Friday 27 January kicked off the agenda at the World Economic Forum in Davos, with a series of bilateral meetings with government representatives and business groups. UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet participated in the panel, “Women as the way forward,” the first public meeting in Davos focused on women’s leadership, and moderated by Nick Kristof, columnist for The New York Times, including panelists Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand; and Desmond M. Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, peace activist of South Africa, and president of The Elders, a non-governmental organization dedicated to peace and human rights. (Photo credit: WEF). To read more on Ms. Bachelet’s latest trip to Europe »
Remarks of Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women
We know that when you invest in girls’ education, in primary and secondary education, we will see an important drop in early pregnancy and that will lead to a reduction in maternal mortality. This is important because many maternal deaths in developing countries take place when the girls are between 15 and 19 years old.
And the other thing is that higher levels of education reduce the incidence of early marriage, particularly early forced marriage, and this is important also to reduce HIV infection in girls and women.
The other thing is that we know that girls with primary education can experience increases in wages of 10 to 20 percent and one year of completed secondary school results in up to 25 percent higher wages.
We also know from the Food and Agriculture Organization that giving women farmers the same access to land, credit and other inputs would raise national agricultural yields by up to 4 percent and reduce hunger by 100 million to 150 million people.
Investing in girls and women is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do.
We need to work harder with the business community and countries to increase opportunities for women.
We have an opportunity in June to advance sustainable development. For the Rio+20 Summit, UN Women is working to bring together Heads of State to put women at the center of sustainable development.
We need men and women working together to advance women’s empowerment and equality.
Women and men have to lead together.
Early socialization is important for equality. In Chile, we did two things, first of all we provided early childhood education to have boys and girls grow up with the same values and opportunities. Second, we looked at textbooks, films and television and we always saw men as doctors or professionals and women as very sexy with short skirts, so we changed this to show men and women equal.
I believe that if women and men had the same opportunities and participation in leadership, the world would have less hunger, less poverty, and it would be more peaceful and more equal and balanced.