NewsA sustainable feminist recovery

A sustainable feminist recovery

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As the world moves towards celebrating International Women’s Day, the clock on women’s rights is ticking back. And we are all paying the price.

The cascading crises of recent years have shown that women’s leadership is more decisive than ever.

Women have heroically faced the COVID-19 pandemic as doctors, nurses, and public health and social care professionals.

But at the same time, women and girls have been the first to lose employment or educational opportunities, taking on more unpaid care work, and facing exorbitant levels of domestic violence and cyberbullying and skyrocketing child marriage.

The pandemic has thrown even more stark relief at an ancient truth: patriarchy runs deep in our societies. We continue to live in a male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture.

As a result, in good times as well as bad, it is women who are most likely to fall into poverty: their health care is sacrificed and their education and opportunities cut short.

And in countries in conflict – as we see in Ethiopia, Afghanistan or Ukraine – women and girls are the most vulnerable, but also the strongest voices for peace.

Looking ahead, a sustainable and equal recovery will only be possible if it is a feminist recovery, with progress for girls and women at the center.

We have to progress economically with targeted investments in education, employment, training and the creation of decent work for women. Women must lead access to the 400 million jobs that are expected to be created by 2030.

We have to progress socially with investments in social protection systems and in the care economy. These types of investments pay huge dividends, creating green and sustainable jobs, while supporting members of our societies in need of assistance, such as children, the elderly and the sick.

We need to make 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 immense 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 away from fossil fuels. To ensure their future success and stability, economies will need to be green, gender-inclusive and sustainable.

We need more women in leadership positions in government and business, including finance ministers and CEOs, to craft and implement green and socially progressive policies that benefit all citizens.

We know, for example, that the presence of more women in parliaments is related to stronger climate commitments and higher levels of investment in health and education.

We need to make progress politically with specific measures that guarantee women’s equal leadership and representation at all levels of political decision-making, boldly applying mechanisms such as gender quotas.

Gender inequality is essentially a matter of power. Eradicating centuries of patriarchy requires that power be shared equally in all institutions and at all levels.

At the United Nations, we have achieved, for the first time in history, gender parity among senior managers, both at Headquarters and in offices around the world. This has significantly improved our ability to more accurately reflect and represent the interests of the communities we serve.

At every step of the way, we can draw inspiration from the women and girls driving progress in every sphere and in every corner of our planet.

Young climate advocates are leading global efforts to pressure governments to meet their commitments.

Women’s rights activists courageously demand equality and justice and build more peaceful societies as peacekeepers, mediators and humanitarian workers in some of the world’s conflict zones and beyond.

In societies where movements for women’s rights are dynamic, democracy is stronger.

When the world invests in expanding opportunities for women and girls, all of humanity wins.

As a matter of justice, equality and morality, and simple common sense, the clock on women’s rights must be moved forward.

We need a sustainable and feminist recovery that is centered on and driven by women and girls.

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