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Source: United Nations (Video News)

Opening remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the General Assembly’s High-level meeting on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing+25).

” (…) Excellencies,
COVID-19 has emphasized and exploited the continued denial of women’s rights.
Women and girls are bearing the brunt of the massive social and economic impact of the pandemic.  
Twenty-five years after Beijing, we are facing a women-led recession as women employed in the informal economy are first to lose their jobs. 

Women nurses and carers are on the frontlines of the response to the pandemic, but men still occupy 70 percent of leadership roles in healthcare.
And women are suffering a shadow pandemic of gender-based violence during COVID-19, together with an increase in abusive and repressive practices including early marriage and the denial of sexual and reproductive healthcare.
Unless we act now, COVID-19 could wipe out a generation of fragile progress towards gender equality.
The systems and structures of our world, based on millennia of male domination, are holding women back in all areas, with serious consequences for everyone.
COVID-19 demonstrates that we urgently need a strong push to meet the unfulfilled promise of Beijing.
This is fundamentally a question of power, so it starts with the equal representation of women in leadership positions, in governments, boardrooms, in climate negotiations and at the peace table – everywhere decisions are taken that affect people’s lives.
Achieving this will require targeted measures including affirmative action and quotas. This is a human rights issue and a social and economic imperative.
I encourage all Member States to make concrete, timebound, and ambitious commitments to women’s leadership and full participation.
At the United Nations, we achieved gender parity in our leadership at the beginning of 2020, with 90 women and 90 men as full-time senior leaders.
We are now working for parity at all levels, not only for the sake of our women staff, but because women’s leadership and participation makes institutions like ours more effective – as we have seen in the response to the pandemic.
COVID-19 is a catastrophe, but it is also an opportunity for transformative thinking that puts women front and centre of the response and the recovery.
Stimulus funds should put money directly into women’s hands through cash transfers and credits. Governments should expand social safety nets to women in the informal economy, and recognize the value of unpaid care work.
I repeat my call for urgent, comprehensive action on gender-based violence. The United Nations is working to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, including through our partnership with the European Union, the Spotlight Initiative.  
Looking forward, we need transformative, women-led changes to the failed structures and frameworks exploited by this pandemic.  That is the only way we will implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve lives of dignity and opportunity for all.
I also urge you to step up support for the grassroots civil society organizations that have always been at the vanguard of the women’s rights movement.  
The upcoming Generation Equality Forum, co-hosted by the Governments of Mexico and France, will be an opportunity to build networks and partnerships for change.
In recent times, we have seen around the world a pushback against gender equality and women’s rights.
Now is the time to push back against the pushback.
I would like to correct a common misconception. The Beijing Conference did not only concern women. It concerned women, men, girls and boys.
Women’s full human rights and freedoms are fundamental to peace and prosperity on a healthy planet. For everyone, everywhere.
I salute the visionary women – and men – who led the way 25 years ago.
Let’s finish what they started.
Thank you” – António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations [Excerpt]

Full Remarks [as delivered]: