UNITED NATIONS, March 6 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for double efforts to protect and promote women's rights, dignity and leadership.
Gender equality and women's rights are fundamental to global progress on peace and security, human rights and sustainable development, said Guterres in a message to mark the International Women's Day, which will be observed on March 8.
"We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Only when we see women's rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance," said the UN chief.
Increasing the number of women decision makers is fundamental, said Guterres, adding that the United Nations now has the highest ever numbers of women in senior management, and this progress will continue to be built on.
However, women still face major obstacles in accessing and exercising power. According to the World Bank, just six economies give women and men equal legal rights in areas that affect their work, he said.
"If current trends continue, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap," he said.
"We need to redouble our efforts to protect and promote women's rights, dignity and leadership. We must not give ground that has been won over decades and we must push for wholesale, rapid and radical change," said the UN chief.
"Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change" is the theme for International Women's Day this year.
Guterres said that women decision makers in areas like urban design, transport and public services can increase women's access, prevent harassment and violence, and improve everyone's quality of life.
Innovation and technology reflect the people who make them. The underrepresentation and lack of retention of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design should be a cause of concern to all, he added.