Side Events

Virtual Townhall Meeting with Women's Civil Society and Secretary-General - CSW65 Side Event

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka moderates a virtual town hall discussion to provide an opportunity for women’s civil society organizations to engage with the Secretary-General on the session’s priority theme: women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
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Women need to be “front and centre” of the pandemic recovery as a matter of economics, efficiency, effectiveness and social resilience, the UN chief told the women’s commission on Tuesday.

“Male-dominated teams will come up with male-dominated solutions”, Secretary-General António Guterres warned a virtual town hall with women civil society during the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CWS).

“We cannot go back to the failed man-made policies that have resulted in the fragility we see around us – in healthcare systems, in social protection, in access to justice, and in the wellbeing of our planet”, he added.

The UN chief painted a devastating picture of the social and economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women’s rights, particularly the most vulnerable, marginalized and poorest.

He spoke about gender-based violence, both inside the home and online, as well as the repercussions of school closures and elder care in perpetuating inequalities, along with the inability of 12 million women to access sexual and reproductive health services.

“UNICEF reported last week that up to ten million more girls are at risk of becoming child brides as a result of the pandemic”, he said.

To ensure that everyone enjoys life, dignity and security on a healthy planet, he said there was a need to “reset” policies on the basis of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN chief stressed that “gender equality is a question of power”, and as such, “women’s full representation and leadership are a prerequisite” in moving forward.

“We need a more inclusive, networked multilateralism that recognizes the strength that comes through diversity. We cannot talk about inclusive multilateralism without including half the world’s population”, he spelled out.

Hosting the event, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka echoed the UN chief in saying that COVID-19 “cannot be solved by men alone without the insights of women” and called for an “agreed conclusion that highlight the agency of engaging and involving women.”

She introduced Tumie Komanyane of Frontline AIDS, who zeroed-in on the issue of justice, which for many women living in sub-Saharan Africa, “remains a far-fetched reality”.

Nandini Tanya Lallmon, a social activist leader from Mauritius who spoke on behalf Women’s Rights and the LGBTI Caucus, detailed that “the near absence of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming, women, girls and people from local councils, political parties, trade unions…have resulted in them facing barriers to access and exercise their rights”.

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