United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres says progress for women and girls means changing the unequal power dynamics that underpin discrimination and violence.
Gutteres was addressing the opening of the 62nd session of the Commission of the Status of Women, focused on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.
Thousands of delegates representing a cross section of governments and civil society were also reminded that at the current rates of implementation, it will take over 200 years to achieve parity.
“Progress for women and girls means changing the unequal power dynamics that underpin discrimination and violence. This is not only the greatest human rights challenge of our time. It is also in everyone’s interests. Discrimination against women damages communities, organizations, companies, economies and societies. That is why all men should support women’s rights and gender equality. And that is why I consider myself a proud feminist,” says Gutteres.
Worldwide, one-third of women are employed in agriculture making up to 60% of workforce. They are often treated as informal sector workers with little or no social protections.
Globally, just 13% of women own the land they work while 20% of rural women have access to clean drinking water compared to 68% or their urban counterparts.
UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka says that half of all rural women have no basic literacy in developing countries.
South Africa’s delegation is led by Women’s Minister Bathabile Dlamini who’s expected to address the commission on Tuesday.