Women, Peace & Security

Secretary-General declares ‘time is now’ for gender equality, women’s empowerment

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Below is an excerpt from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ speech on International Women’s Day.

There is overwhelming evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. And that is why the empowerment of women and girls is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Gender equality is the unfinished business of our time. And so, the time is now to change it.

We have seen significant advances since the first International Women’s Day in 1976. More girls in school. More women doing paid work. And harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage in decline. But, we still need to break the structural barriers that women and girls face – unpaid care work, unequal pay, harmful stereotypes, discrimination and violence.

When we look at the low numbers of women in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including in the United Nations, we all have to say: we can and must do more. That is why I am determined to achieve gender parity throughout the United Nations.

For the first time ever, we have now parity in the Organization’s senior management team, the top level of this Organization, and we are very close to reach it in relation to the leaders of United Nations country teams, around the world. I expect to reach this objective at least this April and hopefully still this month.

I am determined to maintain this momentum. I am also totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment. I am improving reporting and accountability and trying to establish confidence, empowered people who experience or witness harassment to come forward and seek justice. These are the kinds of actions we need in every sector.

All around the world we need to listen to the women and girls who are rightly proclaiming their rights. We must join together as partners – women and girls, men and boys – to make gender equality a reality for all.

Read the full speech here.