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!

portrait photo of UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan

“We don't have to be naive, but we have to believe in change, because change has happened. And we can make it happen again.”

Despite monitoring multiple global crises, Rebeca Grynspan has never lost her faith in the power of change. As Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), she is assessing the impact of the war in Ukraine on cash-strapped countries still reeling from the pandemic. A trio of crises – climate change, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine – are setting global development by decades, with vulnerable countries worst affected by global food and energy shortages. In this episode, Rebeca Grynspan reflects on these setbacks, their disproportionate impact on women, and why the world can never give up on the promise of development.

Photo: ©UNCTAD/Violaine Martin

Accompanied by a mobile medical team, a UNFPA health care worker carries out regular visits to Homs, Syria.

Sexual violence in conflict settings remains widespread and systematic, a recent report by the United Nations Secretary-General found, fuelled by “rising inequality, increased militarization, reduced civic space and the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons, among other factors.” Conflict-related sexual violence – which includes assault, rape, forced marriage, trafficking, sexual slavery, forced sterilization, forced abortion other forms of sexual coercion – is used to instill fear, pain, suffering and censorship in its targets.

Reem Abdellatif with a b inside a circle featured on her shoulder.

Attacks on female journalists have reached unprecedented levels. A recent UNFPA report noted that women journalists, human rights defenders, activists and leaders are disproportionately attacked, with public forums being used to threaten, harass and stalk, and to promote hate speech targeting them. “It’s chilling and sets a dangerous precedent for human rights violations,” said Reem Abdellatif, an Egyptian-American journalist who has endured abuse because of her profession.  Hate speech has been recognized by the United Nations as a major threat to peace and human rights.

a woman holds a toddler in her front door while a young girl stands up and a young boy keeps seating behind

For many women around the world, the devastating loss of a partner is magnified by the long-term struggle for their basic rights and dignity. Even though there are more than 258 million widows around the world, historically, widows have been left unseen and unsupported. Today, as armed conflicts, displacement, and the COVID-19 pandemic leave women newly widowed or with disappeared partners, the unique experiences and needs of widows must be brought to the forefront. This International Widows’ Day, let’s make their voices lead to the path to equality.

Mary-Ellen McGroarty is talking to an Afghani man

“Some days, I sometimes wish I hadn't been here before the 15th of August, because then I wouldn't have seen the hope and the promise and the potential.”

What is it like living and working in Afghanistan as a woman leader of a UN Agency? Mary-Ellen McGroarty witnessed the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021. As Head of the World Food Programme (WFP) in the country, she has seen first hand the seismic shift in the economic, political and cultural landscape. Now, over 50% of Afghans are threatened with hunger. People are unable to go out to work either because of the economic crisis or, in the case of millions of women, because of new restrictions on their freedom. In this episode, Mary-Ellen McGroarty reflects on the impact of the takeover, the scale of the ensuing humanitarian crisis, and what it’s like sitting face to face with the Taliban.

Photo: © WFP/Wahidullah AMANI

An older woman sits leaning forward towards another woman sitting with a baby on her lap.

Nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended. UNFPA presents how unintended pregnancies can contribute to the shame, stigma and misunderstandings that must be overcome to end this crisis.


This #MothersDay, we invited parents into our studio to read stories of mothers from around the world. Watch what happens next…

group of women

The staff at the Karibuni Wa Mama (Welcome, mothers) medical centre help heal many wounds - physical and psychological, and go even further in healing survivors. The centre is managed by the NGO Solidarité feminine pour la paix et le développement intégral (Female Solidarity for Peace and Integral Development) - SOFEPADI. SOFEPADI was founded 20 years ago by 24 women in Bunia, Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo to campaign for peace and to promote women’s empowerment and human rights. 

Women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to the growing impacts of climate change, yet they are also critical advocates, innovators and decision-makers at the forefront of global climate action and solutions. This International Women’s Day (8 March 2022), under the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” UN Women recognises and celebrates the contributions of women and girls around the world to build a more sustainable and equal future for all. By championing climate action by women, for women, we can ensure that it’s not too late. Learn more about UN Women's #IWD2022

An illustration showing the earth surrounded by unified women.

This International Women’s Day, 8 March, join UN Women and the world in coming together under the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Women experience the greatest impacts of climate change, which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihoods, health, and safety. Women’s full and equal participation in decision-making processes is a top priority in the fight against climate change. Let’s recognize and celebrate the contribution of women and girls who lead us to a more sustainable future for all. Share with the world!

illustration of women forming circles around the Earth

This International Women’s Day, 8 March, join UN Women and the world in coming together under the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

Portrait of three women

The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme,  is an IAEA initiative to help women who have completed nuclear science education to develop and expand their career opportunities.