March 8th marked International Women’s Day. UN staffers drew upon the event to call attention to pressing issues affecting women and girls around the world.
Some of the most popular tweets this month were from members of the UN Social 500 leaderboard with big followings- like UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, who currently occupies the top spot on the leaderboard. Clark commemorated International Women’s Day by issuing a statement calling attention to the disproportionate amount of unpaid work that women perform in households around the world.
— Helen Clark (@HelenClarkUNDP) March 7, 2017
This unpaid work – from caring for children to gathering water and fuel- can limit women’s ability to attend school and find full-waged jobs with an employer. And for women that do have these jobs, they earn 24% less than men on average. Clark’s statement references the UN Women campaign Planet 50-50 by 2030, which seeks to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 as part of the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Phumzile Mlambo, Executive Director of UN Women, also issued a statement and video message calling attention to the “unchanging world of unrewarded work” which puts women’s lives on a very different trajectory than those of the men they live with. Mlambo called for changes in the home and in school, from adjustments to educational curricula to a different approach to advertising and entertainment.
— Phumzile Mlambo (@phumzileunwomen) March 7, 2017
She also pointed out that gender equality often intersects with issues of race, ethnicity, age and disability, which can further disadvantage women. For instance, elderly women in the European Union are 37% more likely to live in poverty than men of the same age. And compare the 24% average gender wage gap to the 40% gender wage gap for African American women in the United States.
Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director at the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), also commemorated International Women’s Day with a special video message, reminding his followers that gender empowerment is key to reducing poverty. He also used the hashtag #CSW61, which refers to the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This intergovernmental body is dedicated to the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality. The priority theme of the 61st session, held at UN Headquarters in New York from March 13-24 of this year, was women’s economic empowerment in the “changing world of work”, with a special focus on the empowerment of indigenous women.
To remind us of what is all at stake here, Ludo Bok, a team leader at UNDP focused on HIV and sustainability, shared a series of photos of girls going to school around the world, many of them taking risks to their safety and security to get an education. International Women’s Day reminds us of how much we owe these future women of the world.
— Ludo Bok (@ludobok) March 13, 2017
Join us next month as we explore the social media activity and campaigns that helped share the work of the UN with the public. And for those of you in the northern hemisphere, Happy Spring!