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‘Race to Do Good’, Deputy Secretary-General Urges, Hailing Pioneer Female Muslim Leaders, in Message for Year of Women 2021 Launch Event

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of the launching ceremony of the ICESCO Year of Women 2021, today:

As-salaam alaykum!

Let me begin by congratulating the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [ICESO] as you launch the Year of Women.  This week, the world marked International Women’s Day, and next week, the sixty-fifth Commission on the Status of Women will begin its work.  Both have put a spotlight on a pivotal theme — women’s leadership.

As a proud Muslim woman, I know the transformative change that women’s leadership can make possible, and the long legacy of examples in our faith community.  I take inspiration from leading women pioneers such as Khadija, Aisha, and Fatima, dating back to the earliest days of Islam.

I take strength from the many Muslim women throughout my own life — including many of whom I am honoured to work with today — who are leading in their fields and blazing the trail for others.  I take hope from young torchbearers like Malala Yousafzai, who represent a new generation of Muslim women lighting the way to a better future.

They and so many others are helping to prove a fundamental point:  a world where women enjoy their right to equal participation is a game-changer for everyone.  Women lead to more durable peace processes.  Women lead to more sustainable policies.  Women lead to more future-focused approaches.

As we look ahead, we know that achieving sustainable, inclusive and peaceful development requires a collective effort and gender-balanced leadership.  But we also know we have a long way to go — in OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] countries and every part of the world.  And it has never been more critical to keep pushing forward.

That is why it is so encouraging to see an organization such as ICESCO focus the spotlight on women’s diverse contributions to society.  The United Nations will count on you to keep speaking up and speaking out for women’s equal and meaningful inclusion in decision-making everywhere.  Not in a generation.  Not in a decade.  Not next year.  But right now.

Let us be emboldened by the words of the Holy Quran calling on all of us to “race to do good”.  All of this is crucial for recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, for securing fundamental human rights, for living our faith and for building a better future for one and all.  Thank you.


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