Helen Clark Statement on International Women’s Day

Mar 8, 2017

This year, International Women’s Day is devoted to Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030. Globalization and technology change are driving that change. It’s important that women are able to succeed in this new world of work.

As it is, a global wage gap persists, with women earning on average 24 per cent less than men. Women are only half as likely as men to have full-time waged jobs with an employer. Women are over-represented in vulnerable and informal work, often without social protection, and are under-represented in management in the corporate sector, holding only 22 per cent of senior business leadership positions.

A disproportionate load of unpaid work is a constraint on women in the workforce. Women are estimated to do as much as three times as much unpaid work as men do – from caring for children, the ill, and the elderly to growing and preparing food.

In communities lacking ready access to basic services, investments in water and sustainable energy would save women the time they currently spend gathering water and fuel. Changing gender stereotypes so that both men and women contribute to care work is also important in achieving gender equality.

Access to new technologies is important for women in all societies – for access to information and to services, including for banking. Girls should be encouraged to study science, technology, engineering and maths, subjects which open up many opportunities, and more corporate effort is needed to promote women’s participation and advancement in the technology sectors.    

In the 173 economies covered in the World Bank’s 2016 report on Women, Business and the Law, 155 have at least one law which discriminates against women. There are still countries where women do not have the right to divorce, inherit property, own or rent land, or access credit. This is a huge constraint on women’s economic empowerment.

The time is now to resolve to clear away the barriers to gender equality in the world of work and all other spheres. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development urges that no one be left behind. That means leaving no woman behind – anywhere.

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