Women’s Empowerment Is Central to Global Sustainability, Says New UN Report


The UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability released its report “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing, on 30 January 2011 in Addis Ababa. The 22-member panel established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010 brought renowned global leaders together to “formulate a new blueprint for a sustainable future on a planet under increasing stress resulting from human activities. It was co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma. The report contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy, and will feed into the intergovernmental processes underway, including the Rio+20 Conference.

While panel members directed the ultimate content and recommendations, UN Women provided substantive support to the panel to help ensure that gender equality and women's empowerment issues were accurately reflected in the report. The panel strongly supported gender equality and women's empowerment as fundamental to sustainable development, stating, “Persistent gender inequality in particular has to be addressed as part of any serious shift towards sustainable development.

At the launch, Co-Chair President Halonen stressed the importance of empowering women and of placing people at the centre of achieving sustainable development: “Eradication of poverty and improving equity must remain priorities for the world community, she said. “The Panel has concluded that empowering women and ensuring a greater role for them in the economy is critical for sustainable development.

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Gender equality and women's empowerment in a sustainable economy is a central theme in the report. Three recommendations in the report explicitly address gender inequality, with one specifically prioritizing women as beneficiaries. Other recommendations in thematic areas aim to address concrete needs of women, such as access to sustainable energy and modern communication, and secondary education. Recommendations explicitly targeting gender equality and women's empowerment aim to:

  • Accelerate commitments to gender equality and women's empowerment, and remove barriers to productive resources such as land, property, credit and financial services, etc.;
  • Support the rise of women leaders across sectors;
  • Advance equality and gender-sensitive policies in the workplace, with the UN Women-Global Compact initiative Women's Empowerment Principles cited as good guidance;
  • Ensure universal access to quality and affordable family-planning and other sexual and reproductive rights and health services;
  • Increase women's access to educational opportunities, especially those most relevant to a sustainable economy; and
  • Equal rights and opportunities in decision-making processes.

The full report is available at: https://www.un.org/gsp/report.