From India to the US, women are raising their voices against abusive behaviour and discriminatory attitudes, UN chief Antonio Guterres told the world body's largest gathering on gender equality and women rights.
Secretary General Guterres, addressing the opening of the 62nd session of UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) here today, said across the world, women are telling their stories and provoking important and necessary conversations in villages and cities; in boardrooms and bedrooms; in the streets and in the corridors of power.
In Latin America, France, India, the Middle East, China and here in the US From 'MeToo' to 'Time's Up' to 'The Time is Now' Women and girls are calling out abusive behaviour and discriminatory attitudes," Guterres said.
The CSW, which will run through March 23, is the UN's largest gathering on gender equality and women's rights, and the single largest forum for UN Member States, civil society organizations and other international actors to build consensus and commitment on policy actions on this issue.
The session will focus on the priority theme of Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.
Describing himself a "proud feminist", Guterres said progress for women and girls means "changing the unequal power dynamics that underpin discrimination and violence", stressing that this is not only the greatest human rights challenge of our time but is also in everyone's interests.
"Discrimination against women damages communities, organizations, companies, economies and societies," he said.
He emphasised that in the male-dominated world with its "male-dominated culture", sexist attitudes and stereotypes have been widespread in governments, the private sector, academia, the arts, science and technology, and even in civil society and international organizations like the UN.
He slammed the disproportionate numbers across organizations for women in leadership roles, saying a new era will truly be ushered in for women and girls the dismal statistics of women's involvement across sectors are corrected.
"Women are pioneering scientists and mathematicians but they occupy less than 30 per cent of research and development jobs worldwide. Women are gifted negotiators and communicators but at the United Nations, the proportion of women ambassadors hovers around 20 per cent," he said.
The UN chief said women's participation in decision-making makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous.
"Conversely, attacks on the fundamental rights of women and girls can be precursors to radicalization and violent extremism," he added.
Describing rural women as the "backbone of their families and communities", Guterres said preventing and ending violence against women and girls, lifting up marginalized women, indigenous women, women in rural communities, and women refugees and migrants, will lift everyone and ensure that no one is left behind.
Turning to his efforts for maintaining gendering balance at the UN, Guterres said the world body has already reached gender parity in the senior management group for the first time.
His roadmap envisages gender parity at senior levels of our leadership by 2021, and ultimately in 2028 across the board. Women now fill one-third of positions as heads and deputy heads of peacekeeping missions the highest proportion ever, and on track to meet his targets, he told the session.
He also stressed that he is completely committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability and the UN is working with governments and civil society to prevent and address these crimes and to support survivors.
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