News | Other | 04 February 2019

UN Women urges leaders and advocates to “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” on International Women’s Day

The United Nations’ gender equality entity puts spotlight on public services, income security, safe spaces and technology to advance progress for women and girls

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, 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 UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and other senior UN officials as well as innovation leaders and gender experts.

“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 UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We look to industry leaders, game-changing startups, 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.

“Because current trajectories show existing interventions do not suffice to achieve a planet 50-50 by 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN’s road map for a sustainable future by 2030, requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions. This is particularly true when it comes to SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, continued Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka. Immediately following International Women’s Day is the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, being held 11- 22 March 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.”