The Group of Friends for Gender Parity, comprised of 102 Member States, met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 24 March 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. This meeting was the first time that the Group of Friends for Gender Parity met with the Secretary-General since he took office in January 2017.
The meeting served as an opportunity to brief the Secretary-General on the Group’s work, and to convey the Group’s support for the Secretary-General’s ambitious commitments to achieving gender parity throughout the UN. The Group explored ways it can assist the Secretary-General in accelerating efforts to achieve gender parity by advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
H.E. María Emma Mejía Vélez, Permanent Represent of Colombia to the UN and Chair of the Group, welcomed the Secretary-General, and expressed her gratitude for the numerous Member States who have recently joined the Group. With 102 Member States to date, the Group now comprises over half of the UN’s membership. Ambassador Mejía briefed the Secretary-General on the Group’s work, including the HERstory exhibition, a show that chronicles the first women to have held top positions at the UN, which will travel to Paris and Geneva this summer, and to Washington, DC, this fall. She also announced the Group’s plan to release an academic book highlighting women’s leadership at the UN during the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women in 2018.
The Secretary-General stated his appreciation for the Group’s support, and that he looks forward to collaborating. He emphasized that for the organization to progress, different voices needed to be heard, which includes the perspectives of both women and men. The Secretary-General outlined his commitments for achieving gender parity at the UN, and shared his thoughts on how the Group can assist him in his efforts. He stated “2030 is a reasonable objective, but without clear benchmarks and mechanisms for accountability, it will be difficult for the organization to achieve gender parity.”
H.E. Margot Wallström, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, opened the discussions and highlighted the role of women in post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding, and the value of gender parity in such circumstances. Fifteen Permanent Representatives to the UN delivered statements in support of the Group and work being done by the Secretary-General, and highlighted how they would support his efforts to achieve gender parity in the UN.
The Secretary-General delivered closing remarks, noting the importance of implementing an accountability system at all levels in order to deliver on gender parity commitments.