Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honour to address the Ministerial Conference on Women of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. I congratulate Egypt on taking over the presidency of the Conference.
Women and girls are an essential driving force for prosperity and development in our societies.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deep inequalities that women still face, and is threatening to reverse years of progress made in closing the gap.
Women have borne the greater burden of unpaid care work. They have also lost jobs and income more than men, leaving them even more vulnerable to exploitation and violence.
The pandemic has held up a mirror to our world.
It is a world where tens of thousands of women and girls are trafficked every year, and where terrorists treat them as instruments and spoils of war.
It is also a world where one in every five girls is in a forced marriage or union, and one in every three women suffers violence in her lifetime.
We must not only preserve the progress made in empowering women; we must strive to do better.
Islam is a religion that sanctifies the values of justice and equality, without compromise.
The OIC and its Member States should take this crisis as a wake-up call to address the factors that hold women back and enable their exploitation.
I thank the OIC for convening this conference and for your efforts to promote women's rights and roles.
In particular, I commend the establishment of the Women Development Organization, which sends a strong message about your shared commitment to women's empowerment.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is committed to supporting the WDO in its mission. We are ready to lend our expertise on preventing and combating violence against women, supporting victims, and empowering women as agents of change against crime, corruption, and radicalization.
We will work with you to build a fairer and more equal world which protects women and embraces their contributions and leadership, in the COVID recovery and beyond. Thank you.