Dear Director General Müller,
Dear Ambassadors, Ms. Renate Altenhofer,
Business leaders, ladies, and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to speak today, such Forums discussing women’s leadership are becoming more important than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with escalating conflicts and climate disasters, have deepened existing inequalities and left us with disastrous reversals in conditions for women.
Hard-won gains for gender equality are at risk, and the Sustainable Development Goals are threatened.
COVID-19 has caused spiking rates of gender-based violence, job loss, and a huge increase in unpaid care work for women.
Today there are 19.7 million fewer paid jobs for women globally, compared to 10.2 million fewer jobs for men, according to a new report by UN Women and UNDP.
We must put women and girls at the heart of economies if we truly want more sustainable development outcomes.
In my country, Egypt, we have made a lot of progress, yet thirty percent of households are female-headed households and women’s unemployment is three times higher than for men.
Inclusivity and diversity take a concerted effort. Achieving them is immensely difficult, as it touches at the very core of our society. This will take the commitment of both men and women leaders.
But as we bid farewell to a remarkable woman leader, Queen Elizabeth the second, I would like to use her quote: “It is the many small steps, not the giant leaps that make the most lasting impact”. She also said: “When life seems hard the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat, instead they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future”.
As the head of the UN Office at Vienna and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, I am acutely aware of my responsibility to ensure women feel supported and empowered. I am proud we have achieved parity in our own workforce.
In June, we rolled out a new Gender Strategy focused on woman’s equal participation in our workforce and we are actively promoting gender parity in Member States in the areas of our mandate.
At UNODC we are working to bolster female participation in the judicial process, from crime scene investigation to the courtroom.
We believe that more female police officers, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges will contribute to better protection of women from violence, and to more peaceful societies. But the challenges are great. Women remain severely under-represented in these sectors: less than one out of six police officers globally.
This has to change. Because we know women’s representation in law enforcement and judicial institutions is linked to a more effective, victim-centered response to crimes. This has to change because more women in the justice sector is good for justice.
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, empowering women and girls in all sectors is a must, and putting them at the centre of economies is our best chance to claw back lost gains.
I am thankful that today’s Forum will discuss key topics: including education and increasing opportunities for girls in STEM and vocational training. Education and skills are key to empowerment.
I want my two-year-old granddaughter to grow up with the same career opportunities as my two grandsons. All girls deserve such a world. And while I congratulate you on the 10 anniversary, I hope for a world where ‘Women Leaders Forums’ like this one become obsolete -- because we acted to close the gender gaps, for more sustainable development outcomes for all.