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‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’ on International Women’s Day

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By Caroline Mwanga

NEW YORK (IDN) – UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has stressed the need for “transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions” to achieve gender equality, as envisaged in Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the road map for a sustainable future by 2030.

“Current trajectories show existing interventions do not suffice,” she said ahead of the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019, at which UN Women is celebrating its 2019 theme of “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, along with hosting hundreds of festivities around the world through the organization’s global network.

An official commemoration event is also being held at the UN Headquarters in New York that features Mlambo-Ngcuka along with the world body’s Secretary-General António Guterres, UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, and Geraldine Byrne Nason, Chair, 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women,

Others include: Venus Ilagan, Secretary-General of Rehabilitation International; Ellen Ochoa, Veteran Astronaut and Former Director, Johnson Space Centre; Lorraine Twohill, Chief Marketing Officer, Google; Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO, Build Change; and Kiara Nirghin, Student, Scientist and Innovator.

As part of a panel discussion on innovation and women’s empowerment, Google is premiering the trailer of a new four-part virtual reality series about women’s rights activists around the world. The four films, produced by Google in collaboration with UN Women, are set to debut on International Women’s Day both online and in a multimedia exhibit at the UN headquarters.

The event also features musical performances by Drew Olivia Tillman, Indira Mahajan, Everett Suttle and Broadway singers.

“When we approach planning with an innovative, ‘think equal’ mindset that takes the needs of women and girls into account right from inception, it is remarkable how different those plans can look, whether it is urban planning that designs for commuter safety, rural daycare centres that offer workers positive solutions for childcare, or the use of biometrics as ID to replace formal registration documents that many women may not have or control,” commented Mlambo-Ngcuka.

“We look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists and women innovators to find the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality,” she said.

UN Women research indicates that 740 million women currently make their living in the informal economy with limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security.

For example, women do 2.6 times more unpaid care and domestic work than men, with only 41 per cent of the world’s mothers with newborns receiving maternity benefits. One in three women are likely to face violence in their lifetimes, yet public services, urban planning and transport systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind. Therefore, this year’s focus brings innovation to the centre stage and leverages it for gender equality and women’s empowerment globally.

Immediately following International Women’s Day is the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, being held March 11-22 and focusing its priority theme on “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 March 2019]

Image credit: UN Women

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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