3 December 2009

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

Women’s Convention ‘A Transformative Force’; Its Thirtieth Anniversary

Rightly Celebrated in Events Worldwide, Says Secretary-General

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, today, 3 December, in New York:

I am delighted to join you to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, known to us all as the CEDAW Convention.

The CEDAW Convention is at the core of our global mission of peace, development and human rights.  The legal obligations contained in the treaty flow from the United Nations most basic mandate for equal rights and the dignity of every human being.

The Convention is also one of the most successful human rights treaties ever.

From Cameroon to Morocco, from Kyrgyzstan to Thailand, it has been a catalyst for legal reforms and new national laws that enshrine women’s human rights and gender equality.

We can see the Convention’s influence in the huge strides that have been made towards realizing women’s human rights on the national and international stage.

We see it here at the United Nations, where the number of women in senior posts has increased by 40 per cent under my tenure.

And we see it in the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign, which I launched last year.  Violence against women cannot be seen in isolation from discrimination against women.

The Convention will also underpin the work of the new United Nations gender equality entity that the General Assembly has decided to establish.  I urge Member States to get this new entity up and running quickly.

The Convention has had a transformative force and its anniversary is rightly being celebrated in events all over the world.

But discrimination against women and girls persists. Violence against women and girls is found in all countries.  The results are devastating for individuals and societies alike:  personal suffering, stunted development and political instability.

So while we recognize the Convention’s successes, we must also acknowledge the urgent need for the entire United Nations system to support its full implementation.

I call on those few countries that have not ratified the Convention to do so.

I am happy to note that many of today’s events take the form of debates and discussions -– like the one you are having here.  However, we must move beyond debates to concrete action that will increase the impact of the Convention.

Let us all work even harder to raise awareness and to work for the Convention’s full implementation worldwide.

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For information media • not an official record