UNIDO: United Nations Industrial Development Organization

Committee Overview:

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization plays a key role in the UN’s global development efforts. At its biennial General Conference, the 170 Member States collectively decide the policy priorities of the organization. While initially focused on creating and advancing industry, the 2013 Lima Declaration expanded the organization’s mandate to include “inclusive and sustainable industrial development.” This mandate contributed to the creation of SDG 9—“Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” However, the organization’s full scope spans many of the SDGs, as it also works on four additional priorities: “creating shared prosperity, advancing economic competitiveness, safeguarding the environment, and strengthening knowledge and institutions.” In addition to setting policy priorities, the organization also facilitates technical cooperation between states, providing direct support for establishing new industries and good jobs.

Topic: Empowering Women in Industry

A large part of UNIDO’s commitment to inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) is women’s economic empowerment. UNIDO affirms that women are “fundamental drivers of sustainable development.” Therefore, it is important to ensure the equality of women and their empowerment in all aspects of the economy, including “blue-collar” industrial jobs. Even though industrial jobs provide numerous advantages, such as higher wages and strong financial and health benefits, women are still discouraged from pursuing such jobs due to traditional gender norms. In many countries, it is commonly believed that women are not fit for these labor-intensive jobs, causing industrial workforces to be predominantly male (up to 80%). This male dominance worsens the inequalities women experience, as it may lead to an environment that normalizes sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Without focused action from UNIDO, women will continue to be excluded from these positions, even if they have the skills that would contribute to a more productive, efficient, and successful business. It also raises concerns about equal access to fair pay and good benefits. UNIDO’s mandate to promote ISID greatly depends “on the advancement of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” Thus, UNIDO must promote gender equality in the industrial world.