UN Women Executive Director shares vision for women empowerment, gender equality at Clinton Global Initiative

Remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Clinton Global Initiative Girls and Women Track Strategy Session, New York, 23 September 2013.


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Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to be part of this event, as we advance our important work to advance women’s rights and gender equality. I thank Secretary Hillary Clinton and the other speakers and all of you. Together we can make the 21st century the century for women and girls.

I will lead UN Women with a focus on partnership, innovation, technology and learning, so we can deliver as one for women.

My vision is to make full use of technology and strengthen partnerships with people like you to make greater progress in our key priority areas. These are:

  • Ending violence against women, which affects one in three women worldwide;
  • Protecting and supporting women in conflict and post- conflict areas and fully involving women in peace and security work;
  • Advancing women’s economic empowerment;
  • Supporting gender aware budgeting and planning;
  • Expanding women’s leadership and participation; and 
  • Advancing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, reducing the poverty of women.

This means increasing girls’ access to education, reducing maternal deaths, expanding access to reproductive health services and protecting women’s reproductive rights. 

I believe that we can make greater progress in all of these areas by utilizing technology to connect women and girls to education, information, training and services. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Education has to be available for all girls and boys, and women and men no matter where they are. This requires a greater push for open source and open educational resources. We need teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain. 

Today women constitute about 40 per cent of the agricultural workforce in developing countries. UN Women will focus on women in rural areas and the poorest communities, with agriculture as a priority. Today too many poor women work the land without profiting from it. We want women to profit from agriculture, make a decent living, create more jobs and to be present in the full value chain. 

My vision is for every woman to enjoy equal opportunity and participation, and equal access to education, training, finance and technology. Equal access to Information and Communication Technology is critical as stated in a recent report of the Broadband Commission. Today there are 200 million fewer women online than men, and this gap could grow to 350 million within the next three years if urgent action is not taken. There is a gender gap in access to mobile phones of 300 million women. To make greater progress, we need to close the gender gap in access to Information and Communication Technology. 

UN Women aspires to be a game-changer through what we do. I intend to build a formidable UN Women with solid teams wherever we are, and with the resources we need to do our job. 

Moving forward, we will work to ensure that women’s rights and gender equality are central to the post-2015 international development agenda. We will work with governments, civil society, the private sector, the UN system, and individual women and men, and girls and boys.

I believe in the African idiom which says “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” 

It is my intention to go far together.

We hope to partner with you and your organizations.

Today UN Women has two CGI “commitments.” The first is our Knowledge Gateway for women’s economic empowerment, empowerwomen.org, which we launched this morning at the UN General Assembly. This online platform brings together women and business information, good practices and learning. Women can find everything they need, from preparing a business plan and marketing strategy to receiving training. 

The second programme, Gender and the Green Economy, is with Clinton Global Initiative and UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality. We will fund proposals from women around the world to advance the green economy as entrepreneurs, to make sure the green economy empowers and benefits women, and to address climate change in communities.   

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

We can achieve so much more together than we can alone. 

Today I would like to thank some of our corporate partners, including Coca Cola and Microsoft. It is my hope that many more corporations and good people will make financial contributions to UN Women and our Fund for Gender Equality. So far the Fund has benefitted 93 grantees in 69 countries and reached more than 80 million people.

Together we can close gender gaps, and make the most of technology to unleash the potential of half the world’s population. 

I look forward to working with you to make the 21st century the century for women and girls.