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Tapping Women’s Potential — as Drivers of Development, Contributors to Lasting
Peace — Can ‘Bring Progress to Us All’, Says Deputy Secretary-General in Doha
Following are the closing remarks of Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to the Third Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on the Advancement of Women, today in Doha:
Thank you very much for the opportunity to address this closing session.
A very special thank you also to our hosts, the Government of Qatar, and to this country’s warm and welcoming people.
I am very pleased to see how important women are featuring on the NAM agenda.
As so many others have already pointed out, women are the drivers of economic progress. Women often safeguard our environment. And women can make a special contribution to lasting peace and security.
Our challenge is to bring out women’s potential to achieve progress for all people.
Today, I briefly want to discuss how the United Nations is moving forward on these issues so that we can work even more productively with the NAM going forward.
In just a few days, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will open in New York. I hope to see many of you there. This is our annual chance to examine the major global issues affecting women.
Our theme for this session is the empowerment of rural women — an issue that is critical for many NAM States.
All too often, we find the worst poverty in the countryside. And women are too often the poorest of the poor. Rural women really need our attention.
But we need them, too, to realize our common goals. Rural women grow the food that sustains families. They educate children and they contribute to development in so many other positive ways.
Discrimination against rural women hurts everyone. Millions of rural women do not have equal access to the tools they need to create better living conditions for all. They are shut out when it comes to credit, to information, to services and to technology.
The Commission on the Status of Women is a forum for Governments and civil society to find solutions to these problems. I hope all the NAM countries will actively engage in this process.
NAM also has a role to play in advancing women’s political participation. Members of the Non-Aligned Movement can take pride in giving the world a number of outstanding female leaders.
These women have gone down in the history books for their work as presidents and prime ministers. Many of them, by sheer force of example, initiated progress on gender equality. Many actively pushed for women’s advancement.
And all were outstanding not because they were women, but because they were the best person for the job.
I am happy, too, that so many first ladies of NAM countries have been active in helping their societies and our world to advance. The NAM First Ladies Summits have been valuable opportunities to exchange ideas and to promote progress.
I hope that someday, the NAM can convene summits of first spouses – in the interests of gender equality. I have no doubt that our host country, Qatar, could play a leadership role in this regard.
In December, the General Assembly adopted a major resolution on proactive steps to advance women’s participation and leadership in politics.
All of us have an obligation to carry out these measures.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made empowering women and young people one of his five priorities for his second term.
Within the United Nations itself, since he became Secretary-General, we have nearly doubled the number of women at the top ranks. And we are working to empower women at all levels.
The Secretary-General recently announced that the United Nations will intensify our campaign to end violence against women. We will be putting a special focus on a seven-point action plan on women’s participation in peacebuilding. The Every Woman, Every Child campaign is making progress on women’s and children’s health.
As UN Women enters its second year, it is determined to do even more to deliver on our promises to advance women’s leadership and political participation, to expand economic opportunities for women, to mobilize to end gender-based violence, to increase women’s contributions to peace and to make sure that official budgets and plans work for women.
This progress will be critical in helping reach larger global targets, especially the Millennium Development Goals. And women’s advancement is essential for the success of this year’s “ Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. We absolutely must empower women to create the future we want.
I am encouraged by the Non-Aligned Movement’s dedication to the advancement of women. At the same time, I challenge you to do more.
Too many countries still have discriminatory laws on the books. Laws that prevent women from inheriting property, laws that restrict women’s freedom, and laws that undermine women’s rights are all laws that must be repealed.
I also call on Governments to expand women’s access to credit, tools and resources. NAM countries, like all States, need to help unleash women’s economic power.
But ultimately, we have to change attitudes. We will only achieve progress when we end discrimination against our sisters, mothers, daughters, wives and women everywhere.
I am inspired by all that I have heard here, and I will leave even more determined to enable the United Nations and the NAM to join forces for this cause.
Together, I am confident we can help the world’s women bring progress to us all.
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