GENEVA (6 March 2020) – A group of UN experts* has called on men around the world to be a part of movements for gender equality and become women’s human rights defenders. “Now more than ever,” they urged in a joint statement released ahead of International Women’s Day, on Sunday 8 March.

“Women’s and girls’ activism and autonomous movements have been the driving forces behind the advancement of women’s human rights and gender equality and remain ever essential,” said Meskerem Geset Techane, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.

“But 25 years on from the Beijing Platform of Action, responsibility for progress cannot continue to lie solely on the shoulders of women. Men and boys need to stand with women and girls as allies in the fight for gender equality and demand an end to impunity and accountability for violations of women’s rights and access to justice,” she said.

In the statement, the experts said that much has been accomplished since the UN’s proclamation of International Women’s Day in 1977, but noted “progress remains insufficient”.

“Today, no country in the world is totally free of discriminatory practices and discriminatory laws still exist in many places,” said the statement. “Discrimination against women and girls persists and is too often unchallenged or normalized.

“Discrimination lies at the heart of every issue faced by women regardless of their identity or status. It operates in all spheres of women’s lives and is by no means accidental; discrimination is indeed political and systemic.”

The experts underlined the importance of adopting an intersectional approach to gender discrimination in order to understand and adequately respond to the unique forms of discrimination generally experienced by women on account of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, and disability status among others.

The UN experts said in their statement that “discrimination against women and girls is a human rights violation which must not be tolerated and States must be held accountable for implementing international standards guaranteeing women’s and girls’ human rights and achieving substantive gender equality”.

“The time to act is now,” Meskerem Geset Techane said. “Structural causes for inequality and deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes and practices must be tackled in order to achieve gender equality and a sustainable future for all.”


* The UN experts: See the full statement “Twenty-five years after the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women, no country in the world is free from discrimination against women”

International Women’s Day – 8 March 2020 “The time to act is now” – UN experts urge men and boys to become women’s rights defenders