UN Women says there's 'backlash' against equality

2013-09-13 14:04
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. (File)

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. (File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

Mlambo-Ngcuka to head UN Women

2013-07-11 09:51

Former SA Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will replace former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet as executive director of U.N. Women. Watch.WATCH

United Nations - The new head of the UN agency promoting women's rights says there is "a definite backlash" against equality for women despite some significant progress, pointing to an upsurge in violence against women and the uphill fight to escape poverty and crack the glass ceiling.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was South Africa's first female deputy president, said that 18 years after world leaders adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women at a UN conference in Beijing there are still major economic and social barriers and new crimes to confront including trafficking of women and girls and cyber bullying.

"All of those means that we do need to go back to the drawing boards and strengthen the mechanisms and options that we have to engage in the fight to advance women's equality and emancipation," she said in an interview on Wednesday.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the campaign for equality of the sexes has been dominated by women and it needs to be broadened to include boys and men as well as the private sector.

"You need men - you just cannot crack these issues without winning over men," she said. "We need to win the priests, the rabbis, the traditional chiefs" to tackle religious and cultural barriers.

UN Women was created three years ago by the General Assembly to combine four UN bodies dealing with the advancement of women under a single umbrella. Its first leader, former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, stepped down to run for president again.

Finances

As the second executive director, Mlambo-Ngcuka said she plans to take "a very collaborative approach" with the 193 UN member states, other UN offices and agencies, and civil society groups "who are crucial for success".

Bachelet's greatest success came in March when 131 conservative Muslim and Roman Catholic countries and liberal Western nations approved a UN blueprint to combat violence against women and girls.

Data from the World Health Organisation and other research has shown that an average of 40% - and up to 70% of women in some countries - face violence in their lifetimes.

Ending violence against women and girls remains a top priority for UN Women, and Mlambo-Ngcuka said she wants to take this campaign to every city in the world and mobilise local governments, non-governmental organisations, religious leaders and interested citizens to fight the scourge and create safe communities.

UN Women's other priorities include expanding women's leadership, economic empowerment and participation in peace and security efforts.

"Women's voices need to be heard in the household, on corporate boards, in peace talks, and in public institutions," Mlambo-Ngcuka told a news conference on Thursday.

"Women need equal access to education, opportunities, and to economic resources such as credit and land, and to justice," she said. "Women need to have choices and for this sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights are essential."

Access to finance for women is a big issue, Mlambo-Ngcuka said, and she will be pressing for more small loans to help women escape poverty but also for "big bucks" to help them climb the economic ladder.

"There's no reason why women should not be in the commanding heights of economy," she said, pointing to the success of women in China from rural areas and poor families who have been able to "crack the city and crack the big markets".

Looking ahead, Mlambo-Ngcuka said "the elephant in the room" is money.

In 2012, UN Women's revenue was $220m and its expenses were $235m. This year, she said the agency needs $100m to end 2013 "in a healthy way".

Mlambo-Ngcuka said one of her immediate priorities is to expand the donor base and try to tap the private sector, foundations, philanthropists and private individuals. Much greater investment is needed to "help us do things with real people in real situations" to promote equality for women," she said.

The top donor to UN Women is Norway which gave the agency over $25m in 2012.

Asked why the United States, which has the world's largest economy, was only the ninth largest contributor, at $8.3m, Mlambo-Ngcuka replied: "I don't know why but I know I intend to talk to them about it".

She said she's trying to get donors to contribute at least $15m, but the US should be able to triple that and contribute $45m.

"I'm appealing that we don't turn a blind eye to the needs of women throughout the world," Mlambo-Ngcuka said, because "there is an awakening" and women want to address the issues and improve their lives.

Read more on:    un  |  michelle bachelet  |  phumzile mlambo-ngcuka  |  gender equality

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.