UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says promotion of gender equality and the “meaningful engagement of women and girls” was key to poverty eradication in Africa.
Guterres stated this in his address to the 33rd African Union (AU) summit, which opened in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on Sunday.
He said although the continent had made progress in gender equality and women empowerment, but much remained to be done.
Noting that the world was still dominated by men, the UN chief emphasised that the search for global peace and sustainable development required women’s leadership.
“That is why I have made gender parity a centerpiece of UN reform, and gender equality and the advancement of women a top priority in all the UN does.
“Peace, social cohesion and sustainable development require women’s contribution and leadership.
“It is our joint responsibility to ensure that women are not excluded from critical decision-making in peace processes and post-conflict governance.
Guterres also reiterated his advocacy for youth empowerment and engagement at all levels of leadership in the continent.
Describing young people as agents of change, he said the had a lot to contribute and must, therefore, not be sidelined or excluded.
“I am inspired by young people across Africa who have become advocates for peace through dialogue and addressing the root causes of conflict.
“Let us work to provide not only social space for young people, but opportunities for work and incomes.
“And let us ensure that Africa’s youth are equipped to take full advantage of the benefits that the digital revolution offers,” he said.
He lauded the “1 million by 2021” initiative launched by the African Union Commission in 2019 to empower African youth.
Among other objectives, the initiative seeks to provide millions of African youth opportunities in the areas of employment, entrepreneurship, education and engagement.
He said the UN was ready to support the idea and other efforts to give young people a better future in the continent.