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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

New York, 19 September 2011 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Meeting on Women's Political Participation in Democracy


Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Welcome to the United Nations.

I am pleased to join you today. I am also very pleased to see that right at the beginning of this high-level week of the General Assembly, women are putting their mark on proceedings.

And two days from now, Her Excellency Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, will make history by becoming the first woman to lead off this Organization's annual General Debate.

A quirk of UN procedure, perhaps. But significant, nonetheless, that a woman is at the helm of one of the world's emerging powers.

Women are also on the move, has Secretary Clinton has just said, in the Middle East and in North Africa -- on the frontlines of the Arab Spring, demanding justice, equality, opportunity. Their voices will be critical in ensuring the success of those democratic transitions.

These are deeply moving developments. But still we must recognize the hills still to climb, the deficits still to be overcome, the discrimination still so entrenched.

? Women make up less than 10 per cent of world leaders.

? Globally, less than one in five members of parliament is a woman.

? During conflict, women continue to face mass rapes and mass displacement.

? And at peace talks, their roles and their rights continue to be overlooked.

Excellencies, Dear Friends,

Today's focus on women and democracy is thus especially timely. At this moment in our global world, thriving societies are those which are inclusive and place a premium on women's empowerment.

A democracy cannot be called a true democracy, unless women participate fully.

The transitions currently underway must move those societies towards empowerment, engagement, and equality for all women.

Peace and post-conflict recovery depend on women's leadership and implementation of the landmark resolutions of the Security Council, 1325 and its follow-ups.

And day-to-day governance, the work of parliaments, legislatures, administrations, is strengthened when women form a critical mass.

Dear Friends,

The principle of equality is enshrined in the United Nations Charter and articulated in international human rights treaties. The world's women have gathered at four global conferences to set out plans and priorities to make greater progress. Since January this year, we have had a new entity, UN Women, to champion this cause.

And as you know, in Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, you have a close friend and advocate. Women's rights and participation are at the centre of his plans for his second term.

Ladies and gentlemen

Women's political participation is vital for democracy and for the future well-being of us all. Let us work together to ensure that women and girls have their rightful say and opportunities.

Thank you.