OSAGI Home Gender Mainstreaming Focal Point

Drafted by M. Jitsukawa
Concurred by Ms T. Kay
Concurred by Ms KL Lim
Concurred by Mr S. Thampi
Concurred by Ms K. Okaido
Approved by Mr Kim Ha-su

Address by the Executive Secretary of ESCAP
to open the Asia-Pacific Regional Symposium on Gender Mainstreaming
UNCC, Bangkok, 10 December 2001

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you at ESCAP on the occasion of the Asia-Pacific Regional Symposium on Gender Mainstreaming. ESCAP is pleased to host this symposium, the first of five regional symposia that the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women holds jointly with five regional commissions of the United Nations.

As you are aware, ESCAP is the biggest of the United Nations regional commissions, in terms of the number of member States, and population and geographical size. More notable is its diversity in traditional and cultural backgrounds. The richness of diverse heritages is our proud assets.

At the same time, however, we have to acknowledge that tradition and culture have often used as excuses to obstruct the efforts to advance the status of women and make societies gender equal

One manifestation of such challenges is the abject poverty that women and their families in this region are suffering. Because of reasons of lack of education and other qualification, household responsibilities, and others, women have been deprived of their rights to work. Many women work without their contribution being acknowledged nor financially rewarded. Women, even when they are fortunate enough to have paid work, they earn barely a half of men's wage. The recent economic crises in this region further aggravated feminization of poverty. That is a major concern of ESCAP.

The United Nations actions for the advancement of women and gender equality began with its Charter signed in 1945. In the Preamble, faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women were declared. A half century later in 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action for the goals of Gender Equality, Development, and Peace, was adopted. The commitment was further reaffirmed in the General Assembly Special Session on Women held in June 2000 and the historic Millennium Declaration in 2000, whereby the heads of States and Governments pronounced their collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level.

The signatories to the Millennium Declaration stated that:
We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty (&) We committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want.

Further they asserted:

To promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.

ESCAP is mandated to ensure the fundamental value of equality to be materialized at every corner of the region. It conducted regional preparatory processes prior to Beijing and Beijing+5 as well as developed regional follow-up strategies through expert group meetings that led to the ESCAP Commission Resolution 57/3 that was unanimously adopted by the Commission this year.

With this mandate, we are very much keen to learn the outcome of this symposium, especially of the panel on "Eradicating poverty, including through the empowerment of women throughout their life cycle in a globalizing world" so that the outcome will give us new guidance.

As ESCAP is now undergoing the process of revitalizing itself, we have chosen three major themes: that is, poverty alleviation, managing globalization, and emerging social issues. You are aware that the theme of the panel covers the whole of our new objectives.

We look forward to the fruits of your endeavour for the next four days pioneering the new approach through the sharing of information about many successful cases of gender mainstreaming that have been implemented in the region.

On behalf of ESCAP, I wish you constructive and successful symposium.

Thank you very much.


Focal Point for Women.

Gender Mainstreaming IANWGE Contact
Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)
United Nations, Two United Nations Plaza,
44th St. 12th Floor, NY ,NY 10017
URL: http://www.un.org/osagi