26 February 2007
Deputy Secretary-General

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In remarks to women’s commission, Deputy Secretary-General pledges to work

to engage UN System in achieving gender equality, women’s empowerment

Following is the text of remarks today by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to the opening of the fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women:

I am proud and happy to address the Commission on the Status of Women for the first time as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

This is both a debut and a fond reunion for me.  When I was Tanzania’s Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, I had the privilege of leading my country’s delegation to the Commission for several years.  Today, I am happy that my successor is here with you leading the Tanzanian delegation.  And as a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, I kept in close contact with the important work of the Commission.

Now, as Deputy Secretary-General, I look forward to supporting your work.  For the past 60 years, this Commission has made remarkable contributions to improving the lives of women and girls around the globe.  Through your efforts, the United Nations has developed an important normative and policy framework to promote equality between women and men in all spheres of life.  Thanks to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform for Action, we have a clear road map for all actors -- Governments, civil society and the United Nations family -- to end discrimination against women and girls and to speed up progress towards gender equality.

At the 2005 World Summit, leaders declared that “progress for women is progress for all”.  They agreed that gender equality and human rights are essential to advancing development, as well as peace and security.  But while goals and commitments are in place, we still have far to go in ensuring their full implementation -- from primary-school enrolment and maternal mortality rates to women’s economic independence and representation in decision-making positions.

Most egregiously, violence against women and girls remains pervasive -- perpetrated by family members, strangers and agents of the State in all regions of the world, in the public and private spheres, in peacetime and during armed conflict.

I applaud the Commission’s decision to focus at this session on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.  Ending this pandemic will require our individual and collective commitment.  It will require us to create an environment where such violence is not tolerated; to work for the full implementation of existing legal norms and policies; to make focused efforts to prosecute and punish perpetrators; to dedicate sufficient resources; and to fully involve men and boys in changing stereotypical attitudes and behaviour.

Today, let me extend a warm welcome to the girls who have come here to share their experiences and ideas.  It is highly fitting that you have a place at the table.  Let me also encourage the Commission to take bold steps to improve the lives of girls everywhere.  I say this as a woman -- and not least, as a mother of two girls.

As Deputy Secretary-General, I pledge to work for a collaborative and coordinated approach to gender perspectives -- one that involves and engages the entire UN system in supporting Member States’ work to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women.

I know that you have been studying proposals to strengthen the UN’s gender architecture, as presented by the High-Level Panel on United Nations System-Wide Coherence.  The Secretary-General and I agree wholeheartedly with the Panel’s suggestion to replace several current structures with one dynamic UN entity focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Such an entity should mobilize forces of change at the global level, and inspire enhanced results at country level.

At the same time, gender equality must and will remain the mandate of the entire UN family.  The Secretary-General is already leading by example, in appointing women to senior positions.  I am proud to be living proof of his leadership on this issue.  And I will do all I can to support him in meeting our goal of 50-50 gender balance within the United Nations.

I look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead, and wish you a most productive session.

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For information media • not an official record