New York

22 February 2010

Secretary-General's remarks to opening of the "Reflective Mirror" exhibition

Mr. Dossal,

Ms. Shafi,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My thanks to the co-organizers -- the Art Exchange Program of Her Highness Sheikha Manal Al Maktoum, and our own United Nations Office for Partnerships.

I am pleased to join with you as we inaugurate these works of art by women from the Middle East and beyond.

It is fitting that this coincides with the ECOSOC special event on engaging philanthropy to promote women's empowerment and gender equality.

In addition, International Women's Day is just around the corner and so, too, the gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women and our commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the landmark Beijing conference.

As the title of this exhibition suggests, art reflects.

It reflects what we see in ourselves and what we see in each other.

Art also prompts us to reflect on what is ? and what could be.

So I am very happy to have this exhibition here this year, which I have declared to be the year of development –the year for laying out a clear road map to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

No one can doubt the central role of women in making that happen. Women are the weavers of society. They are the breadwinners, the caretakers, the peacemakers.

I know that when we empower women, we empower communities and societies. When we empower women, we will power progress in meeting the MDGs for all people, women and men alike.

Thank you for helping deepen that understanding through the creative spirit of the women artists featured here.

In the spirit of this exhibition, let us hold a mirror up to our world, reflect on the challenges we face, and paint a picture of more opportunity, hope, and progress for women everywhere.

Thank you.