United nations women committee
UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, was created in 2010 to address the persisting gender gap that amplifies inequality and diminishes female empowerment. UN Women aids inter-governmental bodies to develop global policies, and supports Member States to implement these standards with financial and technical resources. Additionally, UN Women supervises accountability measures and coordination for developments in gender equality for the UN system.
Topic A: Economic Empowerment
The disparity between genders is evident in the economic sector. The proportion of women working is lower than their male counterparts, and the amount women are paid is also unequal. According to an International Labor Organization study, the ratio for female employment-to-population was 47.1 percent, compared to 72.2 percent for men in 2013[i]. This exacerbates women’s economic dependence on men, an issue outlined in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Women’s lack of access to education and economic resources such as land, technology, and information are some causes to be addressed. Education can have a variety of positive effects on women, ranging from higher earning potential[ii] to marrying at a later age and better care for children[iii].The Beijing Declaration also commits to address systemic poverty, which is experienced by women at higher rates than men[iv]. Another section of debate may focus on improving women’s wages and working conditions. Women continue to perform higher amounts of unpaid household work than their male counterparts, while being paid less for paid work. Globally, most women earn between 60 to 75 percent of men’s wages[v]. Additionally, partnerships with rural women offer a unique way to empower women while positively affecting the economy. UN Women currently partners with a handful of communities to help rural women shape policies and receive specialized training, which equips women with new skills to be economically engaged[vi].
[i] International Labour Organization (2014). Global Employment Trends 2014: Risk of a jobless recovery? p. 19.
[ii] Levine, Ruth, Cynthia Lloyd, Margaret Greene, and Caren Grown. Girls count: a global investment & action agenda. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development, 2008.
[iii] King, Elizabeth M., and M. Anne Hill. Women's education in developing countries barriers, benefits, and policies. Baltimore: Published for the World Bank [by] the Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
[iv] Chen, Martha; Vanek, Joann; Lund, Francie; Heintz, James; Jhabvala, Renana; Bonner, Christine (2005). Progress of the World's Women 2005: Women, Work and Poverty (PDF). United Nations Development Fund for Women. pp. 36–57. ISBN 1-932827-26-9.
[v] World Bank Gender Data Portal. "Gender Data Portal." Gender Data Portal. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
[vi] "What We Do: Economic Empowerment: Rural Women." UN Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
Topic B: HIV/AIDS
While HIV/AIDS is a global issue, young women and adolescent girls are uniquely affected. Approximately 2.3 million adolescent girls and young women (age 15-24) in 2015 were living with HIV, making up 60 percent of all young people with HIV[i]. To address this growing epidemic, delegates are urged to look to the causes of this problem. Multiple studies have revealed a correlation between high HIV prevalence and violence against women[ii]. Violence against women must be addressed, especially when considering that an estimated 35 percent of women worldwide have or will experience violence, physical or sexual, in their lifetime[iii]. Another cause of higher HIV rates among women is a lack of education. Over 700 million women around the world were married before their eighteenth birthday, decreasing access to education[iv], and only 3 in every 10 adolescent girls has received comprehensive education about HIV AIDS[v]. Women also face a lack of access to healthcare services. In many countries, HIV services have age restrictions that ignore unmarried women[vi], or young women face judgmental attitudes and discrimination for youth sexuality[vii]. Finally, legal barriers also exist that prevent young women from accessing needed HIV services. Nine countries reported policies that prevent women and girls from accessing HIV prevention and treatment services[viii]. Thus, young women are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS for a variety of reasons that must be addressed.
[i] UNAIDS, 2015 estimates from the AIDSinfo online database.
[ii] R. Jewkes et al. (2006) “Factors Associated with HIV Sero-Status in Young Rural South African Women: Connections between Intimate Partner Violence and HIV,” International Journal of Epidemiology, 35, p. 1461-1468;
[iii] World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, South African Medical Research Council (2013). Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence
[iv] UNICEF (2014) Ending child marriage: progress and prospects.
[v] UNAIDS (2015) World AIDS Day 2015 report On the Fast-Track to end AIDS by 2030: Focus on Location and Population, p. 75.
[vi] International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) (2013) 'Demystifying Data: A Guide to Using Evidence to Improve Young People’s Sexual Health and Rights'
[vii] Alli, F. et al (2013) 'Interpersonal relations between health care workers and young clients: barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care' Journal of Community Health 38(1):150-155
[viii] UNAIDS (2014) ‘Global AIDS response progress reporting 2014’
Chair: Isabelle Smith