Women and Gender Equality

Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world

Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry. In this year’s International Women’s Day, we recognize and celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces.
Photo:WHO / P. Phutpheng
Indian women participate in training providing them with skills, knowledge and confidence to set up their own business or find work.

Lack of women in key decision-making ‘should not be allowed’ – UN Women chief 

8 March 2021 — Exclusion of women in decisions that affect their lives is “bad governance [and] should not be allowed”, the UN Women chief said on Monday, International Women’s Day. 


UN highlights transformative power of equal participation, marking International Women’s Day

8 March 2021 — Underscoring the transformative power of women’s equal participation, top United Nations officials called on all stakeholders to take special measures to advance their equal...

Kyoto Crime Congress opens with declaration to tackle growing crime threats, promote inclusive COVID-19 recovery

7 March 2021 — Held in an innovative hybrid format amid COVID-19 restrictions, the 14th UN Congress on criminal justice opened on Sunday in Kyoto with calls for renewing global cooperation against...

UN Sustainable Development Goals

17 Goals to transform our world

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Act Now

The ActNow campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.

Decade of Action

With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.

Thomas the Tank engine

Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.

Gender Equality


Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

More from the
United Nations

Featured stories from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Illustration of women carrying a banner that reads Generation Equality UN Women, Women and Gender Equality

International Women’s Day 2021

Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. UN Women advocates to include women at every table where decisions are being made. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain.

A group of smiling children in school uniform. ILO, Children

International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour

Child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity. It harms children mentally, physically, socially, and morally. It interferes with their schooling, preventing them from attending or concentrating. It may involve them being enslaved, separated from their families, and exposed to serious hazards and illnesses. Child labour has decreased by 38% in the last decade. But, 152 million children are still in child labour. ILO calls to accelerate the pace of progress. Take Action! Everyone can make a difference.

Installation at UN Headquarters in New York with 168 empty desks with UNICEF backpacks. UNICEF, Éducation

Schools have now been closed for almost a year

Schools for more than 168 million children globally have been completely closed for almost an entire year due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Furthermore, around 214 million children globally – or 1 in 7 – have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning. A UNICEF report notes that 14 countries worldwide have remained largely closed. Two-thirds of those countries are in Latin America and the Caribbean, affecting nearly 98 million schoolchildren. UNICEF unveils ‘Pandemic Classroom’, calling to prioritise the reopening of schools.

WHO, Health

El Salvador certified as malaria-free

El Salvador becomes the first country in Central America to be awarded a certification of malaria elimination by WHO, following more than 50 years of commitment to ending the disease.

UNESCO, Oceans and Marine Life

World Heritage marine sites help fight climate change

The first UNESCO scientific assessment of its World Heritage marine sites’ blue carbon ecosystems highlights the critical environmental value of these habitats in fighting climate change.

IMO, Women and Gender Equality

Women in Maritime Survey

IMO and partner have launched the Women in Maritime Survey to examine the distribution of women working in the maritime sector, from support roles to executive level positions. 

UNWTO, Tourism, Culture

Culture and creativity in tourism recovery

UNWTO and UNESCO collaborate to guidelines for the responsible restart of cultural tourism to ensure inclusive access to heritage, as countries around the world recover from the pandemic.

A small-holder farmer in Cambodia UNCTAD, Trade and Commerce

Harnessing the promise of blockchain to change lives

With the help of partners, UNICEF has used blockchain technology to create a fund to raise donations of cryptocurrencies for its work. Beyond financial applications an UNCTAD paper points at blockchain’s potential towards sustainable development. UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021 says frontier technologies such as blockchain could promote development if governments implement policies that maximize their potential benefits, while mitigating harmful outcomes. Otherwise, they could worsen existing inequalities, as has occurred with previous waves of technological change.

Workers stand facing a conveyor belt processing bananas. World Bank, Trade and Commerce

Tracking an unprecedented year for businesses

Nearly every business in the world has been affected by COVID-19. While one-fourth of companies saw sales falling 50 percent in October-January from pre-pandemic levels, a third said their sales increased or stayed the same. Capturing the impact of the pandemic on businesses, the World Bank analysis reflects the performance of more than 120,000 firms in over 60 countries. The assessment is expected to help inform recovery efforts. In developing countries, despite government programmes  –  businesses most affected by the shock – were the least likely to receive government support.

Two people working in a farm patch. FAO, Agriculture and Food

Central African Republic’s local farming experts

FAO’s Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) programme provides agricultural and entrepreneurial training for young people in rural areas. These JFFLS programmes have been implemented in many countries around the world, focusing on providing vulnerable youth, especially in crisis and post-conflict contexts, with practical and commercial farming skills. Emmanuel was invited to take part in the training by an FAO Youth Coordinator. He was part of the first group of young people in CAR to go through the training, which took place in Boali, 95 kilometres away from Bangui.

A health worker holds a man’s wrist while pushing against his fingers. IOM, Health

Adding life to their days

Despite the growing recognition of the benefits of palliative care in humanitarian settings, its provision has largely been overlooked by the humanitarian sector. IOM began strengthening palliative care services in the Rohingya refugee camps in early 2020, prior to the the full-blown breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to integrate these essential services. Palliative care is a specialized medical field focused on providing relief for people living with a chronic or terminal illness. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers.

What we do

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, including:

Structure of the
United Nations

The main parts of the UN structure are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.

The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).

The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.

Learn more

The Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines located in the Øresund Straight separating Denmark and Sweden. UN Photo

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.

Women at UN CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat”. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic

While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.

young children smiling at camera

In 2020, the United Nations turned 75. UN75 aims to build a global vision for the year 2045, the UN's centenary; to increase understanding of the threats to that future; and to drive collective action to realize that vision.  #Join the Conversation #Be the Change

Watch and Listen

Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Since the beginning of time, we have treated nature as a free and endless provider of services. We hike in forests, swim in oceans and use its resources without a second thought. But even if we don’t pay for these goods and services, their value is far from zero.


A resilient recovery for the world’s poorest countries amidst COVID-19

Not long ago, the 74 poorest countries in the world were well on the path to a better, more prosperous future. But COVID-19 is threatening all that. Today, health workers, teachers, students, employees, scientists, women, men and many others are weaving stories of resilience in the midst of this crisis.

Covid-19 vaccines – what we need to know

As the world rolls out COVID-19 vaccines, many people are asking what to expect – in particular, are these vaccines safe? The answer is yes, but here’s a bit more information you may find useful.

UN Podcasts

Melissa Fleming and Alice Nderitu in the recording studios at the United Nations.

Are you the Scorpion?

“Genocide is a human creation so there has to be a human solution to it. What the world hasn't learned is what to do about the response….The early warning is there [...] but response is extremely poor. For ‘never again’ to work, we need to invest energy in addressing the foundations that produce the people who end up becoming genociders.”

Alice Nderitu, the Secretary General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, speaks candidly, in the latest episode of Awake at Night with Melissa Fleming, about her experiences mediating in areas of conflict and how her powerful storytelling techniques built a peace agreement between 56 ethnic communities that still stands today. She also shares the indicators that can lead to violence and the importance of being an active listener.

As she describes: “I always say that, as a mediator, you have to have a very small mouth, big eyes, and big ears because you have to keep listening. Especially listen to what is not being said.”

Latest Audio from UN News

The United Nations in Pictures

Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

women in colorful dresses standing outdoors
Photo:UN Women/Joe Saade

I Lead by Example. ​I am Generation Equality.

Measured purely by numbers and ratios, the picture of women’s and girls’ leadership globally is grim indeed. At the same time, women are not waiting for the doors to open. This exhibit features 13 extraordinary women leaders fighting for gender equality, whose words and stories inspired others to join “Generation Equality.” It presents women leading by example to change the places of power, end violence, stop climate change, and open opportunities for all women and girls. The exhibit is organized by UN Women in connection with International Women’s Day, 8 March.


Peruvian woman at fruit stand
Photo:© UNFPA Peru

Women supporting women: Delivering vital services and lifesaving care around the world

Sometimes, that support comes from changing people's minds. Flavia Buitrón belongs to an organization of Quechua women in Peru that raises awareness of indigenous women's issues. The pandemic has laid bare many painful truths, not least how tough and isolating the road is when we go through difficult times alone. We’ve seen how working in solidarity is the way to reach where we are heading faster. This International Women’s Day, on 8 March, we celebrate the women supporting other women, even when their own burdens are great and growing. When women uplift other women, we all rise.

portrait of a girl
Photo:OCHA/Giles Clarke

Inside Yemen: Portraits of Resilience

Angam, 7, has six brothers and sisters. She stopped going to school, because her family cannot afford schoolbooks, bags and uniforms. This portrait series was photographed in south Yemen in late 2020 by photographer Giles Clarke. It is the result of years of work documenting Yemen and the lives of those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis. It highlights the resilience, strength and hope of the Yemeni people. They fled violence in search of safety. They lost their homes, family members, friends, neighbours. They live in makeshift shelters, not knowing when they'll be able to return home.

women planting trees
Photo:UNDP Afghanistan/S. Farhad Zalmai

Celebrating women around the world who are leading the charge to protect local wildlife

Women in Wakhan National Park supporting reforestation efforts. The forests close to the villages will decrease pressure on grazing areas in wildlife habitats. Globally, women are stepping to the fore against wildlife crime and corruption. Through positions they occupy in all walks of life – as influencers in their communities, frontline defenders and wildlife managers, government decision-makers, legislators, scientists, and business leaders - women are working to protect wildlife for the benefit of ecosystems, economies and people.