NEW YORK, Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 – The 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 65) has opened in New York with the UN Women describing the COVID-19 pandemic as the most discriminatory crisis the world had ever experienced, disproportionately hitting hardest those who are least able to cope.
UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has told United Nations (UN) Member States that the COVID-19 pandemic had been hard especially on women and girls.
Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka who is also Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations said as the world was emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, nations were facing more orphans and child-headed homes in its trail.
Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said following the closure of schools because of COVID-19, there were 10 million girls at risk of Early Child and Forced Marriages and permanently dropping out of school because of falling pregnant from non-consensual sex.
“We are facing job losses, with two-thirds of the jobs lost being women’s jobs. Those who are most affected are young women at the age where they are rearing young children. Forty-Seven million more women this year will be pushed into living on less than USD 1.90 a day, with younger women again bearing the brunt of lost income and lack of decent work. In addition, we face the digital gender gap that leaves women unprepared for the future,” Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
Ms Mlambo Ngcuka urged Member States to take actions that would see the inclusion of young women in decision-making positions especially those who were affected by age barriers when it comes to entry into public office because they were of the leaders of today and tomorrow.
The CSW65 is the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s rights and for the second year running is being held almost entirely virtually after the outbreak of the COVID-19 in March last year.
The Commission on the Status of Women is a two-week long gathering for UN Member States, civil society organizations, gender experts, and other international actors with the aim to build consensus and agree on a roadmap to advance gender equality and economic empowerment.
The theme for the CSW 65 is: “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”.
And United Nations Secretary General António Guterres told nations that the COVID-19 fallout had shown how deeply gender inequality has remained embedded in the world’s political, social and economic systems.
Mr Guterres told Member States that while women made up 70 per cent of the world’s healthcare workforce and occupied most of the jobs in the economic sectors, the female gender had been hardest hit by the COOVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Guterres said the United Nations, for its part, had placed women at the centre of its COVID-19 response and recovery by pushing for stimulus packages that supported the informal economy, investment in the care economy which targeted women entrepreneurs.
“We have worked with governments and communities to address the surge in violence against women, including by keeping shelters open and moving services online. My call for a global ceasefire was followed immediately by a call for an end to violence in the home. Yet still, when looking across the world, we see that women’s voices remain missing from the highest levels of leadership,” Mr Guterres said.
President of the 75th General Assembly Volkan Bozkir urged Member States to continue working on increasing number of women parliamentarians, stating that there was only one woman in four parliamentarians globally.
He said over the years, the General Assembly had adopted many resolutions including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the Convention on the Political Rights of Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women yet their representation in decision making positions was still low.
“However, we must ask ourselves: how can we expect laws to empower women and girls, when women lawmakers themselves, are subjected to online, psychological, physical and sexual violence?” Mr Bozkir asked.
WALLEN SIMWAKA (Mr.)
First Secretary (Press)
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations