Press Statement by UN Women Executive Director at the OECD Ministerial Council

Date : 22 May 2012

Statement of Michelle Bachelet United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women at the press conference of the OECD Ministerial Council Tuesday, 22 May 2012.

[ Check against delivery ]

Good afternoon. I thank you for coming today, and I thank Angel Gurria of OECD, who has been a great partner in our quest for equality.

UN Women welcomes this new OECD report on gender equality in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

You have already heard the key findings from Mr. Gurria. Women have made significant advances in education but this is not paying off as much as it should in the working world. An education, a university diploma, do not guarantee women equal footing with men in society and economy.

That is why I say that we need an agenda for equality. Equality is not only a human right, it is also economically efficient.

It's statistically proven- Countries with greater gender equality have higher GNP per capita. Companies with a higher proportion of women on their management committees are the companies that have the best performance.

The case is already strong. And with this OECD report it is even stronger.

It is time to remove the disadvantages and inequalities faced by girls and women and unleash their energy, creativity and talent.

The agenda for equality is an agenda for everyone.

Today, as you have heard, less women than men are working in the formal labour market—and when they do work, they are more likely to work part-time.

Women still earn less than men for the same work and this gender wage gap increases as they climb the career ladder.

And women in OECD countries spend 2 hours more a day than men doing unpaid work at home - especially the three Cs - cooking, cleaning and childcare.

All over the world, this is the same. Women do 60 to 80 percent of all housework. Worldwide women account for 58 percent of unpaid employment.

Working women are carrying a double burden that is unfair for them to carry alone. Balancing work and family is no longer a private matter. It is a matter of public policy.

We need policies to ensure equal opportunity, equal rights and equal work for equal pay. And we need policies to help working parents balance work and family responsibilities.

There is an urgent need for quality affordable daycare centers, equal parental leave for both mothers and fathers, and flexible working hours.

Policies need to respond to realities—to the real lives of women, men and children.

For me political participation is the other key ingredient , along with economic empowerment, that will determine whether or not we can move to equality. UN Women is placing special emphasis on these two priorities this year.

Fully including women in leadership positions advances sound and responsive decision-making.

Today there are 192 member States of the United Nations. Yet there are only 19 women heads of Government. That is less than one in 10. Why is that so?

In parliaments, less than one of five members worldwide are women.

Only 31 countries have a parliamentary representation of women of 30 percent, considered a critical mass.

Of these, 24 countries used temporary special measures such as quotas.

In politics, we need equality, and Governments should lead by example.

When I was President of Chile, I appointed equal numbers of men and women Ministers.

So, I truly congratulate France for gender parity in the new Cabinet!

I encourage every country to use special temporary measures, such as quotas, to achieve gender balance and parity in parliament and public office and the private sector.

Advancing women's rights is not some self-serving agenda of activist women. It is a necessity if we are serious about equality, and healthy and inclusive economies and societies. This is what we owe to current and future generations.

More on the Gender Initiative : http://www.oecd.org/document/31/0,3746,en_2649_34819_47860895_1_1_1_1,00.html

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