The UN rights chief said on Tuesday March 16th that empowering women and girls to participate fully in public life is both the right and “smart thing to do”, speaking on a day that saw history being made with the first ever address to the UN by a woman Vice-President of the United States.

The UN rights chief noted that during the pandemic, countries led by women leaders adopted sound policies based on scientific expertise for the people’s good. The High Commissioner encouraged all leaders to appoint 50℅ women to their Cabinets, ensure broader diversity.

“Speaking up, and contributing to decision-making, is the right of every human being – women, just as much as men”, “It is also a powerful lever for better policy – for everyone”, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. She cited evidence demonstrating conclusively that where women are well represented in government, there is more investment in social protection and a better focus on climate justice.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (left); and Kamala Harris, US Vice President (right) address the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

US Vice President Kamala Harris told the commission in a video address that “the status of women is the status of democracy”. Along with other things, democracy protects human rights, upholds the rule of law and is a means to shared prosperity, in which everyone has an equal voice, she said, adding that it is a “work-in-progress” that requires constant vigilance and improvement.

“Democracy is increasingly under great strain globally with “a troubling decline in freedom”, according to Ms. Harris, citing experts who believed that “this past year was the worst on record for the global deterioration of democracy and freedom”.  “Even as we confront a global health crisis and an economic crisis, it is critical that we continue to defend democracy”, she stressed.

We know the status of democracy depends on our collective commitment to those values articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR), Kamala Harris said. “The status of democracy also depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women”. “The status of democracy also depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women. We are committed to upholding the democratic values embedded in the Declaration and firmly believe that, when we work together globally, we can achieve the vision within it”, she concluded.

By Alize Utteryn  03/17/2021 for more info visit https://news.un.org/