UN Women’s executive director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, on Friday called for bold policies to prevent the reversal of women’s cause as a result of COVID-19.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, a blueprint for advancing women’s rights. But COVID-19 threatens to undo the gains made on gender equality in the past 25 years, said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Women’s economic security is in jeopardy, gender poverty gaps are widening, gender-based violence is resurgent, and girls’ education and maternal health are threatened, she told the SDG Moment, a high-level UN event to galvanize global efforts toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2021, it is expected there will be 118 women in poverty for every 100 poor men globally, and this could rise by 2030. This would be a stunning reversal for the SDGs, she warned.
“But this kind of backsliding is not a foregone conclusion. With bold policies to boost women’s economic empowerment, we can shift course and accelerate progress instead,” she said.
Societies benefit when women can rise to opportunities. A profound transformation of economies is required for a just, sustainable future where women are at the center. Countries need to invest in care services, education and skills that will be the backbone of the economies of the future, she said.
UN Women is the main body of the world organization to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.