By Lerato Ndlovu
Yesterday (Sunday) the country joined the rest of the world in celebrating
International Women’s Day under the theme, “ I am generation equality: realizing women’s rights”.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo – Ngcuka in her statement highlighted 2020 as the year for gender equality and called on everyone to tackle the persistent barriers against gender equality.
“We don’t have an equal world at the moment and women are angry and concerned about the future.
“They are radically impatient for change. It’s an impatience that runs deep, and it has been brewing for years”.
Mlambo – Ngcuka emphasized that girls and women are disappointed with the stewardship of our planet, the unabated violence directed against them and the slow pace of change in areas like education.
“My greatest impatience is with unmoving economic inequality, a driver of repeating poverty, women and girls use triple time and energy of boys and men to look after the households”.
Policies that promote equality in childcare responsibilities and provide State support to families and those who work in the informal economy are urgently required.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres lamented that 25 years after the Beijing conference, progress on women’s rights has stalled and in some areas reversed.
“Progress is under threat from rampant inequality, runaway climate change and the rise of exclusionary politics, overall change has been too slow for the worlds women and girls.
“Some countries have rolled back laws that protect women from violence; others are reducing civic space; still others are pursuing economic and immigration policies that indirectly discriminate against women”, he said, adding that “bias against gender equality is growing in some countries”.
“I am a proud feminist, only through the equal participation of women can we benefit from the intelligence, experience and insights of all of humanity,” he said.
He spoke at length about unsung women heroes, such as American scientist Eunice Foote who proved that changes in carbon dioxide could affect the Earth’s temperature and Tu Youyou, who saved millions of lives around by turning to traditional Chinese medicine for a cure for malaria.
“It is more important than ever for men to stand up for women’s rights and gender equality”, said Sec Gen Guterres, which is why he is “personally committed” to increasing support for women’s rights “across the board” at the UN.
Over the next two years, he vowed to do everything in his power “to make sure women are represented in all decision-making at the United Nations, including in peace processes”.