25 September 2008


25 September 2008
SG/SM/11824 DEV/2690 WOM/1700
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General calls for greater resources to promote gender equality

in remarks at event on empowerment of women


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the event hosted by Liberia and Denmark for Millennium Development Goal 3:  promoting gender equality and empowering women, in New York, 25 September:

It is a great privilege for me to be here for the culmination of this momentous campaign to reach the third Millennium Development Goal.  Achieving gender equality for the sake of women will benefit society as a whole.

Personally, and officially, this is a very moving and great honour for me to receive this 100th torch.  I will become a good custodian of this torch.  Had you asked me to carry this torch in the Beijing Olympic Games, you might not have seen the Olympic Games open, because I have never jogged, so I was not quite sure whether I could run one mile.  As far as my commitment where the MDG3 is concerned, I can run however long the distance may be -- 100 miles, 200 miles -- I can run!

Women are not just the target of special measures to promote development -- they are the driving force to overcome poverty, reduce hunger, fight illiteracy, heal the sick, prevent the spread of disease and promote stability.

Women are not just poor beneficiaries of foreign aid -- they are lawmakers, police, mothers, farm workers, sisters, teachers and stewards of our environment.  They are diplomats and they are presidents.  They have the power to rebuild war-torn societies and solidify lasting peace.  If you empower a woman, you empower her children, her community and her country.

I am honoured to join the other 99 recipients of these symbolic torches.  I would ask and urge all other 99 torch bearers to run this course together with me.  We come from different walks of life -- from international organizations to grass-roots groups, from ministers to educators, and from CEOs to artists.

That is what makes this torch project so meaningful.  Because we need all partners working together to make gender equality a reality.

By accepting this torch number 100, I commit to strengthening the United Nations’ ability to respond to the needs of the world’s women.  And I renew my personal pledge to lead our worldwide campaign to stop violence against women, once and for all.

If you have any doubt about my commitment for gender equality, ask any UN staff member sitting here.  Ask Professor [Inés] Alberdi, who is [Executive] Director of UNIFEM, or any other staff here.  I have a firm, very strong, commitment for gender empowerment and equality.

There has been progress.  Globally, nearly 90 countries have laws addressing violence against women.  Two thirds of countries have as many girls in primary school as boys.  Women’s representation in national parliaments has gone up to more than 15 per cent.

But sadly, there are even more examples of how far we need to go to keep the promises we made in the year 2000.  It is an outrage that half a million women still die each year from pregnancy complications or childbirth, that one out of every three women is likely to be abused in her lifetime, and that many women still lack access to education, credit and equal pay.

We need strong political leadership to respond.  And we need a major increase in resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

That is why I am calling for a follow-up meeting in 2010.  By then, we should be on track to meet our Goals.

This campaign can make a major difference.  All torch-bearers have pledged to “do something extra” to improve today’s world for women, men and children, and they are ready to fulfil these commitments.

Let us keep this flame alive so that it continues to blaze a trail of progress worldwide.

I thank the Danish Government, Prime Minister Rasmussen, for his leadership and commitment and I count on the leadership of all Heads of State and Government who are present here.  Thank you very much.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.