I have the honor to deliver this statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day on behalf of Mexico, Finland and 60 States.
During the last years, we have witnessed a backlash against women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality. These regressions jeopardize the progress achieved on this agenda. Advancing gender equality is crucial to comply with our human rights obligations, but also key to enable peace and sustainable development.
We have observed that topics such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, women’s participation in public affairs, activism, gender-based discrimination and violence and even girl’s education, have been questioned, contested, and actively attacked.
The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated pre-existing gender-based discrimination and violence. Women and girls have disproportionately carried the burdens of pandemic-induced labor, with increased amounts of work at homes and work places, including care work, and reductions in income. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a second, nefarious “shadow” pandemic of gender-based violence, particularly for women and girls living through humanitarian crises.Itis time to create a new momentum, break the current impasse, and get up to speed inreaching SDG5. Women and girls have the capacity to take action and build resilient futures for their communities, this however is dependent on removing structural barriers, discriminatory social and gender norms and gender gaps.
The right to education that is accessible and high quality for all girls is a key element for the recovery process. Unpaid care work and social and gender norms remain a key barrier to this. Girls’ education strengthens economies, reduces inequalities, and ensures their active participation in all areas of their lives. We want to see indigenous women and girls better represented in all levels of education. Women and girls need to be provided the opportunity to become lifelong learners –participating in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Closing the gender gaps in education must be a priority for States. We must ensure a safe return to school for the girls who dropped out due to the pandemic.
Digitalisation and new technologies can also accelerate positive change towards gender equality. We should harness this potential more equally across the globe. We must thoughtfully close the gender digital divide while mitigating risks to women, girls and persons in marginalized situations.
Digital space is significant for women and girls’ empowerment and we must make it safe. It is important to combat all forms of online violence and harassment and ensure that the development and implementation of new technologies incorporates a human rights approach.
We cannot achieve gender equality without eradicating gender-based violence. It is a form of discrimination and constitutes a human rights violation. It causes fear and suffering and destroys the fabric of societies. Violence and discrimination against all women and girls remains a widespread problem around the world. Political will is needed to accelerate gender equality, and to respond to attempts to roll it back.
If half of the population is left behind, a society cannot reach its full potential. We need to address the root causes of gender inequalities. This can only be achieved, inter alia, by ensuring women´s and girls’ active participation in all spheres of public and private life. Men and boys are key advocates and partners in these efforts. Together, we must promote and protect the rights of all women and girls without discrimination of any kind. This is essential for our COVID-19 recovery and for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The current crisis also offers opportunities to step forward into concrete positive changes for women and girls.