Message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on International Women’s Day 2021
Message from the Secretary General 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has erased decades of progress towards gender equality.
From high job losses to the exploding burden of unpaid care, from disrupted schooling to a growing crisis of domestic violence and exploitation, women’s lives have been turned upside down and their rights eroded.
Mothers – especially single mothers – have faced acute anxiety and adversity.
The consequences will last for a long time the pandemic.
But women have also been on the front lines of the pandemic response.
They are the essential workers who keep people alive and keep economies, communities and families together.
They are among the leaders who have kept prevalence rates lower and countries on track for recovery.
This year, International Women’s Day highlights the transformative power of women’s equal participation.
We see this ourselves at the United Nations, where I am proud to have achieved gender parity in United Nations leadership positions for the first time in history.
The proof is clear.
When women run government, we see greater investments in social protection and greater inroads against poverty.
When women sit in parliament, countries adopt tougher climate change policies.
When women are at the peace table, agreements are more durable.
And with women now in equal numbers in the highest leadership positions at the United Nations, we are seeing even more concerted action to ensure peace, sustainable development and human rights.
In a male dominated world with a male dominated culture, gender equality is essentially about power.
Men are an essential part of the solution.
I call on countries, businesses and institutions to adopt special measures and quotas to advance the equal participation of women and achieve rapid change.
As we recover from the pandemic, support and recovery programs must specifically target women and girls, including through investments in women-owned businesses and the care economy.
Recovery from a pandemic is our chance to leave behind generations of exclusion and inequality.
Whether they run a country, a business or a grassroots movement, women make contributions that benefit everyone and drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
It’s time to build an equal future. It’s a job for everyone – and for everyone’s benefit.