Business for Gender Equality | Susan McDade

21 Nov 2016

image Photo: UNDP Panama

The 2030 Agenda gives us a road map to build the world we want, leaving no one behind. Gender equality is crucial to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as a fundamental human right driving progress for all the other goals. Empowering women and girls has a multiplier effect and that contributes to promoting economic growth and development around the world. In partnership with the private sector and governments, we must work together to close gender gaps and eliminate structural barriers that impede women’s empowerment. There have already been some extraordinary advances. However, we still have a long way to go. Despite the increasing number of women engaging in paid work, on average, they earn 24 percent less than men. Women are also less likely to have access to decent work, property and formal credit. Labour force participation is also lower for women than for men. In 2015, 72 percent of working-age (15 and older) men were employed, compared with only 47 percent of women. Globally, women hold only 22 percent of senior leadership positions, and 32 percent of businesses have no female senior managers. The situation in Latin America and the Caribbean is not far from this reality. Women do 75  Read More

Engaging the private sector in advancing gender equality at work | Helen Clark

18 Nov 2016

image Photo: UNDP

Globally, young women and men entering the labour force today have nearly the same level of educational qualifications. But they often don't face equal opportunities in the world of work. Women earn, on average, 24 percent less than men. In S&P 500 companies, women hold only 4.6 percent of CEO positions and take under 20 percent of board seats. Yet research suggests that increasing the proportion of women on boards of directors is linked to better financial results and higher levels of corporate philanthropy. In rich and poor countries alike, women carry a disproportionate burden of unpaid work – for example, caring for young, elderly, sick and/or disabled family members; and in obtaining and preparing food. These tasks not only demand substantial time and energy but also can prevent women from fulfilling their aspirations and deprive economies of women’s full talents and contributions. Women’s equality in the workplace is a critical component of gender equality and sustainable development. It would not only improve the prospects of millions of women, but would also have a profound impact on the development of countries. The World Economic Forum’s recently released Gender Gap Report 2016 called for businesses to “prioritize gender equality as a critical talent and moral imperative”.  Read More

Twenty years with Cuba for non-discrimination | Jessica Faieta

17 Nov 2016

image Photo: UNDP Cuba / Mayrilian Acosta

During the years that I lived and worked in Cuba, I have been able to witness firsthand how this vibrant society has worked to break down the stigmas and fight against discrimination. One of the leaders of this fight against homophobia since the 90’s is Mariela Castro. Director of the National Institute for Sexual Education - CENESEX, she has become a true icon for the LGTBI community in Cuba. This week, UNDP and the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the UN held a special screening of the HBO Documentary Film Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution. The 40-minute film follows Mariela as she champions for the rights of Cuba’s LGBTI community. As we saw in the documentary, her work is not limited to social mobilization. Through CENESEX, Mariela Castro has been able to work and provide support to this community in multiple areas such as psychological, educational and labor, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable population, the Trans-gender. UNDP in Cuba has a long history of working with LGBTI organizations. We have supported the national response to HIV since 1998 in close collaboration with national institutions and volunteer networks. These networks are integrated by people living with HIV, young people,  Read More

Latin America and the Caribbean at the forefront of climate action l Matilde Mordt

28 Oct 2016

image Many Latin American and the Caribbean countries will concentrate their climate actions in the agriculture sector, one of the main sources of emissions in the region. Photo: UNDP Cuba

Latin American and Caribbean countries have long been at the forefront in climate negotiations and have demonstrated their commitment to taking action. The region is diverse and hosts some of the top 10 global greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, such as Brazil and Mexico, as well as Small Island Developing States, which are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Together, the region has put forward a wide array of proposals for action, ranging from reforestation to renewable energy to climate adaptation. Not only are they varied, but they are ambitious. An analysis undertaken by UNDP of the cornerstones of the Paris Agreement - the Nationally Determined Contributions- shows that the commitment in the region is indeed strong. As of 21 October 2016, the 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (out of 33) that acceded to the Agreement have also signed it; 19 of them have submitted their instruments of ratification; and 18 of these have indicated that their previously “intended” contributions will now become formal climate targets, or NDCs. The remaining country, Argentina, is reviewing its intended contribution “with a view to making it more ambitious,” in the words of the Argentinian Secretary of Climate Change. This is good news, as  Read More

"Are you okay? What are you doing for Haiti?" l Rita Sciarra

10 Oct 2016

image In Jeremie, 90 per cent of the houses are destroyed. Photo: UNDP

Today in Port au Prince and throughout the island, the sun is shining. When looking at such a blue sky, I wonder at how great the force of nature is that, in less than 36 hours, it can come and destroy everything, as Matthew did last Monday throughout southern Haiti. It was impossible to imagine in the quiet of the night before its arrival or in the colour of the sky today that it could have had such devastating consequences.  Thoughts are running through my head between receiving the latest data from my colleagues from the Emergency Centre for Civil Protection, and combining ideas to urgently intervene and help the populations of the Departments of Nippes, South and Grande Anse.  I do not have much time and I’m concentrating. I am thinking about my last training on emergency situations, my past experiences, in theory and practice. Together with the Directors of the office and other colleagues, we try to come up with, in a few words, our strategy for working on Haiti’s recovery in order build a bridge to development right from the first emergency interventions.  In Jeremie, 90 per cent of the houses are destroyed. The roofs have blown away  Read More

Gender equality, progress for all | Arnaud Peral and María Carolina Melo

30 Sep 2016

image Gender equality means recognizing that men and women are different, in terms of needs and peculiarities. Photo: UNDP Colombia

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed that "equality for women is progress for all". Furthermore, it is an accelerator to achieve all the goals set in 2030 Agenda, from reducing poverty to sustainable economic growth. However, its position in the corporate level has been slow, because it is perceived as an ethereal matter and altruistic character that does not generate clear economic dividends for companies. When we talk about equality between men and women, we refer to things as basic as equal pay for equal work; equitable opportunities for job advancement (which recognize the diverse needs of women and men); the balance between work and personal life, and equal representation in decision-making positions. These are currently multiple tools to implement equality within organizations and women have shown, over and over, that they have the same capabilities as men to work successfully on any task. Moreover, companies that are betting on the active participation of women at all levels have reported significant internal and external benefits. So, why do so many gender gaps persist? Why do we still have, in many countries, wage differences beyond 20 percent? And why do female unemployment is two to three times higher than among men, even in  Read More

A historic day in Colombia | Martín Santiago

26 Sep 2016

image The Peace Agreement by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP that will be signed today is of great significance for Colombia and for the world. Photo: UNDP Colombia

Betsaida and her family abandoned their home and a small business in the port of Tumaco, in the Pacific of Colombia, and were forced to follow the road that more than 7 million displaced Colombians have as a result of the armed conflict. Their story, and that of millions of victims of the war, is at the heart of what the United Nations Organization is and does.  Seventy-one years after its creation, the universal aspiration to end war, reaffirm the fundamental human rights and promote social progress is latent and more crucial than ever.     Despite the progress we have made in the last quarter of the century, in which we achieved a significant reduction of armed conflicts, we have witnessed serious setbacks in the last four years: the number of civil wars and attacks by governments and armed groups against civilians have increased for the first time since 2005.   More than fifty million people, the highest number recorded in history, have been uprooted from their homes around the world as a result of armed conflicts. In the face of adversity by human tragedies, the Peace Agreement by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP that will be signed today is  Read More

Caribbean: Rethinking progress in the sustainable development era | Jessica Faieta

19 Sep 2016

image For the Caribbean “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. Photo: Carolina Azevedo / UNDP

Caribbean countries make a special case for development. The high and increasing exposure to hazards, combined with very open and trade-dependent economies with limited diversification and competitiveness portray a structurally and environmentally vulnerable region, composed, in the most part, of middle income countries. As these countries start implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are calling for a new notion of progress. Our UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Caribbean titled “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched this week in Barbados with top regional authorities makes the case for a new generation of public policies to boost resilience and increase gains in the economic, social and environmental fronts, including peace and justice. For the Caribbean this “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. It means breaking through structural obstacles that hinder growth and people’s well-being—beyond the traditional measurements of living above or below a poverty line. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens the environment can be considered progress. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for the Caribbean. After decades of persistent and volatile low growth, human vulnerability has increased. Most CARICOM countries’ Human Development  Read More

2030 Agenda: Recognition for indigenous peoples, a challenge for governments | Álvaro Pop

09 Aug 2016

image According to figures from ECLAC, there are more than 800 indigenous peoples in Latin America, with a population of about 45 million. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without recognizing that we live in multicultural societies. With this in mind, upholding the rights of indigenous peoples becomes a necessary imperative. Respect for indigenous peoples’ rights opens the door to enormous opportunities for advancing the SDGs. Their capacity to further develop their own systems of education, health, justice and traditional food will strengthen each country’s efforts and investments. There are more than 300 million indigenous people in the world, speaking more than five thousand languages and keeping their heritage alive. This is the true wealth of humankind. Indigenous peoples have suffered and survived holocausts over the past 500 years and more. They are the guardians of knowledge about the plants and animals that surround us; they have understood the cycles of nature in constant, mutually-respectful dialogue with Mother Earth. They have cared for more than 60 percent of the world’s water-producing forests. Today, from the core of our communities, we call on everyone to work for new and better ways of producing wealth for the benefit of all. The SDGs are the agenda of the present, safeguarding the future of humanity. Indigenous peoples take pride that their age-old struggle is reflected in it. Thus, an  Read More

Opportunity in tragedy: A reflection on the Ecuador earthquake | Jeannette Fernandez

14 Jul 2016

image For all its devastating impacts, the recent earthquake could open up opportunities for Ecuador's most vulnerable communities. Photo: Jeannette Fernandez Castro

With a risk-informed approach to earthquake recovery, two of Ecuador’s vulnerable and exposed regions can not only protect against future disasters, but ensure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. I took this picture in Muisne, one of the most beautiful towns in Ecuador, my home country.  Muisne is in the Province of Esmeraldas, in the northwest of the country and is, I feel, home to our best soccer players, the best “marimba” music, the best dancers and the best seafood. For all of its promise, however, the region is challenged by poverty and is exposed to natural hazards, vulnerabilities that hold back social and economic growth. This vulnerability was evident in April 2016 when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit this province as well as five others (including Manabí, where the biggest impact occurred), producing large-scale devastation. Housing and infrastructure were the most affected, with over 30,000 homes and 875 schools lost across all six provinces. While understandable, this loss of infrastructure – and related loss of lives and livelihoods – should not occur in the future. We have the ability to build better and stronger. This is especially important in earthquake zones and even more so in regions going through recovery.  Read More