Date of Meeting: 19th September 2017

Meeting Organizer: UN Women

ISJC Staff Present: Lt-Col. Eirwen Pallant, Capt. Fouzia Mubarik, Lt. Jemimah Ayanga

Reporter: Lt-Col. Eirwen Pallant

Which SDG does this topic cover? 5

Type of meeting: High Level Meeting with Panel Presentations and Contributions from the Floor

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Multiple High Level Speakers (see below) highlighted what is needed, and what is being done to achieve women’s economic empowerment.

Luis Guillermo Solis, President of Costa Rica

Introduced the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel. It includes 19 Countries that are champions of Women’s Economic Empowerment and it is co-chaired by Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. They have produced a report highlighting seven principles to achieve this goal. Those principles are:

  • No woman left behind
  • Nothing done for women without women
  • Equal focus on rights and gains
  • Tackle root causes
  • State parties must respect International Human Rights and labour standards
  • Partnerships are critical
  • Deliver globally

Secretary-General António Guterres

Thanked predecessor for setting the scene for women’s economic empowerment by including it within the Sustainable Development Goals.The next step is how we achieve that.

At its root, gender equality is an issue of power. There is male domination in all areas of life – family, culture, business, government. Parity is crucial to change relations. Women’s empowerment is needed if the SDGs are to be realized.

At present 77% of women have paid employment, only 50% of women and they are paid an average of 23% less than men.If there was equal involvement in the workplace the global GDP would increase by 26%.

The strategy is inclusion, in the financial sector, in the digital technology sector,in the sector of property rights. Inclusion is still a challenge.

There is a need to reset social norms to reflect gender equality including the advertisement industry.

There is evidence that increased presence of women increases stability.

Sheikh Halina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Women are the true drivers of transformation when they are supported by education and equal opportunities.

Bangladesh is implementing a long-term plan for Women’s economic empowerment, including positions of government reserved for women, a budget to fund the economic empowerment, 6 months paid maternity leave, supporting women’s self employment and eliminating stereotypes.

Priti Patel, UK Secretary of State for International Development

Empowerment of women is essential to development. In some countries, women are the most underused resource and a change of scenario is urgent. UK foreign policy supports this, and is working with countries to increase access to school, training and financial services. Aid systems need to have gender equality. Women’s empowerment is not separate to the advancement of the SDGs but is integral to it.

On the domestic front The Government introduced mandatory reporting of gender pay gaps. Tackling gender violence at work is necessary in all companies and they should be self-auditing. A change of the male board culture is needed.

Christine la Garde, International Monetary Fund

IMF has

  • Consulted with 27 countries to strengthen the advice and support for women in business
  • Looked at data gaps so that women ‘s involvement can be improved
  • With assistance from the UK introduced gender into their budgeting
  • Looked at legal barriers and is involved in advocacy to remove laws that disadvantage women
  • Continues research into women’s involvement in business

Khemaies Jhinaoui, Tunisia Minister of Foreign Affairs

Tunisia has

  • Adopted a guarantee of gender equality
  • Passed comprehensive laws to prevent violence against women (including economic, physical, sexual and political violence)
  • Started initiatives for the empowerment of rural women
  • Adopted a strategy for the economic empowerment of women
  • Produced a transformation of informal to formal access to finance and business for women


Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of IKEA, Switzerland

They have a policy of equal pay and equal opportunities, and plan to achieve full gender equity by 2020. They have introduced two months of paternity leave.

Switzerland is implementing a strategy for gender equality.

We are all accountable.

President of Open Society Foundations (includes 5 UN Women’s offices and contributed to the High Level Panel Report)

  • Economics must stop treating women as an addendum
  • Women are participating and acting in ways to provide gender equality
  • Women must be empowered. If changes are only made in the informal system then the men will take the jobs.


  • Lithuania has just joined the group of Champion Countries
  • Gender violence is a major concern. One third of women globally have experienced gender-based sexual or physical violence.
  • Lithuania has passed a zero tolerance law to prevent domestic violence
  • Only women free from fear can contribute to economic development and progression

Winnie Byanyama, Ex- Director of OXFAM International

  • We cannot shoe-horn women into the present economic model in practice
  • There is a patriarchal model of economy- World’s richest eight are all men
  • Whole way of economy needs to change – recognition of unpaid women’s work, and increase the power of women to choose
  • Women in the the Southern hemisphere are influential in producing change in policy

Tina Fordham. Academic working for Citi, working with USA, UK and Switzerland.

  • Will be publishing a report on Women as a global growth indicator in October 2017
  • Working on changing business practices to increase diversity and reach gender positive employment
  • Institutional investors are not yet persuaded
  • Need to make SDGs investable and consider what part gender equality can play in that.


Plan International

  • There is a link between women’s economic empowerment and sexual and reproductive health rights
  • 50% of the population should not be subservient to reproduction.
  • Child marriage should be stopped
  • Should put the issue of child marriage at the centre of women’s empowerment
  • Governments should include sexual and reproductive health rights in their planning
  • Comprehensive sex education should be available to all
  • Family planning should be available to allow women to choose how many and when to have children


Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Trade and Policy in Jamaica

  • Equity and gender equality is central to development
  • Jamaica is working on the seven drivers identified by the champion countries
  • Jamica fully backs the UN resolution on eradicating violence against women - new laws are in process to eliminate domestic violence and sexual violence against women
  • Is working to combat the underlying culture of discrimination
  • Has a policy on poverty reduction, recognizing that women are at greater risk than men as the risk of unemployment is twice that of men


Valentin Zellweger, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland

  • At home have a policy of equal pay that is reviewed regularly
  • Promote shared responsibilities for unpaid care and domestic work
  • Internationally, gender equality is the number one priority in foreign policy


Africa Union Special Envoy for Women’s peace and security

Has 2 priorities:

  • An agenda for Women’s peace and security
  • Empowering women economically (including land rights and access to land)

Has introduced a gender score card to measure progress in Africa


Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka, Director of UN women

  • UN Women has developed a strategic plan that includes all agencies, government partners, private sector partners and civil society partners. It includes policy and legal issues.
  • The strategic plan is embedded in seven principles and includes addressing harmful social norms, including stereotyping and advertising portrayals.
  • It includes a review of forced and early marriage and a commitment to ending these practices
  • It is aimed at making every girl and woman count, and therefore committed to disaggregated data collection
  • UN Women is working with pathfinder pilot countries, which include Bangladesh, Senegal and Kenya
  • Areas of concern include 1) more countries to ratify the domestic worker commitment

                                       2) disabled women

                                       3) youth

                                                    4) women caught in conflict, refugees and migrants  

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • There is much work being done in many countries to increase women’s economic empowerment.
  • The UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel to increase women’s economic empowerment has produced a report with its findings and a 7-point strategy.
  • 17 Champion Countries are supporting the panel both domestically and internationally.
  • Women’s economic empowerment is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Women’s economic empowerment needs a change to the economic processes and systems in place at present
  • Social norms need to be addressed, including cultures of male domination, elimination of gender violence and provision of family planning resources.

Web links for more information

Tags: United Nations, Women, SDG5: Gender Equality