The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has expressed her desire to have women’s rights be one of the focuses at the G20 development meeting in Australia. Noting the connection between income inequality and the gender gap, Mlambo-Ngcuka suggests that tackling domestic violence and legal injustices will help empower women and introduce them as employable individuals.
Recent events in Africa and the Middle East targeted against women’s education and economic potential have deterred the expansion of women’s rights and social justice. Women being threatened for attending school and being restricted to the domestic sphere has caused concern for the future financial and economic well-being of women.
The extremism in developing nations has caused a caustic backtracking of expanding both educational and professional opportunities for women. With threats of violence against them, fewer women are likely to pursue expanding personal opportunities in the face of such adversity.
With many of the G20 nations priding themselves on an ethos of gender and economic equality, Mlambo-Ngcuka views the collaborative efforts of these nations to be a jumping-off point for discussing women’s rights.
Though women’s rights are often discussed in conjunction with other economic issues, Mlambo-Ngcuka suggests that at this summit, it should be a discussion of its own. With the marginalization of women, the economic capabilities of a country are significantly hindered since only a fraction of the labor force is being employed. Women’s talents and perspectives are being dismissed in traditionally patriarchal societies and everyone is paying the economic price.
While the G20 summits focus on international development and investment, it is also the place where women’s rights has the opportunity to come to the international conscience. With many of the world’s predominant newspapers covering the summit, women’s rights and development has the potential to become one of the hot topics of the Australian meeting.
– Kristin Ronzi