United Nations, Mar 13: There has been a 'serious regression' in the political power of women across the world in recent years, UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa told delegates to the annual summit of women activists at UN Headquarters in New York.
The former Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs who leads the 193-member world body pointed out that in 2105 it would have taken 30 years to close the gender gap, but now, she told the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), if current trends continue, gender parity will not be reached for “107 years”.
She commended the under-appreciated women of past who “were made invisible, erased from history”, saying they “have been protagonists in the destinies of entire nations; of culture and political thinking; science and innovation; and the most significant social changes”.
“We don’t know anything about many of them” she continued. But for those we do, we must recognise their bravery and “the immense contribution” they made to humanity. “Today we are here for them”, she underscored.
Ms Espinosa praised the leap forward towards full gender parity at the UN, under Secretary-General António Guterres, saying it was a “testament to the fact that when there is political will, and leadership, it is possible to change the course of history”.
Mr Guterres informed the high-level event that “for the first time in history, the UN Senior Management Group is comprised of more women than men”, adding “we have achieved another first – parity among the Resident Coordinators – our leading officials on the ground.”
He noted that resistance and obstacles remained to further progress at the UN, promising “We will push back against the pushbacks, and we will not give up until we reach parity across the board”.
While the UN was on its way “to reaching parity at all senior levels by 2021”, Mr Guterres lamented that it was far from the case elsewhere.
Women and girls represent half of the global population, yet, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions in every region of the world. As of October, only nine per cent of Member States had a female Head of State or Government and only 24 per cent of parliamentarians were women, according to the UN.
Moreover, in 31 States, women account for less than 10 per cent of parliamentarians in single or lower houses, with four chambers lacking any women members at all. And among the 2018 “Fortune 500” rankings of leading US businesses, only 24 have women CEOs and 12 companies have no women at all on their board.
“We need parity to change power relations”, Mr Guterres said in conclusion, thanking the gathering “for powering the change our world needs”. “Without women in politics, sustainable development, human rights and peace, will be seriously jeopardised,” she stated. We need more women in politics”. UNI