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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (at the podium and on screens) addresses the opening of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York on March 14, 2022.   --UN Photo Handout via Xinhua

UN chief calls for efforts to promote gender equality, women’s rights

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that gender equality and women’s rights must be at the heart of a renewed social contract that is fit for today’s societies and economies.
He made the appeal at the opening of the 66th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This year’s priority theme is “achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.”
The unprecedented emergencies of the climate crisis, pollution, desertification and biodiversity loss, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact of new and ongoing conflicts, have accelerated and intensified into widespread and interlinked crises that affect all people. But women and girls face the greatest threats and the deepest harm, said Guterres.
Gender discrimination means just a tiny proportion of landowners and leaders are women. Women’s needs and interests are often ignored and pushed aside in policies and decisions about land use, pollution, conservation and climate action, he said.
Just one-third of decision-making roles under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement are occupied by women. And only 15 percent of environment ministers are women, he noted.
Around the world, only one-third of 192 national energy frameworks include gender considerations. And gender considerations are rarely taken into account in climate financing, he added.
“This demonstrates once more that we live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. We are still living with the results of millennia of patriarchy that excludes women and prevents their voices from being heard,” he said. “We cannot realise any of our goals without the contributions of all. This is why everyone, including men and boys, should be working for women’s rights and gender equality.”
The Paris Agreement is essential to the rights of women and girls. Addressing biodiversity loss, land degradation and pollution is vital to creating lives of dignity for all on a healthy planet. But the goals will not be met without women’s full and equal participation and leadership, he said.
“Gender equality and women’s rights must be at the heart of a renewed social contract that is fit for today’s societies and economies. We are seeing a pushback on women’s rights. We must push back on the pushback,” he said.
Women’s equal leadership and participation are vital to creating peaceful, resilient communities and societies. The perilous state of peace in today’s world cannot be separated from long-standing structures of patriarchy and exclusion, he said.
“The climate and environmental crises, coupled with the ongoing economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, are the defining issues of our time. Our collective response will chart our course for decades to come. To forge the sustainable future we need, women and girls must be front and centre, leading the way,” said Guterres.

(Latest Update March 16, 2022)

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