Secretary-General, at UN Women Launch, Says New Entity Is Part of Larger Drive Promoting Gender Equality, Demanding End to Sexual Violence

24 February 2011

Secretary-General, at UN Women Launch, Says New Entity Is Part of Larger Drive Promoting Gender Equality, Demanding End to Sexual Violence

24 February 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, at UN Women Launch, Says New Entity is Part of Larger


Drive Promoting Gender Equality, Demanding End to Sexual Violence


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of UN Women in New York, today, 24 February:

Tonight is a celebration of UN Women.  And tonight is a time to say thanks to all those who made this launch possible:  thanks to the Governments that acted with vision; thanks to our dedicated United Nations staff, especially Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro; and thanks to our partners in the [non-governmental organization] community, whose relentless advocacy led to success.

The negotiations were tough, but we knew why we needed UN Women and we prevailed.  I am especially proud that we got Michelle Bachelet, an internationally renowned leader, to serve as the founding Executive Director.

The campaign to establish UN Women is part of a larger international drive to promote gender equality, empower women and demand an end to sexual violence.  There has been progress.  Just this week, a Congolese army colonel was convicted of crimes against humanity for a case involving mass rape.

We are also seeing international solidarity in the area of health.  Last year, Member States pledged $40 billion to the Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health.  This year, UN Women will help turn this Global Strategy into a worldwide reality.

Tonight is a time to celebrate and say thanks, but it is also a time to remember why we worked so hard to create UN Women.  We did it for the girl who cannot go to school simply because she is a girl, and the millions of women and girls who need help and protection.  We did it for the women who need treatment for HIV, including mothers nursing their babies.  We did it for the women who deserve to be sitting as equals in boardrooms and parliaments.

This is what UN Women is working for in the places where we are most needed.  For example, we are supporting women’s shelters that, for vulnerable women and girls, can mean the difference between life and death.  We are working to eliminate harmful traditional practices and change mind-sets.  We are working to make sure that not only does every girl get an education, but the opportunity to put it to good use.

The birth of UN Women could not be better timed.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.  We have come a long way in a century.  But we still have far to go.  UN Women takes us an important step in the right direction.

More and more we are putting women at the centre of our activities around the world.  Women are the breadwinners who can help their families and their countries out of poverty.  They are the mothers who provide food, the leaders who encourage education and raise the next generation.  Women are the police and peacemakers who can help forge peace and stability.

The United Nations is investing in women because it is the right thing to do and because it is a smart thing to do – possibly one of the smartest things we can ever do.

I will support UN Women in every way I can, with every ounce of my energy and commitment.  You can count on me to work for a world where women are protected from violence; where girls can grow up safe, healthy and strong; a world that values and listens to women and girls.

We are UN Women.  Together, we can make this happen.

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