New Episode of Ms.’s On The Issues With Michele Goodwin Podcast: UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the Urgency of Securing Women’s Human Rights


On the Issues with Michele Goodwin is a popular issues and policy focused podcast featuring feminist analysis, insightful conversations and exciting guests. This is the first podcast from Ms. magazine, a legacy feminist publication. In each bi-weekly episode, host Dr. Michele Goodwin and special guests will tackle the most compelling issues of our times, centering feminist concerns about rebuilding our nation and advancing the promise of equality.

A new episode: UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the Urgency of Securing Women’s Human Rights (with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka)—is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and

“Women’s rights are human rights,” proclaimed then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in September 1995 at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. This groundbreaking speech marked a turning point for feminism and international efforts toward gender equality, articulating women’s rights as a basic fundamental concept of civil rights, human rights and dignity. During the conference, 189 countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action for women’s equality.

This week, Dr. Goodwin asks: What has been the impact of the U.N. agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment? Where has there been progress?  What are the setbacks? What comes next in the global agenda on women’s rights?

Dr. Goodwin is joined by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations under-secretary-general and executive director of U.N. Women.

Their conversation covered a wide range of topics; you can find a full transcript here, as well as a few excerpts below from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka:

“In the economic field, the loss of jobs by women means that there is more poverty for women. There is a particular concern of poverty for women between their 20s and 30s. These are women with young children, women of childbearing age, who often have to make a choice between parenting responsibility and going out and work, and many times, women will opt to look after their children, and in that way, fall deep into poverty.”

“We want to make sure that other perpetrators are warned that there is consequence for bad behavior. Only recent[ly], have we had a perpetrator of violence against women, rape against women in conflict areas, being brought to book. Seeing a warlord being brought to book for mass rape was revolutionary, and a younger person would say, well, that was always wrong.”

“Well, yes. So, the one goal that everybody must read when they look about Sustainable Development Goals is Goal 5 on gender equality. That is the goal that calls on country to end all forms of discrimination, and in particular, we focus on legislative discrimination. All countries must have laws that forbid discrimination so that women have a recourse when they experience discrimination.”

“You know, access to water and sanitation, clean water and sanitation, is one of the incomplete mission[s] of the Millennium Development Goals that came before this Sustainable Development Goals. It was work that was passed on to the Sustainable Development Goals because it was not completed in the Millennium Development Goals. It is so critical for women.” —Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Meet the Host of On the Issues: Dr. Michele Goodwin is a frequent contributor to Ms.Magazine and on She is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine and also serves on the executive committee and national board of the ACLU. Dr. Goodwin is a prolific author and an elected member of the American Law Institute, as well as an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Hastings Center. Her most recent book, Policing The Womb: Invisible Women and The Criminalization of Motherhood, is described as a “must read.”

About Ms. Magazine: Co-founded by Gloria Steinem in 1972 and published by the Feminist Majority Foundation since 2001, Ms. magazine has been a trusted, popular source for feminist news and information in print and online for nearly 50 years. Ms.’s time-honored traditions of an emphasis on in-depth investigative reporting and feminist political analysis have never been more relevant, bringing a new generation of writers and readers together to share news, analysis, research and strategies for fighting back and moving forward, for shaping the future.


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Launched in 1971, Ms. is the most trusted, popular source for feminist news and information in print and online with a tradition of in-depth investigative reporting and feminist political analysis. Ms. is wholly owned and published by the Feminist Majority Foundation.