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DSG/SM/1555
16 March 2021

Current Progress towards Gender Parity Discouraging, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Commission on Status of Women Ministerial Round Table

(Delayed for technical reasons)

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message for the Commission on the Status of Women’s sixty-fifth session (CSW65) Ministerial Round Table on “Getting to parity:  good practices towards achieving women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life”, 15 March:

Thank you to the Commission on the Status of Women and UN-Women for organizing this Ministerial Round Table in such challenging circumstances.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to review and rethink how our societies and economies work.  One sad truth is painfully clear:  they are not working for women and girls.  CSW65 is an opportunity to reflect on how women’s exclusion from decision-making has caused harm, and to imagine a new reality where equal power-sharing collectively solves the urgent challenges of our time.

Women have an equal right to participate but rarely hold equal leadership positions.  Discrimination, inequality, conflict, the pandemic and gender-based violence threaten these rights and prevent women from realizing them.  That means that our world is still a long way away from gender parity, and the current rate of progress is discouraging.

We will have to wait until 2077 to see gender parity among the world’s ministers.  Changing this requires concrete action, the setting of more ambitious targets, an increase in political will and financing that is more responsive to the goal of equal sharing of both power and responsibility.  As a first order of business, we need action to implement temporary special measures, including quotas, as encouraged by the CEDAW Convention [Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women] to accelerate equality.

As the Secretary-General’s report to the Commission this year highlights, well-designed and fully implemented quotas are the most ambitious tool for transformation that we have.  And yet less than 15 countries have quotas that are 50/50.  Too many enact quotas that are never realized, or which are not backed by measures for accountability.

Within the UN system, temporary special measures feature in the Secretary-General’s call to action for human rights to promote women’s leadership across all sectors.  We have also updated and are consistently implementing our own special measures in the UN to progress on the goal of gender parity at all levels.

This is critical because we know progress is faster when leaders set and meet ambitious parity targets.  The Secretary-General, our “feminist-in-chief”, has demonstrated exactly this.  After the launch of the system-wide Strategy on Gender Parity in 2017, gender parity among top leadership positions was fast-tracked.  Within two years, that goal was achieved — a first in UN history.

True power-sharing between men and women — in all their diversity — is vital for achieving the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals].  We have the tools; we have the commitments.  Let’s build the will to put them into action.

I wish you a productive discussion on this vital topic.  Together, let’s work to achieve the SDGs, rebuild towards a better future and pursue transformative change for gender equality and the world.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.