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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Gender equality and women’s empowerment


Since its creation 70 years ago, the UN has achieved important results in advancing gender equality, from the establishment of the Commission on the Status of Women - the main global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women - through the adoption of various landmark agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

On the occasion of the General Debate of the 66th Session of the General Assembly held in September 2011, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON highlighted in his Report “We the Peoples”, the crucial role of gender equality as driver of development progress, recognizing that the potential of women had not been fully realized, owing to, inter alia, persistent social, economic and political inequalities.

Gender inequalities are still deep-rooted in every society. Women suffer from lack of access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. In many situations, they are denied access to basic education and health care and are victims of violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making processes.

With the aim of better addressing these challenges and to identify a single recognized driver to lead and coordinate UN activities on gender equality issues, UN Women was established in 2010.

UN Women works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls, empowerment of women, and achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.

The vital role of women and the need for their full and equal participation and leadership in all areas of sustainable development was reaffirmed in the Future We Want (paragraph 236-244), as well as in the Open Working Group Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals. Open Working Group Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals. The proposed Sustainable Development Goal 5 addresses this and reads "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".

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Title Category Date Sort ascending
Ms. Mervat Kamal Batarseh, Head of Environmental Education Section, Royal Society… Session 6 10-May-2018
Mr. Zafar Adeel, Professor of Professional Practice, Pacific Water Research Center,… Session 7 10-May-2018
Ms. Soumaya Ibrahim, Independent Consultant on Gender and Development, Egypt Session 3 9-May-2018
Ms. Nedjma Koval Saifi, Founding Partner and CEO, Integrated International, Jordan Session 2 9-May-2018
Mr. Osman Hussein Abubaker, General Director, Almassar Organization, Sudan Session 2 9-May-2018
Ms. Ghada Alamily, General Director, Almada Group for Media, Culture and Arts, Iraq Session 1 9-May-2018
Mr. Zafar Adeel, Professor of Professional Practice, Pacific Water Research Center, Simon… Opening Session 9-May-2018
Mr. François Münger, Director, Geneva Water Hub, Switzerland Session 5 9-May-2018
2. Experiences of two Syrian women WASH volunteers in informal settlements in the… Session 4 9-May-2018
Ms. Diala Ktaiche, WASH Officer, Public Health Promotion, United Nations Children’s… Session 4 9-May-2018
Ms. Suheir Raies, Head, Syria Coast Society for Environment Protection, Syrian Arab… Session 3 9-May-2018
Ms. Maria Saldarriaga, Assistant Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics and… Session 3 9-May-2018
Ms. Karen Assaf, Arab Scientific Institute for Research and Transfer of Technology, State of… Session 2 9-May-2018
Ms. Nohal Al Homsi, Environmental Health Officer, World Health Organization (WHO),… Session 2 9-May-2018
Ms. Roula Majdalani, Director, Sustainable Development Policies Division, ESCWA Opening Session 9-May-2018


  • January 2015 Beijing+20
    Beijing +20 is committed to renew political will and commitment, revitalize public debate through social mobilization and awareness-raising, strengthen evidence-based knowledge as well as enhance resources to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.
  • January 2015 SDG 5
    Goal 5 aims at achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls. Its targets include end of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, as well as elimination of harmful practices and the recognition and value of unpaid care and domestic work. Other targets stress the importance of ensuring women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership as well as universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
  • January 2010 UN Women
    In the framework of the UN Reform Agenda, the UN General Assembly established UN Women to accelerate the Organization’s goals on gender equality and empowerment of women. UN Women was conceived in order to support inter-governmental bodies in the elaboration of policies, norms and global standards, as well as Member States in the implementation of those standards, the leading and the coordination of the UN System in their work on gender equality.
  • January 2000 MDG 3
    MDG3 aims at promoting gender equality and empowering women. Its target 3.A focuses on the need to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.
  • The Fourth World Conference on Women produced the Beijing Declaration and its Platform of Action, unanimously adopted by 189 countries and considered as the most progressive scheme and road map for advancing women’s rights. As a defining framework for change, the Platform for Action made comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern, namely, women and poverty, education and training of women, women and health, violence against women, women and armed conflict, women and the economy, women in power and decision-making, institutional mechanism for the advancement of women, human rights of women, women and the media, women and the environment and the girl- child. The conference represented a crucial milestone in the progress of gender equality and empowerment of women.
  • January 1994 PoA
    The 20-year Programme of Action was adopted by 179 countries, on the occasion of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994 and aimed to provide a new vision of the links between population, development and individual well-being. The Programme recognized the importance of empowerment of women, gender equality as well as reproductive health and rights as issues at the core of any population and development programmes.
  • January 1979 CEDAW
    Often considered as an international bill of rights for women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly. It defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. According to the Convention, discrimination against women can be defined as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field".
  • The First World Conference on Women was held in Mexico City in 1975, reuniting 133 governments and designing a World Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Women’s Year, providing measures and indications for the advancement of women for the upcoming decade. Furthermore, 6000 NGOs Representatives took part to a parallel forum, the Women’s Year Tribute.
  • January 1946 CSW
    Established by the Economic and Social Council with Resolution 11(II), adopted on 21st June 1946, the Commission was first mandated to prepare recommendations and reports to ECOSOC to promote women’s rights in political, economic, social and educational fields, as well as make recommendations on urgent matters requiring immediate attention as well as submit proposals to the Council regarding its terms of references. In 1996, thanks to ECOSOC Resolution 1996/6, its mandate was extended, recognizing to the Commission a leading role in the monitoring and review process of the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2019

gender snapshot