Gender equality: executive director of UN Women visits Switzerland

Bern, 01.11.2018 - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, visited Switzerland from 29 October to 1 November 2018. Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka met with representatives of the Federal Administration, Parliament and civil society to discuss gender equality in Switzerland and worldwide. She also participated in a panel discussion co-organised by the FDFA on 'Women's Empowerment in the World of Work'.

Some 700 million women worldwide do not participate in the labour market, three times more women than men work without pay, and gainfully employed women earn 23% less than their male counterparts. The economic integration of women has the potential of boosting global GDP by 26%, an enormous increase that would significantly contribute to poverty reduction. That is why progress to ensure the economic integration of women is essential, as was recognised by all participants at a panel discussion held in Bern on the topic of 'Women's Empowerment in the World of Work'.

During the panel discussion, which was a business initiative of the FDFA, the think tank foraus and the UN, Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka laid particular stress on the role of the private sector. "The private sector can have an immediate impact on women's full and equal participation in the world of work. There is no need to break glass ceilings if employers simply remove them. The actions businesses can take include increasing women's access to financial services, ensuring equal pay for work of equal value, and implementing fair retention and promotion policies. These ultimately bring benefits to all of society." Thomas Gass, assistant director general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), stressed how important it was for Switzerland to work together with UN Women. "Our experience has shown that the best results are achieved when issues related to gender equality are considered to be part of every project," he explained. "UN Women ensures that this 'quality check' is also carried out in the UN."

During her visit to Bern, Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka also met with representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Home Affairs as well as with women MPs. She also took advantage of the opportunity to meet with members of the Federation of Swiss Women's Associations, alliance F.

In 2010, Switzerland played a major role in the founding of UN Women and has since then made a significant contribution to the agency's success. These efforts contribute long-term to stable societies and sustainable growth. As a highly globalised and economically interconnected country, Switzerland also depends on this stability for its security and prosperity. Switzerland has successfully campaigned to ensure that its own objectives in respect of gender equality and the rights of women and girls are also pursued by UN Women. For example, thanks to the efforts of UN Women, over 60 countries have passed laws strengthening the economic rights of almost 1.6 billion women.

Switzerland recognises the rights of women and girls, the central role played by women in economic growth, and also the need to protect women and girls from violence. The FDFA has embedded its longstanding commitment on this key issue in Switzerland's foreign policy with the strategy on gender equality and women's rights, which was presented in 2017. Switzerland's international engagement pursues three core objectives: women and girls live free from violence; women can participate in political processes on an equal footing with men; and women worldwide enjoy a secure income, decent work and economic independence.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Last modification 03.10.2018

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