agricultural: work on the land and in agricultural endeavours
The report sets out to make a major impact on women in all countries - irrespective of their economic or political status. Clearly the biggest barriers to gender equality are existing social norms. Therefore the report encourages leaders to proactively influence and re-shape the social norms that are so engrained in our society. In this endeavour, legislation must inevitably play an important role. Conducting campaigns to sensitize both women and men, as well as constructive work with role models will be other important steps in this process.
The report continues to promote the overall vision that no woman should be left behind and contains a whole catalogue of suggested actions that can transform the world and bring about gender equality. This will happen by driving changes in the following domains:
- Reforming legislation: by abolishing discriminatory laws and introducing laws that protect the rights of women (i.e. equal pay, equal access to finance, the right to own and inherit property, equal access to education etc..) Undoubtedly social norms will either make it easier or harder to introduce and apply legislation. Informative campaigns about the protection offered by legislation will be just one way to support increasing non-discriminatory legislation.
- Revolutionising care work: by acknowledging care as a human right and introducing new models, which protect women and reduce unpaid labour.
- Introducing fair standards for women’s inclusion: which allow women to take part in work within industries involving supply chain and procurement.
The solutions proposed are realistic and based on a win-win approach. They can easily be applied in all different sectors, from the public and private sectors to civil society and women at large. There is a particular focus on digital and financial inclusion as a key driver of immediate potential change.
Looking back on the many consultations, the extraordinary meetings with men and women from all walks of life, diverse cultures and economic conditions as well as the excellent research which has preceded this last step – one thing is absolutely clear: Our global prosperity and sustainability will rely on women's economic empowerment. Let us grasp this opportunity and fight to bring about these changes to build a better world.
Simona Scarpaleggia, co-chair of the UN High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment and CEO of IKEA Switzerland, was a featured speaker at the 2016 Women’s Forum Global Meeting.