Women and the workplace -Radha Kumar
Do UN strategies to deal with sexual harassment and ensure gender parity offer examples to follow?
For more than a century, March 8 has marked International Women’s Day — a global day celebrating the achievements of women and promoting gender equality worldwide. But as we pause to celebrate our many advances, we must also acknowledge how much remains to be done.
Two interconnected issues have emerged as priorities over the past two years: sexual harassment at the workplace and obstacles to women’s participation at all levels of the workforce, including political representation. The 2017-18 explosion of the #MeToo movement across social media uncovered countless cases of unreported sexual harassment and assault, first in the U.S. and then in India. In both countries, it led to the resignations or firing of dozens of prominent men, mostly politicians, actors and journalists.
It also prompted a range of public and private organisations to examine the internal institutional cultures surrounding sexual harassment, gender parity, and gender equity. Amongst them, the United Nations.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been a staunch supporter of women’s rights since his election in 2016, stating the need for “benchmarks and time frames to achieve [gender] parity across the system, well before the target year of 2030”. In September 2017, the UN released a System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity to transform the UN’s representation of women at senior levels. Today the UN’s Senior Management Group, which has 44 top UN employees, comprises 23 women and 21 men.
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