Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
Jeni Klugman, Adjunct Lecturer of International Development at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Senior Adviser, Gender at World Bank
April 12, 2017
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of the UN joined the Johns Hopkins SAIS community for a conversation on leading barriers for the economic empowerment of women around the world.
Mlambo-Ngcuka offered opening remarks focusing on the idea that “private is public:” discriminatory norms and customs start in our homes, and propagate in all aspects of public life. She highlighted that it is important for policy makers to understand how societal and cultural norms play important roles in the fight for gender equality. Moreover, the focus should not be on changing women and girls so that they can fit into the world, but rather on changing the world so that it can fully recognize the potential of women.
The lack of gender equality is a universal problem; no country in the world has achieved gender equality. In her conversation with Jeni Klugman of the World Bank, Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed the importance of having data on gender discrimination. This is particularly important as sometimes there is an illusion of progress, which is then dispelled by hard data. For example, while participation of women in the public sphere has increased, only five countries in the world have gender-equal cabinets right now and the number has decreased from the past.