UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says gender inequality is the “overwhelming injustice of our age and the biggest human rights challenge we face”.
Guterres made the assertion at an event organised by the UN in New York on Friday to commemorate the International Women’s Day 2020.
He noted that gender equality is a question of power, and decried the “abuse of power” by men to “control and prevent women from achieving their potential for millennia”.
“Deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny have created a yawning gender power gap in our economies, our political systems, our corporations, our societies and our culture.
“Women are still very frequently denied a voice; their opinions are ignored and their experience discounted,” he said.
The UN Chief cited recent examples of women’s exclusion from the decision table, including high-profile peace agreements signed without the involvement of women.
He said emergency healthcare meetings on the new coronavirus were convened with few or no women.
But women need peace, he noted, adding that they remained critical contributors to peace as much as men.
Guterres stated that he had seen a change, with women demanding their rights, having had enough.
“They are protesting against femicide, the killing of women, in the streets; they are on strike for equal pay and conditions; they are calling out powerful men for violence and abuse.
“Young women are redefining what power looks like.
“They are creating new, inclusive forms of leadership that unite people across borders and around common goals,” he said.
The Secretary General rallied support “Generation Equality”, a multigenerational campaign by UN Women to advance the movement for women’s rights.
The campaign marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
According to him, Generation Equality cannot be Generation Gradual Improvement or Generation Incremental Change.
“Generation Equality means equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls, now.
“That is why I am determined to achieve gender parity at all levels at the United Nations.
“And I am pleased that we have done so at senior levels two years ahead of schedule.
“Without women’s leadership and full participation, we will never achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or defeat climate change,” Guterres added.(NAN)