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  1. 10 October 2017

    UN Women statement: International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October

    “Some people say that it is shameful for girls to go to work or go to school. These are old traditions and conventions.” These are the words of Alan and Israa, two Syrian girls who, through a UN Women-supported training and community centre in Beirut, Lebanon, are learning how to repair mobile phones. This training is helping to break down traditional ideas about what girls can and cannot do, and through giving them relevant skills for their future, it is building resilience and helping to break conventional isolation.

    This year, on the International Day of the Girl Child, we are focused on how to ‘EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises’. Throughout 2017 we have seen growing conflict, instability and inequality, with 128.6 million people this year expected to need humanitarian assistance due to security threats, climate change and poverty. More than three-quarters of those who have become refugees or who are displaced from their homes, are women and children [1]. Among these, women and girls are among the most vulnerable in times of crisis.

    Displaced and vulnerable women and girls face higher risks of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as damage to their livelihoods [2]; girls are 2.5 times more likely than boys to miss school during disasters [3]; and displaced girls are often married off as children in an effort to ensure their security. A 2013 assessment estimated a rise in the percentage of Syrian girl refugees in Jordan being married before age 18 from below 17 per cent before the conflict, to more than 50 per cent afterwards.

    At UN Women, we are working to ensure that girls experiencing crises have positive options that allow them to grow and develop social and economic skills. Along with local women’s organizations, we support women and girl refugees through our Global Flagship Initiative, on Women’s Leadership, Empowerment, Access and Protection in Crisis Response (LEAP) [4], which boosts civic engagement and leadership by advocating for women’s political and social participation at the local, national and international levels. LEAP also establishes Empowerment Hubs where women can network and access critical services and training, and provides job placements, cash-for-work initiatives and training for businesses.

    Programmes like these can turn situations of displacement into opportunities for empowerment for girls and young women, remove them from potentially violent situations, and serve as a path to economic security so that they are not forced to marry older men to provide for their physical and financial wellbeing.

    As Alan and Israa experienced, UN Women is also tapping into the possibilities of mobile technology, developing a Virtual Skills School, so that women and girls who have dropped out of school due to early marriage, childbearing or traditional practices, who are living with a disability, or who are displaced from their homes and in refugee camps, have access to second-chance learning.

    On the International Day of the Girl Child, let us commit to investing in skills training and education for girls and livelihood activities for young women around the world who are facing crises. Far from being passive recipients of assistance, these girls are leaders who will use the skills that they develop today to rebuild their communities, and create a better future for all of us.


    [1] “Protecting Women in in Emergency Situations,” UNFPA. http://www.unfpa.org/resources/protecting-women-emergency-situations#sthash.yskdqqSa.dpuf.

    [2] “Women and girls in forced and protracted displacement,” GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report, September 5, 2016, http://www.gsdrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/HDQ1364.pdf.

    [3] https://www.womankind.org.uk/blog/detail/our-blog/2016/06/03/women-and-girls-bearing-the-brunt-of-humanitarian-disasters

    [4] “Humanitarian Action,” UN Women, http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/humanitarian-action.

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  2. 22 September 2017

    Business and Philanthropy Leaders Scale up Engagement in Innovative Initiatives for Women’s Empowerment

    UN Women and corporate leaders join forces to advance gender equality as an enabler and accelerator to address global challenges

    (New York) In a high-level event organized by UN Women in the context of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jack Ma, Executive Chair of the Alibaba Group and Nirvana Chaudhary, President of the Chaudhary Group and Chair of the Foundation and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women for a strategic conversation on how collective action can scale-up opportunities for women and girls.

    Today’s dialogue among a select group of business and foundation leaders focused on the transformative role that companies and foundations can play to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 on gender equality. It highlighted new initiatives, such as the Unstereotype Alliance convened by UN Women with major advertisers and communications industry leaders to promote a more realistic and aspirational portrayal of women;  the “Making Every Woman and Girl Count” initiative to generate, prioritize and use gender data for evidence-based and targeted policies; and the Global Innovation Coalition for Change aiming to make innovation work for women’s empowerment.

    Participants at the event agreed that gender equality is a force to enable and accelerate achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that empowering women is central to addressing the 21st century’s global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and violence. Yet, deep financing gaps for women and girls pose significant barriers and deter progress.

    “We are very clear that the private and philanthropic sectors are essential partners for our work as we move forward with implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Their support is fundamental to UN Women endeavours, including building the Women’s Empowerment Principles, calling for and leading the investment in gender data analysis, eliminating gender stereotypes in advertising, and boosting ways in which innovation and technology can work better for women and girls,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director. “This is everyone’s business, and I call on both current and potential partners to join this movement to drive the transformative changes needed,” she added.

    Financial commitments made at the event will support UN Women’s efforts towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by expanding women’s economic opportunities, promoting innovation, developing effective gender data metrics, addressing regressive norms and stereotypes and improving safety for women and girls globally.

    “We have learned from our partners that if we don’t look at the gender piece of our work, we will never achieve our goals and lift people up,” said Melinda Gates. “We have a lot of anecdotal evidence about women in terms of their lives and livelihoods, and now, we are finally doing the research and gathering data to inform policies and programmes. Gender matters. If we are serious about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to invest in gender data. It is at the heart of what we do.”

    “The importance of women and girl child equality and livelihood is ever more important in this world. Chaudhary Foundation has 40 plus initiatives addressing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with focus on women and children at its centre-stage. We are excited about embarking in to gender data work in Nepal in partnership with UN Women,” shared Nirvana Chaudhary, Chair of Chaudhary Group Foundation.

    Global business and philanthropy leaders pledging support to deliver on gender equality at today’s event included: Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jack Ma, Executive Chair of the Alibaba Group; Nirvana Chaudhary, Chair President of the Chaudhary Group and Chair of the Foundation; Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia Bint Majed Al Saud, Secretary-General of Alwaleed Philanthropies; Carolyn Tastad, Group President of Procter & Gamble North America; Wang Guangfa, Chairman of the Board and President of Beijing Fazheng Group; Andrea d’Avack, President of Chanel Foundation; Keith Weed, Unilever ‎Chief Marketing and Communications Officer; Deepak Premnarayen, Executive Chairman and founder of ICS Group; José Caetano, People Management Director of Banco Di  Brazil; Kofi Appenberg, Chair of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees; Anka Wittenberg, SAP Diversity & Inclusion Officer; and Elfrun von Koeller, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group; among others.

    The Unstereotype Alliance and the Global Innovation Coalition for Change were represented by companies such as Alibaba, ANA, AT&T, Citi, Facebook, General Electric, Google, IPG, Mars, Microsoft, Publicis, P&G, SAP and Unilever.

    Follow the hashtag #Planet5050 and @UN_Women on Twitter for updates. Watch the forum on Facebook Live: https://facebook.com/unwomen/videos/10154845898991905.

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  3. 21 September 2017

    30 Global Leaders Convene to Share Ground-Breaking Solutions on how to Achieve Gender Equality as Part of UN Women’s HeForShe Movement

    (New York) – 30 global leaders unveiled their ground-breaking solutions for gender equality today as part of UN Women’s HeForShe movement. Addressing critical policy issues, changing the course of business leadership and the futures of our next generation, these proven practices have the potential to see gender equality achieved within our lifetime.

    HeForShe’s IMPACT Champions, comprised of 10 Heads of State, 10 global CEOs and 10 University Presidents, came together to share with the world the key obstacles they have faced on their journey, as well as the innovative proven practices that they can now empower the rest of the world with. H.E. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, shared the story of how his country has ended child marriage once and for all, allowing over 1500 girls to return to education. Bob Moritz, Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited shared the story of how his organization has gone from 18 per cent female representation in the Global Leadership Team in January 2016 to 47 per cent by December 2016. Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester (U.K.) led a dynamic conversation on how students themselves are generating solutions to address gender-based violence on their campuses.

    “The results announced in today’s IMPACT 10x10x10 Parity Report are inspirational. In 2015, I challenged the Champions to ‘think big’ and commit to creative approaches that tackled the greatest barriers. We know that incremental steps do not bring us the benefits that we so urgently need,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. “As leaders in their fields the Champions hold the key to breaking norms and making game-changing progress for both women and men. The report shares strategies, roadblocks and successes so others can follow suit.”

    In a true HeForShe moment, newcomers H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts and Professor Paul Wainaina, Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University were warmly welcomed to the IMPACT 10x10x10 family. H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo is committed to improving gender inequalities and engaging the men of Ghana for a more equitable country. With over 300 million players around the world, Electronic Arts will lead on diversifying representation in the gaming industry, creating safe spaces online as well as advancing equal pay in the US and beyond. Home to some of the world’s top scholars, researchers and experts with over 70,000 students, Kenyatta University brings a new global perspective to the IMPACT cohort. Aligning with the existing priorities of the IMPACT Universities, Kenyatta is committed to achieving a gender-balanced leadership, embedding gender equality into the very DNA of their institution and addressing gender-based violence across their campuses.

    Official images, briefing documents, and video clips will be available here.
    Livestream will be available here.
    To learn more, you can review the full report here.
    Photos from the events will be available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/HeForShe/



    WHAT IMPACT Champions Are Saying:

    Head of State IMPACT Champions

    “The HeForShe movement provides an opportunity for the socialization of men and boys to support and promote women’s and girls’ empowerment. Men should commit themselves by signing the HeForShe movement.”

    • H.E. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi

    “I strongly believe removing the root causes of discrimination and violence against women and girls is a smart strategy to ensure a just and prosperous world.”

    • H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia

    “The formalization of the Gender Equality Expert role is not only a critical step in eliminating gender based violence throughout our communities in Romania, but also ensures that our policies are informed and responsive. Only when we do this, we will start to see gender equality becoming reality.”

    • H.E. Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of Romania

    “We have to change mindsets, not just laws. We are in this together; let’s stand as partners and end gender inequality once and for all.”

    • H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda

    “In my capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces, I am proud to announce that all our conscripts, who are mostly young men, undergo training on anger management and prevention of violence in close relationships as part of their military service. I call upon everyone to join in efforts to build equal and sustainable societies and achieve full gender equality by 2030. Finland is a close partner of UN Women – we are one of its largest donors – in this endeavour.

    • H.E. Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland

    “I firmly believe that empowering women to maximize their high potential to the full extent will be a driving force that puts Japan, a country currently caught in an impasse, on track for growth and prosperity once again.”

    • H.E. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

    “My political commitment is based on the firm belief of equal value of all people as well as on the power of politics to change society and create equal rights and opportunities for all. This is why I am a feminist. You cannot separate equal worth from gender equality. We must defeat gender discrimination and structural biases which hold women back from shaping society and even their own lives.”

    • H.E. Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden

    “We are deeply hurt by the phenomenon of domestic violence and we will carry out all the actions we can to fight against this scourge As part of this commitment, Uruguay implements a prevention, confrontation, reduction and reparation of violence based on gender national policy. HeForShe Campaign provides us a powerful and creative global platform that drives and supports our efforts to ensure a life free of gender-based violence for women. ”

    • H.E. Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay


    Corporate IMPACT Champions

    “Gender equality is foundational to the culture and values of Electronic Arts, and we must champion it as a force for global change.  With more than 2.5 billion people around the world playing games today, interactive entertainment is uniquely positioned to advance this movement.  Gender equality is a human right, and we are committed to leading the conversation with our employees, our players and our industry.”

    • Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts

    “Gender equality is not a zero-sum game—it spurs opportunity and prosperity. Enabling both genders to contribute equally in business and their personal lives benefits all. When it comes to gender parity, leaders of all types have a vital role to play in creating the right tone throughout organizations and communities, inspiring women and men alike in building a culture of equality and eradicating gender-based siloes. Without steadfast commitment on every front and at every level, gender parity will remain elusive, and remember–all of us are or can be leaders!”

    • Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC International Ltd.

    “The vast majority of companies have introduced measures to increase gender diversity at the top, but many are still struggling to achieve significant results. Achieving gender parity is hard work, as we well know from our own experience. Changing outcomes on a scale that will move the needle will require relentless effort.”

    • Dominic Barton, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company

    “Companies have a key role to play as change agents to build a world where gender equality is a reality. It is a question of determination. Leading by example and engaging more men in these challenges will be one of my key priorities.”

    • Jean Pascal Tricoire, CEO, Schneider Electric

    “Barclays will only succeed if we relentlessly focus on building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment. An environment that values experience and empowers colleagues to prioritise their professional and personal lives is one that allows us all to succeed together. Dynamic working offers colleagues an opportunity to design their own work patterns. Enabling people to decide when, where and how they work helps increase engagement and productivity.”

    • Jes Staley, CEO, Barclays

    “Gender bias is deeply rooted in our community. Unlearning this bias is our immense challenge, yet this is the key to gender equality. As Koç Group, we focus on creating a new gender paradigm that will assist us achieving gender equality in the workplace and in the society.”

    • Ömer M. Koç, Chairman, Koç Holding

    “We must find ways to challenge the adverse norms and stereotypes holding women and men back, and companies, like Unilever, have an important role to do so. Via our Unstereotype initiative, we are using our expertise and understanding of the drivers of social norms to create a positive transformation, starting with our advertising.”

    • Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

    “We realized that our research is not about Tupperware – it’s about studying a trend in the workplace, and showing that confidence is universal, translatable and ultimately valuable.”

    • Rick Goings, CEO, Tupperware Brands

    “In a Group like AccorHotels, where about 50% of our employees are women, diversity at every level in the company is not a cause we stand for: it is a vital issue and a key to sustainable performance. We are all – men and women alike – free to enjoy fulfilling professional careers.”

    • Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, AccorHotels

    “Our Instant Network classrooms give boys and girls the opportunity to learn on tablets and have access via our technology to knowledge and subjects at the same level as every other young person in the world. Education and technology can really improve their chances of having a better life, and maybe – as several told us – go back to their countries and help re-establish peaceful societies.”

    • Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone


    University IMPACT Champions

    “Through the work of our Gender Equity Office, we have seen how it is possible to tackle the structural problem of gendered privilege that manifests on our campus in a myriad of ways, including gender based harm. By taking the steps to hear and support victims, challenge perpetrators and amplify the marginalized voices within our university community, we are learning that it is possible to chip away at deeply rooted cultures of privilege.”

    • Adam Habib, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of the Witwatersrand

    “Real, sustainable change does not result from the actions of a single person or vision. While the HeForShe commitments focus on opening doors to women and girls in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM), disciplines, meaningful change requires commitment across our entire campus, with students, faculty, staff and alumni coming together to share their stories, identify opportunities, envision solutions and put plans into action.”

    • Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Waterloo

    “To reach effective gender equality is not an objective: it is our duty and our responsibility.

    • Frédéric Mion, President, Sciences Po

    “Our survey findings underscore an urgent and critical need to continue to address sexual assault and misconduct and provide us the information we need to better target and focus our work. Some of the action we take will be immediate, beginning in the coming days and weeks. Some action will require ongoing, sustained effort. All actions that we take will require the active engagement of our entire community.”

    • John DeGioia, President, Georgetown University

    “For me, the university is a privileged place, where education is a powerful instrument to develop long-term transformative changes of behaviors to address social issues such as violence against women and all types of discriminations.”

    • Marco Zago, President, University of São Paulo

    “A key component of our strategic plan is to develop talent in our people. We think the investments we make in developing our female staff will result in a transformation in the make-up of our university leaders into the next decade.”

    • Paul Boyle, President & Vice Chancellor University of Leicester

    “I have been shocked by the male predominance in higher education in Hong Kong, and even more concerned by the passive acceptance by many parties. I welcome the challenge of addressing this issue during my Presidency.”

    • Peter Mathieson, President & Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hong Kong

    “As a University President, I know how vital achieving equality is to our students’ success and well-being but even more than that, my commitment to gender equality is personal.”

    • Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., President, Stony Brook University

    “I am committed to striving for more women in leadership positions. This commitment remains the most challenging because of the stereotypical belief among some people that women do not make good leaders in traditional Japanese culture. But we continue to provide our female colleagues with better opportunities to build up expertise so they can take on more leadership roles in the near future.

    • Seiichi Matsuo, President, Nagoya University


    ABOUT HeForShe

    Created by UN Women, the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality provides a systematic approach and targeted platform on which men and boys can engage and become change agents towards the achievement of gender equality. HeForShe invites men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners, crafting and implementing a shared vision of gender equality that will benefit all of humanity. For more information, visit http://www.heforshe.org/en


    IMPACT 10x10x10 engages key decision makers at governments, corporations and universities around the world to drive change from the top. IMPACT Champions make gender equality an institutional priority, committing to real change within and beyond each of their organizations. Each IMPACT Champion implements the HeForShe IMPACT framework and develops three bold, game-changing commitments to advance and ultimately achieve gender equality for all. Measurement and transparency will be at the heart of these commitments, so successful initiatives can serve as models for the political, corporate and academic world. For more information, visit http://www.heforshe.org/impact

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  4. 19 September 2017

    Powerful Global Coalition to Boost Equal Pay for Women at Work

    New initiative will support innovative and effective equal pay policies and practices around the globe.

    (New York)—One of the most persistent barriers to women’s success at work and to economic growth, unequal pay, will be actively challenged by a new global partnership, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC).

    With the launch of EPIC, the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are bringing together a diverse set of actors at the global, regional and national levels to support governments, employers and workers and their organizations, and other stakeholders, to make equal pay between women and men for work of equal value a reality.

    “One of the most visible, tangible and pervasive manifestations of discrimination is that women across the globe are still being paid less than men for work of equal value. That is why this equal pay initiative was developed and why it is a focus area of the ILO’s Women at Work Centenary Initiative. The principle of equal pay for work of equal value is enshrined in the ILO Constitution of 1919. One hundred years is too long to wait, and we must all work together to make equal pay for work of equal value a reality. ” said Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the ILO.

    EPIC is a global response to a critical problem that has been prioritized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular Target 8.5, which calls for equal pay for work of equal value by 2030. Equal pay, in addition to empowering women, can have a significant impact on achieving other key goals, such as promoting inclusive societies, reducing poverty, and creating conditions for decent work and gender equality.

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, said: “There is no justification for unequal pay for a woman when her job is of equal value to a man’s. This injustice has been unseen for too long, and together we are changing that. Equal pay for women translates into lifelong benefits for them as well as their families: better career prospects and lifetime earnings, greater independence, and higher investments in their children’s education and health.”

    Employers and trade unions, as well as other key stakeholders, will have a central role in the application and rolling out of equal pay policies. A Platform of Champions, launched earlier this year by UN Women at the Commission on the Status of Women, will also contribute to strengthening advocacy on equal pay, as part of EPIC.

    A recent ILO-Gallup report, based on a representative survey of 142 countries, shows that women and men alike want women to be in paid jobs, but there remain a range of challenges for women at work, including unequal pay, balancing work and family responsibilities, lack of access to affordable care and unfair treatment.

    OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría noted that “gender inequality has many roots, including flawed policies, discriminatory laws and regulations, misplaced economic incentives, workplace practices, and social norms and institutions.” He asserted that “it is in our power to make an immediate improvement in the quality of life of hundreds of millions of women and their families if we succeed in delivering equal pay for men and women.”

    The issue of equal pay remains high on the UN’s agenda. This year, the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment, released a report that focused on transformative actions needed to advance women’s economic empowerment, highlighting the importance of equal pay for work of equal value.

    The innovative work of the newly created EPIC will contribute significantly to challenging some of the main assumptions reinforcing unequal pay, which were also highlighted by the High-Level Panel and the ILO-Gallup report.

    Further information on the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) can be accessed at www.ilo.org/epic

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