Yesterday, Madeleine Bunting, a columnist for the Guardian who writes on a wide range of subjects including women's issues and social change, wrote about the UN's new agency for women, UN Women. In her blog for the Poverty Matters Blog, she mentions that although world leaders have been vocal about the importance of women's empowerment, they need to demonstrate their commitment by agreeing to properly fund UN Women, which before it's official start is already likely to be under-funded and under-resourced. Bunting says:
"It's odd. There is now a powerful consensus about the central role of women in development. They are the key agents of change given their impact on the health and education of the next generation. Everyone is agreed that women's empowerment is vital, and it crops up in countless speeches by politicians all over the world. And yet change is achingly slow – embarrassingly so. Look at the World Economic Forum at Davos this week, where organisers have had to set quotas for women, given the appalling gender imbalance of the crucial networking event. Women's rights are in danger of becoming a wordfest.
This disparity between the aspirations and the effective action to achieve change is going to be starkly apparent in the next couple of months. In March, it's the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. The Guardian is compiling its own list of the 100 most inspiring women and other campaigners, such as Women Deliver, are doing likewise. In the run up to 8 March, expect a lot more speeches on women's empowerment, but the real thing to look out for – and insist on – is that the best way to mark the milestone is signing up to properly fund UN Women."