Women and Gender Equality

Around the world and through the decades, we have all shared in the global struggle for gender equality.

woman cutting fabric

The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality. Legal restrictions have kept 2.7 billion women from having the same choice of jobs as men. Less than 25% of parliamentarians are women. One in three women experiences gender-based violence. International Women’s Day, 8 March, is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women. This year’s theme, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights, is aligned with UN Women’s campaign marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Let’s make 2020 count for women and girls everywhere!

The profile of a woman using a head veil

The progress Afghanistan has made in increasing freedom and rights and dramatically lowering maternal mortality must not be erased or eroded. UNFPA is on the ground in Afghanistan working with its partners to ensure access to life-saving reproductive health and protection services at community, village and district levels and in camps. Guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, UNFPA is committed to delivering in Afghanistan, with our response grounded in our mission to uphold the rights of girls and women.

A woman hangs holds up an illustration of a 50/50 signs that include both the male and female signs.

Across all regions, women are paid less than men. The International Equal Pay Day (18 September) represents the longstanding efforts towards the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value. It further builds on the United Nations commitment to human rights and against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women and girls. This year’s observance focuses on encouraging efforts of key labour market actors to ensure that equal pay remains central to pandemic responses worldwide and to fully recognize the contributions of women to COVID-19 recovery.

A digital rendering of a community place

Engaging women and girls to develop safe, inclusive, and accessible public spaces is one of the core principles of UN-Habitat’s global commitment to building better and more resilient cities.

grid of artworks on gender equality

We all have the potential to create meaningful change in the world around us. Whether by educating family and friends, speaking up on social media, challenging stereotypes through creative expression or otherwise, we can each promote gender equality and #ActForEqual every single day. In the run up to the 2021 Generation Equality Forum UN Women asked artists globally to visualize what gender equality means to them and received more than 1000 inspirational submissions from creative advocates all over the world.

Dubravka Šimonović

Rape is widespread all over the world, and all countries, as well as the UN, need to do more to improve legislation to improve conviction rates and protect women, Dubravka Šimonović, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, has told UN News.

In her last report for the UN in the role, entitled: Rape as a grave and systematic human rights violation and gender-based violence against women, Ms. Šimonović, a highly experienced independent human rights expert, calls for governments to ensure that rape laws are in line with international human rights legislation which, she says, has evolved significantly over recent decades.

Speaking to UN News’s Conor Lennon, Ms. Šimonović said that impunity remains a major problem.

a collage of portraits of women.

UN Women invites women’s and feminist organizations, government and private entities to make bold commitments for equality at the Generation Equality Forum, from 30 June to 2 July.

What does supermodel and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Natalia Vodianova have inside her bag? Watch as she shows us the essential items women just can't live without.

new mother attended by nurse

Mothers already shouldered tremendous financial, physical, emotional, and intellectual burdens before the onset of the pandemic. But now ‒ under increasing economic pressures, reduced access to health care, diminishing social support and growing unpaid care responsibilities ‒ many of these burdens have become crushing. All of this is taking a toll on the long-term health and welfare of mothers. Women have been disproportionately affected by pandemic-related job losses, and researchers are starting to see signs of rising stillbirths, maternal mortality and poor maternal health outcomes around the world. 

A woman sits at her desk in front of a computer as two kids read together on a couch nearby.

The new reality, due to the pandemic, has left many mothers scrambling. With schools and day-cares closed, many were forced to leave their jobs or cut the hours they worked. New IMF estimates confirm the outsized impact on working mothers, and on the economy. Within the world of work, women with young children have been among the biggest casualties of the economic lockdowns. Three countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain—illustrate the varied impact of the pandemic on workers.

Iman Hadi poses for a picture next to rows of solar panels.

A Yemeni woman improves lives and changes minds

A woman with eyes closed looks down and leans her head on her hands in prayer position.

In war-torn Yemen, women are often the first victims

partial view of woman with hands crossed over lap

The 2021 State of World Population report, titled My Body is My Own, marks the first time a United Nations report focuses on the power and agency of individuals to make choices about their bodies without fear, violence or coercion. The report examines data on women’s decision-making power and on laws supportive of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Tragically, only 55 per cent of women have bodily autonomy, according to measurements of their ablity to make their own decisions on issues relating to health care, contraception and whether to have sex. The report also highlights the legal, economic and social barriers to securing bodily autonomy for all. Here are seven common myths about bodily autonomy and why we must abandon these misconceptions once and for all

From top left, clockwise: Mariam Lomtadze, Kathy Gitau, Somaya Faruqi, Julieta Martinez

Girls around the world are using innovation and technology to solve problems, to unite communities and as a force for good and equality. And yet, women and girls are still under-represented in STEM fields. In an increasingly digitized world economy, the gender digital divide has severe repercussion for girls’ and women’s rights. To bridge this gap, at least three things need to happen: facilitate equal access to digital technologies and the internet for girls and women; encourage and invest in girls and women to build their ICT skills; and enable women and girls to take up leadership roles in tech. From creating open-source ventilators in Afghanistan to unifying and amplifying the voices of young activists in Chile, and working to end child marriage in Georgia, here are some girls and young women changemakers who inspire us.