Executive Director urges UN Member States to support a stand-alone goal on gender equality and mainstream gender across all other goals for post-2015

Statement of UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the President of the General Assembly’s High-Level Event on Achieving the MDGs, New York, 25 September 2013.

Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Distinguished Delegates,

There are about 3.6 billion women and girls in the world. This is our constituency as UN Women. This is half of humanity, most of whom are poor.

We know that much progress has been made as a result of the MDGs, the resolve of Member States and the advocacy of civil society.

Steady progress has been made towards equal access of girls and boys to education.

Yet much more still needs to be done to improve the quality and to engender public education.

Unequal pay and unpaid care work for women persist, even in countries where the constitution guarantees equality.

Too many women still die during pregnancy and childbirth. Too many have no reproductive rights and access to services.

One in three women will experience physical violence in her lifetime.

Women are the overwhelming majority of the poorest of the poor, despite being 40 per cent of the work force, and 70 per cent of those who till the land.

There is a connection between the poor representation of women in leadership and in the economy, and women’s poverty and the prevalence of gender-based violence.

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations and crimes during times of peace and conflict.

It impedes development and has extremely high human, social and economic costs.

Education is key to preventing social ills and expanding equal opportunity.

This is a historic moment as we strive to reach the MDGs, develop the post-2015 development agenda, and conduct the 20-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.

You are the leaders who can make destiny change. You can make the 21st century the century for women and girls.

Women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality must be central to the post-2015 development agenda.

Today I stand before you to ask all UN Member States to support a stand-alone goal on gender equality. And gender must be mainstreamed across all other goals.

The stand-alone goal I call for should emphasize freedom from violence for women and girls, ending child marriage, and expanding women’s opportunities, voice, leadership and participation. 

The future we want will only become reality if we include women and men in equal measure. We need a transformative agenda with gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment at its heart.