VIENNA: Women need to be given a greater role in industries in poorer nations to meet the global goal of cutting poverty by 2030, the head of the United Nations industrial development agency said on Monday after being voted in for a second term.

Li Yong said empowering women will be a priority in his second four-year term as director general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

Data shows only about half of the world’s women are in the labour force compared to about 75 per cent of men, in less senior roles, and earn on average 60 to 75pc of what men make.

But studies repeatedly show that more women working accelerates economic growth while women also invest more of their income into families to educate children and end poverty .

“We need to look at how you support women’s empowerment and job creation,” Li, formerly of China’s Ministry of Finance, told a news conference at UNIDO’s 17th General Conference in Vienna.

“Lots of projects like agro-industry are related to women’s empowerment ... and one part of our evaluation is to look at women’s empowerment, at training, at jobs, all those things that are very concrete measures.” Li was widely praised in his first term in office for re-establishing UNIDO as an important development organisation in the UN system with its mission to promote industry as a driver to create jobs, boost prosperity, and reduce poverty globally.

As one of 15 specialised UN agencies, some countries had questioned UNIDO’s purpose and effectiveness in reducing poverty with some nations withdrawing funding including Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada and France.