Opening Remarks-Regional Director-Knowledge Fair 2023



Dr. Maxime Houinato Regional Director, UN Women East and Southern Africa At the Knowledge Fair-UNON Complex, Nairobi-Kenya Theme: Accelerating Progress towards Gender Equality and Women Empowerment through Knowledge Management 4th to 8th December 2023

Dear Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, It is a real privilege to welcome you all to this UN Women organized Knowledge Fair which will run from today until the 8th of December 2023. This Fair is very timely indeed and will not only enhance the visibility of UN Women as a leader on gender knowledge but will also promote dialogue on diverse thematic knowledge interventions we have undertaken as an institution in the last two years. I see it as a great opportunity for us to openly and critically address the issues that have been raised in the findings and recommendations of the various knowledge initiatives showcased and even those available on our We organized this Fair to create time for a deeper reflection and radical action on use of gender knowledge, data and information to raise African women to their rightful place in society. As UN Women, we value evidenced based knowledge and data which often helps in transforming the situation of women in Africa. Our knowledge interventions are demand driven to ensure optimum use of findings and recommendations for the benefit of women and girls we serve. We encourage stakeholders in this space to replicate this approach and shift from supplier driven knowledge production that underutilizes results for women’s own benefit. At UN Women, we conduct biennial Publications Reader Surveys to receive feedback on the use of our knowledge products. This year, we conducted one and I confirm that stakeholders in Africa continue to recognize our knowledge products as useful to a wide and diverse audience, are reader-friendly and position gender equality and women empowerment as a core principle of development. In the last wo years, we have leveraged our knowledge management (KM) strategy (2022-2025) and developed various knowledge management tools and systems. We have ensured a systematic approach to implementation across the region with platforms such as communities of practice, strategic documents repository, knowledge hub, dissemination strategies of knowledge products among others. We established a quality assurance process for our knowledge products ensuring global standards on our products. 2 We have also developed country gender equality profiles which highlight the progress and prevailing gender gaps in various countries in East and Southern Africa in so far as gender equality and women empowerment is concerned. The gender profiles also give insights into the state of gender equality in various countries in the region. As you go through the exhibition panels, you will come across various UN Women knowledge interventions. Some of the interventions you will come across include a multi country study on access to justice. This study presents a steep rise in poor access to justice for women and girls, which was worsened by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women’s pursuit of justice faces legal discrimination on paper and in practice, uneven implementation of safeguards and patchy legal protection. Another one is the regional analysis on women with disabilities and COVID-19. This study presents good and promising practices on protection of rights and access to services for women with disabilities in East and Southern Africa (ESA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will come across a gender pay gap study. This study sheds light on the persistent challenges that women face in the labour market across the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region. Using data from 10 countries, it finds that women only earn 81 cents for every US dollar earned by men in the region, on an hourly basis. We have also showcased young women’s participation in politics in Africa. The study provides an analysis of the progress and gaps across the continent in promoting young women’s role in decisionmaking and political processes across Africa. You will come across a study on the impact of Russian-Ukraine war in the livelihoods of women and girls in Tanzania. This study shows that the war in Ukraine has had a particularly negative effect on the wellbeing of women and girls worldwide, widening gender gaps and increasing rates of food insecurity, malnutrition and energy poverty while violating their human rights. To ensure inclusivity, UN Women has deepened its institutional commitment to gender equality with and for youth as equal partners and beneficiaries of gender equality and sustainable development. To this end, we have developed a regional strategy on engagement with the youth. A few years ago, in 2018, UN Women led a team of women leaders’ network at the UNON complex to undertake a study on the status of women in the UNON compound. The study noted that we had made progress, but more efforts needed to be done to achieve parity in the duty station. With your leadership, Madam DG, we would like to establish the current status to know whether we have made progress since then. We, therefore, hope that we can undertake a survey to establish the current status of women employees in the duty station in 2024 to inform efforts to support the realisation of the System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity which was launched by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 13 September 2017. These are just but a few knowledge interventions you will be perusing at the Fair. We welcome any partnership proposals which could increase our outreach and delivery on knowledge interventions especially on the use of our findings and recommendations. 3 As we all know, we are in the month 16 days of activism against gender based violence. UN Women is dedicated to working with various stakeholders to ensure that gender based violence against women and girls come to an end. To this end, we partner with governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations and other institutions to find ways to prevent violence against women and girls, focusing on early education, respectful relationships, and working with men and boys. Prevention is still the most cost-effective, long-term way to stop violence. As part of UN Women’s comprehensive approach, we also work with partners to enhance knowledge, data collection and analysis to provide a better understanding of the nature, magnitude, and consequences of violence against women and girls. Data collection and analysis help UN Women and our partners understand what works and doesn’t work to address violence. Since 2017, we have also been a key member of the EUR 500 million Spotlight Initiative that deploys targeted, large-scale investments in ending violence in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. As I conclude, ESARO will continue to create opportunities, develop and use innovative gender approaches to support knowledge management and promote knowledge generation, sharing and utilization internally and externally-with partners and stakeholders. We encourage you to partner with us on your knowledge interventions while also using our findings and recommendations for various knowledge interventions we undertake for policy advocacy and programming. I now wish to welcome the Director General of UNON, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, for her remarks. Thank you.