Winnie Byanyima appointed to UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima says she is “honored” at her appointment by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Winnie Byanyima
Winnie Byanyima

The Panel seeks to “mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world”. It will provide guidance to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve economic outcomes for women and promote women’s leadership in driving sustainable and inclusive, environmentally sensitive economic growth.

The panel will be co-chaired by the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, and the CEO of IKEA Switzerland, Simona Scarpaleggia.

Winnie Byanyima said: “I am honored to serve on this ground-breaking panel and to bring Oxfam’s vision and leadership on economic development and gender equality to the fore.

“Just over 20 years ago in Beijing I was involved in setting the global agenda on gender equality and women’s empowerment. More recently, the Sustainable Development Goals have women’s rights at the heart of development issues. Our ambition for gender equality is crystal clear – we now must work to achieve it.

“I am determined that the UN High-Level Panel will lead the charge towards women’s economic empowerment. It is time that the concerns of women living in poverty around the world are taken into real account. The power of women’s rights movements particularly in the South has been, and must continue to be, the driving force for change.

“Women’s economic empowerment is not limited to decent employment and income for women. It requires removing barriers in the market and public institutions to redistribute women’s unpaid care, deliver women’s security and agency, recognizing that social norms primarily limit what is considered women’s work and their role in society.”

Winnie Byanyima is a leading figure on women’s rights.

Prior to joining Oxfam International as Executive Director, Winnie was the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Program, and led the Directorate of Women, Gender and Development at the African Union Commission.

She served eleven years in the Ugandan Parliament, and led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus, championing ground-breaking gender equality provisions in the county’s 1995 post-conflict constitution. She has also helped to broker and support women’s participation in peace processes in Rwanda, South Africa, Burundi, Sudan and other countries emerging from conflict.

She founded the still-thriving civil society organization Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE). She serves as a member of the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, and as a Board Member of the International Centre for Research on Women.

In addition to her position on the UN High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment, Winnie was also appointed by the UN Secretary-General to the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines in 2015.