Deyanira Cordoba belongs to a family of coffee growers of Tablon de Gomez, in the of Nariño region of Colombia. As part of a UN Women project, she has learned about her economic rights, bodily autonomy and more. UN Women / Ryan Brown.
Women’s rights have made significant progress in recent decades, from the abolition of discriminatory laws to increased numbers of girls in school. But we now face a powerful pushback. Legal protections against rape and domestic abuse are being diluted in some countries; women’s sexual and reproductive rights are under threat.
All this is because gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. Centuries of discrimination and deep-rooted patriarchy have created a yawning gender power gap in our economies, our political systems, our corporations and our culture.
This profoundly affects us all and is a barrier to solving many of the challenges and threats we face, from achieving a fair globalization that works for everyone, to ending the epidemic of violence against women and building peaceful and secure societies. We must also urgently address the digital gender divide that threatens to entrench gender inequality in societies and economies for decades to come.
With women still occupying just one quarter of seats in parliaments around the world, political representation is the clearest evidence of the gender power gap. That is why gender parity at the United Nations is one of my top priorities, which has already led to the achievement of parity at senior levels, two years ahead of our target. Going forward, I will do everything in my power to make sure women are represented in all decision-making at the United Nations, including in peace processes. I will also advocate with Member States for the repealing of all discriminatory laws, for women’s equal participation in all spheres, for increased protection from violence, and for more inclusive economies.
Gender equality is a means of redefining and transforming power that will yield benefits for all. It is time to stop trying to change women, and to start changing the systems and power imbalances that prevent them from achieving their potential.
General Assembly President's Message
On this International Women’s Day we call on everyone, everywhere to uphold gender equality as a necessity in upholding human rights.
It has been twenty-five years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, which remains the most comprehensive global agenda for achieving gender equality. All Member States should not only reaffirm their commitment to it, but work assiduously to implement it.
We have made important gains since 1995: there are more girls in school than ever before, and many countries have reached gender parity in educational enrolment.
However, no country can claim to have achieved gender equality, especially in terms of income and political leadership. Change has been slow for most women and girls in the world. We have much work to do.
In this context, I welcome stakeholder engagement across the globe, inspired by women’s movements and energised by youth activists who call for wide ranging structural and systemic changes necessary for accelerated progress.
As we enter the Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, we must mainstream SDG 5 - Gender Equality - across all of our work. This ensures that women and girls have the opportunity to participate equally in all decisions.
As we celebrate ten years of UN Women, I call on you to support the intergenerational campaign, ‘Generation Equality’ to guarantee that equality becomes a lived experience for everyone, regardless of gender.
By working together- girls and boys, women and men- we can galvanize multilateral action to realise the human rights of all women and girls.
As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, let us not forget that equality is one of our most cherished goals as an Organisation.