22 September 2010

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

School of Hard Knocks Has Many Graduates, but How Much Better if Every Boy, Girl


Can Make Most of Themselves, Secretary-General Tells MDG Advocacy Group


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, in New York, today, 22 September:

Welcome to this second meeting of the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group.  What a remarkable group we have here in this room.  All of you, leaders in fighting poverty around the world.  All of you, united in our quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  I am deeply grateful for your engagement here at the Summit and beyond.

Michelle Bachelet, you are one of the world’s most accomplished women.  We are all very excited as you take on your new responsibilities as head of UN-Women — although that means you will not continue as a member of this group.

Graca Machel, Wangari Maathai, Stine Bosse, Sheikha Bint Nasser, Dho Young-Shim — you are all exceptional global citizens.  But how many other girls and women are being denied the chance to fulfill their potential because their childhood is empty of opportunity and their adulthood is filled with discrimination and violence?

Let me not ignore the men in the room.  You have helped empower some of the world’s poorest people through entrepreneurship.  You have energized young people to feed the world.  You have made a difference in so many ways.  Imagine how many more visionaries, activists, entrepreneurs and Nobel-prize winners we might have if all people could live a life with health, education, dignity and well-being.

Yes, many people lift themselves out of poverty on their own.  Yes, the school of hard knocks has many famous graduates who have struggled and succeeded.  But how much better it would be to give every boy and girl the opportunity to make the most of themselves.

That is your noble mission as Millennium Development Goals advocates.  When it comes to raising public awareness and mobilizing political will, we need eloquent voices, inspiring leadership and creative minds. 

That is why I have called upon you.  Your outstanding accomplishments made you obvious choices.  You are especially well-placed to hold leaders accountable for sticking to their commitments.  I also count on you to support UN-led initiatives.  I know you have already agreed to work with us to boost the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

We also need your support for an initiative I will launch today:  the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.  No area has greater potential to have a multiplier effect across the [Millennium Development] Goals.  I am confident you will find innovative ways to link your work to the need to empower and invest in women.

Thank you again for working with the United Nations.  You will be doing so much for others over the coming years.  I am convinced that you will find the experience a rich and rewarding one.

Despite global crises, natural disasters, and budget pressures — we have the tools, the policies, the knowledge of what works, to keep the Millennium Development Goals promise.  I look forward to our work together to do just that.

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For information media • not an official record