Promoting gender equality - A priority goal

Wednesday, 2021-03-10 10:15:22
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UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo emphasises the importance of removing barriers and promoting women’s participation in the peace processes.
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NDO – Representatives from nearly 60 countries and United Nations (UN) agencies recently attended an Arria-formula meeting entitled “Call to Lead by Example: Ensuring the Full, Equal and Meaningful Participation of Women in UN-led Peace Processes”. Many countries and organisations affirmed their priority and efforts to promote gender equality and to not leave women behind in the development process, especially in the post-pandemic recovery period.

At the session, which was convened by the UN Security Council on March 8 – International Women’s Day, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo emphasised the importance of removing barriers and promoting women’s participation in the peace processes. She also highlighted the UN’s efforts in pursuit of this common objective via the mainstreaming of gender equality in the UN system, citing that the UN missions in countries have assisted discussions and consultations regarding security and peace deals in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, with the participation of women and representatives of social organisations. Special envoys of the UN Secretary-General have also applied mechanisms to ensure that women-related priorities are included in discussions.

The UN Security Council’s meeting was held in the context that COVID-19 is causing severe and unpredictable impacts on all aspects, all subjects and on a global scale. The pandemic has created new barriers and made socio-economic inequality more serious, directly affecting women. During a virtual conference hosted by the European Parliament (EP) on March 8, female leaders warned of the inferiorities suffered by women worldwide amidst the raging pandemic. UN Women Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean Maria-Noel Vaeza pointed out that the COVID-19 crisis has clearly revealed inequalities, with women being the most affected. Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris said the pandemic is threatening the health and financial stability of women everywhere, noting that accounting for 70% of health workers globally, women are also at high risk of infection. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also emphasised that women are on the front line in the fight against the pandemic and are having to cope with health threats every day. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called for the elimination of all obstacles on the path towards gender equality.

In his message on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus repeated the fact that COVID-19 has reversed the progress on gender equality globally. Violence against women has increased, while women’s access to healthcare services has declined. The proportion of women losing their jobs is higher than that of men despite their lower average wage, while women are also burdened with the mission of health care for their families and society. According to WHO estimates, up to 70% of COVID-19 cases among health workers are women. The WHO has launched an initiative to increase female leadership in the health care sector, promote income equality and ensure safe working conditions for female health workers.

The UN assessed that women are effectively contributing to efforts to push back the pandemic with various roles and responsibilities ranging from health care workers and aged care workers to community and social activists. In particular, female government leaders in many countries have been welcomed for their decisiveness and efficiency in the pandemic fight. Despite representing the majority of frontline anti-pandemic forces, women have not been placed in an adequate position in the support policies related to COVID-19. The world has entered a new period of both combating the pandemic and promoting post-pandemic economic recovery, in which the risk of women being left behind needs to be eliminated on a global scale.

The UN chose the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” for this year’s International Women’s Day. Building a future of equality and sustainability is a global responsibility.