New York – March 6, 2015

Your Excellency Mr Kutesa,
Your Excellency, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
Your Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,
Your Excellency Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic,
Your Excellency Ahmet Davutoğlu,
The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,
Ms. Sivananthi Thanenthiran,
Miss Nohelia,
Excellencies, Honoured guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here amongst you all for this wonderful celebration of International Women’s Day.
I thank the President of the General Assembly for this occasion.

The speakers this morning have been truly inspiring.

As we look ahead this year, it is with confidence that we have our sights clearly set on the creation of a world with greater equality for generations to come.

As our Secretary-General has just said:
We cannot successfully address sustainable development challenges if we constrain the potential of half the world’s population, and that is why the Special Summit on Sustainable Development should adopt a bold agenda that fully values the role of women and girls, with significant further progress by 2020 and gender equality by 2030.

How will we reach this ambitious goal of a transformed world?
There are three vital requirements: tireless political will; increased resources, and strong accountability.
Gender equality is a shared vision of social justice and human rights.
Those rights are inter-dependent and in-divisible.
Those rights are enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

We propose concerted, practical measures to implement the provisions of CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action, and to remove the root causes of gender inequality.

Governments are the primary duty bearers.

Governments must repeal discriminatory laws that inhibit the ability of women to obtain credit, own land, move freely, and take responsibility for their own bodies and health.

Existing laws must be fully implemented, so that, for example, violence against women does not go unpunished.
Where no laws exist in a specific area, for example to mandate compulsory education for girls and boys, they must be introduced.
Quotas and temporary special measures to support the increased proportion of women parliamentarians and decision-makers must be introduced.
Investments must be made in statistical capacities and gender statistics to support effective monitoring.

The private sector also has a very significant role to play in investing in the economic empowerment of women.

Employers must make far-reaching changes to employment terms and conditions for women:
Equal pay for equal, decent work.

All companies should implement the Women’s Empowerment Principles and, for example, promote education, training and professional development for women.

Macroeconomic policies should enable State investment in infrastructure, social services and social protection measures.

  • They should generate decent work in the public sector for women and men and ensure women can enjoy their full range of rights at work.

The work to transform discriminatory social norms and gender stereotypes includes an emphasis on men’s responsibility for their own behaviour change.
Men have to dismantle the patriarchy.
They must end the exclusion of women from decision-making bodies.
They must lead on ending violence against women, on stopping unequal pay,
They must say no to marrying children.
Men can stand up against videogames that perpetuate stereotypes and teach boys about being violent.

HeForShe is a means for men to explore positive masculinity, to build a large network of supportive and likeminded people.

Through these contacts men can lead change and share their experiences.
We launched the IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative in January, targeting at least 10 leaders in each of these:
University campuses and youth, CEOs of large companies, Heads of State
Just last night the State University of New York announced itself as the latest champion to join the solidarity movement.

We will know that we have succeeded when

  • all women – irrespective of who they are or where they live – have equal rights, and equal access to justice, power, resources and opportunities;
  • all women and girls live their lives free from all forms of violence and discrimination;
  • women can make decisions about their bodies, health and sexuality, free from discrimination, violence and coercion;
  • women and girls fully enjoy their rights to high quality education at all levels, equal pay, equal work opportunities and access to decent work, social protection across the lifecycle and access to quality public services;
  • unpaid care work is fairly shared between men and women and no longer presents a barrier to women’s and girls’ enjoyment of their human rights and participation in social, political and economic life;
  • women have equal voice, participation and leadership in decision-making at all levels, including in peace and security discussions;
  • persistent gender stereotypes about women and men and girls and boys, discriminatory norms and attitudes and beliefs no longer limit opportunities and outcomes.

Mr President,
The findings of the Secretary-General’s global review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action provide important lessons for the post-2015 development agenda.

Gender equality, the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls must be central to the new agenda.

It must have a comprehensive goal on gender equality, and the integration of gender perspectives throughout the framework.

Today, on International Women’s Day,
I urge you all to seize opportunities for transformative action in all sectors and at all levels.
Let us make, before 2030, a world where there are no barriers to women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Thank you.