Extending Social Protection is Key to Ensuring a Globalization that is Fairer and more Inclusive

Date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Video Message of Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, at the 17th Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor: Special Dialogue Session with Ministers for Women's Affairs regarding Gender Equality and Decent Work, on November 1st, 2011.

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Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends:

I would like to take this opportunity that the organizers have given me today to warmly greet you and welcome the organization of this Inter-American meeting in El Salvador, which is bringing together both female and male Ministers from the Ministries of Labor and Women's Affairs.

Few weeks ago, I had the honor to witness a historic moment during the United Nations General Assembly: the opening of the General Assembly for the very first time by a woman, Ms. Dilma Roussef President of Brazil. President Roussef gave a speech that placed a strong emphasis on people, the ramifications of the economic crisis, and the need to protect the general public.

This is a sure sign that the world is on the move, but which also tells us how far we have to go in regard to issues such as : gender equality, rights and opportunities for women and children. And in the process governments, the United Nations system, civil society, academia, the mass media have an important role to play. In addition we must ensure that our work is characterized by efficiency, flexibility and coordination, with the sole objective to create a better life for the millions of women around the world.

The impact of the international economic crisis has been systematic and corrosive. Latin America has been able to weather the storm better than countries in other continents, but no-one is immune, and the crisis weighs most heavily on the most disadvantaged segments within our countries for whom economic turmoil is a daily reality.

For that reason I hail with special enthusiasm the fact that at this meeting we are witnessing a further powerful sign of the change in mindsets and accountability that is a prerequisite if we are to embrace the challenges in store: a joint meeting between Ministers of Labor and Women's Affairs to discuss Gender Equality, Decent Work and better labor conditions.

In summary, we are talking about extending social safety nets to men and women as the prerequisite for a globalization that is fairer and more inclusive. And success is within our grasp.

Days ago we presented the report “Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization", that we conducted together with the ILO and that addresses the role of social protection in expediting efforts to recover from the crisis with an eye to achieving more inclusive and sustainable development. That is the road ahead and we must take it.

Those countries with greater equality between men and women are countries with greater social cohesion and higher rates of economic growth; their democracy is even more representative because there is greater participation. In addition, these countries offer better prospects and opportunities for future generations.

I thank you for this opportunity to be with you through this greeting, I reiterate the resolve of UN Women to work together with governments and other organizations of the system to turn into a reality what today is an unmet demand in all our countries: greater social, political, economic and cultural participation by women in their communities and the task of building their future.

Only in this way will our democracies be more complete and representative. And only then will this century, which has just begun come to be recognized as the century of women-kind, as women at long last are truly empowered throughout the planet.

I wish you the greatest of success and thank you for being such a wonderful audience.