New York

14 July 2020

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to Women Rise for All virtual event [as prepared for delivery]

Welcome and thank you for joining us today as we launch the first global event of Women Rise for All, building on the social media launch.
We meet as the world’s governments discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN’s High-Level Political Forum, and what we can all do to minimize the worst impacts and to get back on track to meet the goals by 2030.
The pandemic is an unprecedented global health, humanitarian and development crisis.  But emergencies also create opportunities.
Over the past months, people around the world have come to see what many of us already knew:  women’s leadership makes a profound difference.
The evidence has shown — in country after country — how governments led by women are more effective in flattening the curve and positioning for economic recovery.
We have even seen press coverage profiling the ‘rockstar’ status of some local health officials.  I am pleased that we have two such rockstars with us today.
Time and again, observers have highlighted the qualities that have made for such effective leadership – clear communication, compassion, inclusion, evidence-based policies and the courage of conviction.
Today, we are seizing this moment to bring greater visibility to the incredible and effective women’s leadership the world has seen — and benefitted from — over these past months.
That’s what Women Rise for All is all about:  to seek out amazing women – at the global or local level – who are realizing the values of the United Nations in the work that they do every day. 
We want to amplify those voices in solidarity for the benefit of all.
We want to shape the way we define leadership.  And ensure that we emerge from this pandemic with women leading, in equal numbers, and equal partnership.
Today is also about leadership across generations.  The young women joining us are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today.  
We need to commit not just to stand with them, but to accompany them, sharing skills, experience and expertise to support their vision.
Too often when we come together as women it is to tackle so-called ‘women’s issues’.
When we first began Women Rise for All, our purpose was to bring women together to discuss broad global challenges, with women’s concerns and rights as an integral part of the solution.
But today we are gathering to highlight and discuss women’s issues in a time of global crisis.
Because the greatest challenges we face today – faltering economies, rising inequality, a dying planet, conflict and insecurity – are all exacerbated by exclusion. And each require the solutions that can only come with women’s inclusion.  
When we deny spaces for equal leadership, we produce policies that miss the mark.
Let’s be clear:  Policies based on half the information will produce half-baked results. 
If we only tap into half a society’s potential — all of society loses out.
This pandemic has proven that the health response and socio-economic impacts are two sides of the same coin.
We can’t have one without the other.
And we have to make sure, as the UN has done across the world these past six months, that government responses are geared to this end - strengthening our health systems, increasing social protection, reaching the most vulnerable and mitigating the worst socio-economic impacts, keeping the 2030 Agenda alive.
So even in the midst of this devastating crisis, we have an opportunity.
An opportunity to hit the reset button, to turn the crisis into an opportunity, to deliver on the Decade of Action.
An opportunity to transform and recover better.
An opportunity to rebuild a better world that works for all.
That will only be possible when we recognize the value of women front and centre, together leading the way and rising for all.