Women’s leadership and decision-making is not a favour to women. It is essential to peace and progress for all. We cannot hope to turn the climate crisis around, reduce social divisions or make sustained peace without the full contributions of all of society."
– António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
We need to step up support for women’s leadership at all levels, from local communities to global organizations, from science to politics. As the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, ‘women belong in all places where decisions are being made'."
– Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General
Measured purely by numbers and ratios, the picture of women’s and girls’ leadership globally is grim indeed. Only 21 countries currently have women heads of State or government, and at current rates of change, it will take another 130 years to reach gender parity at the pinnacle of power. The proportion of women in parliament may have doubled globally since 1995, but men still hold 75 per cent of seats, with parity not expected until 2063.
National COVID-19 task forces, critical in orchestrating responses to the pandemic, could offer a remarkable opportunity to tap women leaders, since women constitute 70 per cent of frontline health workers. Yet a recent survey of 87 of these bodies found only 3.5 percent had equal numbers of men and women.
These gaps are unfair and must be closed now, not over decades or centuries. At the same time, women are not waiting for the doors to open. As members of a new Generation Equality, they know they have the right to lead and participate – and don’t hesitate to claim it.
I lead to change the places of power
From parliaments to schools to the media, women leaders are calling for actions to address long overlooked issues vital to gender equality. They are pushing forward concerns such as slow progress in ending gender-based violence, gaps in parental leave and childcare, discriminatory laws, and the multiple forms of marginalization some women face due to ability, race, sexual orientation, age and other factors.
"From a young age, I was exposed to the stories of women who had faced inequalities, discrimination and prejudices. These stories made me challenge the society. I believed that unless we, women, start telling the stories of women, nobody else would."
"Young women, women in rural areas, indigenous women and older women, we need to take over the positions [of power and decisions] that we have been denied historically. We need to have that vision and understand that the power of change lies within us."
"Public policy shapes decisions that affect both men and women, and it’s important to have women’s voices reflected, so that we don’t continue building a society from a male perspective."
"If you want to live in a democratic country, if you wish for a better life for yourself and your children, then you should fight for equal rights for everyone, because this is the only way to build a happy society."
I lead to end violence
Taking many forms, violence against women and girls can be found in every society and is the most prevalent violation of human rights. Women everywhere have led the drive to end it, advocating new laws, insisting on zero tolerance, and making sure survivors get the right legal, health and other essential services.
"Young people can do a lot to take action against human trafficking. Don’t sit and wait for something to happen."
"We do not want to be invisible; we want to be treated equally."
"I believe in activism... We go out into the streets for those who died, those who died fighting for the rights that we still don't have and those who died without the opportunity of defending themselves."
I lead To stop the climate crisis
For women leading the charge to stop climate change, it’s not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but contesting social and economic systems that produce both pollution and injustice. Gender-based discrimination leaves women out of decisions that have to be made. And with fewer economic and other assets, they are less resilient to climate-related events like natural disasters.
"We can’t, especially now in the face of climate change, be excluded from policy-making settings... To all the young girls of colour reading this... you have every right to take up space. Occupy, fill and cement – unapologetically."
"We're living through a historic moment in terms of the climate crisis, which young people did not create, but we do have an option of leading the way to... respect for nature, and respect for each other."
"While climate action needs action from everyone at every level, we need to empower and mobilize women to lead through their own actions."
I lead To open opportunities for all women and girls
Women and girls lead not just by seeking their own equality, but by finding ways to extend empowerment to other women and girls, in an ever-widening circle. In doing so, they are demonstrating more inclusive, socially beneficial modes of leadership, while breaking barriers to women in technology, sports and beyond.
"If we make all voices heard, who knows what incredible possibilities lie ahead. Anyone – a child, a girl, could come up with an amazing idea that could revolutionize the world."
"For years, women’s rights advocates have advocated for a new dawn in the status of women and girls... As a young woman, I am also playing a role by advocating for the inclusion of women and girls in sport."
"Empowering yourself is key to breaking any barrier that is in front of you. And in empowering myself, I then had the confidence to empower others."