GREENSBORO, North Carolina — The world has overlooked the value of women for a long time. As such, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed created Women Rise for All. The initiative connects influential women across different regions to examine how their leadership is shaping pandemic response and recovery. The U.N. launched the program on social media in April 2020. In September 2020, it hosted an event showcasing the progress that Women Rise for All has made since.
Starting simply as a way to share the achievements of female leadership, Women Rise for All has since developed into a global call for action to actively fight the pandemic. This gathering of influential women has fostered solidarity during the COVID-19 crisis and encouraged isolated and demotivated girls and women.
Mohammed, to directly address the initiative’s mission, has stated, “The evidence has shown — in country after country — how governments led by women are more effective in flattening the curve and positioning for economic recovery.” Demonstrating her point, countries with women leaders, such as New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Taiwan, have been largely successful in dealing with the pandemic.
“Together We Are Stronger”
On September 24, 2020, Women Rise for All hosted an online event that connected women all over the world in recognition of their phenomenal leadership, where presentations were conducted by members of the Circle of Women Ambassadors to the U.N. The event attempted to outline what the world needs, materially and immaterially, to beat the pandemic.
Nadira Hira hosted as the Master of Ceremony, where she presented the concept behind Women Rise for All. She introduced Amina Mohammed and asked her some relevant questions regarding her work with this project. Ms. Mohammed is most known for leading “the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.” She made sure to point out that this project is all about inspiration — they want to inspire younger people to do good and know that they have a voice.
Addressing the Public
Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke at the Women Rise for All event, where she spoke on women’s contributions within leadership roles.
Madam Sirleaf explained, “The COVID pandemic has shaken us, abrupted us, and could have left us imprisoned by fear. But women at all levels have come together to say that this shaking, this abrupting must be used to build a better and fairer world, where the new roots will be intertwined with compassion and care. We are not only saying build better, we are saying, this time, build differently. ‘Women Rise for All’ is what women usually do, inclusion and not exclusion, and that is the critical difference.”
She also made sure to point out that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women. Existing inequalities have worsened and COVID has uncovered other discriminations. “The truth was always there, those living life on the narrow and impoverished margins of great prosperity were saying we may be in the same sea, but we are definitely not in the same boat,” Madam Sirleaf said.
Madam Sirleaf also spoke on privilege. She called on leaders of wealthier nations to continue helping those most vulnerable and most impacted by the virus.
She ended her speech by urging men in power across Africa to support women’s leadership, building a more equitable society. Sirleaf stated, “My hard-won title as the first elected African woman President is meaningless unless I see many others come after me. I call on my brother leaders to make a pledge at the next African Union summit, to change the leadership landscape within the next 3 years. I call on them to build upon what they have done already, to go one step further. I call on them to cast out the fear of losing out and to embrace the wonderful possibilities of a new post-COVID world, which should be better and different for all human beings.”
Women Rise for All has been an influential force in empowering female leaders and citizens alike. It has reiterated the point that the world is moving towards equality and equity. Along with that, it promises a hopeful future for both women’s empowerment and taking the pandemic head-on.
– Natalie Whitmeyer