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The "global obsession" with controlling women’s bodies

When asked what most surprised her when she became the UN's top global advocate for gender equality, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka didn't hesitate. "The obsession about controlling women's bodies is really something that also shocked me when I got to the UN." The constant objections she fielded around women's rights and reproductive rights, regardless of where in the world they were coming from, was not something Mlambo-Ngcuka was prepared for. And that's especially true, she says, for the United States.

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The fight for gender equality

A look at the impact the pandemic has had on women's equal rights globally. How much progress in gender equality has been eroded in the wake of job losses and a rise in gender-based violence and economic inequality? And how can that trend be reversed as societies rebuild?

Watch the GZERO World with Ian Bremmer episode: Why the pandemic has been worse for women: UN Women's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

How education has improved women’s lives around the world


What has been the driving force for improving women's lives around the world in the last decade? It's education, says UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. "The macroeconomic policies of most countries are not gender-responsive," says Mlambo-Ngcuka, but "women have been increasingly graduating at the top of their classes, and in many countries doing better than boys." She joined Ian Bremmer to discuss how the global fight for gender equality has progressed over the past decade and how the pandemic has turned back the clock on so much of that fight.

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Why the pandemic has been worse for women: UN Women's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

The global fight for gender equality wasn't a resounding success before the pandemic hit, but progress was being made. In many corners of the world, however, COVID-19 turned back that clock significantly. Violence against women—especially in the home—has been skyrocketing over the past year, says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women and the UN's top advocate for gender equality. And the toll on girls has been just as severe, says Mlambo-Ngcuka, with the UN estimating that as many as 11 million girls who left school during the pandemic will never return. At the same time, it has been women who have shepherded the world through the worst pandemic, as they occupy the majority of frontline healthcare jobs. Mlambo-Ngcuka joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Podcast: Why the pandemic has been worse for women: insights from UN Women's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Listen: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director for UN Women, joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to discuss the toll COVID-19 has taken on the global fight for gender equality, especially on girls. In fact, the UN estimates that as many as 11 million girls who left school because of the pandemic will never return. At the same time, it is women who occupy the majority of frontline and healthcare jobs.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Women in power — Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen

There is perhaps no woman in the world whom China fears more than Tsai Ing-en, president of Taiwan. When Tsai, an outspoken advocate of Taiwanese independence, campaigned for the presidency in 2016, Chinese state media questioned whether a woman could lead the self-governing island. She won, becoming Taiwan's first female leader.

Four years later, Beijing raised doubts about her not only because she is a woman, but because she is unmarried and has no children. She won again, this time in a landslide widely seen as a major blow to Beijing.

Today she is one of the region's most transformational leaders — pushing Taiwan to punch above its weight in global affairs, turning it into a beacon for gender equality in Asia, and overseeing one of the most effective responses to the pandemic. All of this, of course, while dealing with the growing threat that China, under Xi Jinping, will make good on its long-standing pledge to reunify Taiwan with the mainland — by force if necessary.

Here are a few aspects of Tsai's policies and approach that you should know.

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How the pandemic has increased violence against women and worsened inequality

This week's horrific Atlanta shooting, which took the lives of six women of Asian descent, stirred outrage and fear across the US at a time when Asian and Asian American women are facing an onslaught of verbal and physical violence. But violence against women has been skyrocketing across the world since the start of the pandemic, says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. Mlambo-Ngcuka joined Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how COVID-19 has turned back the clock on the global fight for gender equality and the toll that it has taken on girls, in particular.

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