8 March 1976
Press Release SG/SM/2312WOM/2
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEETING AT HEADQUARTERS MARKING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
Following is the text of an address given today by Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at a general meeting at United Nations Headquarters convened by the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women to mark International Women's day, 8 March:
Today has been designated as International Women's Day. I am indeed very happy to be able to participate in this meeting, convened by the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women to mark the Day itself, as well as the beginning of the United Nations Decade for Women with its inspiring threefold objectives: equality, development and peace.
This day, and the Decade which it opens, follow the conclusion of the first International Women's Year in the world's history. Throughout 1975, the leadership of International Women's Year, under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly, conducted a sustained educational campaign for the purpose of promoting equality of status and opportunity in all aspects of life between women and men.
The Year's programme of activities reached out to all Member States and culminated in a most successful World Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico City last June. From this Conference emerged the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and their Contribution to Development and Peace, as well as world-wide and regional Plans of Action for the Implementation of the Objectives of International Women's Year.
In order to ensure the continuity of the effort initiated by the Year and by the Conference, the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 15 December last year, proclaimed "the period 1976-1985, United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, to be devoted to effective and sustained national, regional and international action to implement the World Plan of Action and related resolutions".
It is in the context of this universal concern, now expanding into a decade-long effort to establish the principle of equal status between women and men in all aspects of life, that the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women has convened this meeting here today. I wish to congratulate you for your initiative in this regard.
It goes without saying that you are concerned, not merely with the proclamation of high principles and the declaration of long-range goals, but more specifically with the very practical problem of how to translate those declarations and principles into meaningful practical results. That is why you have indicated as the intended focus of your discussion, last year's General Assembly resolution 3416 (XXX) relating to "Employment of women in the Secretariat of the United Nations".
I should like to comment briefly on a number of points relating to that resolution. Perhaps one of the most significant is that the text as finally approved by the General Assembly omits a number of important provisions which were included in the original draft put forward by the sponsoring delegations. Not all of the proposals contained in the original draft resolution were found to be acceptable to Member States. As a consequence, resolution 3416 of last year, which now provides our latest mandate, is somewhat more limited in scope than originally intended by its sponsors.
Within the terms of that resolution we are continuing our efforts to improve the record of the United Nation in respect to the recruitment of women to the Secretariat. This applies not only to numbers but also to grade levels.