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Gender imbalance among UNGA speakers disheartening — Muhammad-Bande

Muhammad-Bande speaking at the closing session of the General Debate on Monday
His Excellency (Prof.) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

By Harrison Arubu

New York, Sept. 30, 2019

President of the UN General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, has described as disheartening the gender imbalance in the list of speakers at the just-concluded General Debate.

In his remarks at the closing session on Monday, Muhammad-Bande said only 16 out of the 192 speakers at the forum were women.

He said: “The General Assembly is the most representative body in the United Nations.

“However, it is disheartening that, this week, only sixteen of the 192 speakers were women [this figure is to be fact-checked at end of the General Debate].

“When we speak of a representative United Nations, this is clearly not what we mean.

“By a representative United Nations, we mean a body that allows every human being to realise their fullest potential, unhindered by their gender or by a history of disadvantage’’.

While noting that gender equality remained work in progress in the contemporary world, the PGA said efforts should be redoubled to involve women in decision-making structures.

He also canvassed gender balance in the list of speakers billed to address high-level fora, adding that women empowerment was critical to attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The PGA, however, said the event witnessed active participation by 192 out of the 193 Member States of the UN.

This, he said, is the “clearest indicator of the acknowledgement of the inter-dependence between and among nations’’.

In a highly divided world, Muhammad-Bande said multilateralism (joint action) remained the only guarantee of world peace, security and sustainable development.

His words: “The world will not survive for long unless we cultivate the give-and-take spirit which is a distinct and defining attribute of multilateralism.

“It is gratifying to note that even those who are a bit skeptical about the direction of multilateralism acknowledge this much.

“Active participation in the General Debate by 192 of our 193 Member States is the clearest indicator of the acknowledgement of the inter-dependence between and among nations.

Turning to the youth, Muhammad-Bande said the just-ended High-Level Week of the UN saw them making their voices heard on the need for action to tackle climate change.

“They marched in their millions all over the world and quite literally took over the General Assembly at the Climate Action Summit.

“Let me assure you youth– we hear you! But that I hear you does not mean you should lower the volume.

“ You should continue to make your voice heard at every opportunity you have,’’ he said.

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