As the world moves forward to mark International Women’s Day, the time for women’s rights is moving backwards. We all pay the price.
The cascading crises of recent years have highlighted how women’s leadership is more crucial than ever.
Women have faced the Covid-19 pandemic heroically as doctors, nurses, and public health and social care workers. But at the same time, women and girls have been the first to lose their jobs or schooling, take on more unpaid care work, and face sky-high levels of domestic and cyber violence and child marriage. children.
The pandemic has brought into even sharper relief an age-old truth: the roots of patriarchy run deep. We still live in a male dominated world with a male dominated culture. Therefore, in good and bad times, women are more likely to fall into poverty. Their health care is sacrificed and their education and opportunities are reduced.
As we look to the future, a sustainable and equitable recovery for all is only possible if it is a feminist recovery, one that puts progress for girls and women at the center of its concerns.
We need economic progress through targeted investments in education, employment, training and decent work for women. Women should be on the front line for the 400 million jobs we are set to create by 2030.
We need social progress through investments in social protection systems and the care economy. Such investments pay huge dividends, creating green and sustainable jobs, while supporting members of our societies who need help, including children, the elderly and the sick.
We need financial progress, to reform a morally bankrupt global financial system, so that all countries can invest in a women-centered economic recovery. This includes debt relief and fairer tax systems that channel some of the world’s huge pockets of wealth to those who need it most.
We need urgent and transformative climate action to reverse the reckless rise in emissions and gender inequalities that have left women and girls disproportionately vulnerable. Developed countries must urgently meet their funding and technical support commitments for a just transition from fossil fuels. Prosperous and stable economies of the future will be green, inclusive and sustainable.
We need more women in government and business leadership, including finance ministers and CEOs, who develop and implement green and socially progressive policies that benefit all of their citizens. We know, for example, that having more women in parliaments is linked to stronger climate commitments and higher levels of investment in health care and education.
We need political progress through targeted measures that ensure equal leadership and representation of women at all levels of political decision-making, through bold gender quotas.
Gender inequality is essentially a question of power. Uprooting centuries of patriarchy requires that power be equitably shared among all institutions, at all levels.
At the United Nations, we have achieved, for the first time in the history of the organization, gender parity in senior management at headquarters and globally. This has significantly improved our ability to better reflect and represent the communities we serve.
At every step of the process, we can be inspired by the women and girls who drive progress in every sphere and every corner of our globe. Young women climate activists are leading global efforts to pressure governments to meet their commitments.
Women’s rights activists bravely demand equality and justice and build more peaceful societies as peacekeepers, peacemakers and humanitarians in some of the troubled areas of the world and beyond.
In societies where women’s rights movements are vibrant, democracies are stronger. When the world invests in expanding opportunities for women and girls, all of humanity benefits. For reasons of justice, equality, morality and common sense, we need to get things done on women’s rights. We need a sustainable feminist recovery centered on and led by women and girls.
—The author António Guterres is the Secretary General of the United Nations