8 October 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11853
POP/968
WOM/1701

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

AGENCY CHANGES WORLD BY EFFORTS IN MATERNAL HEALTH, GENDER EQUALITY FIELDS,


SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN REMARKS TO AMERICANS FOR UNFPA GALA EVENT


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Americans for UNFPA Gala for Health and Dignity of Women, in New York yesterday, 7 October:


It is wonderful to be here to personally thank all of you for tirelessly supporting UNFPA’s (United Nations Population Fund) life-saving work.  I thank Anika Rahman and Americans for UNFPA for bringing us together this evening.


Let me offer my warmest congratulations to tonight’s honourees, who have done so much to help reach our shared goals.


These honourees all understand a fundamental truth.  When you empower a woman, you empower a family.  You free up the most valuable resource for development.  You can create a doctor or a politician, a farmer or a teacher.  You increase the chances of an education for her children, and their children in turn.


In short, when you empower a woman, you change the world.


This is what UNFPA does so well by striving for maternal health and gender equality.


And in so doing, it saves precious lives at risk, because too many women live in societies where maternity wards have inadequate medical equipment, or where there is no maternity ward at all.


We know the terrible statistics.  One woman dies each minute from complications related to pregnancy or labour.  One human being’s potential ends.  One mother leaves behind a family in mourning.  One death where there should have been a new life.


We must halt this terrible tragedy.  With your generous support, UNFPA is working around the world to provide safe reproductive health care for all women who need it.  To end female genital mutilation, to address fistula, to give babies the best possible start in life.  To save countless lives.


Let me add my personal tribute to Dr. Thoraya Obaid for her courage and leadership at the helm of UNFPA.  She is an inspiration, and I have asked her to lead UNFPA for another term.  And let me assure all of you of my profound and unwavering commitment to the empowerment of women.  I will keep making this a priority for the United Nations family.


Yes, the global financial crisis is forcing all of us to save and cut costs where we can.  But our work for the women of the world must continue undiminished.  That is why we need all of you here tonight more than ever.


Thanks to your care and support, women around the globe will survive and thrive.  Thanks to you, these women will create a better future for all people.


You will be part of that success story and you should be proud.


On that note, I wish you all a splendid evening and great success and all the best in the activities of UNFPA.


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For information media • not an official record