New York

04 October 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at Friends of UNFPA Gala Dinner for the Health and Dignity of Women and Girls Everywhere [as prepared for delivery]

Good evening, everyone.

Thank you very much, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.

Thank you all – friends of UNFPA!

It has been a landmark year.

In May, we announced that maternal deaths had been cut by nearly half. That
means millions of lives saved … and millions of tragedies averted.

Thanks to UNFPA – and its many friends gathered here tonight – mothers survived childbirth. Women overcame fistula. Teens got supplies so they could attend school. Girls received hope for their future.

Tonight we salute the hardworking UNFPA staff on the frontlines. I have seen them in action at clinics in Africa and Asia.

Tonight we also honour, for the first time, a young male activist – because we need men and youth in this campaign for justice.

That is also why I established a Network of Men Leaders to stop violence against women. It includes presidents, diplomats and advocates for social justice – all speaking out for women’s rights. 

Dr. Osotimehin is another great champion of this cause. [TO DR. OSOTIMEHIN:] I applaud your outstanding dedication and leadership.

[TO THE ROOM:] A South African activist once said, “We cannot say we are free when our women walk in fear of their lives.”

UNFPA helps women to live free of fear.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Friends of UNFPA,

We are keeping the issues you care passionately about at the top of the global agenda. The Every Woman Every Child movement, in particular, is shining a bright spotlight on the health of women and children.

Reproductive health and reproductive rights are hard-fought and hard-won. We need vocal friends like you to prevent the silent deaths of women from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth …the indignity of child marriages … and the many other problems that UNFPA confronts.

On behalf of the millions of women and girls who have benefited from your generosity and support, I thank you.

And I count on you to continue helping UNFPA in our race to reach all of the Millennium Development Goals – and create a future where women and girls are protected and their rights are respected all around the world.

Dr Osotimehin, I wish you and the UNFPA family even greater success in the future.

Thank you.