Deyanira Cordoba working in the field.

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.

Sima Bahous

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."

Sima Bahous
Executive Director, UN Women

UNESCO Director-General's message 2022

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.

Audrey Azoulay

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."

Audrey Azoulay
Director-General, UNESCO