Browse by Theme: Gender Equality

Thursday 22nd September at the United Nations General Assembly was a tremendous moment for the global women’s economic empowerment agenda. Not only did Ban Ki Moon become the first Secretary General to declare himself a feminist (for which he received a rousing standing ovation), it was also the launch of the first report by the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

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We all agree that the numbers are staggering: according to the UNHCR, on average, 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier. At the last count, Greece alone was home to 57,000 displaced people, 40 per cent of them children. But on what to do and who should do it is where agreement ends and polemics begin.

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Over 40 grassroots women-led civil society organisations, human rights and humanitarian agencies have today launched a new Joint Statement on Women and Girls outlining 10 recommendations for next week’s global refugee and migrant Summits – and beyond. So what do we know about the likely Summit outcomes from a gender perspective?

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CARE’s focus on women’s economic empowerment is based on our belief in women’s rights and the key role that economic empowerment plays in the achievement of those rights, some of them inherent in economic empowerment itself and others to which economic empowerment provides a bridge. But we know that as we engage with government, donors and the private sector, it always helps to have a strong economic argument on our side, and once again the IMF have provided one.

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I am sitting in the closing plenary of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next to women first responders - civil society partners - from Syria, Somalia and Pakistan. It's been two intensive days, at times despairing, at times inspiring, in a sprawling, labyrinthine venue apparently built as a metaphor for the process. We often didn't quite know where we were going on more than one level.

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On Friday 20 May 2016, on the eve of the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, CARE International with the support of Hogan Lovells convened a business/UN/government roundtable to discuss the potential for business to empower women in emergencies. Business has played an active role in the WHS process, and a set of ‘core commitments’ on gender equality in humanitarian action has been tabled for the Summit outcomes. But these two agendas are yet to be linked. The roundtable looked at how this might happen both as part of the WHS process and beyond.

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The World Humanitarian Summit has had a rough ride over the past few months, not least from us at CARE, who have noisily demanded it engage with the need for political action and that it fully address the huge gender differences in disaster and conflict. However, to my surprise, at the end of the first day, it’s mostly achieved its aims.

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