‘Pushing back against the pushback’: WAR and JOURNEY metaphors in UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ Commission on the Status of Women speeches


This paper investigates the role of metaphors of WAR and JOURNEY in shaping the understanding of key themes related to women and girls’ rights as articulated by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the annual sessions of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). By analysing Guterres’ opening CSW speeches from 2017 to 2023, this study applies a theoretical framework rooted in cognitive linguistics and metaphor theory to explore the conceptual mappings used in these metaphorical domains. The analysis reveals that the metaphors of WAR and JOURNEY effectively capture the complexity and multifaceted nature of challenges in women’s rights. The metaphor of WAR emphasises the urgency and significance of taking proactive measures to achieve gender equality, portraying women’s rights as a battle that requires collective action guided by women. In contrast, the metaphor of JOURNEY acknowledges the existence of structural barriers and highlights the need for transformative action and long-term progress. Additionally, the study uncovers a shift in the rhetoric from portraying women as victims to active agents of change. The metaphors used by Guterres emphasise the leadership role of women in the forefront of the fight for their rights, while recognising the global responsibility and collaborative efforts necessary to address deep-rooted forces of misogyny and patriarchy. However, the paper also underscores a notable absence of explicit references to concrete actions in Guterres’ speeches. This omission could be attributed to the nature of the corpus being examined, but it is also believed that incorporating these references would have added more substance and credibility to the speeches. While metaphoric language generates awareness and challenges power dynamics, it is essential to critically evaluate the translation of these metaphors into tangible policies and actions.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v59p351

Keywords: WAR metaphors; JOURNEY metaphors; United Nations; Women’s rights; Secretary-General speeches.


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