Everything you need to know about gender equality at the United Nations General Assembly

A guide to the global gender equality agenda at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 73), who will be there and what’s at stake

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Students carry the flags of United Nations Member States during the annual Peace Bell Ceremony held in observance of the International Day of Peace (21 September), ahead of the 70th session of the General Assembly Photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The largest yearly meeting of world leaders! What better time than this to highlight the importance, challenges and progress on women’s rights and gender equality.

Even before the General Assembly began, UN General Assembly President-elect María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés called attention to gender-based violence and political empowerment in a speech about the session.

Garcés, just the fourth woman President of the UNGA in its 73 years history, is presiding over this year’s Assembly, which opened on 18 September 2018, at the UN Headquarters in New York. The High-level General Debate, when Prime Ministers and Presidents convene in New York City, will begin on Tuesday, 25 September 2018 and run until 1 October.

The theme for UNGA 73 is, “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.” With a dizzying array of speeches by Heads of States, celebrity sightings and diplomatic tweets to keep up with, we’ve outlined where and when to pay close attention to the global gender equality agenda.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why is gender equality an important topic at UNGA 73?

A better world for women and girls is a better world for all. When more women work, economies grow. When women have control of their household income, children benefit from the changes in spending. When women are included in peace processes, there is a higher likelihood the agreement will last longer.

It is paramount that in all aspects of the UN’s work, whether it be peace and security, climate action, or humanitarian assistance, the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of women and girls are acknowledged, accounted for and continuously evaluated.

During the 71st session of the General Assembly, Phumzile Mlambo­Ngucka, ExecutiveDirector of UN Women, addresses the opening segment of the United Nations high­level summit on large movements of refugees and migrants on 19 September 2016 in the General Assembly Hall Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Who will be there?

Each UN Member State usually has a team of representatives attending the GA, including the Head of State, Ministers and diplomats. These are people who can shape and influence decisions in their countries and internationally.

Goodwill Ambassadors from many UN agencies, including UN Women, will also participate in events and advocate for specific issues. Many other celebrities and influencers will appear at the SDG Media Zone at the UN, for live interviews and discussions.

UN staff members take pictures and wave to Pope Francis during his visit to United Nations headquarters during the 70th session of the General Assembly in 2015 Photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

What’s at stake this year?

UNGA 73 will be a time for nations to renew their commitments to global goals, and to engage with policy makers, leaders and activists across all sectors.

Three years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global blueprint for development adopted by countries around the world, Member States are speaking to the UN General Assembly on the state of their nations. As gender equality is a critical aspect of each of the 17 SDGs, it’s important to listen for how each country is working toward a better world for women and girls.

Throughout the session, in various forms and fashions, many pressing topics for the global gender equality agenda will be discussed, such as equal pay, gender-responsive migration policies and zero tolerance for violence against women.

Interviews and panels at the SDG Media Zone, which will live stream digital content from the UN, will discuss youth and the SDGs, climate action, good health for all, and education, among other topics.

Meetings and events on gender equality to watch for:

  • ‘SDGs and Her” Awards Ceremony: Women Micro-Entrepreneurs Helping to Achieve the SDGs, 24 September, 8–9 a.m., UN Women, Conference Room 19th floor, Daily News Building, 220 E 42nd St, New York
  • She Is Equal: Leveling the Law for Women and Girls by 2030, 25 September, 1–3 p.m., Empire Ballroom, InterContinental New York, Barclay, 111 East 48th Street, New York
  • HeForShe IMPACT Summit, 26 September, 10 a.m. — 12 p.m., Cipriani, 110 East 42nd Street, New York
  • Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) Pledging Event, 26 September, 1.15–2.45 p.m., South Dining Room, United Nations Headquarters, New York
  • Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Child Marriage in Africa by 2030, 26 September, 1.15–2.30 p.m., Conference Room 9, United Nations HQ, New York
  • The Security Council and Women, Peace and Security (WPS): Fostering Practical Action, 26 September, 3–5 p.m. Admission & Visual Media Set-Up: 2.15–2.45 p.m., German House, Auditorium, 871 United Nations Plaza, 1st Avenue / East 49th Street, New York
  • Global Business and Philanthropy Leaders’ SDG-5 Forum for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, 27 September, 12–3 p.m.
  • Spotlight on Femicide in Latin America, 27 September, 8–9.30 a.m., Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
  • High-level Ministerial Breakfast Event: Adapting to Climate Change — Empowering women, 27 September, 8–10 a.m., Delegates Dining Room, United Nations HQ, New York
  • Media Briefing: Creativity: A Force for Gender Balancing the World, 27 September, 3.30–4.30 p.m., Westin Grand Central, 212 East 42nd Street, New York
  • Accelerating the Women’s Movement for Peace and Humanitarian Action: Innovating & Challenging the Status Quo, 27 September, 6:30–8.30 p.m., Delegates Dining Room, United Nations HQ, New York
  • Promoting Gender-Responsive Migration Governance through the Global Compact for Migration, 28 September, 9.30–11 a.m., Conference Room B, United Nations HQ, New York

Later in the session, 5 and 8 October, the General Assembly delegates will pay particular attention to ending all forms of violence against women and girls, trafficking in women and girls and female genital mutilation. UN Women will present three reports that share best practices and make concrete proposals for further action to tackle the scourge of violence and sexual harassment. For more information, see UN Women’s Media Advisory.

During the 70th session of the General Assembly world leaders convened for the “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action,” hosted by UN Women, to personally commit to ending discrimination against women by 2030 and announce concrete and measurable actions to kick­start rapid change in their countries Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Be a part of the conversation at UNGA73.

During UNGA 73, UN Women wants to hear your experiences and ideas on empowering women and girls across the world.

Use #UNGA when tweeting from or about events.

Access the latest information on logistics, the official sessions and the side-events through @UN on Twitter and United Nations on Facebook.

Tune into webcasts of events and meetings.

And follow UN Women’s coverage of UNGA 73 through our website and social media accounts: @UN_Women (English), @ONUMujeres (Spanish), and @ONUFemmes (French) on Twitter; UN Women(English), ONU Mujeres (Spanish), and ONU Femmes(French) on Facebook.