UN Women executive director talks women’s leadership

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka discussed how the lack of women in public-sector decision-making leaves governments ill-equipped to respond to crises like COVID-19.
6:01 | 03/02/21

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Transcript for UN Women executive director talks women’s leadership
March is women's history month and according to the latest U.N. Report -- listen to this. Robes, I was fascinated by this. 130 years, that's how long it will take for us to reach gender parity at the government worldwide. That's not acceptable to a lot of people, especially phumzile mlambo-ngcuka, the executive director for U.N. Women. She is also the former deputy president of South Africa. Welcome. We certainly appreciate you being with us. I love your quote. You say the world cannot afford to play out this timeline, unquote. How do we change that? How do we speed up the timeline? Well, certainly not under our watch. We have to accelerate better presentation of women. Countries that have moved and increased representation of women have adopted special measures. These range. What we are calling for this March, when we meet with all the governments around the world is during this international month for women is acceleration of adoption of special measures in as many countries as possible, and we do need some countries to take the lead, but there's nothing like peer pressure. Nothing like peer pressure. You said representation, increase representation of women. How is the Biden administration doing now? Can't necessarily turn all the numbers around. But what does it mean to have that increased representation and setting the example that you think the Biden administration is doing now? Actually, we are quite excited about the Biden administration because it's now one of the countries that has increased significantly the representation of women. For instance, in your cabinet, you will have 49%, just 1% less to make it -- to join the elite group of 14 countries with gender equal covenants, but that's still quite high. And that will definitely be noticed by other countries around the world. And, because you are coming back into the united nations with that agenda, that too, we will make sure we highlight so that we use it as a form of peer pressure. I love the peer pressure. And by the way, you have contributed to the representation personally. You actually made history as South Africa's first female deputy president. Can you talk about the importance of that to you personally and the importance of that to your country? Absolutely. Important that when you are in that position, you make sure that you leave the door wide open. And I was so glad when vice president Harris highlighted the fact that she may be the first but she will not be the last. So you actually need to continuously work with other women, use your platform to showcase other women, and make sure that the world, your country is able to notice the diverse and the talent that is there among women in the country. And I think the report says only about 20, 22 countries have women has heads of state or in charge of government. How would some countries be better equipped to deal with the pandemic that we're in right now if women were in charge, do you think? Well, evidence is there. The handful of women who are heads of state have done a fantastic job of dealing with the pandemic. Can we imagine if we had more women? There is this assumption that men are in positions of authority because of their competence. They are there because they are men in most cases. It's got nothing to do with their competence. It's just regular men in positions. Then there are a handful of women in these positions and look at how well they have actually performed. You mentioned the timeline, the unacceptable timeline of 130 years. How quickly do you think we could actually get to a place of equality in terms of government leadership, female to male? We are pushing for the year 2030. That's a line of sustainable development goals to be the timeframe that we're using for achieving substantive equality. We think it's important that the parliaments lead in this, because parliaments can become role models in countries and reflect what needs to happen in the country. We have seen in the countries like India in this picture we're showing now where women were elected in large numbers in local government. The kinds of laws and bylaws that they were passing were much more family friendly. This was much more access to water. Much more access to infrastructure, and, of course, a lot of support for families. So women also bring in a decision-making concern and care for families. It's important for everybody. Thank you so much for your time, your effort, your passion and also you are a history maker in your own right. It's a pleasure to have you here with us. We hope to see you down the road here on "Gma3" at some point. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. What an honor. We were to lucky to have her to spread that word.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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