Call for equal participation of women in leadership roles

Published March 9, 2021
In this Jan 2020 file photo, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram addresses the UNSC. — APP/File
In this Jan 2020 file photo, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram addresses the UNSC. — APP/File

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan joined the international community on Monday in calling for special measures to advance equal participation of women in leadership roles to achieve rapid change.

“Today on International Women’s Day, we reaffirm our collective resolve to redouble efforts in advancing gender equality & respect for women’s rights,” said Ambassador Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Mr Akram pointed out in his statement that Pakistani women at “the UN have provided the most exemplary and effective service” and assured the world that “we will continue to further build on our achievements.”

The mission also released pictures of Pakistani women speaking at various United Nations fora and participating in peace-keeping and other activities.

Seminar highlights achievements of Pakistani-American women leaders

In Washington, the embassy arranged a two-hour seminar to highlight the achievements of Pakistani-American women leaders.

While addressing the seminar, Pakistan’s ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said it was important to recognise and acknowledge that “Pakistani-American women have played a significant role, both as bridge builders between Pakistan and the US and as role models for the next generation of Pakistani women.”

Their bridge-building role, he said, was particularly important for the next generation of Pakistanis in America.

At the United Nations headquarters in New York, Secretary-General António Guterres marked the day by outlining “clear evidence” of how women leaders pursue peace and development when in power. Women leaders pursued better social protection programmes, stronger climate policies and enduring peace agreements when in power, he said.

“Whether running a country, a business or a popular movement, women are making contributions that are delivering for all and driving progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr Guterres said.

“I call on countries, companies and institutions to adopt special measures and quotas to advance women’s equal participation and achieve rapid change.”

The United Nations began celebrating the day in 1975, which was designated International Women’s Year and now it has become a rallying point to build support for women’s participation in the political and economic arenas.

This year’s commemorations, under the theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world,” are overshadowed by a pandemic that has wiped out decades of hard-won progress towards gender equality.

A United Nations report noted that women had “borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic — from being pushed into poverty, to losing jobs, to an alarming spike in domestic violence and the unpaid care burden”.

Yet, women “have stood resolutely on the frontlines of pandemic response, as essential workers, caregivers and leaders”, the report added.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN-Women, a United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, underlined the need for political will to enhance women’s representation.

Concrete efforts — such as placing and enforcing quotas — were needed to expand women representation in key positions, she said.

“No country prospers without the engagement of women,” said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka while explaining why it was important to bring forward women leaders.

“This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all,” she said.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2021

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