I am pleased to send greetings to participants at this launch of the Global Forum on Media and Gender, which will defend two basic principles at the core of human dignity and human development.
I commend UNESCO and its partners for organizing this welcome opportunity to advance our UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign and to strengthen the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A cornerstone of good governance, sustainable development and lasting peace, freedom of expression depends on free, independent and pluralistic media.
Gender equality is also basic human right, and a prerequisite to reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Women deserve equal access to the media and full equality in expressing themselves. By drawing media attention to the rights, needs and concerns of women, we can help to bring about social change.
But every day around the world, age-old stereotypes and culturally imposed limitations combine to deny women their right to free expression. Too many women journalists face intimidation, threats and violence from governments, corporations, criminals or other forces trying to silence or censor them.
Millions of women, especially in rural areas, do not own a radio and rarely express their views through the media. Illiteracy is another hindrance many women face. Community radio stations in villages are often largely operated by men. And globally, women have less access than men to the Internet and mobile technology.
This Global Forum should provide a platform to discuss ways to better protect women journalists in the framework of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists. It should also confront and address the issue of impunity, examine how best to enhance women’s participation in the media, and explore ways to better cover issues that affect women.
Action on gender equality is central to reaching the MDGs and forging a vision for development beyond 2015. I count on this Forum to advance the genuine equality we need to create a better future for all people, and I wish you great success.