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On International Women’s Day, UN Women calls for the world to “Invest in Women, Accelerate Progress” as the best way to accelerate economic growth and build more prosperous, equitable societies.

This is particularly urgent when war and crisis are eroding the achievements of decades of investments in gender equality. From the Middle East to Haiti, Sudan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, women pay the biggest price for conflicts that are not of their making. The need for peace has never been more urgent.

Climate change is accelerating persistent poverty gaps. As competition for scarce resources intensifies, livelihoods are threatened, societies become more polarized, and women bear an increasingly heavy burden:

 ·  1 in every 10 women in the world lives in extreme poverty.

·  The number of women and girls living in conflict-affected areas doubled since 2017, now, more than 614 million women and girls live in conflict-affected areas. In conflict areas, women are 7.7 times more likely to live in extreme poverty.

·  Climate change is set to leave 236 million more women and girls hungry by 2030, twice as many as men (131 million).

·  At prime working age, only 61 percent of women are in the labour force versus 90 percent of men.

We cannot continue to miss out on the gender-equality dividend. More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments prioritized education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanded social benefits.

Almost 300 million jobs could be created by 2035 through investments in care services, such as provision of daycare and elderly care. And closing gender employment gaps could boost gross domestic product per capita by 20 percent across all regions.

The current reality is far from this.  Programmes dedicated to gender equality represent only 4 percent of official development assistance. An additional USD 360 billion in developing countries is needed per year to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is less than one-fifth of the USD 2.2 trillion spent globally on military expenditure in 2022, for example.

The areas needing investment are clear and understood. First and foremost there must be an investment in peace. Beyond this, the investments needed include: laws and policies that advance the rights of women and girls; transformation of social norms that pose barriers to gender equality; guaranteeing women’s access to land, property, health care, education, and decent work; and financing women’s groups networks at all levels.

UN Women is also calling on Member States at the Commission on the Status of Women, starting in New York on 11 March 2024, to back up their commitments on gender equality with resources.  The world’s leaders have this opportunity to develop concrete and progressive agreed conclusions that reflect the crucial need for financing gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women´s organizations. They must seize it for the sake of equality, our planet, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s theme – invest in women – reminds us that ending the patriarchy requires money on the table. We must support women’s organisations on the front line. Antonio Guterres. -UN Secretary General

It is only by investing in women and girls that we will meet the challenges we face, be they economic-, conflict- or climate-related. When more women are economically empowered, economies grow. – Sima Bahous -UN Women Executive Director

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