International Women's Day
8 March 1976 

Press Release SG/SM/2312WOM/2


Following is the text of an address given today by Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at a general meeting at United Nations Headquarters convened by the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women to mark International Women's day, 8 March:

Today has been designated as International Women's Day. I am indeed very happy to be able to participate in this meeting, convened by the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women to mark the Day itself, as well as the beginning of the United Nations Decade for Women with its inspiring threefold objectives: equality, development and peace.

This day, and the Decade which it opens, follow the conclusion of the first International Women's Year in the world's history. Throughout 1975, the leadership of International Women's Year, under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly, conducted a sustained educational campaign for the purpose of promoting equality of status and opportunity in all aspects of life between women and men.

The Year's programme of activities reached out to all Member States and culminated in a most successful World Conference of the International Women's Year in Mexico City last June. From this Conference emerged the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and their Contribution to Development and Peace, as well as world-wide and regional Plans of Action for the Implementation of the Objectives of International Women's Year.

In order to ensure the continuity of the effort initiated by the Year and by the Conference, the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 15 December last year, proclaimed "the period 1976-1985, United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, to be devoted to effective and sustained national, regional and international action to implement the World Plan of Action and related resolutions".

It is in the context of this universal concern, now expanding into a decade-long effort to establish the principle of equal status between women and men in all aspects of life, that the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women has convened this meeting here today. I wish to congratulate you for your initiative in this regard.

It goes without saying that you are concerned, not merely with the proclamation of high principles and the declaration of long-range goals, but more specifically with the very practical problem of how to translate those declarations and principles into meaningful practical results. That is why you have indicated as the intended focus of your discussion, last year's General Assembly resolution 3416 (XXX) relating to "Employment of women in the Secretariat of the United Nations".

I should like to comment briefly on a number of points relating to that resolution. Perhaps one of the most significant is that the text as finally approved by the General Assembly omits a number of important provisions which were included in the original draft put forward by the sponsoring delegations. Not all of the proposals contained in the original draft resolution were found to be acceptable to Member States. As a consequence, resolution 3416 of last year, which now provides our latest mandate, is somewhat more limited in scope than originally intended by its sponsors.

Within the terms of that resolution we are continuing our efforts to improve the record of the United Nation in respect to the recruitment of women to the Secretariat. This applies not only to numbers but also to grade levels.

  1. Last year, a special appeal was directed by letter to all Governments, urging them, as the latest resolution 3416 also does, to recommend a larger number of qualified women candidates for professional posts in the Secretariat. A similar letter of appeal was sent to all potentially interested on-governmental organizations. These appeals are being repeated, extended and intensified this year.
  2. In response to last year's Economic and Social Council resolution urging that women be encouraged to play a larger part in development, the Technical assistance Recruitment Service, with the help of the Office of Public Information and especially the Centre for Economic and Social Information, professional tasks being undertaken by women in various technical assistance projects around the world. This news release attracted wide attention and appeared in journals in many countries, with the result that the Technical Assistance Recruitment Service has received several hundred inquiries from women candidates. These are now being examined by that Service as well as the regular Secretariat Recruitment Service.
  3. Within the travel appropriations provided by the general assembly for recruitment missions to be sent this year and next to a number of countries in the different regions of the world. Special attention will be paid in all cases to those countries which are generally under-represented in the Secretariat. Each of these missions will be preceded or accompanied a special information and publicity effort, designed to bring the purpose of the mission 's visit to the attention of the largest possible number of potential candidates.

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