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President of the General Assembly's Message on the Occasion of the International Women's Day

The importance of "Investing in Women and Girls" cannot be overstated.  Women will only be truly empowered, when globally, we muster the necessary political will to fully implement exiting commitments and make available the appropriate human, financial and educational resources that have been promised. But more fundamentally than these efforts it is increasingly clear that we need a cultural change in attitudes. 

Over six decades ago, the United Nations Charter affirmed faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of every human person and in the equal rights of women and men. However, even today, in virtually all parts of the world, the gender gap remains, whether in terms of access to health and education or to equal pay for equal work. 

The United Nations Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies place central importance on empowering women, particularly at the country level. It is increasingly clear however – as reaffirmed at the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women – that the United Nation’s gender architecture needs to be renewed and strengthened to cope with the urgency of the challenges women continue to face.

There is an also urgent need for governments to improve public services and polices, to increase resources for women’s issues and build closer partnerships with civil society. Equal rights and equal access to opportunities cannot be achieved without proper gender budgeting. Investing in gender equality and the empowerment of women makes economic and financial sense. Countries that have done this and achieved the highest levels of gender equality, have profited not just in terms of greater social justice and stability, but also in terms of their economic growth and competitiveness, by providing opportunities for women to work, lead and contribute back to society.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us all to call for more ambitious social change, with the advancement of women at the centre of this agenda, so that every day can be celebrated as women’s day. By achieving this goal we will have forged a better future, not only for women, but for humanity as a whole.

To improve the lot of humanity we need to begin by acknowledging that progress for women is progress for all; that, the security of everyone is the security of everyone else; that, we are all responsible for each others welfare; that, respect for each other should be reinforced by human rights and the rule of law; that, our governments must be accountable internally and externally; and, that these values and principles can be achieved through a new culture of international relations with the UN at its centre.