Panafrican News Agency

Women and girls must lead battle against ‘widespread and interlinked crises': Guterres

New York, US (PANA) - To forge a sustainable future for us all, “women and girls must be front and centre, leading the way”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the opening session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on Monday.

He described the climate and environmental crises, coupled with the ongoing economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, as “the defining issues of our time,” stating that “our collective response will chart our course for decades to come”, a UN statement said

He noted that “unprecedented emergencies of the climate crisis, pollution, desertification and biodiversity loss, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact of new and ongoing conflicts, have accelerated and intensified into widespread and interlinked crises that affect us all”.

Guterres told the Commission at the hybrid opening day event that the damage would not be meted out equally.

Everywhere, women and girls face the greatest threats and the deepest harm,” he said.

And while women and girls are taking action to confront the climate and environmental crises, they continue to be largely excluded from the rooms where decisions are taken, Guterres said.

Women and girls living in small island nations, least developed countries, and places affected by conflict, are impacted most of all, the UN chief said.

Their nutrition and livelihoods are disproportionately affected by extreme weather, and they suffer most when local natural resources come under threat.

And with increasing climate shocks, evidence points to a link between child marriage and exploitation.

When climate disasters strike, as they do with increasing frequency, research shows that women and children are up to 14 times more likely than men to die,” the UN chief said.

Mr. Guterres expressed his deep alarm over the increase in violence and threats against women human rights defenders and environmental activists.

“Gender discrimination means just a tiny proportion of landowners and leaders are women,” he explained, saying that their needs and interests are “often ignored and pushed aside” in policies and decisions on land use, pollution, conservation and climate action.

He informed the participants that just one-third of decision-making roles under the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement are occupied by women, while they account for only 15 per cent of environment ministers.

Moreover, only one-third of 192 national energy frameworks include gender considerations, and they are rarely considered in climate financing.

“This demonstrates once more that we live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture,” the UN chief said, highlighting “a millennium of patriarchy that excludes women and prevents their voices from being heard”.

“We cannot realise any of our goals without the contributions of all...including men and boys…working for women’s rights and gender equality”.

The Paris Agreement addresses biodiversity loss, land degradation and pollution –vital to creating lives of dignity for all on a healthy planet.

Women and girl leaders, farmers, policymakers, economists, lawyers and climate activists are vital to build the sustainable economies and resilient societies of tomorrow, Mr Guterres said.

-0- PANA MA 15March2022