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Guterres urges gender parity across UN system

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-03-13 09:57

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses a high-level event on Women in Power at the UN headquarters in New York, on March 12, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday underscored the need to overcome obstacles to achieve gender parity "across the board" in the United Nations.

In his remarks to a high-level event on Women in Power, Guterres warned "we still live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture."

He stressed the importance of reaching gender parity, saying it is needed to change power relations for gender equality as well as peace and security, human rights and development for all.

At the event, the UN chief was recognized for his work in realizing gender parity in the high ranks of the UN secretariat, in the posts of resident coordinators and in regional commissions.

In response, he said it had been possible to achieve parity quickly at the level of the UN senior management group or UN resident coordinators because "those are the people I can appoint myself without limitations."

While acknowledging "where I am free to act, we are coming very quickly to full parity within the UN," he lamented "when we have to trickle down to go across the board in all structures of the United Nations, there we start to see the resistance, the obstacles, and the pushbacks."

Nevertheless, the secretary-general vowed to "push back against the pushbacks," pledging not to give up until the United Nations reaches parity across the board.

Tuesday's event was initiated by UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces as a highlight of her work in gender equality, one of her priorities she set upon when taking office in September 2018.

According to UN figures, as of November 2018, only 10 percent of UN member states have a female head of state or government. Globally, only 24 percent of parliamentarians are women.

Similarly, among the 2018 Fortune 500 companies, only 24 have women CEOs and 12 companies have no women at all on their board.

The event on Women in Power, bringing together senior leaders and other participants from governments, observers to the General Assembly, the UN system, private sector and civil society, aims to identify barriers that hinder women's participation and leadership, and to share best practices that can accelerate women's empowerment in this area.

It also engages young women leaders to foster an environment of mentoring and dialogue between present and future leaders.

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