Speech: “Your leadership and commitment are critical to ensuring a successful outcome of CSW61”—Lakshmi Puri

Opening remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the Multi-Stakeholder Forum on “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work” on 30 January.


Excellencies, distinguished Delegates, leaders from civil society, colleagues and friends,

I welcome you to UN Women’s Multi-Stakeholder Forum devoted to the priority theme of the upcoming sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) on “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.” We are heartened to once again see such a high level of interest and participation.

At the outset, allow me to thank the many distinguished Permanent Representatives for accepting our invitation to contribute as moderators and panelists, and the experts in attendance who we hope will participate in the discussion from the floor.

I also thank civil society leaders and colleagues from the UN system especially our partner ILO, who have joined us today. Together, we can bring about real progress for all women and girls in this critical area of gender equality and women’s empowerment—namely women’s economic empowerment through and in relation to decent work and full and productive employment in a changing context.

An important conjunction in the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment and women's human rights is that in the last two years the international community adopted a historic gender equality and women’s empowerment Global Compact—Beijing+ 20 and 2030 Agenda which prioritized the Achievement not only the promotion of Gender equality and the empowering of all women and girls as SDG 5, included gender equality and women’s empowerment targets in 11 SDGs and vowed to integrate it systematically in the implementation of all of 2030 Agenda 2030. The Climate Change Agreement, New Urban Agenda, Declaration on Migrants and Refugees also did the same.

In ensuring the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action we need to give effect to the its six strategic objectives in the Critical area of concern - Women in the Economy. It is necessary to focus on the promotion of economic rights and independence dimension, from both the demand side—the enabling environment of labour market and public and corporate sector policies and conditions and the supply side—how women including young women and girls are supported and the value chain from education to skills and capacity development and decent work and full and productive employment is fostered purposively. 

As regards to 2030 Agenda, it's now about the normative of implementation - how do we implement different parts of the compact and how do we follow up and monitor the implementation. The CSW is a premier intergovernmental forum for doing that including in support of the HLPF Global Review. And women's economic empowerment is a crucial means of implementation also highlighted in the Financing for Development outcome of Addis Ababa.

SDG 5a commits Member States to " undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources as well as equal access, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources"; and SDG 5b calls on enhance the use of enabling technology particularly ICT to promote the empowerment of women.

Women’s economic empowerment is an indispensable enabler for the achievement of six targets of the elimination of violence against women; ending harmful practices; achieving equal participation and leadership in decision making in public, political and economic life; valuing, redistributing and provisioning unpaid care work and domestic work and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. Women’s economic empowerment is also enabled by the achievement of these targets.

During the sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Member States adopted an action-oriented Agreed Conclusions on “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development” that reaffirmed commitment to accelerating implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and established a definitive roadmap for gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Commission affirmed that women’s equal economic rights, economic empowerment and independence are essential to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Further, women’s equal opportunities for full and productive employment and decent work, and equal pay for equal work or work of equal value are key challenges to the full integration of women into the formal economy.

The Commission also called for action to promote women’s right to work and also their rights at work. There is a clear recognition that Women’s economic empowerment requires enhanced interventions to tackle persistent gender inequalities and gaps in the world of work, including adoption and implementation of gender-responsive policies and programmes that protect women against discrimination and abuse in the workplace.

The Commission’s decision to consider for the first time the priority theme of “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work” is an opportunity to provide concrete, practical and action-oriented recommendations. They cover significant new ground, on overcoming structural barriers to gender equality, gender-based discrimination and violence against women at work.

There is a dynamic new element of assessing how the world of work is changing due to technology and other factors and whether women can be enabled to leapfrog beneficially into this new context and not be adversely affected and left behind.

This forward looking agenda presents also a historic opportunity to promote further thegender-responsive implementation the 2030 Agenda, in particular Goals 1 and 8, on ending poverty, promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Thus, the outcomes of the discussions ahead of us will make a significant contribution to the implementation of agenda 2030 itself.

All the actions we take from here onwards will be a significant contribution towards the next milestone in 2020 when the UN will commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and five years of gender-responsive implementation of 2030 Agenda. The implementation of the Women's Economic Empowerment in a Changing World of Work Global Action Plan that we hope you will agree on at the CSW will ensure whether we are on track in 2020 to achieve a planet 50-50 in the world of work by 2030.

As you engage in the formulation and strengthening of global policy guidance on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, UN-Women remains ready to support you through our intergovernmental normative work, advocacy and movement building, data and knowledge hub generation, strategic partnerships with governments, corporate and CSO sectors and key Flagship programs on the ground that together will move the needle on this universal agenda.

Objectives of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum

Today’s Multi-Stakeholder Forum is aimed at providing an opportunity for Member States and other stakeholders to start focusing on the key issues that will come up at the sixty-first session, to strengthen partnerships and help create an environment that will be conducive to a substantively strong session with solid consensus. I hope that our dialogue today will lay a fertile ground for a successful session in March.

In line with past practice, various regions are also converging to prepare for CSW61. The Africa consultation hosted by ECA, African Union Commission and UN-Women just concluded last week in Addis Ababa. For Latin America and the Caribbean, ECLAC and UN-Women are hosting a preparatory meeting in Panama on 6-8 February. On 7 February, the Government of Bahrain is hosting the regional preparatory meeting for Arab States co-organized by UN-Women and the League of Arab States. Asia-Pacific will hold an event later in February, co-organized by ESCAP, UN-Women and the UN System’s Regional Coordination Mechanism.

We have also drawn upon the work of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment which presented the first part of its report in September 2016 and will be presenting the second part of the report on the occasion of CSW61.


After this brief opening session, we will proceed with discussion in four panels as detailed in the programme circulated. The topics of the panels are also addressed in the Secretary-General’s report on the priority theme, which is available on the CSW61 website.

  • The first panel will look at normative and legal frameworks as well as measures to address structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment;
  • The second panel will address women’s leadership and participation, and their equal representation in decision-making positions at work and in leadership positions in trade unions, worker and employer organizations and corporate boards;
  • In the third panel, we will look at what economic and social policies need to be in place and implemented to promote women’s economic empowerment;
  • The fourth and final panel will look at how to ensure that the changing world of work characterized by the growing informality of work, technological change and mobility of labor, expands opportunities for women.

After the panel discussions have concluded, I will capture the main conclusions from our discussions during the wrap-up session at 5:30 p.m.

I encourage all panelists and discussants from the floor to highlight key areas for implementation and commit to further action. Your leadership and commitment is critical to ensuring a successful outcome of CSW61 that will be instrumental in the accelerated implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the SDGs, and have a direct impact on the lives of women and girls.

Thank you once again for your being here today and, most importantly, for your commitment. I look forward to rich discussions.