Private sector "should give women more equal opportunities"

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark speaking at a lecture in Singapore on March 13, 2012. Ms Clark has called on the private sector to play a greater role in ensuring women have equal opportunities to take on leaders
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark speaking at a lecture in Singapore on March 13, 2012. Ms Clark has called on the private sector to play a greater role in ensuring women have equal opportunities to take on leadership positions in companies. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

SINGAPORE - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark has called on the private sector to play a greater role in ensuring women have equal opportunities to take on leadership positions in companies.

Delivering an inaugural lecture at the UNDP's Global Centre for Public Service Excellence on Tuesday, she said "the corporate sector is the last bastion" standing in the way of gender equality in having women as top leaders.

The former prime minister of New Zealand noted that of the top 100 firms in Europe, 38 did not have women at the peak of the corporate structure.

The figure is even more alarming in Asia, where out of 100 top firms, 71 did not have women in senior management positions.

Ms Clark added that the public sector also needs to work on raising women leaders.

Citing the findings from the UNDP's "Gender Equality in Public Administration" report launched on Tuesday, she noted that women represent at least 30 per cent of public administration in many countries.

But Ms Clark pointed out that the women are not necessarily in the positions of greatest influence.

Also, she said women are usually made leaders in "soft" portfolios like culture and social services but not always in "hard" sectors like finance and defence.

Ms Clark said a key recommendation would include countries strengthening constitutional, legislative and policy frameworks to ensure gender equality.

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