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DATE : 16-04-26 14:56
[CSW60] Parallel Event on March 16, "Women in Power and Decision Making"
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Women In Power and Decision-Making

on the occasion of the CSW60 in UN NY

March 16th2016

During the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status  of Women, ICW and the Korean National Council of Women (KNCW) organized a parallel event on the 16thMarch at UN Church Center on “Women in Power and Decision-Making” which was sponsored by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) of R.O.K. At the event moderated by Mme Yun-sook Lee, former MP/Minister of Political Affairs II, R.O.K., speakers were Dr. Jungsook Kim, President of ICW, Ms Irene Natividad, President of Global Summit of Women, USA, Ms. Rae Duff, President of National Council of Women of New Zealand and Dr. Theresa Der Lan Yeh, Professor at the University.

ICW President Dr. Jungsook Kim, who was awarded by Samsung Foundation as the most distinguished woman leader in Korea last year, made the introductory speech. Dr. Kim said that in this workshop, the obstacles and strategies to overcome the barriers in achieving gender equality and empowerment of women all over the world, would be reviewed. Dr. Kim stressed that social prejudices, stereotypes, and discrimination against women still remain, as only about half of women globally participate in economic activities and underlined that women on average receive only 64% of the wage of men. She also stated that although the percentage of women in the high meaningful economic position in companies and in political leadership has been on the increase, the companies led by women stand at a mere 5% among the Fortune 500 companies. Speaking with numbers, she said that only 17 nations in today’s world are led by women, and women serving in national assemblies constitute 22% of the total body, the number of women on the board is only 0.9% in the Middle East, 6.4% in Latin America and 9.4% in Asia-Pacific, while it is 20.3% in Europe and 19.2% in the USA. She added that statistics show that GDP growth and Net Income Growth is higher with greater female political and economic participation.

Ms. Irene Natividad, President, Global Summit of Women and Chair, in her speech, gave statistical data and information saying that there are 177 men but only 17 women presidents and prime ministers in the world in 2016. The 12 women presidents are from Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Kosovo, Liberia, Lithuania, Malta, Mauritius, Nepal and Republic of Korea. Women in ministerial positions in top ten countries are headed by Finland with 62.5% and followed by Cape Verde, Sweden, Canada, France, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Norway, Netherlands and Estonia. In the USA, it is 26.1% and globally it is 17.7%. While in 2005, percentage of women in parliament is 16.2%, it is 22.6%  in 2015. In the world, there are 128 countries with constitutional, electoral or political party quotas. Percentage of women in the countries with quotas is 28% in lower house and 30.9%  in upper house whereas this percentage decreases to 14.1% in lower house and 12.1% in upper house in countries with no quota. She then spoke about women CEO’s in large companies in 2016: in USA this percentage is 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies and in Europe 0.9% of 215 Blue-Chip companies.

Ms. Irene Natividad who also serves as Chair of Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI), which conducts research on women on boards globally and brings together women corporate directors from around the world on issues of corporate governance, gave us the numbers on Women on Boards: 21.2% in Europe, 20% in USA, 14.4% in Africa, 9.4% in Asia-Pacific, 6.4% in Latin America and 0.9% in the Middle East.


It was interesting seeing also the numbers on women in entrepreneurship today, while in North America it is 39.6% and in Europe 25%, in developing countries the percentage is 59% and globally it is 29.9%. Ms. Natividad attracted participants’ attention on the increase of percentage of women Board directors between 2004 and 2016 and said that while in 2004 in the USA it was 13.6% and in France 7.2%, in 2016 it is 20% in the USA and 33.5% in France.

Speaking about the female labor force participation between 1995-2015 Ms. Natividad said that women’s labor force participation today is 55% globally, about the same as 20 years ago and still far below men’s labor force participation which stand at 82%. East Asia has the highest percentage, 63% and MENA region has the lowest, 21%.

Moderator of the event, MmeYun-sook Lee, former Minister of Political Affairs of Republic of Korea and head at various women’s organizations such as Zonta International and the Korean National Council of Women, then introduced Ms. Rae Duff, President of the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

Ms. Rae Duff spoke about progress towards gender equality in New Zealand and women representation in parliament in Fiji and made a brief history of gender equality both in parliament and at work. She said that in spite of greater attention to women’s issues in New Zealand, there are still prejudices and barriers to women in leadership roles like cultural perceptions such as women being judged on their appearance and age. She added that one of the obstacles for women is lack of financial resources and support from family. Ms. Rae Duff, who has a passion for the education of girls and women and attribute much importance of lifting their economic independence, participation and leadership skills at all levels of society, then listed some solutions to women’s under representation in power and decision making like changing the culture to mainstream gender equality, setting quota for participation of women in elections, training and promoting women political candidates. She also proposed fundraising for women candidates, lobbying and encouraging positive actions.

Mme Yun-sook Lee gave the word to Dr. Theresa Der Lan Yeh, Professor of the University. She is also an expert and activist on women’s issues in her country and actively involved in various NGOs, such as the Federation of Asia-Pacific Women’s Associations (FAWA) and the International Council of Women (ICW).

Dr. Der Lan Yeh stimulated interest on the improvement of the percentage of women in parliament worldwide in the last two decades which was 11.3% in 1995 and increased to 22% in 2015. For Dr. Theresa Der Lan Yeh, equality is “men and women working together to protect the rights of all” and she said “once we make this dream a reality, a long road is still ahead”. She noted that with women in the Board, better decisions are made, financial performance is better and they have stronger social responsibility. She added that better economic development is achieved with women’s political participation and political and economic participation reinforce each other. She supported the idea that to further women’s cause, women need education and professional training, legal and technical knowledge to enable capabilities.

The event ended with exciting and fruitful discussions with the intervention of young participants in the hall.

Isin Atala,  ICW Recording Secretary



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