UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday emphasized the role of women in addressing today's global challenges and therefore the importance of empowerment of women and girls.
"Women's meaningful participation in peace and security has been proven to make peace more sustainable. Women's equal participation in the labor force and equal pay would unlock trillions of dollars for our economies," Guterres told an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly while presenting his priorities for 2018.
To achieve such gains, however, greater action is needed, he said.
Guterres asked to empower women and girls. "Power is the heart of the matter."
He noted that he had launched a roadmap for achieving gender parity at all levels of the United Nations and that the goal had been met in the 44 UN senior management sections.
Guterres asked for efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse against women, noting that the United Nations' first ever Victims' Rights Advocate is in place, working closely with member states and across the United Nations system.
Some 82 member states are part of a voluntary compact to prevent these crimes and respond swiftly to allegations. Fifty-eight world leaders have committed themselves to a circle of leadership of the voluntary compact, he noted.
Guterres highlighted the importance of preventing and addressing sexual harassment. "I reiterate my personal commitment to eliminating sexual harassment from our organization."
"My zero-tolerance approach was recently reaffirmed in a joint letter with staff unions to all our personnel. I have also set up a task force to review UN policies and capacities to investigate, to ensure accountability, and to look at the support and protection offered to those affected. We are working on more detailed measures to simplify the procedures for reporting harassment and to raise awareness of this very serious issue throughout our organization."