“There can be no democracy, no security and no development without one-half of the humankind,” Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid

With cascading crises casting a pall over the proceedings at this year’s United Nations General Assembly, Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová had this reminder on the first day of debate: “We cannot save our planet if we leave out the vulnerable — the women, the girls, the minorities.”

But gender parity at the world’s preeminent forum of leaders still seems far out of sight. Eight women are set to speak at the U.N. General Assembly on Friday. Just five women spoke across the first three days of the summit, the Associated Press reports.

On Friday, three vice presidents and five prime ministers — including Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina and New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden — will take the rostrum or give their address in a prerecorded video.

“As the first female president in the history of my country, the burden of expectation to deliver gender equality is heavier on my shoulder,” said Samia Suluhu Hassan, the president of Tanzania. When it comes to such equality, she said, ”“COVID-19 is threatening to roll back the gains that we have made,”

Hassan was the lone woman to address the General Assembly on Thursday.

Despite those 13 women making up less than 10% of speakers over the first four days, the 13 represent an increase from last year, when just nine women spoke over the course of the session. There are also three more female heads of state or heads of government — 24 — than there were at this point in 2020.

“There can be no democracy, no security and no development without one-half of the humankind,” Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid said Wednesday, also underscoring women’s vulnerability in society.

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