The world needs more women leaders and men standing up for gender equality, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said while asserting that the empowerment of women is about breaking structural barriers.
"It is true, I am a man, but we need all men to stand up for women's empowerment. Our world needs more women leaders.
And our world needs more men standing up for gender equality," Guterres told the Commission on Status of Women (CSW), which began its annual session here 13 March.
The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Guterres noted that empowerment of women is about breaking structural barriers.
With the nearly one billion women entering the global economy in the next decade, empowerment will unleash the potential of all these women and girls and they will lead the world to a new future.
He also cited one study showing that women's equality can add USD 12 trillion to global growth over the next decade.
He stressed, when women meaningfully participate in peace processes, the chance of sustainable peace goes up by 35 per cent over 15 years.
The UN chief asked UN Member States to move beyond the current level, where women make up just 3 per cent of UN peacekeepers.
"We are all better off when we open doors of opportunity for women and girls: in classrooms and boardrooms, in military ranks and at peace talks, in all aspects of productive life," he said.
Promising that the UN and he personally will support efforts for gender equality, Guterres said, "Do not let us off the hook. Keep our feet to the fire."
He said that he is joining the International Gender Champions, a global network that brings women and men decision-makers together to break down gender barriers, encouraging other senior leaders to do the same.
With its priority theme 'Women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work,' CSW's 61st session will run through March 24.
In her address, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted a slow progress in gender equality.
She pointed out that more than half of all women workers around the world and up to 90 per cent in some countries are informally employed, including care givers whose other life opportunities can be limited while they perform the unappreciated and valuable unpaid work of care at home.
There are 190 million women in the informal sector in India alone, she said.