Why UN Women's Work Matters More Than Ever

A woman and her child on the edge of the Gado refugee camp in Cameroon. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

This year, the Metro-NY Chapter of the USNC celebrates its 30th anniversary. We are an organization built by a diverse group of women and men of different ages, cultures, religions and socio-economic status all coming together to support a shared mission – achieving gender equality in our lifetime.

More efforts are urgently needed to change legal frameworks and to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination resulting from patriarchal attitudes and cultural norms to achieve this goal. Fortunately, there are significant initiatives and individuals stepping up to the plate to accomplish just that.

During the recent UN General Assembly, a review of the progress made on the second anniversary of the 2030 Agenda for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place. The SDGs are a global framework of 17 goals with targets and indicators that will shape government policies for the next 13 years. Our focus is standalone Goal 5:

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, focusing on equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes to help fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.

According to the Report of the UN Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” (E/2017/66), progress on Goal 5 in 2017 includes:

  • A decline child marriage. Around 2000, nearly 1 in 3 women reported that they were married before 18 years of age. Around 2015, the ratio was just over 1 in 4.

  • A decline in the harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting by 24 percent since around 2000.

  • Slow progress globally of women's participation in single or lower houses of national parliaments, which reached 23.4 percent in 2017, just 10 percentage points higher than in 2000.

  • Ongoing underrepresentation of women in managerial positions. In the majority of the 67 countries with data from 2009 to 2015, fewer than a third of senior- and middle-management positions were held by women.

UN Women initiatives, launched with the private sector designed to spearhead change, continue to build momentum. They include: the Global Innovation Coalition for Change with SAP and 22 other partners focused on leveraging innovation and technology to improve the status of women and girls; the HeforShe campaign engaging male CEOS and heads of state to support gender equality; and the Equal Pay Coalition working with diverse actors to overcome the gender pay gap.

For its part, the Metro New York Chapter will hold its 30th anniversary celebration on October 18, honoring three extraordinary individuals who are working in their respective fields to champion gender equality worldwide.

  • Erika Karp - Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Inc.  

  • Susie Ellis - Chairperson and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute

  • Jolly Amatya - Youth Advocate, Co-chair/Youth Chair, 2015-2017 Youth Assembly at the UN

We are also excited to have the participation of Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Undersecretary-General and UN Women, Executive Director, who will give the keynote address. For event details and registration click here.

As we look back at the challenges of the past 30 years, and look forward at the many opportunities before us to work with our UN partners and local community to deliver greater gender equality, we recommit ourselves to making the changes necessary for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

Diversity has become our greatest strength. In today’s divisive environment, we recognize the value of intersectional feminism and invite diverse voices, coalitions, and generations to join us in ensuring that women’s rights are not rolled back and that gender equality is advanced worldwide.

Written by Kathie Bolognese, former vice president of the Metro New York chapter of the USNC-UN Women

Mikki Brammer