Key to pandemic recovery? Put women in decision-making roles, U.N. leader says
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka pounds the table for women and girls.
As she speaks, it’s like a drumbeat — how girls need to complete their education, how they need access to technology, how child marriage and pregnancy will set a girl on a path of economic hardship. You can hear it as she points to girls who are trafficked, and you can hear it as she speaks of the cycles of violence, abuse and poverty that trap women and girls for life.
Mlambo-Ngcuka has been the executive director of U.N. Women for seven years. Earlier in her career, she held several positions in the South African government, including deputy president of South Africa — the first woman to hold that role.
Certainly there are reasons to be hopeful — among them movements against violence and demonstrations for inclusivity — but COVID-19 has put those gains at risk.
So Mlambo-Ngcuka’s pounding beats on: We had better use this crisis to make decisions that can be enforced and enshrined in laws, she says, adding, “We want to go back to the new normal, which is not going back to the status quo that we had before COVID.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka sat down with In Her Words to talk about the risks the global crisis poses to women and girls in particular and how the entire world has homework to do on an inclusive recovery.