UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

US Secretary of State and Executive Director of UN Women Discuss Women’s Leadership Roles in Emerging Democracies

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Date: 07 April 2011

Political participation, economic empowerment and ending violence against women emphasized as key to gender equality in meetings with US legislators

Washington, D.C. — In her first official visit to the United States capital as Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, the newly established UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, Ms. Michelle Bachelet called on senior US leaders to continue to advance women's rights and leadership worldwide, including in transitions in the Middle-East and North Africa. At a meeting today with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, discussions focused on the need to advocate for inclusiveness and transparency in the on-going reform processes in the region. In Egypt and Tunisia, women have played a key role in the movement for democracy, and their legal rights and decision-making within the transitional structures are critical. Afghanistan, where UN Women and the US Government have a long history of supporting women's rights, was also on the agenda.

During her two-day, high-level visit to Washington, D.C., Ms. Bachelet met with other senior US leaders: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero; Ambassador-at-Large for International Women's Issues Melanne Verveer; members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Senator Barbara Boxer; and members of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues, including Co-Chair Jan Schakowsky. Along with enhancing women's political participation, the meetings also emphasized the urgent need to accelerate economic empowerment of women worldwide.

In her discussions, Ms. Bachelet commended the US leadership on prioritizing efforts to end violence against women in domestic and foreign policy and also through financial support to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, managed by UN Women on behalf of the UN system. Ms. Bachelet also noted the instrumental role the United States played in 2008 to win passage of UN Security Council resolution 1820, which recognizes conflict-related sexual violence as a tactic of warfare and a matter of international peace and security.

Drawing attention to women's participation in peacebuilding, Ms. Bachelet emphasized the appointment of senior women mediators as a critical next step for international organizations like the UN and EU, to ensure women's concerns are included in peace talks. UN Women is working with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations on training peacekeepers from major troop-contributing countries on preventing and responding to conflict-related sexual violence, and also preparing a UN system-wide roadmap to advance the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325, which asserts women's leadership role in conflict resolution.

Ms. Bachelet's visit to the capital also included events at the Organization of American States, Inter-American Development Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Media Inquiries: Ms. Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, +1 646 781-4522, oisika.chakrabarti[at]unwomen.org