The United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has encouraged global action to overcome prejudice, support activism and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of his International Women’s Day message on Wednesday (08/03).
While the international women’s rights movement has gained significant traction in recent years, women and girls across the globe still face great challenges that include narrowing the economic gender gap, stopping violence against women and girls and halting underage marriages.
In his message, Guterres highlighted the historic imbalance of the power relations between men and women and explained that growing inequality may be leading to greater discrimination against women and girls.
“Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices,” Guterres said.
The secretary general, who assumed office on Jan. 1, added that “empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives” are ways to overcome the challenges faced by women today.
One of the goals laid out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to achieve global gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. According to Guterres, gender equality is central to realizing all of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals listed in the agenda plan.
He added that closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global gross domestic product by the year 2025.
Women’s Rights in Indonesia
According to UN Women, a UN entity working for the empowerment of women, Indonesia is one of 90 countries committed to overcoming the gender equality gap by promoting women’s participation in decision-making processes, working to reduce maternal deaths and promoting awareness of gender-based violence.
“We are more than eager to improve the quality of life for our women. We must ensure that women have equal and inclusive access to greater participation throughout all levels of society,” Vice President Jusuf Kalla said at the Global Leadership Summit in September 2015.
Indonesia has seen a recent increase in women’s rights activism, as more than 1,000 people participated in the Jakarta Women’s March on Saturday.
A report released on Tuesday by the National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, revealed that housewives and female students are especially vulnerable to domestic abuse, with 259,150 reported cases of violence against women in Indonesia throughout 2016.
Komnas Perempuan noted that while gender-based violence is considered a serious issue in the world, the issue receives minimal attention in Indonesia. The commission’s data collection process revealed that gender-based violence is often categorized as normal crime.