On average, a woman earns only 70% of a man’s salary. Women constitute 45% of the global workforce, but as much as 70% of the world’s poor. Yet studies, such as the one that UNCTAD recently conducted in Bhutan, show that women-headed households often do better than men-headed. Evidently, women’s potential for contributing to development is immense, but underutilized.
We cannot use the economic crisis as a pretext for not addressing this issue, nor can we confine ourselves to mere statements and expressions of good wishes, said H.E. Sheikha Al Mayyasa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums Authority.
Addressing the participants at the opening session of the full-day Women in Development event, she spoke of the “special importance” that Qatar gives to the inclusion of women in the development agenda, calling women the “cornerstone in the process of development.” Women and men must work side by side in pursuing their joint aspirations if sustainable development is to result, she said.
Reiterating the urgency for immediate action was UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi. Women’s inclusion does not simply result as a direct consequence of investment inflows and the opening up of trade, he warned. Active policies need to be in place if women are to be involved in economic, social and political lives of their countries. Despite progress through international initiatives, including in the UN system, these reforms are not moving at a fast enough pace, Dr. Supachai warned.
H.E. Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage of Qatar, opened the proceeding, pointing to the unsustainability of development policies that do not promote the participation of women, and joining the speakers in urging for action in this regard.
The opening session was followed by a session on macro-economic policy from a gender perspective. The Women in Development event continued throughout the day, to culminate in the evening with a ceremony for UNCTAD Women in Business Awards 2012.