Recently, we have seen the impact of COVID-19 in increasing inequalities, driving poverty and violence against women and girls; and rolling back their progress in employment, health and education. The accelerating crises of climate change and environmental degradation are disproportionately undermining the rights and wellbeing of women and girls. They are multiplying insecurity at all levels, from individual and household to national. Rising temperatures, extended droughts, violent storms and floods are resulting in loss of livelihoods, they are depleting resources and fueling migration and displacement. The latest major IPCC report on climate change, and our Secretary-General, have warned us that ‘nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone – now, ’and that ‘many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now’.
Climate change is a threat multiplier. But women, and especially young women, are solution multipliers.
We have today the opportunity to put women and girls at the centre of our planning and action and to integrate gender perspectives into global and national laws and policies. We have the opportunity to re-think, re-frame and re-allocate resources. We have the opportunity to benefit from the leadership of women and girls environmental defenders and climate activists to guide our planet’s conservation. We need Indigenous women’s inter-generational knowledge, practices and skills.
It will take unprecedented levels of global cooperation and solidarity to succeed, but there is no alternative to success. We must protect our hard-won gains on human rights and women’s rights and lead decisively to leave no woman or girl behind.
We have a blueprint to follow. It involves women’s full and equal participation and leadership in decision-making; their access to green jobs and the blue economy; and their equal access to finance and resources.
We need to ensure universal social protection and a care economy that protects us all. We have to scale up financing for gender-responsive climate, environmental and disaster risk initiatives; including for COVID-19 recovery and to increase resilience to future shocks. The solution is there. We resolve to pursue it.
Let us make this International Women’s Day a moment to recall that we have the answers not just for SDG 5 but, through the advancement of gender equality, for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. I look forward to working with every one of you to that end.