Support women, girls to create a better world for all: UN chief

‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’

07 Mar 2019, 20:09

NTV Online
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. File photo

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called upon all to support women and girls who are breaking down barriers to create a better world for everyone.

‘Let’s make sure women and girls can shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact all our lives,’ he said in a message marking the International Women’s Day that falls on March 8, reports the UNB.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’, addresses infrastructure, systems and frameworks that have been constructed largely in line with a male-defined culture.

The UN chief laid emphasis on redoubling efforts to protect and promote women’s rights, dignity and leadership. ‘We must not give ground that has been won over decades and we must push for wholesale, rapid and radical change.’

He said gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to global progress on peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.

‘We can only re-establish trust in institutions, rebuild global solidarity and reap the benefits of diverse perspectives by challenging historic injustices and promoting the rights and dignity of all,’ said Guterres.

In recent decades, the UN chief said, they have seen remarkable progress on women’s rights and leadership in some areas. ‘But these gains are far from complete or consistent – and they have already sparked a troubling backlash from an entrenched patriarchy.’

He said gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. ‘We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Only when we see women’s rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone we will begin to shift the balance.’

The UN chief said increasing the number of women decision-makers is fundamental and at the United Nations, he has made this a personal and urgent priority. ‘We now have gender parity among those who lead our teams around the world, and the highest-ever numbers of women in senior management. We will continue to build on this progress.’

Guterres said women still face major obstacles in accessing and exercising power. As the World Bank found, just six economies give women and men equal legal rights in areas that affect their work. And if current trends continue, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap.

‘We know women’s participation makes peace agreements more durable, but even governments that are vocal advocates fail to back their words with action. The use of sexual violence as a tactic in conflict continues to traumatize individuals and entire societies,’ he said.

He said innovation and technology reflect the people who make them. ‘The underrepresentation and lack of retention of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design should be a cause of concern to all.’