Opening Address


Carolyn Hannan


Division for the Advancement of Women


International workshop on

Gender equality and the Millennium Development Goals

World Bank, Washington, D.C.

19-20 November 2003




Distinguished presenters

Colleagues and friends,


It gives me great pleasure to chair the opening session of this important workshop on Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to welcome all participants, particularly those who have travelled from far away. I understand that participants from Turkey and Yemen are also joining us by video-conference and I warmly welcome these participants. I would like to convey to you the best wishes for a very successful meeting from Ms. Angela King, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, who was unable to attend, due to pressures of work.


I would like to begin by thanking the OECD/DAC Network on Gender Equality and the Multilateral Development Banks Working Group on Gender for jointly organizing this workshop with the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality. It is heartening that the World Bank is playing such a critical role in promoting the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring attention to gender perspectives in their implementation, and in that context, has agreed to host this important workshop.  Particular thanks go to the UNDP and the World Bank for their role in organizing the workshop. I also want to acknowledge the contribution of UNIFEM and UNDP through the recent online discussion which has provided important input into this workshop, and to congratulate the inter-agency taskforce on the forthcoming launching of the Gender Equality and MDG website, which I am sure will enhance the outcomes of the workshop. 


The Inter-agency Network has a long history of positive collaboration with the OECD-DAC Network on Gender Equality and we are very pleased to continue collaboration in this important context. We are equally appreciative of the opportunity for exchange and collaboration with the Multilateral Development Banks Working Group on Gender. In the past, the Regional Development Banks were included in joint meetings of the United Nations Inter-agency Network and the OECD-DAC Network. I hope that we can continue this important tradition in the future.


The Millennium Declaration recognized that gender equality was essential for eradication of poverty and hunger and for sustainable development. Evidence shows that gender equality is a powerful engine for development. Investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. It is also increasingly recognized that gender inequalities involve a major development constraint.

All of us gathered here share a common commitment to the full integration of gender perspectives into implementation of the Millennium Development Goals to ensure both equality between women and men and achievement of the vision and goals of the Millennium Declaration.


This workshop is extremely timely.  The Millennium Declaration and the MDGs have become a widely accepted framework for development and it is therefore imperative to ensure that the implementation is gender-sensitive. This requires clearly linking the MDGs to the broader framework of the outcomes of the global conferences of the 1990s, particularly the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. The MDGs comprise a sub-set of the goals established in these global conferences, around which there is intensified global commitment on implementation, and on measurement and reporting of progress. The workshop provides an opportunity for reflecting on how the goal of gender equality can be an integral part of implementation and monitoring of these MDGs. This will require attention to accountability for identifying and addressing gender perspectives in relation to all goals, and accurately measuring and reporting on progress, as well as ensuring adequate links to other goals, targets and indicators for gender equality, within the broader development framework of the outcomes of the global conferences.


Recent reports by UNDP (Millennium Development Goals: National Reports: A Look Through A Gender Lens), the World Bank (Gender and Millennium Development Goals) and UNIFEM (the most recent Progress of the World’s Women) have illustrated the importance of gender perspectives in achieving all the MDGs but pointed to a lack of adequate attention to gender perspectives in both the formulation and implementation of the MDGs. It is important to clearly identify the gaps and challenges related to the MDGs – the need to refine and expand the targets and indicators relating to the goal of gender equality (for example, particularly on violence against women and reproductive health), as well as the need to ensure greater clarity on the gender perspectives in all other goals and commitment to explicitly address them. At the same time we need to recognize and build on the increasing commitment to implementation and monitoring and reporting on progress that the MDGs in fact involve. In this context, it could also be useful to recall that, despite considerable efforts made in the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 and in its follow-up in the General Assembly in 2000, few precise targets were established. We should constructively seize the opportunity that the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs do offer in this respect.


Within the United Nations context, there should be an enhanced focus on support to implementation at national levels. It is critical that gender perspectives are given more attention in the annual progress reports to the General Assembly; in the work on statistics and storylines; in support to national reporting processes, in advocacy campaigns, as well as in the work of the Millennium Project and its taskforces. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) should also be used more effectively to support gender-sensitive implementation of the MDGs.


The goals, targets and indicators established in the Millennium Declaration framework need to be “unpacked” in terms of their gender equality implications; clear strategies should be developed for ensuring that all activities planned to support the implementation of these development goals and targets take gender perspectives into account; and effective mechanisms need to be established for monitoring progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, including through gender-sensitive indicators.  This requires the active involvement of Governments, all parts of the United Nations system, international and regional organizations, including bilateral organizations, NGOs and civil society, academia and the media. An important goal of this workshop must therefore be to establish effective partnerships between all actors at different levels.


The workshop focuses on implementation and accountability and sets out to:


It is our hope that the workshop will lead to the development of practical strategies, methodologies and tools, and identification of lessons learned and promising approaches, that can be used to support the integration of gender perspectives into policies and programmes aimed at achieving the MDGs at national level.


There is a sense of urgency in this work, for two reasons. Firstly, Member States of the United Nations have agreed that there will be a major event in the United Nations in 2005 to review the progress achieved in implementing all the commitments made in the Millennium Declaration, on the basis of a comprehensive report of the Secretary-General. This coincides with the review and appraisal of ten years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2005. It will be important to fully integrate gender perspectives into the review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, as well as to establish clear links with the review of outcomes of the Platform for Action, and to be very clear on what we would like to see coming out of these processes.


The task before us is a challenging one. However the expertise gathered here in this room is the best guarantee that this workshop will be successful. We have a very inspiring panel to open the workshop this morning to start us off on what I am sure will be very productive discussions and an excellent outcome.


Thank you.