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Pandemic Challenges Compounded for Women, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Political Leaders Summit, Citing Violence, Economic Struggles

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Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video remarks to the Women Political Leaders Summit today:

Excellencies, distinguished delegates

Thank you for coming together at this virtual Women Political Leaders Summit. It is an honour to be surrounded by voices of influence — voices that are shaping our societies into a more equitable and inclusive world.

Each of us has seen the impacts of COVID-19, threatening decades of progress towards equality and laying bare significant disparities that demand urgent and systemic change. The challenges of the pandemic have been compounded for women. Many are facing violence and enduring economic struggles. And too many girls — who are out of school now — may not return to their education. The UN predicts that COVID-19 will push 47 million women and girls into extreme poverty.

Excellencies and distinguished delegates,

We must do more to keep the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are the best frame to address our most pressing challenges — from ending hunger and poverty to accelerating climate action and ensuring quality education. The Goals provide a comprehensive road map to address the interrelated challenges of poverty, inequality, education, protection of our planet and the partnerships that must be leveraged to achieve these Goals. And they have as their docking station, Goal 5 on gender equality. The importance of this Goal has never been clearer.

Time has shown the enduring impact of women’s equal representation and leadership — from greater investments in development outcomes and social protection. I am especially inspired by women leaders at all levels in diverse settings responding to and recovering from this pandemic. For example, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, excelled at communicating with her nation about the work required to battle COVID-19. This made the swift and strict lockdown easier to understand and accept. New Zealand has lost fewer than 30 lives to COVID-19.

I fully agree with the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, who said, “All issues are women’s issues.” We also both agree that we are collectively responsible for advancing generational leadership across the world. It is critical to make space, amplify and work alongside young women leaders. Young women leaders such as 24-year-old Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate, who founded the Rise Up Climate Movement in Uganda, and 19-year-old Valentina Muñoz of Chile, who collaborated on the construction of her country’s new artificial intelligence policy.

A year ago, I launched Women Rise for All, seeking out extraordinary women in every sector of society — women who are trailblazers for an inclusive response and a resilient and green recovery from COVID-19. In the past year, the Secretary-General and I convened eminent women economists to hear from them new perspectives on the COVID recovery and reset, with a focus on inclusion and sustainability.

Dear colleagues, in just about a week, I look forward to the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, where this conversation will build on Mexico and crescendo to reinvigorated commitment and transformative action to leave no one behind, targeting six critical areas for transformation: ending gender-based violence; securing economic justice; bodily autonomy; climate justice; technology and innovation for gender equality; and promoting feminist movements and women’s leadership.

This leader dialogue gives us yet another opportunity to raise our voices, amplify the solutions and lead a different and ambitious recovery. Together, we are stronger when women rise for all.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.