New York

07 March 2014

Secretary-General's remarks to closing session of high-level event of the General Assembly “The contributions of women, the young and civil society to the post-2015 development agenda”

I know you have had some stimulating discussions over the last two days.
I have no doubt these high-level dialogues under the leadership of President of the General Assembly will enrich the discussions on women, youth and civil society and their vital role in the post-2015 development agenda. 
Let me underline a few important issues from my perspective.
Today, of course, is International Women’s Day. 
To my mind, the issue is clear:  Gender equality is first and foremost a fundamental human right. 
But it is also an essential means for sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Progress on gender equality fuels progress across our entire agenda – from inclusive human development to good governance to durable peace.
Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys.  It is everyone’s responsibility. 
Men and boys must also be a full part of the effort to end the most pervasive human rights abuse in the world today – violence against women and girls. 
Just as the AIDS response has helped mobilize a global movement for social and health justice, we need the same energy and activism to end violence against women and girls. 
My UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign recently issued a report highlighting  the linkages between achieving the Millennium Development Goals and ending gender-based violence. 
We must work together so that gender equality and empowerment are a central part of the conversations on the post-2015 development agenda as well as the final push to meet the MDGs.  
The post-2015 development agenda is about building a better future.  The future means youth.
There is much evidence showing that inequality limits opportunities for young people.  These gaps often prevent them from getting out of poverty and lead instead to conflict, violence and instability.
We need the participation, perspectives and passion of young people.  
Today’s youth are at the leading edge of innovative ways to amplify voices and share ideas. 
Those 21st century technologies and social media tools need to be harnessed as we accelerate our development efforts.
After all, the best way to craft an inclusive agenda is through an inclusive process.  I encourage Member States to include both women and youth in their deliberations.
I would like to commend President Ashe for actively supporting the Global Partnership for Youth and the Crowd Sourcing initiative launched by my Envoy on Youth to help gather youth input and priorities.
With over 1.2 billion young people, we need to give every opportunity to both girls and boys. 
The post-2015 development agenda must be a compact between all relevant actors, government and non-government.  It requires the engagement of all.
Civil society organizations are critical development partners. 
They make change happen.  They are essential in combating inequality within and among countries.  They have led many advances towards the MDGs.  They monitor progress.  They hold decision makers accountable.
The President of the General Assembly has been reaching out to civil society through several events such as the one today. 
Civil society is also being heard at the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals.
We must maintain this level of engagement throughout the post-2015 process. 
We must also all look beyond the adoption of the new agenda – and think about how to transform the post-2015 vision into reality.
For that we need gender quality, engaged youth and an empowered civil society. 

We have a historic opportunity to leave a better world for future generations.  I thank you for your commitment.  Let us build a life of dignity for all.

Thank you.