UN Secretary General assesses discrimination against women harms everybody
YEREVAN, MARCH 8, ARMENPRESS. “The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before,” ARMENPRESS reports, citing the official website of the UN, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message on the Day, marked annually on 8 March.
From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds, said the UN chief, declaring that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls “is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”
“The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit,” he continued. “There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations.”
However, some remaining serious obstacles include that more than a billion women lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence; over the next decade millions more girls will undergo genital mutilation; and women’s representation in parliaments stands at less than one quarter – and even lower in boardrooms.
“Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissmantled,” he lamented.
Noting that the UN should “set an example for the world,” Mr. Guterres recognizes that this is not always the case.
He did, however, point out some changes to address it, saying “We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the Organization.”
Totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment, Mr. Guterres added the UN’s plans to improve reporting and accountability, elaborating how the Organization is working globally to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions.
“We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination,” maintained the Secretary-General.
Noting that women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, he affirmed that progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) means “progress for all women, everywhere.”
“Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all,” he underscored, saying that that gender equality “is not a favour to women,” but a human rights issue in everyone’s interests.
He asserted that investing in women lifts up communities, companies and countries.
“Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous,” he detailed, adding that discrimination against them is “detrimental to all.”
The UN chief stressed the need for transparency and accountability if women are to reach their full potential to lift up communities, societies and economies.
“Stand with women, listen to them and learn from them,” Mr. Guterres urged.
English –translator/editor: Tigran Sirekanyan