United Nations (EFE).- The secretary-general of the United Nations said here Monday that the “patriarchy is fighting back” in a bid to reverse the human rights gains women have made in recent decades.
But Antonio Guterres also noted at the start of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) – an annual UN event that is fully in-person this year for the first time since 2019 – that the organization he leads is carrying out its own struggle to preserve those rights and make further progress toward gender equality.
“Women’s rights are being abused, threatened and violated around the world. Progress won over decades is vanishing before our eyes. In Afghanistan, women and girls have been erased from public life,” the secretary-general said.
“In many places, women’s sexual and reproductive rights are being rolled back. In some countries, girls go to school risking kidnapping and assault. In others, police prey on vulnerable women they have sworn to protect.”
During his speech at the event, whose focus this year is on closing the major gender gap in innovation and technology, the secretary-general said women and girls are being left behind.
“Three billion people are still unconnected to the Internet, but the majority of them are women and girls in developing countries. And in the least-developed countries, just 19 percent of women are online,” Guterres said.
And those women who are using the technologies of the 21st century often are subject to abuse, according to the secretary-general.
“Misogynistic disinformation and misinformation flourish on social media platforms. So-called ‘gender trolling’ is specifically aimed at silencing women and forcing them out of public life. The stories may be fake, but the damage done is very real,” Guterres said at the start of the meeting, which runs through March 17.
He also pointed out that women and girls represent just one-third of students globally in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and noted that in the field of artificial intelligence “only about one out of five workers is a woman.”
AI is “shaping our future world,” the UN chief said. “Let’s hope it will not be shaped in a totally gender-biased way.”
“Centuries of patriarchy, discrimination and harmful stereotypes have created a huge gender gap in science and technology. Women account for just 3 percent of Nobel Prize winners in science categories,” he noted.
He therefore called for urgent action to empower women, improve their situation in the workforce and education and raise their level of income.
The UN chief also urged political leaders to promote “women’s and girls’ full participation in leadership in science and technology, from governments to board rooms and classrooms.”
CSW67 Chair Mathu Joyini said for her part that “gender-based discrimination is a systematic problem that has been interwoven into the fabric of our political, social and economic lives, and the technology sector is no different.”
“Digital technologies are irrevocably transforming society, allowing for unprecedented advances to improve social and economic outcomes for women and girls, but also giving rise to profound new challenges that may perpetuate and deepen existing patterns of gender inequalities,” the South African added.
CSW67 brings together representatives of governments and public institutions and heads of feminist organizations worldwide.
A total of 181 governments are expected to participate. Most of the delegations will be headed by Cabinet ministers, although some heads of state and government also will be present at UN headquarters in New York.
Some 8,700 civil society representatives have registered for the meeting, more than half of whom are expected to attend in person, Joyini said at a press conference.
Besides the formal program, hundreds of side events and parallel events will be organized by UN member states, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs during CSW67. EFE