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Zambian women peacekeepers patrol in northeastern Central African Republic as part of the UN mission in the country, MINUSCA.

Women leaders ‘essential to peace and progress for all’

Women continue to be under-represented in key decision-making over the battle against COVID-19, the chief of the UN gender empowerment agency said on Thursday, addressing the Security Council, adding that the situation is even “worse for women in conflict areas”.

“In war zones and everywhere in the world”, individuals are “calling for inclusion and representation, which is one of the main reasons why so many ordinary people are taking to the streets, organizing protest and raising their voices”, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka emphasized to the 15-member body. 

Meanwhile, Secretary General António Guterres reiterated his call for a global ceasefire, underscoring that the COVID-19 pandemic is “the greatest test” the international community has faced since the Second World War.

“I appealed for an immediate global ceasefire so that we could focus on our common enemy: the COVID-19 virus”, he said.

Pointing to the 20-year-old landmark resolution 1325, he noted that in supporting the global ceasefire, the Council made a “strong and valuable link” to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Citing the resolution, Mr. Guterres observed that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate negative impact on women and girls, leaving them victims of rising gender-based violence while simultaneously diverting resources from their health care, including sexual and reproductive services, as well as threatening long-term impacts on women’s employment and girls’ educations.

“This will contribute to the continued marginalization of women from political decision-making and peace processes, which damages everyone”, he upheld.

Moreover, women are on the front-line responses of the pandemic, keeping communities, economies and societies running through their crucial work as care givers, nurses, teachers and farmers, among other vital services. And they are peacebuilders at the local level and in communities around the world. 

“We must also recognize women who step up every day in conflict zones to help those at risk, mediating between groups to enable access by civilians and humanitarian aid, building trust and strengthening social bonds”, Mr. Guterres continued.

Noting that the resolution calls for women to be in positions of leadership and decision-making, the top UN official remarked their “remarkable” successes in containing the pandemic while also supporting livelihoods. 
“This confirms an obvious truth: Institutions, organizations, companies, and yes, Governments work better when they include half of society, rather than ignoring it”, he stressed, saying that women are “essential to peace and progress for all”. 

In addition to turning the climate crisis around, reducing social divisions and making sustained peace, “women’s leadership in all spheres will be critical to finding the fastest, safest route through this pandemic, and to building a more peaceful and stable future”, added the Secretary-General.

Source: UN News Centre

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