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DSG/SM/1573
21 April 2021

Amid Slow Pace of Change, Action Needed to Expedite Gender Parity at Senior Government Levels, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Dialogue on Women’s Role in Electoral Processes

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed’s video message for the high-level dialogue on Increasing Women’s Participation in Electoral Processes and Addressing Violence against Women in Elections, held today:

Your excellency, Vice‑President Inonge Mutukwa Wina, honourable leaders, parliamentarians, [United Nations Resident Coordinator, Coumba Mar Gadio,]

Every election is an opportunity to make progress towards our global commitments to women’s full and equal participation in decision-making.  In this year’s Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women, adopted just one month ago, States agreed to a raise the bar to 50-50 gender balance in all elected positions.

But, the pace of change towards this goal is too slow.  At the current rate, gender parity will not be reached among Heads of Government before 2150.  This means waiting for 130 years more.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the effectiveness of women’s leadership for all.  We have seen that many countries that are female‑led or have significant gender balance in senior leadership have had greater success in containing the virus and laying the foundations for a strong recovery.

This builds on further evidence demonstrating how women’s equal participation in Government leads to greater social protection spending and equality outcomes, and greater likelihood of concluding strong climate agreements.  It also leads to peace processes that are linked to more sustainable peace, and overall gender equality is directly related to better outcomes for nations as a whole.  And yet women continue to be consistently excluded from decision-making positions.

Urgent actions are needed to ensure zero tolerance for harassment, intimidation, cyberbullying and any other forms of violence against women in political life.  This begins with men at all levels and in every sphere of society advocating for the right of women to participate.  Member States need to strengthen their legal frameworks, especially the implementation of special measures like gender quotas to enable women to catch up.  Political parties must nominate and support women candidates.

And we all must do more to challenge mindsets that promote negative stereotypes of women’s leadership.  How many of us have heard women described as pushy and aggressive, rather than the positive, but typically male characterizations of assertive and decisive?  Progress is faster when national leaders commit to set and meet ambitious targets for women’s full participation.

Within the United Nations system, temporary special measures feature in the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for human rights to promote women’s equal participation and leadership across all sectors.  The system-wide strategy on gender parity, launched in 2017, fast-tracked and achieved gender parity among top leadership positions within two years.  Today, we have a gender parity in the United Nations senior management, including our Resident Coordinators at the country level, 51 per cent of whom are female.

We know that change can happen when we have more women leaders, youth and allies like you standing up for gender equality.  Thank you for your leadership and commitment in working for a world where half of humanity excluded today will gain their place as equal in shaping a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that leaves no one behind.

For information media. Not an official record.