Gender Equality Is Not Making Desirous Progress -UN

The Gender equality the world advocates and long to see is not making desirous progress; “it is vanishing before our eyes”, laments, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The observation of the UN Secretary General was contained in his message to the International Women’s Day following reports of dwindling participation, inclusion and slower pace of women involvement in technology innovations, economic and human development strategies.

Guterres who was addressing some women’s rights groups noted that gender equality is about “300 years away” as more women are getting disadvantaged from human development opportunities and political participations in countries around the world.

In Nigeria for example, the result of the recently held National Assembly elections shows only three women won seats in the Senate out of 109 members as against 7 who were in the outgoing Senate. 14 women won seats in House of Representatives out of 360 members as against 11 who occupied seats in the outgoing House of Representatives.

Guterres cited high rates of maternal mortality, girls being forced into early marriage, and girls being kidnapped and assaulted for attending school as evidence that hope of achieving gender equality “is growing more distant.”

“Women’s rights are being abused, threatened, and violated around the world,” noted Guterres naming countries like Afghanistan, where “women and girls have been erased from public life.” and are no longer allowed to go to School.

Last Monday for example, young Afghan women gathered outside Kabul University to protest the ruling Taliban’s ban on female education, a restriction which a new UN report says may amount to “a crime against humanity.”

A new UN report to mark the 2023 IWD which was presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva noted the rise in forced and child marriages, the ban excluding women from other public spaces like parks and gyms, and other restrictions limiting women’s ability to work and travel independently in Afghanistan.

“Crisis and conflict affect women and girls first and worst,” said the UN Scribe citing the war in Ukraine.

Last year, the UN called for an investigation into reports of rape and sexual violence against Ukrainian women and children following Russia’s invasion.

Guterres also said that “in many places, women’s sexual and reproductive rights are being rolled back,” though he didn’t specify where.

Last June, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the right to abortion up to individual states. The year before, a ban on abortions due to fetal defects took effect in Poland – essentially ending almost all abortions in the country.

To achieve gender equality, Guterres called for “collective” and “urgent” action, from increasing education, income and employment for women and girls, especially in developing nations in the Global South, to promoting the participation of women and girls in science and technology.

“Centuries of patriarchy, discrimination and harmful stereotypes have created a huge gender gap in science and technology,” Guterres said. “Let’s be clear: global frameworks are not working for the world’s women and girls. They need to change.”

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