Opening statement of Michelle Bachelet at UN Women Rio+20 Leaders’ Summit

Date : 21 June 2012

Opening statement of Michelle Bachelet at UN Women Rio+20 Leaders' Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 21 June 2012.

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Good morning! On behalf of UN Women, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Rio+20 Women Leaders' Summit. I would like to thank the Government of Brazil and President Dilma Rousseff for their strong support for this Summit. It is wonderful to see the cabinet of President Rousseff and so many other leaders from other countries here with us today.

This is truly an historic moment. Today present and former women Heads of State and Government are in one room mobilized around one agenda-to use our leadership positions to advance gender equality and women's empowerment in the context of sustainable development.

I thank all leaders who are here today and those who could not be here for their strong commitment to the Call to Action we are signing today for the Future Women Want.

I welcome the commitment by the G-20 countries earlier this week to expand economic opportunities for women and advance gender equality in all areas.

Twenty years ago at the Rio Earth Summit, the world's leaders agreed that gender equality and women's full participation are essential for sustainable development.

Today, 20 years later, it is time to turn those words into action. We know from research that advancing gender equality is not just good for women, it is good for all of us. When women enjoy equal rights and opportunities, poverty, hunger and poor health decline and economic growth rises. Advancing the equal rights of men and women creates healthier and more sustainable societies and economies.

With rising sea levels, increasing inequality and environmental decline, we can no longer afford to leave women marginalized. With climate change threatening the Earth's natural systems on which all 7 billion people on our planet rely, we can no longer afford to let men continue to monopolize power and decision making.

Women's full and equal participation is no longer an option. It is an urgent necessity to make the changes needed at all levels for a sustainable future.

Women constitute a dynamic force for realizing the benefits of sustainable development for present and future generations.

All of us at UN Women will continue to work very hard with partners worldwide to make the future women want the future we all share.

I thank you.