From Aleta Miller, Gender Specialist, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, UNFPA
Gender equality is a human rights objective which is key to social and economic development. Empowered women are able to claim their rights and contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities and, in so doing, improve the prospects of the next generation. Despite the connection between gender equality and development, women remain far from achieving parity with men. They still suffer as a result of discrimination, violence and unequal access to education and health services. To speed up progress in this area, the international community has made gender equality one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. It has been widely acknowledged that success in achieving the other seven goals hinges on the progress made to achieve gender equality. For this reason, UNFPA seeks to incorporate gender issues into all of its programming. UNFPA’s work in the area of gender equality is firmly grounded in international human rights law and guided by major international agreements and instruments, such as the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in addition to national laws and policies.
Though gender equality is a human rights objective, many of the world’s women and girls remain far from realizing it. The denial of women’s basic human rights is persistent and widespread.
• Women often lack the autonomy to make financial decisions. Many women lack the right to own land or inherit property.
• Millions of women are subjected to violence and abuse and denied an education. Worldwide, women are twice as likely as men to be illiterate.
• Many women suffer from persistent reproductive health problems, including maternal deaths, resulting from unequal or inadequate access to health services.
• Women typically have a limited role in political decision making.
Achieving gender equality is a cornerstone of UNFPA’s work around the world. UNFPA emphasizes gender awareness in all of its activities. At the country and regional levels, UNFPA is recognized as a major UN agency in gender equality and women’s empowerment. UNFPA uses a human rights-based approach to empower people to exercise their rights, especially their reproductive rights, and to live free from discrimination.
UNFPA supports programmes aimed at giving rights holders--women, men and young people—the information, skills and education they need to claim their rights. The Fund builds the capacity of governments, teachers and others who have duties or responsibilities to fulfil rights and strengthens civil society organizations.
Related Publications: unfpa.org
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