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Thursday, 07 March 2013

Statement by the Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organization on International Women’s Day

VIENNA, 7 March 2013 – The Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh K. Yumkella, issued the following statement in advance of tomorrow’s celebration of International Women’s Day 2013:

“This year's theme for International Women's Day, A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women, calls on all of us to join forces. Ending violence against women is an issue of universal human rights that involves everyone, and it requires concerted and urgent action.

As the specialized agency of the United Nations mandated to promote and accelerate sustainable industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition, UNIDO provides key services related to reducing poverty through productive activities, integrating developing countries in global trade through trade capacity-building, fostering environmental sustainability in industry and improving access to energy. UNIDO's vision is a world where economic development is sustainable and economic progress is equitable. This is only possible in a world where women live free from violence at home, on the way to work and at work.

Millions of women are employed in the manufacturing sector. Violence in, and on the way to the workplace prevents women from being able to engage in productive work. Women who are physically recovering from abuse may have to miss work, and are certainly less able to carry out their tasks. Women in industry are no different to women in the rest of the economy in having to deal with sexual harassment, degrading treatment and abusive behaviour while trying to earn an income. This is particularly the case in the informal manufacturing sector, which lacks security, and social and legal protection, and is where women often occupy the lowest-paid and most precarious jobs.

UNIDO believes that the key to enhancing women's opportunities, and hence their position in the productive sector and at home, is to provide them with access to entrepreneurial and business skills, technologies and credit, so that they can bring about economic change for themselves.

Women’s economic empowerment is increasingly viewed as the most important contributing factor to achieving gender equality. Educating and investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and economic growth. But economically strengthening women is not only a means by which to spur and sustain economic growth. It is also a matter of advancing women's human rights.

The economic empowerment of women indirectly reduces violence against women by increasing women's choices and bargaining power at work and in the home.
Energy access is central to global industrial development, but it is also a matter of safety for women. 

Nearly one in five people around the world do not have access to modern energy services. Twice as many - some three billion people - rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. Many women in developing countries have to spend long hours carrying firewood and other fuel over large distances, and are exposed to the threat of rape and other forms of violence on a daily basis.

UNIDO works with governments and other partners to strengthen the institutional capacity to mobilize resources, and to plan and implement renewable energy mini-grids in rural areas, so that women can access energy where they live. This not only drastically reduces women's vulnerability to violence but also empowers them to become active producers and managers of modern energy services, constituting a truly sustainable solution to energy poverty.

On International Women's Day, I join men and women all over the world in calling for an end to violence against women. Everyone has a responsibility to address this issue. Only by working together and combining our diverse knowledge and experiences can we make real progress towards each woman and girl living a life free from fear and abuse.”