UN Women Executive Director Speaks to Women's Parliamentary Group in Tokyo

Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at a women’s parliamentary group meeting, Tokyo, 31 March 2014

Date: Monday, March 31, 2014

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Members of Parliament,

Distinguished Guests,


I would like to thank Ms. Yuko Obuchi and Ms. Kumiko Hayashi for organizing the lunch and for your longstanding commitment to women’s empowerment.

I also thank you, as Members of Parliament and Members of the UN Women National Committee, for your personal engagement and support to gender equality and to UN Women.

Your support for the cause has been very significant, including your great contribution to the Say No to End Violence against Women campaign.

Japan’s political commitment to women’s empowerment around the world is admirable.

As the head of UN Women, I must say it is encouraging that Japan is committing 3 billion USD to this area.

UN Women offers our full support as Japan embarks on implementing this commitment through concrete initiatives and targets.

I would also like to express particular appreciation for Japan’s support to UN Women’s work in Arab States, particularly Syria and Egypt, where it is critical.

All of this is due in no small part, I am sure, to your role as parliamentarians.

My own priorities as the head of UN Women are close to your own.

I am strongly committed to prioritizing women’s economic empowerment and ending violence against women.

UN Women plans to achieve these goals by boosting resource mobilization and coordination and building new partnerships in the public, non-profit, and private sector.

Our Women’s Empowerment Principles are a key example of the sort of partnerships we would like to expand.

Japan’s leadership in engaging the private sector to sign up to the Principles has been very helpful.

The Japanese business community has emerged as a strong supporter of women’s participation in the economy.

I am hopeful that this support, together with the emphasis placed on women in the economy by senior political leaders, including the Japanese Prime Minister, will lead to effective implementation, systemic change, and results.

It is UN Women’s goal to achieve such systemic change and results for all women and girls, worldwide.

My friends, at this moment, we face a once-in-a-generation opportunity to place gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of the global agenda.

Last week’s Commission on the Status of women (CSW58), the Beijing + 20 Review, and the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda represent a great chance to make the kind of fundamental change we seek.

UN Women has taken an active role in participating in and supporting the post-2015 process.

At the Commission on the Status of Women, a chorus of Member States called for a transformative stand-alone goal to achieve gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment.

They also called for the comprehensive mainstreaming of gender concerns in all goals through clear targets and indicators.

These are calls that I fully support.

Beijing+20 will be a major priority for UN Women over the next two years.

We need political leaders, including yourselves, to continue your active engagement in this process.

As a major player in global women’s empowerment efforts, Japan can play a significant role with a focus on implementation, action and mobilizing resources.

One area in particular where UN Women appreciates the engagement of the Government of Japan is in Women, Peace and Security.

Peace and security is a priority area for UN Women, and an important part of our mandate.

We are currently supporting improved implementation of international and national commitments in almost 40 countries.

The Japanese government must be congratulated for your efforts to develop a national action plan to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

UN Women stands ready to provide technical support in the development of the National Action Plan.

In 2015, the Security Council will be undertaking a high level review of resolution 1325.

In preparation, the Council has requested a global study of its implementation, which will be spearheaded by UN Women.

This report will be extremely important to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Support from key partners will ensure the report has the impact and foresight to shape the policy agenda for the coming years.

I would also like to commend the Japanese Government for its role in supporting the G8 initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, with political will, as well as funding.

UN Women’s own efforts in this area are considerable.

In particular, we are currently working with partners to create the only multilateral facility for the rapid deployment of sexual and gender crimes experts.

In the Arab States, events of the past few years present a remarkable opportunity for women to reclaim their rightful place in the social, economic and political life of their countries.

At the same time, ongoing unrest, political volatility, and rising conservatism present serious challenges to women’s rights and empowerment.

UN Women has had to be responsive and flexible, widening partnerships and adapting our response strategies to support governments and civil society.

Our priority areas in the Arab States are women’s economic empowerment, and leadership and political participation.

Economic empowerment can be a critical factor in sparking women’s leadership in public life.

The Government of Japan has recently provided support for UN Women’s targeted interventions in Egypt, and for our support of Syrian refugee women.

I recently visited the Zaatari camp in Jordan, and I can report that funding to UN Women is helping to create safe spaces for women.

It is also increasing women’s access to livelihood opportunities, training and access to psycho-social and legal support services.

The support is much needed and deeply appreciated.

UN Women plans to expand its interventions in the Zaatari camp in Jordan to create more safe spaces and increase Syrian women refugees’ access to livelihood opportunities in other refugee communities in Iraq and Lebanon.

We would welcome continued support and collaboration with Japan on these programmes.

I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the third anniversary of the triple disaster in Japan on 11 March 2011.

On behalf of UN Women, let me say that our hearts go out to the Japanese people, who are still recovering from this tragedy.

UN Women assisted the Permanent Mission of the Japan to the UN in developing the original resolution (Resolution 56/2) on Gender Equality and Women's

Empowerment in Natural Disasters for adoption at the 2012 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56).

Following on this, we drafted the 2014 Secretary General's Report on the progress towards implementing that resolution.

UN Women made a presentation of the report at an event hosted by the Japanese Mission on the 21st of February.

Over the last few weeks, UN Women worked directly with the Japanese Mission on a follow-up resolution for adoption at the 2014 CSW session.

In this and other instances, the Japanese Government has led the world in promoting the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the humanitarian context.

Through our Humanitarian Unit, UN Women is working to establish ourselves as the lead agency for the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment in the humanitarian context.

At the global level, UN Women will work with the wider humanitarian system to ensure that gender equality and women's empowerment is included in all normative and planning work.

In the field, UN Women will work with humanitarian leadership teams to ensure that gender equality and women's empowerment are central to strategic plans, including preparedness, response and recovery programming.

Where gaps are identified and we can add value, UN Women will implement targeted humanitarian programming.

The Japanese Government’s great contribution in response to Syrian humanitarian crisis has enabled UN Women to strengthen our programming.

It has allowed us to go much further in addressing the needs and priorities of Syrian women and girls in such difficult moments.

In closing, I would like to thank you personally for your advocacy, on behalf of UN Women and women and girls everywhere.

Your hard work certainly seemed evident in the Prime Minister’s remarkable speech at the UN General Assembly last September.

We appreciate the increase in Japan’s contribution to UN Women, and I am confident we can maintain our close partnership for years to come.

We look forward to continuing to benefit from Japan’s strong political and financial leadership, as it continues its Vice-Presidency of the UN Women Executive Board.

As the elected representatives of the people, Members of Parliament play a critical role in ensuring that political commitment is translated into concrete action for women and girls.

In this effort, I offer UN Women’s unqualified support.

Once again friends,

Thank you for your steadfast support for women’s empowerment.

Together we are working to build a safer, more equal and sustainable world for women and girls everywhere.