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
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate women and girls everywhere.
We celebrate their contributions to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their ideas, innovations and activism that are changing our world for the better.
And their leadership across all walks of life.
But we also recognize that in too many areas, the clock on women’s rights is moving backwards.
The pandemic has kept girls and women out of schools and workplaces.
They face rising poverty and rising violence.
They do the vast majority of the world’s unpaid but essential care work.
They’re targets of violence and abuse, just because of their gender.
In all countries, women are scandalously under-represented in the halls of power and the boardrooms of business.
And as this year’s theme reminds us, they bear the brunt of climate change and environmental degradation.
Starting now, on International Women’s Day, it’s time to turn the clock forward for every woman and girl.
Through guaranteeing quality education for every girl, so they can build the lives they want and help make the world a better place for us all.
Through massive investments in women’s training and decent work.
Through effective action to end gender-based violence.
Through bold action to protect our planet.
Through universal care that is fully integrated into social protection systems.
And through targeted measures like gender quotas so we can all benefit from women’s ideas, experience and leadership everywhere decisions are made.
Gender inequality is essentially a question of power, in a male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture. Power relations must be reversed.
At the United Nations, we’ve achieved gender parity in senior management at headquarters and around the world — improving our work and better representing the communities we serve.
We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world.
We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality.
We need to turn the clock forward on women’s rights.
The time is now.
We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world."
UN Women Executive Director's message 2022
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the power and potential of women and girls. We recognize their courage, resilience and leadership. We mark the ways in which we are making progress towards a more gender-equal world.
At the same time, we see how that progress is being undermined by multiple, interlocking and compounding generational crises.
Currently, we are witnessing the horrifying situation in Ukraine where the impacts on women and girls, including the hundreds of thousands displaced, remind us: all conflicts, from Ukraine to Myanmar to Afghanistan, from the Sahel to Yemen, exact their highest price from women and girls. The Secretary- General has been clear, War Must Stop.
Recently, we have seen the impact of COVID-19 in increasing inequalities, driving poverty and violence against women and girls; and rolling back their progress in employment, health and education. The accelerating crises of climate change and environmental degradation are disproportionately undermining the rights and wellbeing of women and girls. They are multiplying insecurity at all levels, from individual and household to national. Rising temperatures, extended droughts, violent storms and floods are resulting in loss of livelihoods, they are depleting resources and fueling migration and displacement. The latest major IPCC report on climate change, and our Secretary-General, have warned us that ‘nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone – now, ’and that ‘many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now’.
Climate change is a threat multiplier. But women, and especially young women, are solution multipliers.
We have today the opportunity to put women and girls at the centre of our planning and action and to integrate gender perspectives into global and national laws and policies. We have the opportunity to re-think, re-frame and re-allocate resources. We have the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of women and girls environmental defenders and climate activists to guide our planet’s conservation. We need Indigenous women’s inter-generational knowledge, practices and skills.
It will take unprecedented levels of global cooperation and solidarity to succeed, but there is no alternative to success. We must protect our hard-won gains on human rights and women’s rights and lead decisively to leave no woman or girl behind.
We have a blueprint to follow. It involves women’s full and equal participation and leadership in decision-making; their access to green jobs and the blue economy; and their equal access to finance and resources.
We need to ensure universal social protection and a care economy that protects us all. We have to scale up financing for gender-responsive climate, environmental and disaster risk initiatives; including for COVID-19 recovery and to increase resilience to future shocks. The solution is there. We resolve to pursue it.
Let us make this International Women’s Day a moment to recall that we have the answers not just for SDG 5 but, through the advancement of gender equality, for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. I look forward to working with every one of you to that end.
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the power and potential of women and girls. We recognize their courage, resilience and leadership. We mark the ways in which we are making progress towards a more gender-equal world."
Gender equality for tomorrow starts today. Right now, however, parity is still a work in progress. Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that it would take a century to close the gender gap. We need to turn this situation around.
We still have a long way to go. Gender equality for tomorrow starts today. Right now, however, parity is still a work in progress. Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that it would take a century to close the gender gap. We need to turn this situation around. We still have a long way to go. Globally, women earn just 77% as much as men. Women represent only one in three researchers, according to UNESCO estimates. Women own less than 20% of all land, and account for an estimated 80% of people displaced by climate change.
Yet a new day is dawning. Today’s women are leading global movements for change. They are tackling global issues such as climate justice, press freedom and access to scientific progress. And they are not asking for permission – they are taking their seats at the table.
This year, on International Women’s Day, I would like to applaud this new generation of young women – for their courage in speaking out, inspiring others and mobilizing their peers, for a more sustainable tomorrow.
They include young women like Melati and Isabel Wijsen, two Indonesian sisters who are committed to reducing plastic waste; Mabel Suglo, a Ghanaian social entrepreneur who works with local artisans with disabilities; and Bahraini activist Reem Al Mealla, a marine biologist who created one of the largest Arab environmental movements in history.
As we look to build a better tomorrow, UNESCO will continue to empower girls and women like these, in line with our Global Priority Gender Equality.
This means safeguarding their right to education, for example through the Global Education Coalition, which now has 200 partners working in over 110 countries to address learning disruptions caused by COVID-19. It also means ensuring the voices of women are heard, for instance by training female journalists in East Africa to report on the pandemic. And it means fighting gender-based violence, as we did by launching the film Listen to Her with Indian producer and actor Nandita Das.
Today, I call upon all UNESCO Member States to empower women and girls, so they can lead the way in building a more sustainable world. Together, we can ensure that, whether women whisper, speak or shout, their voices are heard.
This year, on International Women’s Day, I would like to applaud this new generation of young women – for their courage in speaking out, inspiring others and mobilizing their peers, for a more sustainable tomorrow."
Women and girls pay a heavy price during conflicts and emergencies.
More than 1.7 million people, mostly women and children, have now fled from their homes in Ukraine to neighbouring countries. For them, displacement will bring increased vulnerability to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation. Moreover, many of these women are pregnant and may need medical care or help with complicated pregnancies. A lack of access to healthcare in these situations puts their lives at risk.
Conflicts, climate shocks and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated gender inequalities. Today a record number of people around the world are displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance and access to essential services, and it is women and girls who are paying the heaviest price.
While the conflict in Yemen has slipped from global attention, seven years of fighting has decimated the health system, leaving an estimated 5 million women and girls without access to lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services. Today, one woman dies during childbirth every two hours in the country from causes that are almost entirely preventable.
For millions of women and girls who have lived in the shadow of conflict in eastern Ukraine for the last eight years, gender-based violence, already a daily reality, is likely to get worse. For some young women and girls in Syria, violence and abuse are all they have ever known.
Simply put, women and girls living in emergencies around the world are robbed of the ability to take charge of their bodies, lives and futures. Their suffering is immense - it is unjustified and needless.
The remarkable global progress that has been made over the past two decades in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights is in jeopardy in conflict and fragile settings around the world. We saw just how quickly hard-won gains made for women and girls unravelled in the face of the crisis in Afghanistan. In Tigray in northern Ethiopia and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, women and girls continue to bear the heavy cost of conflict and its aftermath.
In the Philippines, and in Haiti, Tonga and other small island developing states, the impacts of the climate crisis and intensifying natural disasters put pressure on women’s livelihoods and their ability to access food, water and other basic necessities, leaving them more vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and abuse.
On this International Women’s Day, I call upon the international community to ensure that women’s and girls’ health, rights and dignity are safeguarded, and critical infrastructure, protected, in every conflict and crisis-affected country. Sexual and reproductive health services must not be an afterthought in emergencies. For the woman about to give birth or the adolescent girl subjected to sexual abuse, these services are as vital as food, water and shelter, and can mean the difference between life and death.
We must listen to women's voices and invest in their leadership and resilience. Women bring communities together; women lead efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and women can drive reconciliation and ensure long-lasting peace.
Every day of every conflict or crisis is a day that moves us further away from creating the better, more sustainable, and more equal future we want. Women and girls around the world need and deserve peace.
Dr Natalia Kanem
We must listen to women's voices and invest in their leadership and resilience. Women bring communities together; women lead efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change; and women can drive reconciliation and ensure long-lasting peace."
This approach also holds true when it comes to tackling climate change and environmental degradation; and boosting disaster risk reduction -- the theme of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women. Women play a crucial role in the climate and environmental sectors, and they are often leading frontline natural resource management strategies. This makes them well-placed to identify and implement effective and sustainable solutions. Yet environmental degradation and increased competition over scarce resources are exacerbating the risk of gender-based violence while women environmental human rights defenders, including indigenous women, often face threats and violence. UNDP and the University of Pittsburgh’s Global Report on Gender Equality in Public Administration shows that even though women are disproportionately impacted by the climate and environmental crises, they are still hitting a glass ceiling that stops them from advancing to the highest levels of leadership in environmental protection and climate action. Women’s participation in ministries of environmental protection averages 33% globally, for instance, and parity in decision-making on these critical issues is exceptionally rare.
Yet change is possible. UNDP’s Climate Promise is currently assisting 120 countries to enhance their climate pledges, known as National Determined Contributions (NDCs). These NDCs are important vehicles for advancing not only sustainable development but also gender equality. Globally, over 110,000 people have engaged in NDC stakeholder consultations and women are leading the process in many cases. 96% of second-generation NDCs supported under the Climate Promise include references to gender compared to 48% of first-generation NDCs. Or look to the Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition, co-led by UNDP and a consortium of partners. It aims to accelerate progress on climate justice and gender equality over the next five years. We need to build on such efforts to advance more ambitious gender-responsive environmental and climate agendas. In particular, they must take the unique needs and perspectives of women into account and actively promote women’s participation and leadership. They must also make climate and environmental finance work for women. Driving forward this change can have a ripple effect. Research shows, for instance, that countries with a high representation of women in parliament are more likely to ratify the international environment treaties that the world now needs.
Guided by the Global Goals, our new Strategic Plan 2022-2025 and our upcoming Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025, UNDP will continue its steadfast efforts to realise #GenerationEquality. UNDP itself is changing and has now achieved a 50-50 balance in our workforce. We know that a sustainable, green, and equal future for all is simply not possible without gender equality. Informed by data and analytics provided by resources such as the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, countries must now put women and girls -- and their needs -- at the centre of the growing green recovery. That includes new policy measures that address women’s economic and social security including unpaid care work, the labour market, violence against women, and the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on women and girls. This much is clear: creating a more equal world today will set the conditions for a more sustainable tomorrow.
We know that a sustainable, green, and equal future for all is simply not possible without gender equality. Informed by data and analytics provided by resources such as the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, countries must now put women and girls -- and their needs -- at the centre of the growing green recovery."