Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.
Good morning to:
- The programme director
- The panel of judges - Ms. Andisa Ndlovu, Ms. Verusha Maharaj, Ms. Agnes Phiri
- Ms. Aleta Miller, the Representative of the UN Women South Africa Mult-Country Office. I want to extend our gratitude to you and the UN Women Team for creating this platform for young people to creatively contribute to the discussion on breaking the bias for a gender equal world.
- The UN South Africa family and Partners from the Private Sector, Civil Society and Academia,
- Members of the media,
- And most importantly the reason why we have gathered here today, the young people
- It is a pleasure to be part of today’s celebration of young people using social media to amplify the call to Break the Bias during women’s month.
- As you know, this year marks the 66th Anniversary since the march of more than 20 000 women to the Union Buildings to petition against the pass laws of the country at the time. Every year we pay homage to these courageous women for spearheading the cause of women’s emancipation against all odds. Campaigns like Break the Bias ensure that their stand, bravery and fight for a just and equal society has not been in vain.
- In commemorating their legacy, we reflect how far we have come in toward attaining gender equality, particularly in the transformation of unequal power relations between women and men. We do this while continuing the movement to address gender oppression, patriarchy, sexism, racism, ageism, structural oppression, and creating a conducive environment which enables women and girls to take control of their lives.
- As the United Nations we are committed to working hand in hand with the government and people of South Africa to create and sustain an enabling environment which ensures we become a society that acknowledges women and girls in all of their diversity and actively work towards integrating them in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes related to all spheres of our society.
The importance of a gender equal world
- Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.
- Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women. The World Economic Forum’s 16th Global Gender Gap Report indicates that overall gender disparity across politics, work, health and education improved, and it will now take 132 years to reach full parity compared with 136 years last year. Before the pandemic, the gap was set to close within 100 years.
- Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we ensure equal access to quality education and health, economic resources and participation in political life for both women and girls and men and boys. It is also essential to achieve equal opportunities in access to employment and to positions of leadership and decision-making at all levels.
- I use this opportunity to emphasise the UN Secretary-General’s message that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.
#BreakTheBias for a Gender Equal World for a Sustainable tomorrow
- Today, we celebrate the efforts of the entrants for engaging with the topic on how best we break biases for a gender equal world. This is particularly important as the 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, including economic disparities that have accelerated and intensified into widespread and interlinked crises that affect all people.
- We see this competition as platform for young people to not only critically engage on the topic but to contribute to the development of sustainable solutions for breaking biases.
- I want to commend the 16 young people for expressing themselves in their own creativity on what a gender equal world should look like from their own perspective and not from what has been researched and debated.
- I also want to congratulate and thank all the entrants for engaging with the topic on how best we break biases for a gender equal world. We need more young people like you to redefine the narratives around gender standards.
- As I conclude, I want to encourage the young people to continue to make Gender Equality a trending topic that motivates debates to change the narrative
I thank you