UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Says Women’s Rights Are Dire And We Need More Men Like Him To Acknowledge Their Privilege
If you have been following Hauterfly for a while, then you know that we do not shy away from fighting for women’s rights. We are not feminazi’s or men-bashers, but we do strongly believe that women deserve equality in every sphere of life. Now you must understand that since talking about women and how they are treated in society is literally my job, I come across some horribly grim situations on a daily basis. Incidents of rapes, assaults, honour killings, sexism, harassment and of course ignorant people are just some of the things I deal with, every day.
It is not all bad though because occasionally, I come across a empowerment story that genuinely surprises me and gives me so much joy. And I am very happy right now because this is a story just like that about a man in a power position not only understands the plight of women and the inequality we face but also wants to do everything in his power to rectify it.
On Thursday, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave a speech at the New School in New York City. His entire speech revolved around gender inequality and discrimination against women. Do you know how rare it is for a man in such an influential position to say things that are pro women? Very.
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I was privileged tonight to receive an honorary doctorate at @thenewschool in New York City where I had the opportunity to speak about what I believe is the one overwhelming injustice across the globe; an abuse that is crying out for attention: gender inequality and discrimination against women and girls. Women are worse off than men, simply because they are women – and this discrimination harms us all. From the ridiculing of women as hysterical or hormonal, to the routine judgement of women based on their looks; from the myths and taboos that surround women’s natural bodily functions, to mansplaining and victim-blaming — misogyny is everywhere. Gender equality is a question of power; power jealously guarded by men for millennia. I believe that transforming the balance of power is critical to solving some of the most damaging problems we face, from deepening inequality and polarization to the climate crisis. Women’s inequality should shame us all in the 21st century – because it is not only unacceptable; it is stupid. Only through the equal participation of women can we benefit from the intelligence, experience and insights of all of humanity. That is why I call on all men to support women’s rights and gender equality. And why I am a proud feminist. It’s time to stop trying to change women, and start changing the systems that prevent them from achieving their potential. 📷: UN Photo/ Mark Garten
Guterres said, “Just as slavery and colonialism were a stain on previous centuries, women’s inequality should shame us all in the 21st. Because it is not only unacceptable; it is stupid.” He also said, “Women have equaled and outperformed men in almost every sphere. It is time to stop trying to change women and start changing the systems that prevent them from achieving their potential.”
He also states examples of women like Malala Yousafzai who after being shot by Taliban militants went on to help young girls receive education all around the world. He also spoke about Nadia Murad, a Nobel peace prize recipient who is an Iraqi human rights activist. He said that women like these are, “breaking barriers and creating new models of leadership. But despite these advances, the state of women’s rights remains dire.” He points out that inequality and gender bias have become the norm everywhere.
In the same speech, he also talks about how violence against women has reached an epidemic. There is no denying that in most places there is, “strong and relentless pushback against women’s rights.” One out three women have experienced violence at least once in her lifetime. He says, “Legal protections against rape and domestic violence are being diluted or rolled back in some places. Rape within marriage continues to be legal in 34 countries. Women’s sexual and reproductive rights are under threat from different sides.”
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During my visit to Pakistan I was among Christians, Muslims and others visiting the Sikh pilgrimage site in Kartarpur. I also met religious leaders from across many faiths at Lahore’s Badshahi mosque. In both places, I saw inspiring bridge-building work among communities. Interfaith dialogue is crucial for building a world in peace — a world with mutual respect — a world that recognizes diversity as a blessing, not a threat. When so many are fighting around the world in the name of religion, we need to find ways to unite for peace. That’s what I saw today in Pakistan and it reaffirmed my faith – in humanity. 📷: UN Photo/Mark Garten
In this groundbreaking speech, he goes on to say that even today governments, award ceremonies, cooperate boards and peace negotiations avoid having women at the top. Women leaders and female public figures face bullying, threats and abuse both online and off. I’ll give you an example of why this is so true for India as well. There are only six women on PM Modi’s cabinet, the rest of the Union Ministers are all men. That is troubling, right?
Guterres also says that misogyny and stereotyping is everywhere. He says, “From the ridiculing of women as hysterical or hormonal, to the routine judgment of women based on their looks, from the myths and taboos that surround women’s natural bodily functions, to mansplaining and victim-blaming — misogyny is everywhere.”
I can give you multiple instances that prove his points, like the fact a popular publication called Sonam Kapoor’s strong about her father’s movie a “rant”. Why does a woman who is being assertive necessarily ranting? But if it were her brother or her husband presenting the same note that would’ve been called an “opinion”. Another instance is, women really have no control over what they do with their bodies because the men think they know what’s best for us, and this pertains to the US abortion issue. So, I think Guterres is an amazing man with some really valuable insights and a deep understanding that a lot of men in this position, lack.
The secretary-general says that he has identified five areas where, if we achieve gender equality, we will be able to “transform the world”. The first area is violence against women, second is the climate crisis, the third area is equal opportunities, the fourth area is the digital divide and finally, the fifth area is political representation.
His views do not pertain to one particular country but to the entire world. All these five areas are areas of concern for women around the globe. We need more men like him. Because if we do, I have no doubt the world will be a safer and easier place for women to breathe in.