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Press statement by UN Women Executive Director in Tokyo

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Press statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the Nippon Press Club, Tokyo, Japan, 28 March 2014.

Date: 31 March 2014

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[Japanese Greeting/ Phrase] Good morning, Thank you very much for being here.

This is my first visit to Japan as the UN Women’s Executive Director and I have had a very productive visit.  

I express my sincere appreciation to the Government and the people of Japan for your leadership in multilateralism, international peace, sustainable development, human security and humanitarian response.

I thank you very much for your support to UN Women and look forward to strengthened collaboration. I commend Prime Minister Abe for showing unique leadership in working to make Japan a society where women shine.

I am particularly encouraged by his commitment to making women's empowerment a thread across Japan’s diplomacy, and dedicating Japanese official development assistance in excess of USD $3 billion over the next three years to this area.

I would also like to thank Prime Minister Abe for participating in our HeForShe campaign. We need men leaders to stand up for women’s rights and equality.

This year I have three top priorities for UN Women: expanding women’s economic opportunities, ending violence against women and girls, and ensuring that the future international development framework fully takes into account gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We know that when more women work, economies grow. If women’s paid employment rates were raised to the same level as men’s, the United States’ gross domestic product would rise by an estimated 9 per cent, the euro zone’s would climb by 13 per cent and Japan’s would rise by 16 per cent. 

There are challenges in every country when it comes to gender equality. The declining birthrate and rapidly aging society in Japan adds its own dimensions here.

I welcome the implementation of strategies that Japan has developed to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women stands ready to support Japan’s efforts to address women’s economic participation, and engagement and leadership in all areas, including business and politics.

Specifically, I commend the Japanese companies, more than 200 already, that have signed onto the Women’s Empowerment Principles, signaling their commitment to using the Principles as a framework for action to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. I encourage more companies to join and advance women’s equality in the workplace.

I also call attention to the global pandemic of violence against women, a pandemic that violates one in three women worldwide. I commend Japan for its national policy on gender equality, which contains measures on violence against women, and also for specific legislation addressing domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence and trafficking.

I thank the leadership of Japan as a member of the G8 on the initiative to prevent sexual violence in conflict and ensure the commitment of funding to this issue.

I applaud Japan for its support to humanitarian response and to women affected by conflict. I recently visited Syrian women refugees in Jordan and saw first-hand how this support to UN Women is making a real difference. The daycare centre for children and livelihood training for women are much needed and appreciated.

And I applaud Japan for progressing on the development of its national action plan for women, peace and security.

We are now at a critical moment in history. As nations develop a new international development agenda for beyond 2015, we have an opportunity to make gender equality and women’s empowerment the goal of the 21st century.

This is the SHE Imperative. The S stands for security and safety so that every woman and girl can live free of violence. The H stands for human rights for every woman and girl and all human beings. The E stands for empowerment and equality of girls and women in leadership and decision-making.

I count on Japan’s full support and UN Women looks forward to a long-standing partnership.

Thank you. And I look forward to answering your questions.

A video of the Executive Director’s press conference at the Japan National Press Club is now available here.