Comprehensive Approach Needed to Strengthen Role of Women in Development, Effectively Respond to AIDS, says Deputy Secretary-General

2 March 2010

Comprehensive Approach Needed to Strengthen Role of Women in Development, Effectively Respond to AIDS, says Deputy Secretary-General

2 March 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Comprehensive Approach Needed to Strengthen Role of Women in Development,

Effectively Respond to AIDS, says Deputy Secretary-General


Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the launch of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Agenda for Action on Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV, in New York, 2 March:

Thank you, very much Michel.  I would also like to pay tribute to the panellists here. And just to assure you and the participants that this type of balance is good gender balance – we should keep it.

Dear colleagues and friends, we thank you for joining us this morning.

As some of you may know, six months from now, world leaders will gather here to renew their commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  As I look forward to that gathering, a couple of key points from the previous United Nations World Summit come to mind:

First, “progress for women is progress for all”.  The leaders who made this bold declaration could not have been more right.

The second key point that is very relevant for today’s event is their acknowledgment that HIV and other infectious diseases pose “serious challenges to the achievement of development goals”.

With these two points in mind, I would like to stress that the operational plan that we are launching this morning has been needed for some time now.  UNAIDS and the Global Task Force that developed this plan should know that the world could not have waited a moment longer.  I would like to thank Professor Sheila Tlou and Michel Sidibe for your leadership in bringing this operational plan to light.

For too long, the inequalities that affect women and girls have made them more vulnerable to HIV.  For too long, societies have been unable -- or unwilling -- to talk about these inequalities as drivers of the epidemic.  For much too long, cohesive action to address these inequalities have been lacking.

Without going into the deep societal roots of women and girls’ vulnerability, let me mention that violence against them is just one manifestation of the complex problem that we must address.  In this regard, I would like to call on you to find synergies in the implementation of the operational plan and the UNiTE campaign to end violence against women.  As the Secretary-General has stressed: “Each of us must speak out in our families and communities so that acts of violence against women cease.”

Strengthening the role of women in development and effectively responding to AIDS require a comprehensive approach.  It calls for the promotion of gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, the protection of their rights, access to services that could protect them from HIV infection, and freedom from stigma and discrimination.  Is this a tall order?  Not at all.

If I understood the Agenda correctly, all these -- and more -- can be done.  And they must be done!

The United Nations, in its role as convener and honest broker, will support Governments in bringing together civil society, religious and business leaders, activists and artists, to bring about the much-needed positive changes in the lives of women and girls.

I shall count on my colleagues from various organizations, including UNDP, UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO, the World Bank, UNESCO, ILO, UNHCR, UNODC, WFP and the UNAIDS Secretariat, to support this agenda.

I also count on them to engage our partners, in particular women’s rights advocates, networks of women living with HIV, and organizations of men and boys working for gender equality.

On a more personal level, I commit to work with all of you to make this operational plan an instrument that can be used, particularly by countries, to realize progress for women and girls, to advance the response to AIDS, and to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.