UN Chief Calls for Global Push to Stand Up for Women’s Rights Amid Troubling Trends

Addressing the opening of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the pivotal forum dedicated to promoting and safeguarding the rights of women and girls worldwide, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the disproportionate impact of wars on women.

“In conflict zones around the globe, women and girls are suffering most from wars waged by men,” he said, urging immediate ceasefires and humanitarian aid.

He emphasized the appalling situation in Gaza, where over two-thirds of those killed and injured during Israel’s offensive are reportedly women and girls. He also noted shocking testimonies of sexual violence against Palestinian women in detention settings, house raids and checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In Israel, he added, last week’s report released by UN Special Representative Pramila Patten highlights horrific sexual violence against women and girls and indications of sexualized torture during the terror attacks launched by Hamas and other armed groups on 7 October.

Mr. Guterres also voiced concern over the situation faced by women in other countries, including Afghanistan and Sudan.

“In Afghanistan, the Taliban has issued more than 50 edicts suppressing women’s and girls’ rights. In Sudan, scores of women have reportedly been subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence in the ongoing conflict,” he said.

Women peacemakers

Secretary-General Guterres stressed that despite evidence that women’s full participation makes peacebuilding much more effective, the number of women in decision-making roles is falling.

“The facts are clear: Women lead to peace,” he said, calling for more funding and new policies to boost women’s participation and investment in women peacebuilders.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Secretary-General António Guterres opens the sixty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68).

Digital gender divide

The UN chief also emphasized a growing digital gender divide, noting the dominance of men in digital technologies, particularly in Artificial Intelligence.

He warned that male-dominated algorithms could perpetuate inequalities into various aspects of life, noting that women’s needs, bodies and fundamental rights are often overlooked in the design of systems by male leaders and technologists.

“It’s time for governments, civil society and the Silicon Valleys of the world to join a massive effort to bridge the digital gender divide and ensure women have decision-making roles in digital technology at all levels,” he urged.

Breaking glass ceilings

Mr. Guterres also drew attention to the pressing need for women to hold leadership roles, particularly in financial institutions.

He highlighted the stark gender disparity in finance, with over eight  of ten finance ministers and more than nine out of ten central bank governors being men.

The Secretary-General emphasized that dismantling structural barriers is crucial for achieving gender parity in leadership roles.

“Overwhelmingly male-dominated financial institutions need to dismantle the structural barriers that are blocking women from leadership roles,” he said.

Drawing parallels with the UN’s successful achievement of full gender parity among senior management and leaders worldwide, he urged governments, banks and businesses to replicate these efforts, emphasizing that change does not happen by accident.

Call to action

The Secretary-General concluded his address by urging the international community to unite in the fight for gender equality, emphasizing that the CSW serves as a catalyst for transformative change.  

He called for collaborative efforts to end poverty in all its dimensions.

“Let’s do it by investing in women and girls, betting on women and girls, and pushing for peace and dignity for women and girls everywhere,” Mr. Guterres said.

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

General Assembly President Dennis Francis addresses the opening of the sixty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68).

Equal access needed

The President of the General Assembly, Dennis Francis, continued the call to action, highlighting the urgency of intensifying efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the world currently lagging attaining the Goals, particularly the Goal to eradicate extreme poverty (SDG1), Mr. Francis revealed a stark reality:

“Currently, one in every ten women lives in extreme poverty – I repeat – one in every ten women,” he said.

Underscoring the need for a multidimensional approach, the Assembly President urged equal access to resources, gender-responsive social protection policies, and measures to end gender-based discrimination inhibiting women’s leadership and decision-making roles.

68th session

The 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place from 11 to 22 March at the UN Headquarters, in New York, under the priority theme, “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

Held every year, CSW is the largest global gathering of civil society representatives, government officials, policy makers and experts to take stock of progress on gender equality, discuss pressing issues and agree on actions to transform the lives of women and girls everywhere.

It consists of a wide range of meetings, panel discussions, interactive dialogues, ministerial round tables, intergovernmental negotiations and more.



  1. It is truly heartbreaking to see the devastating impact that conflicts have on women and girls worldwide. Women are often the ones who suffer the most in war-torn areas, facing unimaginable violence and atrocities. We must collectively work towards achieving lasting peace and ensuring the protection of women’s rights in all corners of the globe.

  2. It is disheartening to see that in conflict zones, women and girls bear the brunt of the devastation caused by wars led by men. Immediate action is required to ensure their safety and well-being, and it is imperative to address the systematic violations of women’s rights globally.

  3. I believe that it is essential for the world to come together and take concrete actions to protect and uphold women’s rights globally. The alarming trends highlighted by Secretary-General Guterres require immediate attention and concerted efforts to bring about positive change.

  4. In conflict zones around the globe, women and girls are suffering most from wars waged by men. Immediate action must be taken to protect their rights and ensure their safety. It is crucial to stand up against the atrocities faced by women in countries like Gaza, Afghanistan, and Sudan. Women play a vital role in peacebuilding efforts and their voices must be heard and respected.

  5. It’s truly disheartening to see the continuous suffering and challenges faced by women and girls in conflict zones. The call for immediate ceasefires and protection of women’s rights should be a top priority for all nations. I hope that global leaders take swift and concrete actions to address these troubling trends and stand up for the rights of women worldwide.

  6. As a woman, I strongly believe that it is imperative for the global community to prioritize the protection of women’s rights in conflict zones. The statistics presented by Secretary-General António Guterres are truly concerning, highlighting the urgent need for immediate action to address the disproportionate impact of wars on women and girls. Women’s voices must be heard and their rights safeguarded to ensure a more peaceful and just world for all.

  7. As a female activist, I wholeheartedly agree with Secretary-General Guterres on the urgency of addressing the alarming disparities in women’s rights exacerbated by conflicts. It is crucial that we stand together and demand immediate action to protect women and girls around the world.

  8. As a woman myself, I wholeheartedly agree with Secretary-General António Guterres that it’s crucial to stand up for women’s rights globally, especially in conflict zones where women are disproportionately affected by the horrors of war. Immediate action is needed to protect and support women and girls who are enduring unimaginable suffering due to conflicts waged by men. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the atrocities faced by women in Gaza, Israel, Afghanistan, Sudan, and beyond. We must push for change and ensure that women are included in peacemaking efforts.

  9. As a woman, I strongly believe that it is crucial for the global community to take immediate action to protect and uphold the rights of women in conflict zones. It is heartbreaking to see how wars disproportionately affect women and girls. The testimonies of sexual violence and abuse are appalling and demand urgent attention. We must stand together in support of women’s rights worldwide.

  10. It is devastating to see how women continue to bear the brunt of conflicts worldwide. We must amplify our efforts to protect and empower women in these fragile situations. Their voices are indispensable in building lasting peace and justice.

  11. As a woman, I fully support Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for global action to protect women’s rights. It is disheartening to see the ongoing violence and atrocities faced by women and girls in conflict zones worldwide. Immediate ceasefires and humanitarian aid are urgent necessities in ensuring their safety and well-being.

  12. It’s heartbreaking to see the devastating impact of wars on women and girls worldwide. The statistics and testimonies shared by Secretary-General António Guterres highlight the urgent need for immediate action to protect and promote women’s rights in conflict zones. We must strive for global solidarity to ensure the safety and well-being of all women and girls, especially those most vulnerable during times of war.

  13. Do you think enough is being done to protect women’s rights in conflict zones worldwide?

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