Speech by Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director UN Women, on the Zero Draft of the Rio+20 Outcome Document


Speech by Ms. Lakshmi Puri Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director UN Women at the initial consultations on the Zero Draft of the Rio+20 Outcome Document, New York, 25 January 2012.

[Check against delivery.]

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I wish to thank and commend the Co-Chairs for preparing this Zero Draft of the Rio + 20 Outcome Document and for providing UN-Women the opportunity to underscore the centrality of gender equality and the empowerment of women for sustainable development.

We appreciate the identification and inclusion of gender equality and the empowerment of women as a priority, key thematic, cross-sectoral area in the zero draft. However, as many delegations and groups that spoke before me already highlighted, there is a need to better reflect and strengthen references to gender equality and women's empowerment in the entire text of the Outcome Document. We have provided some suggested language in the zero draft, including in the preamble, renewing political commitment, engaging major groups, framework for action, green economy, institutional framework, toolkits and experience sharing, and sustainable development goals, among others, which we hope Member States will take into account in further engendering the Rio+20 Outcome Document.

We share Member States' view that the Outcome Document should be more balanced, inclusive and action-oriented. Moreover, as equity is an inalienable part of sustainable development, the Rio+20 outcome document must be cognizant of women's valuable contribution to promoting sustainable development and at the same time benefit from it.

In fact, this is already enshrined in the Rio Principles and Agenda 21. Principle 20 of the Rio Declaration reads and I quote: “Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable development.

Similarly, Chapter 24 of Agenda 21 itself, the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, and the Beijing Platform Declaration and Platform for Action, all recognized and reaffirmed the important contribution of women in sustainable development. Likewise, the UN System through the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and Member States' own statements and interventions in various multilateral fora, in bilateral meetings, as well as in UN-Women-sponsored meetings and events, have acknowledged the critical linkage between gender equality and the empowerment of women and sustainable development in its three dimensions - social and economic development, and environmental protection. In fact, we believe that reflecting this in the outcome document could be among the greatest value-added of the Rio+20 Conference.

We thank all Member States and groups that have equally stressed the need to strengthen references to gender equality and the empowerment of women in the zero draft and the emphasis on the critical linkages between gender equality and the empowerment of women and sustainable development.

Allow me to present a summary of UN-Women's key messages which Member States may find useful as they negotiate a Rio+20 Outcome Document that adequately reflects the key role of women in sustainable development, and affirms that gender equality and women's empowerment are crucial in achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions.

  1. Women are and can be powerful agents, leaders and participants in advancing the three pillars of sustainable development if they are allocated equal access to opportunities and resources as well as finances, methods and technology, and are afforded critical decision-making roles to realize their agency for sustainable development.
  2. Women's participation, agency and leadership must power the transition to and sustain the growth of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as well as bring tangible benefits to them. Governments and the private sector must adopt special measures to empower women as producers and consumers throughout the value chain in the green economy.
  3. Any institutional framework on sustainable development must fully recognize and integrate a gender perspective in its over-all mandate of promoting sustainable development. In addition, there is a need to ensure the full participation and leadership of both women and men in environmental decision-making and management at all levels. Mechanisms should be established to increase the proportion of women in decision-making and in managerial positions to ensure the implementation of gender-responsive and gender-sensitive sustainable development.
  4. In any international mechanisms that would be created or proposed to be established, including those relating to bridging the technology gap and ensuring transfer of technology on sustainable development, as well as any capacity-building mechanisms, women should be beneficiaries and contributors as well as afforded leadership roles and their voice and representation ensured.
  5. In measuring progress and results of the international community to advance sustainable development, appropriate gender-sensitive indicators must be adopted to ensure comprehensiveness and capture accurate results.
  6. Sustainable Development goals must include gender equality and the empowerment of women as a goal in its own right. All other SDGs must likewise incorporate gender perspectives and considerations. Any SDG should likewise address the issues of finance, technology and other enabling modalities and tools for its implementation. All these should take gender considerations into account.
  7. All stakeholders have a role in ensuring that gender equality and women's empowerment are integrated into the sustainable development agenda and implementation frameworks. A fundamental prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in all levels of decision-making. Sustainable development requires the meaningful involvement and active participation of major groups including women. An improved and effective participation and voice by all actors requires increasing the proportion of women representation in decision-making, planning and implementation of policies and programmes for sustainable development.

Related Links