You are here: International Women's Day 2016: step it up for gender equality

8 March 2016

To mark the first International Women's Day since the agreement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNA-UK is calling on the UK Government to support UN Women's 'Step it up' initiative by making a national commitment to closing the gender equality gap.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is 'Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality'. It is focused on "building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs) by enhancing the role of women, according to UN Women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, has emphasised that "greater participation of women is an essential condition for the success of an inclusive Agenda 2030.” This requires including women in all stages of implementation, from national consultations to assessing how the SDGs are benefiting women and girls on the ground.

An exclusive article by Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka on incorporating women's rights into national development policies will soon be available in our upcoming publication: 'SDGs: the people's agenda'.

According to a UK Parliament research briefing released in February, significant progress has been made in empowering women around the world. In 2015, nearly as many girls as boys reportedly participated at all levels of education in developing regions, and the global average of maternal deaths has more than halved since 1990.

However, women still suffer from greater disadvantages than men. The briefing states that more than one third of women in the world have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, and women are still much less likely than men to hold positions of leadership in the workplace. With only 26 per cent of female company directors and 22.7 per cent of women parliamentarians, the UK could do more to set a positive example to other countries. 

Baroness Anelay, Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, has expressed the UK Government's support for stepping up commitment to closing the gender equality gap. She has spearheaded a social media campaign, calling on members of the public to share a video message on International Women's Day using the hashtag: #InMyWords. Watch the video below to find out how to take part. 

Speaking on behalf of the UK Government at the annual International Women's Day debate in the House of Lords yesterday, Baroness Evans acknowledged that "promoting women’s participation in peace processes is vital", stating that the Government is "increasing our financial support for women, peace and security activities through the new Conflict, Stability and Security Fund", which is part of a broader UK approach to building stability in fragile and conflict-affected states. 

UNA-UK welcomes the UK's efforts in pursuing gender equality both at home and abroad, but is disappointed that the UK has not yet made a national pledge to improve gender equality under the auspices of UN Women's 'Step it up' initiative. The UK should embrace the initiative as an opportunitiy to empower women both domestically and internationally.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz