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International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace 

MULTILATERALISM BY WOMEN

 Today, 24 April, we celebrate the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace. We, the members of GWL Voices, reaffirm our commitment to building a more robust multilateral system where women play a more significant role in global decision-making and guiding progress.

Multilateral organizations are committed to gender equality. But are these values reflected in their leadership? The evidence says otherwise. Together, and throughout history, these organizations have had 382 leaders, 335 of them were men. Numbers don’t lie: 

On average, women have been in charge for 12% of the time since 1945. Yet, despite decades of progress, there is still a long way to go. 13 of these organizations have never been led by a woman. And 5 have elected a woman director only once in their history. We need to create a world where gender equality is the norm, not the exception.

The first step to achieving gender equality in multilateral leadership is acknowledging the facts and looking at the numbers. Women are vastly underrepresented in positions of power. We already have the numbers; we know the big picture. Now let’s use this evidence to drive change. We have an opportunity to make progress on addressing this major deficit in the multilateral scene.

Our mission is clear: increase the participation of women in multilateralism as a vehicle for improving women’s welfare everywhere. We speak from experience! 

10 of these organizations have been led by us, members of GWL Voices.

Through years of experience, GWL Voices’ members found that the world’s multilateral system has contributed significantly to advancing critical areas of concern: peace and security, human rights, women empowerment, public health, etc. However, the pace of progress remains slow, and the gains remain at risk. As women, we must highlight that this is particularly true regarding women’s rights and gender equality. 

Our multilateral architecture, built around the United Nations System, needs to be reformed to better address the structural inequalities that affect the world and respond with a complete perspective to humanity’s global multidimensional threats.  

A reinforced, gender-equal, and more efficient multilateral system is essential for peace, stability, human security, and sustainable development. We are convinced that strengthening multilateralism is, at the same time, the best tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and accelerate the gender equality agenda through the effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda and the Generation Equality Action Coalitions. They are the product of years of negotiations, research, and analysis of active civil society engagement. This legacy of international agreements and global commitments offers hope and guidance. Greater ambition and action to improve the lives and security of women and girls worldwide will convince people of the value of multilateralism and the importance of having women as equal partners and leaders in the driver’s seat of multilateral institutions.