– delivered by UN Women Executive Director on behalf of the President of the General Assembly –
Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
21 July 2020
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women
Viewers around the world,
Let me first extend my gratitude to the Executive Director of UN Women, and her team; as well as the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management; the Office of Information and Communications Technology; and the interpreters, who have worked tirelessly to make this large-scale interactive event a success in the midst of the unprecedented global challenge of the coronavirus.
I applaud our panelists and moderators from around the world who discussed the defining issue of our time: gender equality.
To our participants, I thank you for your active engagement in today’s event. By choosing to open up your laptop you have chosen to open your mind to the infinite possibilities of an equal world. I trust that you will continue the conversation within and among your communities in order to: amplify the voice of every girl; listen to the words of every woman; facilitate the inclusion of the most vulnerable and marginalized women; and elect more women.
While presiding over the General Debate last September, I was shocked that only 16 of 195 speakers were women. Women are still underrepresented across all levels of power. This must change. Indeed, today the Honourable Minister of Argentina elaborated on the need for more women in decision-making roles in all forms of social life, and in political office.
This will only be made possible if we re-commit to equal access to quality education for girls as the Honourable Minister from Sierra Leone discussed earlier today. The young girl who sits at her school desk in 2020, may sit behind her country’s placard at the 50th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Furthermore, we will only find solutions to global health threats and the effects of climate change if we mobilise the potential of our entire population. The Honourable Minister from the Bahamas today reminded us that climate resilience is inextricably linked to gender equality.
Moreover, lasting peace is only achievable through the full cooperation of all members of society; yet between 1992 and 2018 only 13% of negotiators, 3% of mediators and 4% of signatories in major peace processes were women.
The Minister of the Republic of Korea also noted the importance of ensuring that the needs of women must be priortised in all COVID-19 responses.
To our participants, I thank you for your active engagement in today’s event. By choosing to open up your laptop you have chosen to open your mind to the infinite possibilities of an equal world. I trust that you will continue the conversation within and among your communities in order to: amplify the voice of every girl; listen to the words of every woman; facilitate the inclusion of the most vulnerable and marginalized women; and elect more women
Sisters and brothers,
If we are to invest in our shared future, we must invest in girls and women. We can only do so, by forging new partnerships between governments, civil society and the private sector. Let the upcoming one-day high-level meeting, to be held on the margins of the General Debate to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, be our moment of change.
I will be pleased to circulate a summary of today’s event in due course, and will continue to support your efforts to accelerate the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Progress is hard-earned, and often incurs significant personal sacrifice. I commend you for your continued leadership, and your dedication to what is right. On behalf of the future generations of girls and boys who will benefit from your work, I thank you.
It is unacceptable that in 2020, the year in which we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, that no country has achieved gender equality. Let us not forget that it is the responsibility of both women and men to commit to the Beijing Declaration and Programme for Action. We are Generation Equality and together we will end discrimination and gender-based violence, and work to empower women and girls everywhere.