Executive Director signs host country agreement with the Government of Turkey

Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the host country agreement with Turkey for UN Women’s Regional Office in Europe and Central Asia, at the Turkish Mission to the United Nations, New York, 28 February 2014.

Date: Monday, March 3, 2014

[Check against delivery]

Excellency, Ambassador Cevik, Members of the press, Colleagues and friends,

I am delighted to be here with you today, signing this host country agreement between the Government of Turkey and UN Women.

This represents the final step in the roll out and establishment of UN Women’s regional architecture and most importantly ushers in a new phase in cooperation between the Government of Turkey and UN Women.

Executive Director with Ambassador of Turkey
Photo: Cem Ozdel

When UN Women, under the leadership of my predecessor, had considered a number of generous offers, and proposed to the Executive Board in 2012 Istanbul as the location of the regional office, I am convinced it could not have made a better choice.

In Istanbul, UN Women will be co-located with regional offices of key sister agencies like UNDP and UNFPA. Furthermore, Istanbul’s strategic location at the center of the region, Turkey’s key position as an emerging donor and center for South-South cooperation, along with the presence of a vibrant civil society and private sector presence, make Istanbul an ideal choice.

We are proud to have our regional office in a country, which is an increasingly important player in regional and global dialogues. I look forward to an era of strong collaboration on the achievement of women’s rights and gender equality both in Turkey and in the European and Central Asia region.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Turkey and specially thank Ambassador Cevik, for his leadership and support in signing this agreement.

Ambassador, my colleagues tell me how you have carefully steered the entire process and ensured we have this strong agreement,  which puts UN Women on a strong footing to deliver its mandate in the region and in your country.

Executive Director with Ambassador of Turkey
Photo: Cem Ozdel

Through your Excellency, I would also like to express my gratitude to the Government of Turkey for its generous support to UN Women, both in terms of increased core contribution to our programming, and the financial contribution towards the establishment of the regional office. This is much appreciated!

The Government’s support is also crucial in helping us, along with UNDP, to find the right premises: something which I understand is in its final stages.

Excellency, we are signing this agreement at a very important time. As you know member States are meeting at the CSW58 in a little over a week’s time to agree on a set of conclusions, which will send a strong signal to the process of agreeing on post-2015 development goals, that will build on the achievements of the MDGs and set the stage for meeting the unfinished agenda of gender equality and women’s empowerment all over the world.

The MDGs, in particular MDG 3, was very important in signaling gender equality as a global priority. However the targets did not address several fundamental issues such as the disproportionate share of unpaid care work carried out by women and girls, women’s lack of access to assets and productive resources, women’s low participation in decision-making at all levels, women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and violence against women and girls.

We now have an important chance to go that extra step through the post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals. The combination and confluence of these processes with the Beijing +20 review provide an unprecedented opportunity for all of us to make that change. I look forward to the Government of Turkey’s usual strong political support in this endeavor and for Istanbul with our regional office emerging as a strong convener in the region towards improved consensus on these key defining agendas of this decade.

Thank You.