On 1 September from 10:30 am-12:00 pm EST, UN Women and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations held an event to present the book 4 out of 74: Women Trailblazers at the United Nations, an initiative of H.E. Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The book highlights the experiences of the four female Presidents of the UNGA – from India, Liberia, Bahrain and Ecuador.
This event provided the opportunity to reinforce the pressing importance of women in leadership and to reinvigorate the women’s empowerment and gender equality agenda, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, which has halted, if not reversed, the movement towards equality. It has also disproportionately impacted women and girls.
This virtual event brought together over 115 Permanent Representatives and Deputy Permanent Representatives to the United Nations, other government delegates, and leaders of the women’s movement, including young women, as well as media, business leaders and UN System representatives.
Ms. Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, UN System Coordination, Sustainability, and Partnerships at UN Women, moderated the first part of the event and provided welcome remarks together with H.E. Mr. Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations.
Ms. Bhatia emphasized the value of women’s leadership at top levels of decision making and that having 4 out of 74 Female Presidents of the UNGA is clearly not enough. She stated that both the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People were enacted under the leadership of these female Presidents of the UNGA and represent the two key human rights instruments that helped make the United Nations more relevant to all humanity.
In his address, Ambassador Massari highlighted the Preface written by the former Ambassador of Italy H.E. Ms. Mariangela Zappia. “The G20 Italian Presidency is redoubling the efforts, with dedicated initiatives such as the Women20 Summit in Rome a few weeks ago, and the G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment on August 26, the first and only event of this kind to have ever been organized at G20 level. The Conference included a dedicated meeting on the condition of women in Afghanistan, whose rights are dramatically at risk in this moment”, stated Ambassador Massari.
The President of the 75th Session of the UNGA, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, the keynote speaker at the event, emphasized the importance of having women at the centre of recovery efforts and including women in all levels of decision making. He mentioned the experience of a young women from Fiji who is a member of his team, featured in the book, who shared her perspectives of what her priorities would be if she were President of the UNGA.
The keynote address was followed by two panels. The first was on “Sharing experiences of past Female Presidents of the UNGA” which included panellists H.E. Mr. T. S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India; H.E. Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd Session of the UNGA; H.E. Mr. Hatem Abdulhameed Hatem, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United Nations; and H.E. Ms. Cecilia Forgbe-McGill, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations.
Ambassador Tirumurti underlined that the book is a fascinating account of insights into the different political/social/economic context of the world from 1953 to 2019, stressing the importance of focusing on women-led development, and not just women’s leadership. H.E. Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated that “we should repeat over and over again, The United Nations General Assembly has had only four women presidents in 76 years of history. The four of us from the Global South. This is clearly not a good record. And sadly, this situation is mirrored in other aspects of public life: parliaments, governments, diplomacy, peace processes and the military, just to name a few.” She emphasized that this book is dedicated to the younger generations, as the changemakers, and the forward thinkers. “I would like to send a message to young women. Never forget the words of activist and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who says that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. My first call is to combat indifference, because sometimes extremely cruel and harmful matters seem to become normalized. I call on young people, both women and men, to combat indifference, to make a commitment, to open their eyes to what is going on in real life. Reality is not in social networks or electronic games or virtual realities. It is in people’s pain, in the lives of real human beings”.
The second panel, entitled “How to advance women’s leadership in a post-COVID world” was moderated by H.E. Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa. Panellists included H.E. Ms. Thilmeeza Hussain, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations; Ms. Jamila Belabidi, Purchases Director, Global Women Economic Empowerment and Global Innovation, Procter and Gamble; Ms. Subha Wijesiriwardena, Human Rights Activist, Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA); and Ms. İlayda Eskitaşçıoğlu, Generation Equality Youth Task Force member. Ms. Belabidi stressed the fact that gender representation at the decision-making level can bring innovation and better performance. Ms. Wijesiriwardena affirmed that “feminist leadership is not about the individual but embedded in the movement. Feminist leadership is unique because it asks us to transform ourselves” while Ms. Eskitaşçıoğlu raised thought-provoking questions to the panellists on what measures are being taken to include young women in key decision-making roles in national policies and stressing the importance of having women in spaces traditionally held by men. She underscored that “when young people promise, young people deliver. Believe in them and give them a chance for leadership.”
The event ended with concluding remarks by video from H. E. Ms. Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations.
Heartfelt gratitude was expressed to Italy and Qatar for their editorial contributions and generous funding for the book.
An electronic version of the book can be downloaded at no cost here. We hope you will enjoy reading it.
For more information please contact:
Queenee Choudhury, Partnerships Specialist, UN Women Queenee.email@example.com
Ludovica Murazzani, Spokesperson, Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations Ludovica.firstname.lastname@example.org
RASSEGNA STAMPA (link)