Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


Statement to the Vienna Discussion Forum 2020: "The future is gender-inclusive: Global responses in crisis management and recovery"

  27 November 2020

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to address the second edition of the Vienna Discussion Forum. I am grateful to Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as our partners at UNIDO, for organizing this important event with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

This year, the COVID crisis has exposed and worsened systemic inequalities, bringing to light the many ways in which our societies are failing the women of this world.

Women do most of the unpaid care work and face the worst labour market barriers.

At the same time COVID-related restrictions and lockdowns have increased risks of violence, and further limited access to justice.

It is unacceptable that 25 years after world leaders adopted the landmark Beijing Declaration, women continue to suffer from such fundamental threats to their rights, livelihoods and opportunities.

In recovering from COVID we have the chance to bring change, if we focus on building truly inclusive and fair societies. 

I believe that UNODC’s work for a more just world will be essential to supporting a women-centred recovery.

Women’s full participation is possible when women are safe from harm, when their rights are guaranteed, and when they are actively included in decision-making processes.

UNODC is advancing women’s participation and representation in criminal justice agencies, and in June this year, we launched a women’s network of criminal justice professionals fighting human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Asia and the Middle East.

We are promoting gender-responsive approaches to crime prevention and criminal justice, to help prevent gender-based violence and improve victims’ access to justice in 18 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in close collaboration with partners including UN Women.

This summer, together with eight other UN entities we released a statement on violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19, which places a high priority on police and justice responses.

UNODC manages the only UN Trust Fund focused on direct assistance to women and girl victims of human trafficking, which provides humanitarian, legal and financial aid to over 3,500 victims a year.

We are also helping Member States mainstream gender perspectives into their criminal justice responses to terrorism.

And in our anti-corruption work, we promote gender equality as a key prevention factor.

In the lead-up to the first-ever General Assembly Special Session against Corruption in June 2021, a UNODC-led task force developed a new UN system Common Position to address global corruption, recognizing women’s critical role as agents of change and promoting gendered anti-corruption strategies and tools.

We need the equal participation of both women and men for a COVID recovery that strengthens good governance and resilience, and gets us back on track towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Let us take the opportunity of the Vienna Discussion Forum to share good practices and identify avenues for joint action. Thank you.