BUJUMBURA March 8th (ABP) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Gouterres issued a message on the occasion of International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8, 2018, under the theme: “Progress for women means progress for all, “according to a statement from the United Nations Information Center received at the ABP on Wednesday March 7th.
According to the UN Secretary General, the world is currently going through a decisive moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have made the bed of oppression and discrimination have never been denounced so unanimously.
He said that from Latin America to Europe through Asia, on social networks, movie sets, in factories and on the street, women are calling for lasting change and demanding zero tolerance against sexual assault, discrimination and harassment in all their forms.
Mr Antonio indicated through the message that the biggest challenge for the world in terms of fundamental rights is gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
He added that the activism and perseverance of generations of women has borne fruit. The number of girls in school, women in paid employment and women in senior positions in the private sector, academia, the political sphere and international organizations, including the United Nations, has never been high.
According to Antonio, gender equality is noted down in countless pieces of legislation, and harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage are still observed in many countries from which we still have many obstacles to overcome the ancestral inequalities that are the crucible of discrimination and exploitation.
He also pointed out that more than one billion women worldwide are not protected by law if they come to experience sexual violence in their homes.
The pay gap between men and women is 23% worldwide. It can reach up to 40% in rural areas, and the unpaid work that many women do is not recognized.
Antonio invites the world to act together if not, millions of girls will undergo genital mutilation in the next ten years.
He also pointed out that where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who complain are discredited, denigrated and despised, and these in countries that welcome their record on gender equality.
According to Antonio, the United Nations must be an example for the whole world. That is why it works closely with countries around the world to prevent and fight against sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping staff and to assist victims.
He also said that the United Nations supports women around the world in their fight against the injustices they face.
He noted that women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Any progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is a step forward for all women around the world, he added. He went on to say that the Spotlight Initiative, launched in partnership with the European Union, aims at allocating resources to the elimination of violence against women and girls, a condition for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Gender equality, he says, is not only a matter of respect for fundamental rights, but a progress for all of us, women and men, girls and boys. Inequalities and discrimination against women are bad for us all.
According to the UN Secretary General, it has long been proven that investing in women is the most effective way to energize communities, businesses and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient, economic growth stronger.
Mr. Antonio ended his remarks by asking men to listen to women by applying two principles: transparency and responsibility.