2 March 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
DSG/SM/491
GA/10919
WOM/1779

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

Empowerment of Women Not Just Goal in Itself, but Key to All Global Development


Goals, says Deputy Secretary-General at General Assembly Commemoration


Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the General Assembly meeting commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action, in New York, 2 March:


Before beginning my remarks, I wish to first offer my sincerest condolences to the Government and people of Chile, on the tragic loss and devastation caused by the earthquake last weekend.  The United Nations family stands ready to assist in whatever way we can.  Our thoughts and prayers are in a special way with those families bereaved.


Gender equality and the empowerment of women are fundamental to our Organization.  I am honoured to address you on this important topic.


The Charter of the United Nations affirmed the principle of equality between women and men.


Since its founding, the United Nations has helped to shape political discourse and to establish international norms, goals, policies, strategies and programmes to promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls worldwide.


The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, and which we commemorate this afternoon, is at the heart of this normative and policy framework.


The Beijing Conference was one of the most participatory and inclusive conferences in United Nations history.  We witnessed an unprecedented mobilization of policymakers, women’s groups and networks and academics.


The influence and passion of the women’s movement helped define the agenda.  Almost 30,000 non-governmental organization representatives attended the NGO Forum.


The involvement of so many stakeholders gave enormous legitimacy and force to the Platform for Action and its call for action in 12 critical areas of concern.


Fifteen years on, we must assess how far we have come.


We can learn from the developing and developed countries that have made significant progress in areas such as education, participation in decision-making, maternal health and ending violence against women.


There are many good and promising practices to build on, from legislative change, policy development and capacity-building to sector-specific initiatives and efforts to improve data collection.


The challenge is to expand and apply such practices more systematically, replicate them wherever possible and use them as the basis for better policies and programmes.


We also need to be self-critical.


We need to acknowledge and address the many shortfalls and challenges.


We need to close the gap between law, policy and aspiration on the one hand, and the daily realities for billions of women and girls on the other.


From Bangkok to Banjul, the regional review meetings have highlighted where we need to intensify all our efforts.


We need to promote women’s economic empowerment, including by increasing women’s access to economic and financial resources and social protection systems. 


We need to increase women’s participation in all areas of decision-making, and repeal laws and eradicate discriminatory policies and practices.


Sensitivity to gender must feature in policymaking, budgeting and data collection.


Women need better access to health services, including reproductive health.


And we must eliminate violence against women and girls.  This is the most common, most shameful and least punished crime in the world.


In the past 15 years, understanding has grown that the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but is key to all our international development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.


The impact of recent multiple global crises on women and girls has further heightened this understanding.  We must, therefore, rethink past policies and strategies for growth and development.


Let me turn now to the central role of the General Assembly itself in promoting women’s empowerment.


In 1979, the Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.


In 2000, a special session of the Assembly adopted a political declaration building on the Beijing Declaration. 


And over the years, the Assembly’s resolutions on women in development and violence against women have been groundbreaking.


This year, the Assembly is working to realize a long-held dream: the establishment of a composite entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women.


A new and well-funded gender entity will allow the United Nations system to better support Member States to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.


The Secretary-General and I are encouraged by your strong support and encourage you to move swiftly.


We are all determined to finish the task set out in Beijing.


At this session, throughout the year and at the MDG Summit in September, let our actions be guided by the principle of equality between women and men as outlined in the Charter.


Let us achieve development and peace for all women and girls, everywhere.


The Secretary-General and I will continue to assist you in this endeavour.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record