Press Release:-Monday, March 13th, 2017 saw the participation of Saint Lucia’s Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Honourable Doctor Gale Rigobert, in the opening session of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations, the largest inter-governmental forum on women’s rights and gender equality and the second largest high-level meeting of the United Nations. The two-week long meeting, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and attended by high-level government ministers, civil society organizations and private sector and UN officials has as this year’s theme “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work”.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, in her opening statement to the gathering urged for ‘constructive impatience’ on the part of all engaged in this fight for gender equality. According to Mlambo-Ngcuka:
“Currently, in the gender equality agenda, we see progress in some areas, but we also see an erosion of gains. The much-needed positive developments are not happening fast enough. We also need to work together to make sure we reach a tipping point in the numbers of lives changed.”
The Executive Director of UN Women highlighted the key areas still needing improvement globally, in particular the under-representation of women in decision making at all levels; the myriad of laws in more than 150 countries discriminating against women; stereotypes, norms and practices which discriminate against women and girls and deny women career paths on par with men; global pay gap of on average 23% with women consistently earning less than men; and finally, gaps in access to technology, with an estimated 200 million fewer women online than men.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also contributed to the discussions noting that with men still dominating even in countries that consider themselves progressive, the world needed more women leaders and more men standing up for gender equality.
“It is true, I am a man, but we need all men to stand up for women’s empowerment. Our world needs more women leaders. And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality,” Mr. Guterres told the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) at its opening session on Monday.
“We are all better off when we open doors of opportunity for women and girls: in classrooms and boardrooms, in military ranks and at peace talks, in all aspects of productive life,” he said.
Saint Lucia, for decades, has consciously and positively engaged in the fight for gender equality and engaged in a number of measures in this regard.
Fully dedicated to the purpose, Dr. Rigobert has committed to quadrupling her efforts to reviewing existing legislation that speaks to the rights and freedoms of women and girls in particular, and to enacting new legislation that will help to cure some of the institutional and structural barriers to achieving gender equality and parity, following this year’s CSW.
The meetings are scheduled to end on March 24, 2017.