Earlier this month UN Women, the new United Nations gender entity, launched its flagship report, ‘Progress of the world’s women: in pursuit of justice’ in both London and New York (see WVoN coverage).
I met John Hendra, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary General for UN Women, at the London launch event and talked to him about the report.
Justice for women, says Hendra, makes strong financial sense for the simple reason that improving women’s access to justice will help countries tackle the ‘productivity gap’, when women have limited access to resources such as land and credit.
This means women are not as economically productive as they could be and the whole country loses out.
A recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that closing the gender productivity gap would reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 12 to 17 per cent. That translates into 100 to 150 million fewer people living in hunger.
But the message isn’t getting through to politicians who, Hendra says, need to add money to the rhetoric on women’s rights. And if there isn’t enough money, then priorities need to change.
Take the example of the World Bank. Between 2000 and 2010, he points out, it allocated $126 billion to public administration, law and justice projects.
Over the same period, 21 projects included components on gender equality and the rule of law but the total allocated to the gender equality components came to just $7.3 million.
Hendra insists that 50% of funding for judicial reform must go to projects designed to support women and girls. The quicker we get there, he says, the better.