Gender Equality ‘Greatest Human Rights Challenge of Our Time’, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment

SG/SM/18122-ECO/271-WOM/2088
22 September 2016

Gender Equality ‘Greatest Human Rights Challenge of Our Time’, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, in New York today:

I am deeply humbled and honoured by your strong support and recognition of the humble contribution, which I have been making for the last almost 10 years.

For the last 10 years, I thought that I was in full control of this Organization, but I realize that there are some things being done without my permission or without my knowledge.  This is a serious problem, but I will not make it a case.  I really thank you, Phumzile, for your strong support, and I have a deep admiration for your commitment and leadership.  Just be sure to know that this video was produced without my permission [laughter].

Again, it is a great pleasure to be with you today with such dedicated leaders for human dignity and human rights where everybody can live with full equality and justice.  It is a privilege to be in the company of such dedicated leaders today.  As I said this week to the General Assembly — and the world — I am proud to call myself a feminist.

Gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge of our time.  I established UN-Women to be our global champion for women’s empowerment, helping to bring the Beijing Platform for Action to life.  I launched the UNiTE Campaign to End Violence against Women.  And I was the first person to sign up to the #HeForShe campaign to engage men and boys in the fight for gender equality.

I firmly believe that, by 2030, this planet will be a “50-50 planet”.  Let’s work for that.  One way of achieving this goal is through women’s economic empowerment.  This is a uniquely potent way for women to have greater choice and exert control over their own lives.  At the same time, it will benefit their families, their communities and their countries’ and our world economies.

This Panel is already making progress to curate a portfolio of activities that can overcome barriers and promote fruitful investment.  I urge you to continue this work in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Your work is an important contribution to fulfilling the promise to leave no one behind.

I also encourage you to set indicators of achievement by 2020 so we can measure progress towards substantive equality.  I thank the Managing Director [of the International Monetary Fund] Christine Lagarde, Jim Yong Kim and Minister Justine Greening for their leadership.

I am grateful for the generosity of the Government of the United Kingdom in supporting the work of this Panel.  I also thank President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Madam Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, [and Madam Lakshmi Puri, for their excellent efforts to promote gender equality].

I have great faith in this Panel.  Your work can transform opportunities for women and girls.  I thank you for your strong commitment and leadership to ending this unacceptable discrimination.  I look forward to a time when all societies everywhere can reap the benefits of gender equality.  Thank you for your commitment.

For information media. Not an official record.