The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Gender Dialogues: Unfinished business
Opening remarks by Grete Faremo, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNOPS at the Gender Dialogues series, Copenhagen, 1 March 2019
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Dear Excellencies, special guests and UN City personnel – Antonio Guterres said it best: “Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”
His voice is backed up by evidence from many sources.
Last year our colleagues in UN Women provided some stark numbers:
- Globally, around 15 million primary school-aged girls are out of school, compared to 10 million boys
- Women hold only 24 per cent of parliamentary seats
- The gender pay gap stands at 23 percent
- And gender-based violence remains a global pandemic
In a 2019 study, the World Bank found that women’s legal rights are equal to men in only six countries in the world.
Another report by the World Economic Forum found that, based on current trends, it will take 108 years to close the gender gap. In this report, the gap is measured across four pillars: Economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and survival.
Two key areas are highlighted to address this trend: productive dialogue and proactive implementation.
With this in mind, the organizations behind this event – UNOPS with the Embassies of Australia, Ireland and Norway – started to discuss how we could address this issue. The Gender Dialogues is an outcome of these discussions, and today is the first of three events planned over the next year. Of course, many more organizations care deeply about this case, as can be seen across the room today.
And I am glad to see so many men here today too, as partners on this journey.
I want to thank you all for your enthusiasm, and for adding your voice to the calls to address this challenge.
Because in most countries, the focus on women and girls in the SDGs is yet to turn into practice.
If we truly want to solve the world’s biggest problems, we need to work together – across issues, sectors and geographies. This is why we are here today.
I am keenly looking forward to the discussions over the coming hours, and I wish the event every success.