New York

22 February 2010

Secretary-General's remarks at UN Economic and Social Council Special Event on Philanthropy

Ambassador Ali, President of ECOSOC,

Your Grace, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York,

Mr. Patsalos-Fox, [Vice-Chairman, McKinsey]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the co-organizers - the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy - for arranging this important event.

It is wonderful to see so many partners from foundations, the private sector, academia and civil society. Welcome.

Last year, we gathered on International Corporate Philanthropy Day to discuss global public health.

This year, our focus is Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

The commitment of foundations?the brain power of research centres?the innovative spirit of the private sector?the dynamism of civil society –these are all critical to advancing women's rights.

Around the world, your engagement is already helping to transform the lives of women and societies.

But as today's programme indicates, full empowerment requires more progress in two key areas: first, expanding economic opportunity and second, ending violence against women.

The global recession has shown once again that women and children often bear the brunt of economic downturns.

A bad economy inevitably results in more girls being pulled out of school?fewer decent jobs for women--and higher rates of violence.

And yet we know that violence against women undermines development, generates instability, and sets back peace.

Our goal –must be clear:

No tolerance of the use of rape as a weapon of war.

No excuses for domestic violence.

No looking the other way when it comes to sex trafficking, so-called “honour” crimes or female genital mutilation.

To achieve these aims, we must widen the coalition for action.

That is why I launched the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign. UN agencies are reaching out to mobilize support.

We are building on these efforts in many ways.

First, this year--and I hope very soon--Member States will create a new, dynamic gender equality entity at the United Nations to better support women worldwide.

Second, I have launched a Network of Men Leaders -- prominent global voices such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who are using their influence to end violence against women and girls.

Third, I have appointed Ms. Margot Wallstrõm of Sweden as Special Representative to intensify efforts to end sexual violence against women and children in conflict areas.

Fourth, we continue to seek contributions for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women that supports on-the-ground initiatives to fight violence.

And, of course, we are keen to draw from your rich experiences.

To the private sector, we look to you to exercise even more leadership for gender equality starting from the top. We need you to promote education. Support human rights and nondiscrimination. Empower women through all levels of corporate responsibility.

UNIFEM and the UN Global Compact will soon launch the Women's Empowerment Principles?Equality Means Business –seven steps to empower women from the first link of the supply chain all the way to the board room. I urge you to do your part to bring those principles to life.

To the philanthropic community, we look to you to target women with your programmes. Make sure that female beneficiaries are treated equally. Work to ensure that their communities, homes, school and workplaces are free of verbal, physical or sexual harassment.

Finally, I look to all of you to engage with us on another important event ahead that has great potential to benefit the world's women. This September, we will host a Summit on the Millennium Development Goals.

The MDGs are shorthand for the aspirations of the world's poor and vulnerable –and a blueprint for a better world for people everywhere.

Ten years ago, the global community pledged to make dramatic improvements in fighting poverty and hunger, promoting health, education and the environment, and empowering women and girls.

Progress has been made in many areas, but there is much more distance to go before the 2015 deadline. We cannot get there without a concerted effort from all.

I urge all of you to engage in the Summit process. Share your ideas and success stories. Bring your comparative advantages to bear on these challenges. Use your unique perch in society to influence your political leaders. We need your partnership.

Realizing the MDGs depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women.

That is why we are here today.

I have often said that women are the weavers of society –they are the breadwinners, they are the caretakers, the peacemakers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for coming together to advance opportunities for them -- and for society at large.

I wish you every success and look forward to our continued work ahead.