Friday, March 8, 2019

International Women’s Day highlights innovative ways to advance gender equality

The United Nations system in Bangkok is marking International Women’s Day (IWD) today with a series of events to drive public attention and raise awareness of gender equality and the empowerment of women under the global theme 'Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change'.
Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”, the theme for International Women’s Day 2019 explores the ways in which innovation can work to boost investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build infrastructure and public services that meet the needs of women and girls.
"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 day-care 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,” said UN Women Regional Director Anna-Karin Jatfors. "We look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists and women innovators to find the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality.”
In this vein, during CSW63, UN Women will officially launch a Guidance Series on Integrating Gender into Infrastructure Development in Asia and the Pacific, developed in partnership with UNOPS. These Guides are the first of their kind and include case studies from across the region, analysis of cost effectiveness and social returns and checklists for stakeholders, operationalising how to think equal, build smart and innovate for change.
Starting off the regional commemoration on the morning of March 8, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women organized an interactive dialogue at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok featuring representatives from government, the diplomatic community, the UN system, civil society and women’s organisations, as well as innovators and social entrepreneurs. The dialogue showcased good practices and innovative solutions that help advance gender equality in Asia and the Pacific and discussed ways in which innovation can remove barriers and drive positive changes to accelerate progress for gender equality.
“Greater access to finance and ICT tools for business development are essential,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana in her opening remarks. "Supporting scaled up investments for women entrepreneurs, including through initiatives such as the women fintech innovation fund we are working to set up, are important," she said, adding that we need both funding and technical support for companies to pilot innovative digital solutions which support women-led enterprises.
As part of the celebrations, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), UN Women and partner organisations will 'ring the bell' for gender equality to raise awareness of the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. At the event, CEO of Hong Kong at ANZ and convener of the group of women chief executives Ivy Au Yeung will share her insights regarding the true state of gender diversity in Hong Kong. In addition, Hong Kong CEO and Head of Intermediary Clients, Asia Pacific at Schroders Amy Cho will share her personal story about leading change with vital lessons on overcoming the inevitable roadblocks. She will also provide actionable tips on how to boldly defy convention, smartly embrace risks, and reinvent what is possible in one’s career path.
UN Women will also organise and support a series of events across the region:
In Nepal, UN Women will partner with UNFPA on a photo exhibition showcasing women in non-traditional jobs. The country office will also organise a panel discussion on women who have broken the glass ceiling, engaging youth networks, the government and media.
On 8 March, a women leaders’ forum will be organised in Myanmar in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, to showcase innovative solutions and provide recommendations for a road map to strengthen women’s access to economic autonomy and opportunity. 

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