For immediate release
Economic empowerment seen as central to sustainable development and reducing poverty globally
London — Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, the newly established UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, is drawing attention to the urgent need to invest in gender equality, on her first official visit to the United Kingdom. Stressing that investing in women is not only the right thing but also the smart thing to do and central to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction, Ms. Bachelet is calling on leaders to accelerate actions that will advance women’s rights. Discussions are focusing on a range of issues from enhancing women’s economic empowerment and sustainability, ending violence against women — a global pandemic — to supporting women’s leadership worldwide, including in the transitions across the Middle-East and North Africa.
Ms. Bachelet arrived in the United Kingdom following her participation at the Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey, where she met with global leaders and spotlighted the social and economic needs of women, particularly rural women, and discussed strategies to unlock their economic potential.
UN Women, the youngest UN agency, became operational on 1 January 2011 and merges four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Ms. Bachelet commends the UK’s continuous support to UN Women and the country’s decision to put women and girls at the heart of development assistance, which will foster and support social and economic change.
At her meeting with UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell, focus was on shared priorities, such as effective ways to tackle violence against women through prevention and protection, increasing awareness, working in partnership with men and boys, and increasing access to justice for women. Economic empowerment of women, another joint priority, was also high on the agenda. Ms. Bachelet highlighted the need for countries to prioritize women living in poverty, such as rural women, who continue to live and work with very limited access to economic resources and opportunities.
During her three-day visit, Ms. Bachelet will also meet with high-level British officials, including Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May; Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan; Shadow Secretary for International Development Harriet Harman; and Parliamentary Undersecretary for Equalities and Minister for Violence against Women Overseas Lynne Featherstone. Ms. Bachelet will address British Members of Parliament at an event at the House of Parliament on Tuesday, attended by cross-party parliamentarians and organized by the strong supporter of UN Women, the civil society organization Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).
Ms. Bachelet’s visit also includes meetings with civil society and the private sector, a public lecture at the London School of Economics, and an official launch of UN Women in the UK, hosted the UK National Committee for UN Women and VSO.
Head of UN Women Michelle Bachelet Visits DFID