September 16, 2019
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 In Women's Economic Empowerment

Country: Colombia
Delegate Name: Palak Rekhani

As stated by The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), “investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth.” Economic empowerment is defined as increasing women’s ability to participate safely and equally in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions through access to decent work, pay, and resources. Yet, women still remain disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination, and exploitation. The World Bank reports that “globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men.” This issue can be found in any region, but according to the Gender Inequality Index, it is most prominent in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Congo. The United Nations has made countless efforts to alleviate the pervasiveness of gender inequality. In 2021, the UN Women Strategic Plan 2022–2025 was established to support the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and guide UN Women in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Another international commitment to support women’s economic empowerment is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is described as an international bill of rights for women that provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men in political and public life as well as education, health, and employment. It was adopted by the General Assembly in 1979 and now more than 185 countries are parties to the Convention. These programs promote women’s ability to secure decent jobs, accumulate assets, and influence institutions and public policies determining growth and development. Colombia believes that economic equality should be a fundamental human right that is necessary for the United Nations to commit to accelerating as a factor for social change. After ​​Colombia’s fifty-year-long internal armed conflict in which 49.7 percent of victims were women, the 2016 peace agreement with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia put women and gender equality at the forefront of peace implementation.

In the last two decades, Colombia has made significant progress regarding the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment, demonstrated by important signs of economic growth and human development indicators. However, there are still significant gaps to reduce in the economic and political spheres. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, “Colombia ranks twenty-second out of 153 countries and third in Latin America in gender equality, having closed 75.8 percent of its gender gap. The global average stands at 68.6 percent.” Further, Colombia was the first country in the world to formally acknowledge the economic contribution of unpaid care work. As a result, “the gender disparity in labor-force participation has plummeted by roughly a third since the year 2000.” Colombia’s high rank reflects the country’s progressive agenda and success in narrowing educational attainment. Colombia has ratified all current international treaties on human rights and women’s rights and has been drafting laws that promote gender equality. Several laws have been passed to discourage discrimination against women, like Law 1257. The Law 581 or “quotas law” arrange that women must hold 30 percent of top-level positions in all branches of public power. Colombia also implements initiatives such as the Autonomous Trust Fund to promote and finance women in business. Additionally, in the government’s ‘Commitment to Colombia’s Future,’ many measures exist to boost women’s economic empowerment and use it for social change. The International Monetary Fund estimates that closing such gender gaps in employment can increase GDP by 35%, benefitting society as a whole.

Colombia hopes to continue its progress in women’s economic empowerment and help other countries do the same. Colombia believes that the United Nations will be able to achieve this by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies, and practices that do not recognize the leadership, lower access to economic resources, or high domestic burden of women. Instead, these should be replaced with newer legislation, policies, and action like high impact equity and inclusion programs that help with venture financing, income generation, and higher education. Governance and participation in public life, women’s economic empowerment, peace and security for women and girls, and humanitarian action should be focused on. Columbia recommends mobilizing urgent and sustained action to prevent root causes of inequality by engaging with grassroots and civil society organizations to target marginalized groups including rural and low-skilled women. Colombia would support a resolution that joins together nations to promote economic equality and empowerment for all.

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