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

MDG Countdown 2011: Celebrating Successes and Innovations

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Date: 23 September 2011

UN Women Executive Director Remarks at USAID and DFID event on “MDG Countdown 2011: Celebrating Successes and Innovations New York, 21 September, 2011.

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Thank you Femi Oke.

I am so pleased to be with you all of you today as we count down to the MDGs. I applaud the countries that are making progress, including those that are being highlighted this afternoon. And I am proud to represent the United Nations to reaffirm our collective commitment to support countries in achieving these goals and targets.

We know that there is one investment that can trigger greater results across all 8 Millennium Development Goals — investing in girls and women and I am so pleased that the two sponsors of this event, DFID and USAID, have put women at the center of their international development strategies.

Women constitute the majority of the poor and investing in their well-being and protecting their rights has a multiplier effect, with benefits extending throughout societies.

When women are educated and healthy, their children are too, as we see in the case of Peru. And when women have equal access to resources, countries are able to reduce poverty and hunger, as we see in the case of Brazil, where women and families benefited from conditional cash transfers. These are good practices to share.

In Zambia, I applaud the policies, including the re-entry into school of girls who become pregnant, and also in Gambia because advancing girls education and gender parity in schooling will have a ripple effect.
When you empower a girl, you empower a nation.

I congratulate Ethiopia and Nepal for improving women's health and expanding access to reproductive health services, and Viet Nam for subsidizing lending to poorer households to improve access to water and sanitation.

As we count down to the MDGs, we must acknowledge that women's contributions are key to a green economy, sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Moving forward, we can make greater progress by eliminating discrimination against women in law and in practice, and ensuring that policies and strategies are gender-sensitive and targeted to the needs and realities of women.

As the case studies highlighted here show, we need to promote equal access to resources, social services, opportunities and leadership. And whether this means ending user fees, or instituting quotas for women in parliament, or using conditional cash transfers, the case is strong for taking special measures to promote universal access, making sure women's voices are heard, promoting women's leadership, and reaching and engaging people who are poor.

As we count down to the MDGs, there is no more time to lose. It is time to unleash women's and girls' untapped potential.
UN Women is working with partners around the world to advance women's empowerment and the Millennium Development Goals. And we are working with the entire UN system to ensure that women and girls play their full role, and gender equality is a guiding principle of efforts for international development.

Once again, I congratulate all countries and partners for the progress being made, and I thank you for your commitment to development.