Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon’s message, as delivered by Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, to the United Nations Association of New York Humanitarian Awards Dinner, in New York today:
I am pleased to greet all the good friends of the United Nations who have gathered for the UN Association of New York’s Humanitarian Awards Dinner. Thank you for everything you do to mobilize support for the United Nations and to explain to people in New York and elsewhere what the Organization does and why it matters.
Your dinner comes at a critical moment for our common future. We face many serious security challenges, from Syria to South Sudan, from terrorism to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The impacts of climate change are growing more pronounced. Inequality is rising and youth unemployment is at alarming levels. Not since the end of the Second World War have there been so many refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers.
Hope may be hard to discern, but it is there. Global poverty has been cut in half. More children are spared death from preventable diseases and more women survive pregnancy and childbirth. There is still much work ahead, but these and other gains show the power of the Millennium Development Goals. As we shape a post-2015 development agenda — including a new set of sustainable development goals — we should live up to our responsibility as the first generation in history that can end extreme poverty.
The empowerment of women, the theme of your dinner tonight, is a matter of fundamental human rights. But it is also crucial for building the future we want. Despite important gains in access to primary education for girls and political representation for women, progress remains far too slow and uneven. Discrimination and violence against women remain widespread, across the world. We cannot fulfil 100 per cent of the world’s potential by excluding 50 per cent of the world’s people. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.
I thank all tonight’s honourees for helping to advance the cause of gender equality. Congratulations to Mr. Stefan Persson, Chairman of H&M, Lord Raj Loomba and my good colleague Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Head of UN‑Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women] for their important contributions.
I look forward to deepening our partnership with the United Nations Association of New York as we work together to build a more sustainable, equitable, peaceful and just world for all. Please accept my best wishes for a memorable dinner.