Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York, 9 March 2010 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to Expert Panel in preparation for ECOSOC Ministerial Review on implementing internationally agreed goals and commitments on gender equality and empowerment of women
President of the Economic and Social Council,
Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,
I am pleased to join you. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are essential parts of the United Nations development agenda.
Equal development for all means more determined efforts to reach long-standing international commitments.
Evaluated against the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, there are important signs that we are proceeding in the right direction.
There has been progress in women's and girls'education.
There have been some increases in the participation of women in the labour market and in decision-making positions.
The recent report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Commission on the Status of Women contains more such examples. But it also emphasizes that Member States need to accelerate progress.
Sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved without significant progress to eliminate violence against women and realize women's rights.
Women and girls still face discrimination and disadvantage socially, economically and politically.
But, as we will hear during this panel discussion, good practices and initiatives exist that can be scaled-up and replicated in many areas.
For example, many countries recognize that women are more likely to be living in poverty and have increased social safety nets, often as part of larger poverty reduction efforts to reduce women's vulnerability to poverty or move them out of poverty.
Progress is being made toward gender parity in primary schooling, and in some countries women outnumber men in tertiary education.
On the other hand, females represent two thirds of the world's illiterate people. Conditional cash transfer programmes that provide incentives for attendance in education are among the strategies that countries are employing to change this.
We must use the lessons from these programmes to design and implement the next generation of policies that combine even greater incentives for education with smarter strategies to eliminate gender stereotypes.
We must also address the injustice that women still lack equal access to decision-making in society.
Only 25 countries have more than 30 per cent women representatives in national parliaments.
Quotas for women have been useful, but countries must also show innovation in applying strategies and targets for women's participation in all areas of decision-making in the public and private sectors.
Women must have a far greater role in the resolution of armed conflicts and peacebuilding. They must be fully included in the post-conflict development of governments, institutions and civil society.
I also welcome the support of the General Assembly to establish a strong composite entity within the United Nations for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
This is an historic opportunity to ensure that women have a stronger voice in global governance and policy-making.
It will strengthen accountability across the UN system for gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment.
This is an end in itself, as well as a means of accelerating growth and development.
When women and girls have the same freedoms and rights as men and boys, we will have more stable economies and stronger more peaceful societies.
I wish you every success in your discussions.