Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director

Message for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's launch of the Women Development Organization

22 October 2020


Ladies and gentlemen,


As the COVID-19 crisis threatens to roll back the hard-won gains the world has achieved in striving for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, it is inspiring to see the Members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation taking a decisive step forward with the launch of the Women Development Organization.

It is timely and very much needed. Congratulations on establishing this important platform for women in Islamic countries.

I very much welcome the thematic areas that WDO will focus on in its first years, namely the role of women in addressing violent extremism; economic empowerment; and holistic responses to violence against women. 

As the UN office mandated to address the interlinked challenges of drugs, crime, corruption and terrorism, UNODC is well placed to support your priorities.

Gender-based violence afflicts one in three women in their lifetime.

Recognizing the different ways in which men and women are affected by violence, corruption and other crimes is an essential step towards devising more effective responses and breaking this cycle.

By encouraging women’s leadership and participation in solutions, we can better protect and support victims of crime, safeguarding their dignity and human rights.

By disrupting entrenched networks, the presence of women in government, in boardrooms and positions of leadership can help improve transparency and accountability.

Promoting women in law enforcement results in more effective policing styles, reduced costs and lower rates of escalation of violence.

Improving representation in policing and criminal justice can strengthen efforts to prevent violent extremism, build trust with communities and broaden outreach.

These are urgent priorities, now in the COVID crisis more than ever. Because despite progress over recent years, crimes involving violence against women remain among the most under-reported and the least likely to end in conviction.

Women and girls represent over 60 percent of detected human trafficking victims globally, and they are acutely vulnerable in the context of migration.

Women and girls are targeted by terrorists, and often subjected to extreme violence, terror and coercion.

Criminal justice must be gender-sensitive in order to address these complex challenges and dynamics.

UNODC mainstreams gender perspectives across our work to strengthen crime prevention and law enforcement responses to hold perpetrators accountable and enable victims to access justice.

UNODC supported the development of key UN standards and norms on violence against women, as well as recommendations for action against gender-related killings, and we recently published the first-ever UN Handbook on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Response to Terrorism.

I welcome Egypt’s decision to host the WDO. The UNODC regional office in Cairo cooperates closely with Egypt’s National Council for Women, including through a recent awareness campaign to stop online violence against women.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the tireless efforts of the National Council for Women.


Empowering women and girls is necessary for building a just world.

The Women Development Organization can help lead the change and progress that women and girls need and deserve, and UNODC looks forward to establishing a fruitful partnership with you.

Working together, we can achieve greater inclusion and greater justice. Thank you.