Op-ed by UN Resident Coordinator Islamic Republic of Iran, Stefan Priesner
Although we might sense the end of the COVID19 pandemic in the foreseeable future, its socio-economic impact will continue to exacerbate some of the divisions in the world, also those between men and women.
We can say the same about climate-related challenges that will for sure remain for much longer with us than COVID19. More frequent floods and droughts, and related displacement – just to mention a few consequences of the changing climate - are often taking a heavy toll on especially women and girls.
Let us therefore use this year’s March 8, International Women’s Day, as a day of unity and mobilization, reminding each other that we still have a job to do.
If we leave half the people on planet earth behind, we will all be paying a price.
The cascading crises of recent years have highlighted how women’s leadership is more crucial than ever.
Women have heroically confronted the COVID-19 pandemic as doctors, nurses, public health and social care workers. Globally, women still are in the front rows of the response putting themselves at risk of getting infected - also during the times before vaccinations were protecting most of us from getting very ill.
At the same time, around the world, women and girls have been the first to lose out on jobs or schooling. They have taken on more unpaid care work to get us all through the pandemic.
And when it comes to climate induced crises, such as floods or droughts – women and girls would often be the last to eat in a family, or the last to be rescued. They face greater health and safety risks if water and sanitation systems become compromised. As resources disappear, women and girls again take on the unpaid domestic and care work.
As we look to the future, a sustainable and equal recovery for all is the way forward, and we need to include and prioritize progress for girls and women.
We need economic progress through targeted investments in women’s education, employment, training and decent work. Women should be first in line for the 400 million jobs we are called to create by the next 5 or ten years.
We need social progress through investments in social protection systems and the care economy. Such investments yield huge dividends, creating green, sustainable jobs, while supporting members of our societies that need assistance, including children, older people and the sick.
We need financial progress, so all countries can invest in a woman-centred economic recovery. This includes debt relief and fairer tax systems that channel some of the massive pockets of wealth around the world to those who need it most.
We need urgent, transformative climate action, to reverse the reckless increase in emissions and gender inequalities that have left women and girls disproportionately vulnerable. Developed countries must urgently deliver on their commitments on finance and technical support for a just transition from fossil fuels. The successful, stable economies of the future will be environmentally friendly, gender-inclusive and sustainable.
We need more women in leadership in government and business, including ministers and CEOs, developing and implementing green and socially progressive policies that benefit all their people.
We know, for example, that having more women in parliaments is linked with stronger climate commitments and higher levels of investment in healthcare and education.
At the United Nations, we have achieved — for the first time in the organization’s history — gender parity in senior management at headquarters and around the world. This has dramatically improved our ability to better reflect and represent the communities we serve.
Every step of the way, we can take inspiration from women and girls pushing for progress in every sphere and every corner of our globe.
When the world invests in expanding opportunities for women and girls, all of humanity wins.
As a matter of justice, morality and plain common sense, we need to turn the clock forward on women’s opportunities. We need to recognize the contribution of women and girls around the world, the powerful changemakers. Those who are efficiently leading, mitigating and responding to our common crisis.
Let us work towards an inclusive recovery and sustainable future – driven by all of us, boys and girls, men and women.