|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
EMPOWERING WOMEN CONDITION FOR BUILDING PEACEFUL, PROSPEROUS
SOCIETIES, SAYS DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL, AT NEW YORK SUMMIT
Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the International Women Leaders Global Security Summit in New York, 16 November:
I am honoured to be with you for this important gathering of singularly accomplished women. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help frame the connection between women and global security.
The United Nations community is coming to understand this connection more and more profoundly. We know that achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only a goal in itself. It is also a condition for building healthier, better educated, more peaceful and more prosperous societies.
Study after study has shown us that, when women are fully empowered and engaged, all of society benefits. Only in this way can we successfully take on the enormous challenges confronting our world -- from conflict resolution and peacebuilding to fighting AIDS and reaching all the other Millennium Development Goals.
At the 2005 World Summit held at the United Nations, leaders declared that gender equality and human rights for all are essential to advancing development, peace and security.
Five years before that, the Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
The resolution was a landmark on many fronts. It highlighted the increasing, disproportionate and unconscionable toll that modern conflict is taking on women and girls. It called for special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence during conflict. It underlined the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to prosecute those responsible for war crimes relating to violence against women and girls. And it emphasized the importance of women’s full and equal participation in all efforts for peace and security -- before, during and after conflict.
We have made some progress in translating those principles into action -- both in conflict-affected societies and in the international community.
More and more, women participate in mediating and negotiating peace, in searching for justice, in fostering reconciliation, in supporting disarmament and demobilization, and in shaping development policies and rebuilding institutions.
More and more, the Security Council ensures that peace processes empower women and advance gender equality.
More and more, United Nations entities work closely and actively with Governments and women’s organizations, including through the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on implementation of resolution 1325.
But there is much more to do. On the implementation of resolution 1325, more countries in conflict or post-conflict need to establish their own national action plans. We in the United Nations system need to work better with Governments to establish truly joint programmes, driven by national priorities. We need to work better as a team, so as to give countries access to a common entry point. And we need to appoint more women in leadership positions, at Headquarters and in our peace operations around the world.
More generally, while we have in place global goals and commitments on women’s empowerment, we still have far to go in implementing them fully -- from school enrolment to women’s economic independence and representation in decision-making bodies.
In almost all countries, women continue to be underrepresented in decision-making positions. Women’s work continues to be undervalued, underpaid, or not paid at all. Out of more than 100 million children who are not in school, the majority are girls. Out of more than 800 million adults who cannot read, the majority are women. And violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture.
Changing all this requires all of us -- women and men -- to work for enduring change in values and attitudes. It means working in partnership -- Governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. It means men assuming their responsibility. It means ensuring that women and girls enjoy their full rights, and take up their rightful place in society.
It means moving forward on several fronts at once:
-- Ensuring that men take on a greater role in household and family care;
-- Challenging traditions and customs, stereotypes and harmful practices, that stand in the way of women and girls;
-- Ensuring that women have access to education and health care, property and land;
-- Investing in infrastructure to make it easier for women and girls to go about the daily business of obtaining safe drinking water and food;
-- Integrating gender issues into the follow-up to United Nations resolutions and decisions -- including the work of recently established bodies such as the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council.
Violence against women has reached hideous and pandemic proportions in some societies attempting to recover from conflict. Together, all of us need to strengthen our collective and individual response to it. This is essential if we are to reverse the damage done by conflict, and build more inclusive, accountable and cohesive societies, underpinned by viable democratic institutions.
Earlier this year, the Secretary-General urged the Security Council to establish a mechanism dedicated to monitoring violence against women and girls, within the framework of resolution 1325.
The Secretary-General has also encouraged Member States to actively consider proposals to strengthen the United Nations gender architecture, as presented by the High-Level Panel on United Nations System-Wide Coherence.
The Secretary-General and I believe we could significantly advance our cause by replacing several current structures with one dynamic United Nations entity. Such a new body should be able to call on all of the United Nations system’s resources in the work to empower women and realize gender equality worldwide. It should mobilize forces of change at the global level, and inspire enhanced results at the country level.
And it should have mechanisms for drawing on the expertise and experience of women leaders such as all of you. You have so much to contribute –- in leading by example, in raising awareness, in identifying women candidates for leadership positions and in helping us to be bold in our thinking. With your resources, your vision and your wisdom, you are all wonderfully placed to give life to the theme of this Summit -- enhancing the effectiveness of women’s leadership on global security.
I thank every one of you for your commitment, and I look forward to working in partnership with you in the years ahead.
* *** *For information media • not an official record