“Contributions of women, the young, and civil society to the post-2015 Agenda” - Executive Director remarks at PGA event

Date: Friday, March 7, 2014

[Check against delivery]

Mr. President, distinguished delegates and guests, 

I am pleased to join you today as we discuss the vital role and contribution of women, the young and civil society in framing the post-2015 agenda.

I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly for inviting me to be part of this important discussion. It is a discussion which must take place not only at the international level, but in national parliaments, town halls, village centers, and around kitchen tables.

Women and young people are often under-represented in public debates. This time it must be different, because their participation will be fundamental to the success of the post-2015 development agenda. Their right to participate and share their views, hopes and dreams for the future must be guaranteed.

The MDGs have played an important role in galvanizing attention and highlighting resources needed for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

But we in the UN, and in civil society, must increase our efforts to amplify the voices of women, girls and youth.

In every region of the world, women are more likely than men to have jobs characterized by poor pay, insecurity and a lack of basic rights.

Women continue to earn less pay for work of equal value.

The gender gap in unemployment widened between 2007 and 2012 by an estimated 13 million jobs.

Some 128 countries have laws that prevent women from playing their full role in society, banning them from certain jobs, accessing finance, owning businesses or conducting legal affairs.

An estimated 800 women continue to die every day, due to childbirth and other pregnancy-related complications. Adolescent girls are particularly at risk, often due to forced and so-called early marriages.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters, and are often more dependent on natural resources for their survival and livelihoods.

They walk hours to fetch wood and carry water, denying them opportunities for education and economic participation. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water, equivalent to a year’s labour by the entire workforce in France.

Today women remain under-represented in decision-making at all levels – from the family to the parliament– and only around one in five parliamentarians is a woman. 

And a global pandemic of violence against women and girls affects one in three worldwide.

Putting women at the centre of the post-2015 agenda will unleash the potential of the millions of women whose contributions have been excluded.

I was very heartened by discussions at the February Session of the Open Working Group.

It was encouraging to see strong and growing support from Member States for addressing gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment as a priority in the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Women supports these calls and we stand ready to work with Member States on the development and inclusion of a stand-alone goal on gender equality, with three parts:

  1. The first is freedom from violence for women and girls, the missing MDG.
  2. The second is equality in capabilities, opportunities and resources. This means addressing the invisible burden of unpaid care work, ensuring equal access to assets and resources such as education, land and finance, equal pay and working conditions; and guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  3. The third area is equality in decision-making in public and private institutions, from the kitchen table to the cabinet table, from the peace table to the boardroom table.

Equally important is the comprehensive integration of relevant gender concerns and targets across all other goals.

For example, a future goal on education must include targets and indicators that monitor the rights of women and girls to a quality education at all levels.

And a sustainable energy goal should include targets on access to sustainable energy for women’s economic empowerment.

But as we all know, identifying goals, targets and indicators is not enough.

We must focus on implementation and this means adequate resources and funding – in terms of capacity-building, finance and technology.

We need strong accountability mechanisms and transparency, to enable civil society, and ordinary women and men to monitor progress and hold decision-makers accountable.

We have a historic opportunity now to learn from the past and build a new framework that transforms the lives of women, girls, and young people around the world.

The post-2015 framework needs to be bold; it needs to be ambitious, it must be universal and it must be comprehensive to address the challenges of the 21st century. 

I thank you, and I look forward to working together for equality, peace and prosperity!