“Increasing Public and Private Investments for Gender Responsive Local Economic Recovery and Achievement of Beijing +25 Commitments”

Side event on the margins of the 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 65)

When: March 17, 9:30 -11am EST
Zoom link: 




Gender inequalities are entrenched in every aspect of human lives. Social norms and power relations perpetuate structural barriers for women to enjoy the same opportunities as men. The economic empowerment of women is essential for gender equality and economic justice, as well as for sustainable growth and poverty reduction. As such, it is at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which has celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020 with renewed commitments for unfinished business of empowering women through a new, groundbreaking, multigenerational campaign: “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked widespread havoc on lives and livelihoods across the globe. Among its devastating effects has been a widening of gender inequalities, as women and girls are especially impacted by the economic fallout. Violence against women has risen, and the reorientation of funding priorities has meant fewer resources for women’s sexual and reproductive health.[1] According to new analysis from UN Women and UNDP, the pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line, reversing decades of progress to eradicate extreme poverty. In South Asia, which has seen notable gains in poverty reduction in recent years, a resurgence in extreme poverty is expected. According to the data, “by 2030, for every 100 men aged 25-34 living in poverty in Southern Asia there will be 129 poor women, an increase from 118 in 2021.”[2]

Local businesses, including women SMEs, are among the worst affected by the pandemic worldwide, due to both the overall economic contraction and restricted ability to safely transact in person. Business closures and disrupted revenues have had the knock-on effect of reducing local governments’ fiscal resources—all while local governments are at the forefront of the COVID-19 recovery and response.

To promote women’s economic empowerment in the aftermath of COVID-19, financing modalities need to be revised and upscaled. Innovative and integrated strategies must be brought to the table, including blended financing instruments and new types of public and private investments. Increased financing needs to be rooted in strengthened civil society and women’s movements, government systems and policies that respond to addressing persistent systemic gender inequalities. The ambitious gender equality targets of the SDGs and commitments of the Beijing Platform for Action will only be achieved through renewed partnerships among public and private entities at local, national and global level and matched with adequate financing.


The side event will bring together representatives from the government, private sector, civil society, bilateral and multi-lateral agencies to discuss the importance of gender responsive investments for local economic recovery and to meet the ambitious SDG targets and Beijing +25 commitments. With a gender lens, local economic development financing can be an important accelerator to reduce entrenched inequalities between men and women exacerbated by the pandemic specially in some of the most under-developed regions.

The event will showcase examples and innovative practices on gender responsive local development finance and SME finance in the aftermath of COVID-19. The event will focus on the importance of investing in women’s organizations, local businesses and infrastructure, and the centrality of developing local capacities and systems for a long-term economic recovery and sustainable impact. The event will specifically discuss financing gaps for a post COVID-19 economic recovery in the context of SDG targets on women’s economic empowerment and provide key recommendations for a renewed commitment and a strengthened partnership to meet the financing needs.    

Moderator: Ms. Raquel Lagunas, Director, Gender Team, UNDP                                               


  • Keynote Speaker: Ms. Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women –
  • Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Executive Director, Bangladesh Bank
  • Ms. Lisa Williams, Team Leader –Senior Policy Analyst, Gender & Development, OECD
  • Ms. Aissata Diakite, Founder and Director, Zabbaan Group, Mali
  • Ms. Sharmila Hardi, Senior Manager of the Financial Institutions Group, IFC
  • Ms. Nerea Craviotto Ortega, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at Erodad- European Network on Debt and Development

Closing Remarks: Ms. Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary, UNCDF                                          





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