The UN chief Antonio Guterres spoke at the start of a two-week conference at the United Nations on Monday about how women’s rights and the fight for gender equality was taking hits and going backwards rather than forward.
The entire purpose of the two-week conference is to take stock of the fight for gender equality and the UN chief made several points to support his stand.
He told the opening session of the conference at the UN headquarters in New York that;
“Globally, women are suffering new assaults on their safety and dignity,”
“Some governments are enacting laws that curtail women’s freedoms. Others are rolling back legal protections against domestic violence.”
“Women’s rights are human rights — and attacks on women are attacks on all of us. This is why we have to respond together,”
As an example of government enacting laws that curtail women’s freedoms, the UN chief referred to recently enacted laws like President Donald Trump’s “global gag rule” cutting US funding to groups that offer abortion services. On rolling back legal protection against domestic violence, there is Russia’s decision to ease the punishment handed out for domestic violence.
President Trump signed a decree early on in his Presidency that barred the US from funding foreign non-governmental groups whose work touches on abortion.
President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, signed a bill that reduces penalties for domestic violence to a fine instead of a jail term, if the assault is a first offense and does not cause serious injury.
The United Nations has set a global goal of achieving gender equality by 2030 and this year’s gathering wants to focus on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with attention turning to pay inequality and paid parental leave.
UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told the gathering that it was “ever more urgent” that women’s sexual and reproductive rights be protected.