Statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on International Women's Day

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate women and girls everywhere.

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate women and girls everywhere.

We celebrate their contributions to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their ideas, innovations and activism that are changing our world for the better.

And their leadership across all walks of life.

But we also recognize that in too many areas, the clock on women’s rights is moving backwards.

The pandemic has kept girls and women out of schools and workplaces.

They face rising poverty and rising violence.

They do the vast majority of the world’s unpaid but essential care work.

They’re targets of violence and abuse, just because of their gender.

In all countries, women are scandalously under-represented in the halls of power and the boardrooms of business.

And as this year’s theme reminds us, they bear the brunt of climate change and environmental degradation.

Starting now, on International Women’s Day, it’s time to turn the clock forward for every woman and girl.

Through guaranteeing quality education for every girl, so they can build the lives they want and help make the world a better place for us all.

Through massive investments in women’s training and decent work.

Through effective action to end gender-based violence.

Through bold action to protect our planet.

Through universal care that is fully integrated into social protection systems.

And through targeted measures like gender quotas so we can all benefit from women’s ideas, experience and leadership everywhere decisions are made.

Gender inequality is essentially a question of power, in a male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture. Power relations must be reversed.

At the United Nations, we’ve achieved gender parity in senior management at headquarters and around the world — improving our work and better representing the communities we serve.

We need more women environment ministers, business leaders and presidents and prime ministers. They can push countries to address the climate crisis, develop green jobs and build a more just and sustainable world.

We cannot emerge from the pandemic with the clock spinning backwards on gender equality.

We need to turn the clock forward on women’s rights.

The time is now.