UN Gender Adviser Wants Women Freer From Employment Constraints
UN Gender Adviser Wants Women Freer From Employment Constraints Website
Unless the world refocuses its policies to address the adverse impact of globalisation and economic inequality on development and poverty reduction, the poor and the privileged will continue to live worlds apart, the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on gender issues and women advancement Rachel Mayanja has said. Addressing the 12th quadrennial Ministerial Meeting of the just ended UNCTAD XII conference in Accra, Ms. Mayanja said only a handful of countries, both rich and poor, were somewhat safe from the escalating inequality existing in the world. She noted that it is compulsory for economic and social policies and institutions to step up efforts to reduce the widening social and gender disparities. She said despite some positive gains made, resulting in an improvement in employment opportunities and the strengthening of women support networks, globalisation has also reinforced many existing disparities in gender issues. Not only did women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty; in some cases, globalisation had widened that gap, with women losing more than their share of jobs, benefits and labour rights, she added. Rachel Mayanja said gender-sensitive policies, the promotion of capacity-building and the participation at all stages of development activities by women would go a long way to eliminate inequality. UNCTAD Secretary General Supachai Pantichpakdi said better management of globalisation would require a practical blend of market planning and government direction. He said modern-day socio-economic growth is of a quality that would improve livelihoods in a concrete way, including the empowerment of women to participate in labour forces and trade systems, leading to productive employment for all, and enhancement of basic social protections and benefits. Albert Koenders, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands in his intervention noted that addressing inequalities within the global context should be a priority. He said initiatives aimed at addressing the disparities should seek to add value to exports, so as to create jobs, while focusing on a balance between market and approaches and public-private partnerships and regional integration. UNCTAD, he mentioned, should work on commodity planning, achieving development goals and narrowing the gender gap in employment. The key challenge, from a global governance perspective, was to integrate the poorer countries into the global trade, he said. According to him liberalised trade does not necessarily lead to poverty reduction. Women, he said, were the “shock absorbers” of bad policy in that regard. Mr. Koenders said a large proportion of jobs through exports were gained by women, but often with worse compensation. He said UNCTAD should create a one-stop shop on regulations impinging on women to help globalisation in a more much positive light. Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Patricia Francis gave her organisation’s perspective on the issue, noting that they have adopted the “Export Impact for Good” approach aimed at making trade work for all groups in developing countries. The approach, she explained, linked poor communities to global markets and concentrated on small businesses. The organisation mainstreams women’s issues into all their programmes, because women constitute 70% of the world’s poor people. “Countries that failed to capitalise on the full potential of one half of their societies were misallocating human resources and compromising their development potential,” she said. Ms. Francis mentioned that countries could make huge gains by addressing the gender inequalities that locked up women’s export potential. As a result of this the ITC, she mentioned, has created environments that facilitate women’s export businesses, strengthens trade-support institutions to provide services to businesswomen and helped women-owned enterprises to become more competitive in global markets.