Health care worker with protective glasses and mask
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

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.

This year’s theme for the International Day,"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.

It is also aligned with the priority theme of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, "Women in public life, equal participation in decision making",and the flagship Generation Equality campaign, which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs.

Gender Equality by 2030

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality.

Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon; in the last decade, we discovered new human ancestors and photographed a black hole for the first time.

In the meantime, legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from accessing the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25 per cent of parliamentarians were women, as of 2019. One in three women experience gender-based violence, still.

Let’s make 2021 count for women and girls everywhere.

illustration of women and a man making their voices heard

How you can make an impact

Change isn’t just about big headline moments, legal victories and international agreements: the way we talk, think, and act every day can create a ripple effect that benefits everyone.

Special Focus: COVID-19

women wearing facemasks carry boxes on their shoulders

Gender equality matters in COVID-19 response

The pandemic is not just a health issue. It is a profound shock to our societies and economies, and women are at the heart of care and response efforts underway. UN Women is bringing up-to-date information on how and why gender matters in the response.

Illustration of women's profile against a blue background

Women rise for all

This initiative connects women from all sectors in recognition of front-line leadership that is winning against COVID-19 and is inspiring the action required to come out of the pandemic stronger as part of Decade of Action to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Did you know?

  • Nearly 60 per cent of women around the world work in the informal economy, earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty.
  • Women earn 23% less than men globally.
  • Women occupy only 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide.
  • 1 in 3 have experiences physical or sexual violence and 200 M of girls-women have suffered genital mutilation.
Data on women's representation

Stories

Why is women’s leadership not in the headlines?

The question has never been whether women can lead as capably as men. Women have always led, especially when the times are hard, and their communities are in need. The question is: why is women’s leadership invisible?

Websites

Publications

Related International Days

Family cooking together

The Generation Equality campaign is bringing together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country, to drive actions that will create the gender-equal world we all deserve. Visit UN Women's website for more information and multimedia content, and spread the message of gender equality by sharing to your social media accounts.

 

Gender inclusive guidelines cover

Given the key role of language in shaping cultural and social attitudes, using gender-inclusive language is a powerful way to promote gender equality and eradicate gender bias. This website compiles resources to help United Nations staff navigate this issue. Check it out!

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.