For information only – not an official document

8 March 2021

Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly:

Message for International Women’s Day

8 March 2021

KYOTO, 8 March (UN Information Service) – To achieve justice for women, we need more women in justice.

Increases in women’s representation and leadership in law enforcement and the judiciary have been linked to more investigations into crimes against women, better policing outcomes, and successful victim-centred approaches. They have also enabled systemic changes, including lower rates of violence, and greater integrity through diversity, which is key to disrupting corrupt practices.

These are major victories for public trust and effective institutions. When women lead, we all win.

But around the world, women are outnumbered by men in the justice and security sectors, accounting for as little as 6 per cent of law enforcement officers in some regions.

The COVID pandemic has shown us that entrenched inequalities make our societies more vulnerable in a crisis.

It is time for a reset. We need to empower more women to lead.

In the UN Crime Congress Kyoto Declaration, governments have pledged to remove impediments to the advancement of women within criminal justice systems.

To put this commitment into action, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is working with women judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers in close to 60 countries, helping build networks of women professionals and supporting their growth.

We provide targeted training and mentoring to the next generation of women leaders in criminal justice institutions.

UNODC also assists Member States in addressing challenges that are holding women and girls back, from gender-based violence and human trafficking risks, to a lack of access to drug use prevention and treatment. We promote gender-responsive approaches in tackling organized crime and corruption, preventing terrorism, and ensuring the rights and rehabilitation of people in prison.

Within our own Office, I am proud that we achieved overall gender parity last year, and are working towards parity at all staff levels, in line with my personal commitment as an International Gender Champion.

On International Women’s Day, I stand with women, and fight for women, so they can rise and lead in all areas, to build forward from the COVID crisis, for justice, and a fairer future for all.

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For further information please contact:

Sonya Yee
Speechwriter and Spokesperson, UNODC
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4990
Email: sonya.yee[at]