United Nations Observance of International Women's Day 2021

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08-Mar-2021 02:32:25
This year's International Women's Day theme "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world" celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Underscoring the transformative power of women’s equal participation, top United Nations officials called on all stakeholders to take special measures to advance their equal participation and achieve rapid change.

In a message on International Women’s Day, marked annually on 8 March, Secretary-General António Guterres outlined “clear evidence”, such as better social protection programmes, stronger climate policies and enduring peace agreements, when women are in governments, parliaments or peace negotiations.

“Whether running a country, a business or a popular movement, women are making contributions that are delivering for all and driving progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Mr. Guterres said.

“I call on countries, companies and institutions to adopt special measures and quotas to advance women’s equal participation and achieve rapid change”, he urged.

The UN began celebrating the International Day in 1975, which was designated International Women’s Year. Over the decades it has morphed from recognizing the achievements of women to becoming a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation, in the political and economic arenas.

This year’s commemorations, under the theme, Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world, comes as the world continues to navigate the pandemic, which has wiped out decades of hard-won progress towards gender equality.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN-Women, the Organization’s entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, underlined the need for political will to actively and intentionally support women’s representation.

In a message, she went on to note that concrete efforts such as setting and meeting parity targets, at all levels of government; or special measures such as putting in place and enforcing quotas and policies to address representation for “real progress” on women’s leadership.

Without such measures, progress can be slower or even non-existent and easily reversed, she warned.

“No country prospers without the engagement of women”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted, calling for women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations.

“This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all”, the head of UN-Women added.

General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir highlighted that as an International Gender Champion he was working hard towards gender equality “not just when the time is right, but to make the time to discuss gender equality”.

And so he has raised the issue throughout bilateral engagements and high-level events, including in a Special Session that featured many women in science, hoping that “by passing the microphone to women” it would inspire girls and young women to fulfill their potential and participate in traditionally male-dominated fields.

“On International Women’s Day, I think it is important to reiterate the fact that women’s empowerment is something that we need to work on every single day”, the UN official said.

Other speakers included Mher Margaryan, Chair of the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and Somaya Faruqi, member of the Afghan Girls Robotic Team.

A panel discussion on women’s leadership in a COVID-19 world was moderated by Mr. Eddie Ndopu, SDG and disability rights advocate with panelists:
- H.E. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland
- H.E. Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity of Argentina
- Aya Chebbi, Outgoing African Union Youth Envoy, Chair of Africa Young Women Manifesto Group
- Xiye Bastida, Climate justice activist and co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative.

A Generation Equality Forum segment featured key messages from:
- H.E. Élisabeth Moreno, Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities of France
- Representative of the Government of Mexico
- Chamathya Fernando and Anika Jane Dorothy, Members of the GEF Youth Task Force
- Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh, Member of the GEF Civil Society Advisory Group

The rest of the program included a panel discussion on the Generation Equality Forum Action Coalitions and the Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact; a special video message by actress/activist/producer/philanthropist Eva Longoria and musical performances by Angelica Hale, Pihcintu Chorus, and Broadway Singers.

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