On line Submisison for the High Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Vision, Investment, Implementation  –   Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women 

The persistence of gender inequality is the greatest contributing factor to girls and women’s disempowerment as is witnessed in the ‘feminization of poverty’, the increasing feminization of migration and increased trafficking of girls and women.     Resolution E/CN.6/2010/L.5 adopted at the end of the Commission of the Status of Women, Fifty fourth Session ‘expressed deep concern ‘about the increasing feminization of poverty’ and that ‘women’s economic empowerment is constrained by gender inequalities and disparities in economic power sharing…’ [1]   Further  noted was ‘the growing body of evidence demonstrating that investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth and that increasing women’s economic empowerment is central to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals including to the eradication of poverty.’[2]

What is stifling our action if we recognize the negative reality before us and have some awareness of the solution?  Could it be that we have lost sight of the higher ideals set out in the Millennium Declaration ‘to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.” [3]

We suggest that addressing the evidence of girls and women’s disempowerment solely through the lens of economics is actually losing sight of the higher ideals of gender equality.  What is demanded is a vision of the transformation of social relations and in this transformation the norms of equality and social solidarity will prevail. 

As long as girls and women continue to live in a world where they are oppressed in cultures based on power, male privilege, male dominance and patriarchy, there will be a continual erosion of human rights and the perpetuation of gender discrimination and inequality expressed in increasing levels of poverty, gender based violence, and human trafficking.   Gender equality and equitable power relations must be experienced by all persons – both women and men for change to occur.  The human rights of each person as called for in the UN Charter must be respected.   When this happens the political will to allocate resources becomes imperative.   Concrete actions must be taken to bring about this transformation.  

  • Implement coherent human rights based national policies that explicitly denounce gender inequality and its perpetuation as a violation of girl’s and women’s human rights.
  • Strengthen community educational programs that address gender inequality, patriarchy  and male privilege and have zero tolerance for any form of gender discrimination
  • Enforce  existing laws relating to gender based violence – domestic violence, discrimination, sexual exploitation, prostitution and human trafficking  
  • Adopt a holistic approach to women’s empowerment that links social policies and economics, informal and formal economies as well as unpaid and paid work. 
  • Continue to invest in girls and women through social expenditure in education and health.
  • Finance immediately and implement the Millennium Development Goals in every country without exception.    


[1] E/CN.6/2010/L.5   page 2

[2] E/CN.6/2010/L.5   page 2

[3] UN Millennium Declaration  No 20

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