6 March 2009

Re-issued as received

Gender Equality, Women's Empowerment Crucial for Industrial Development, says UNIDO Director-General

VIENNA, 6 March (UN Information Service) - UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella, said today that empowering women through entrepreneurship development and gender mainstreaming were key factors for effective industrial development.

"Gender equality and the empowerment of women in the countries of the 'bottom billion', where people live on less than a dollar a day, are not only crucial components in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease but also key for effective and sustainable industrialized development," said Yumkella.

He welcomed the international colloquium on women's leadership, empowerment, peace and security that will be held in Monrovia, Liberia, on 7 and 8 March. The event is supported by several United Nations agencies, including UNIDO. Fatou Haidara, a former Mali minister and now a UNIDO Director, will head the Organization's delegation to the event.

UNIDO is helping create economic opportunities for young men and women in the Mano River Union countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), including by training them in various skills required by sectors such as mining, forestry, agriculture, agro-industries and construction, and setting up a sub regional information system on supply and demand in labour markets.

"On Sunday, 8 March, we will mark International Women's Day, and reflect on the economic, political and social achievements of women. But there is still a lot of work to be done, because no enduring solution to society's most threatening social, economic and political problems can be found without the full and equal participation of the world's women," said Yumkella.

He called for combined efforts by all international players and institutions to overcome the inequities that create serious impediments to women's entrepreneurial activities. He said concrete actions were needed to develop women's economic independence, access to economic resources, and increase women's participation in political decision-making.

Since the late 1980s, UNIDO has been paying special attention to gender issues in its support activities in the small and medium-size entrepreneurships sector and developing special programmes for the promotion of women entrepreneurs.

In its work, UNIDO focuses on achieving 4 of the 8 United Nations Millennium Development Goals, including on promoting gender equality and empowering women.


UNIDO is a specialized agency of the United Nations system that works towards improving the quality of life of the world's poor by helping countries achieve sustainable industrial development. UNIDO views industrial development as a means of creating employment and income to overcome poverty. It helps developing countries and economies in transition to produce goods they can trade on the global market. It also helps provide the tools - training, technology, and investment - to make them competitive. At the same time, it encourages production processes that will neither harm the environment nor place too heavy a burden on a country's limited energy resources. UNIDO has 172 Member States and has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. See also www.unido.org

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For further information, please contact:

George Assaf
UNIDO Spokesperson
Telephone: (+ 43-1) 26026-3849
Email: g.assaf@unido.org