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More Accountability Needed To Boost Women’s Rights

Greater Accountability Needed To Boost Women’s Rights, UN Agency Says

New York, Sep 18 2008 11:10AM

Stronger accountability measures are needed to track progress governments and multilateral organizations have made in implementing their commitments to enhancing women’s rights, according to a new report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The publication – “Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009, Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability” – says that there is a long way to go to ensuring that pledges to women’s rights are translated into changes in their lives.

In legislatures, women decision-makers are outnumbered 4 to 1, while women earn on average 17 per cent less than men do. Some one-third of women are victims of gender-based violence during their lives, and 1 in 10 women dies while pregnant despite the fact that preventing maternal mortality is relatively inexpensive.

The report points out that accountability mechanisms work best for women when they can ask for explanations, information and – when needed – compensation or investigations.

“If any man asks why I support better accountability to women, here’s my response: because a government that answers to women will answer to you, too,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The publication’s launch comes one week before world leaders converge on UN Headquarters in New York to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty goals with a 2015 deadline.

UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi said that the report “shows us that backing international commitments made to women with stronger accountability measures would bring us a lot closer to achieving the MDGs.”

She added that it not only draws attention to the obstacles that remain for gender equality to be realized in practice, “but it also draws attention to the efforts of millions of women who expose discrimination, demand redress and have changed the meaning of accountability.”

The UNIFEM study calls on multilateral aid and security institutions to step up efforts to work towards their own standards regarding gender equality, noting that organizations such as the UN have no agreed means to assess the amount of funding earmarked for women’s rights.


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