Statement on International Women’s Day – 8 March 2019. Theme: ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’


Women and girls are impatient for change, and it’s easy to understand why.
Women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar men earn for the same work.
At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.
Women account for just 24 percent of parliamentarians.
35 percent of women globally have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.
Clearly, we still have a long way to go, and we must be innovative in exploring new ways of working and thinking.
Transformative innovations don’t have to be costly or flashy. Simple technologies, local innovations, and new practices that shift social attitudes, norms or biases can also make a difference. Just consider the financial independence that mobile banking has given to countless women.
Yet, there is a growing gender digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and design.
We need women’s ideas, insights, and experiences to inform the design and implementation of these innovations so they meet women’s needs and truly leave no one behind. 
When women are left out of the conversation, they’re excluded from creating the innovations shaping our future.
The United Nations has a vital role to play, and at UNDP we have multiple initiatives to aid in this work.
The UNDP Innovation Facility has invested in over 140 groundbreaking experiments across 87 countries and territories. We have recently launched a new network of Accelerator Labs in 60 countries, to explore new partnerships and unconventional ideas to inspire change and create new opportunities that will benefit both women and men.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2019, let us join forces in calling on industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, and activists to help bridge the gender digital divide – to work together, to share their innovations and to remove barriers to women in order to accelerate progress towards true and universal gender equality.
Recognizing that innovation has played a key part in advancing gender equality, I urge the global community –  and commit UNDP – to further harness technology to improve the lives of women and girls by listening to them, by including them, by expanding their choices, and increasing investment in them.