“Womenomics” in Japan an example to other nations – Executive Director

Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the opening session of the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo, Japan on 13 September 2014.

Date: Saturday, September 13, 2014

Prime Minister,

Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here at the World Assembly for Women!

Prime Minister Abe and the Government of Japan, thank you for hosting us and for your pledge to create a society where women shine.

In the last two years we have watched with intense excitement the unfolding of womenomics, which was defined by Prime Minister Abe in 2013 at the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly as “a theory which asserts that the more the advance of women in society is promoted, the higher the growth rate becomes.” I repeat: “The more the advance of women in society is promoted, the higher the growth rate becomes.”

If just half the nations of the world believed and practised womenomics, what a different world this would be. 

How different and better nations and communities would be.

This is what they did not teach our students in business schools. Our education system, economists, planners in governments and private practice are yet to teach in a way that CEOs and shareholders make money and create a sustainable world.

It has taken champions of women and people’s rights, and the UNDP’s ground-breaking Human  Development Report, to call for an economic order whose value is not measured by GDP growth only, but measured by the reduction of inequalities and an equitably improved quality of life of its people.

It has taken an International Monetary Fund that is led by Christine Lagarde to educate many of us that gender equality in labour-force participation in Japan would increase the country’s GDP by a dramatic nine per cent.

It has taken you, Mr. Prime Minister, to take this a step further to make it part of the Japanese macroeconomic discourse, and to put it into practice.

“Womenomics” is backed by strong evidence. 

The Government of Norway tells us that their high quality of life is largely due to their deeply entrenched gender equality policies and practice, not their oil.

Support for greater participation of women in the labour-market, state childcare support, shared parental responsibilities by men and women — these seemingly small things, coupled with a leader who will lead from the front as we see here, is a game changer.     

It is the stuff the additional nine per cent of growth is made of.

When you succeed in Japan in the implementation of womenomics, you give many nations hope and the example of best practice.

Your success will boost the work of UN Women.

You can, and must, help business schools to revisit some of what they teach in macroeconomics. They must teach womenomics, and about the gender gap, everywhere in the world.

That will be a victory for the women of the world.

I want to congratulate you for the appointment of five women in the Cabinet into significant positions, and much more.

Thank you for the increased financial support to UN Women.

Thank you for being the Chair of Friends of UN Women, for your team in the mission in New York and for those in Tokyo providing support.

Thank you for the investment you have made in women, peace and security. This is an area in which UN Women is working very hard. Sadly, our work is growing there. We continue in Nigeria to support the campaign to bring back the girls. We support and work with women in Syria, in South Sudan, in Central African Republic, in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan.     

Lastly, we are glad to announce the opening of our office in Japan, located in Bunkyo-ku city.  Thank you for the support of the mayor and for all the help from the team of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Once again, I thank Prime Minister Abe and the Government of Japan and I look forward to working together to create a society — and a world — where women shine.