Executive Director press statement for noon press briefing at UN

Press Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for Briefing of UN Correspondents, at the UN, New York, 6 March 2014


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Good afternoon, I am glad to see you all.

As you know the International Women’s Day is on 8 March, and the UN observance will be held tomorrow morning. This year’s theme is “Equality for women is progress for all”.

This will be my first International Women’s Day since I became the Executive Director of UN Women. This day is a legacy of the grass-roots movement that has pushed gender equality and women’s empowerment in the last century.

I salute the women in trade unions who on this day more than a century ago, called for better working conditions, peace and bread. Their call is still valid today.

Nearly 20 years after the Beijing Women’s Conference, and 15 years after the Millennium Summit, we look back with pride at the achievements that have been made. More women are working. More girls are in school. Fewer women die in pregnancy and childbirth.

But we also know that progress has been slow and uneven.

As the Millennium Development Goals draw to a close, the Commission on the Status of Women will convene its 58th session next week to spotlight the achievements made and the gaps that remain in the lives of the world’s women and girls.

More than 6,000 Representatives from 855 civil society organizations have registered for the high-level meeting.

At least 135 events will be held organized by UN agencies at the UN Headquarters in New York, alongside the official meetings of the Commission. Also planned are more than 300 parallel events hosted by the NGO community.

This session comes at a critical time as UN Member States are defining the future post-2015 global development agenda.

The Commission provides an opportunity to reinforce the centrality of women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs and chart the course for a transformational post-2015 development agenda.

UN Women welcomes the strong support by UN Member States for the inclusion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the new development agenda, in particular the call by many Member States for a dedicated goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Such a goal must address the greatest challenges women and girls face: unacceptable levels of violence; lack of access to resources and opportunities; and insufficient voice in decision-making at all levels.

If we act decisively towards this goal, we can move towards solving the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

Solutions are there. Women spend the majority of their income on the well-being of their families.  Providing decent work and raising women’s labour force participation increases economic growth.

By keeping girls in school longer with quality education, they can play their full role in society and build stronger families, communities and democracies.

By supporting women’s equal representation in leadership positions in peacemaking, in communities, in politics, in business and in religious institutions, we will build a more just, peaceful and secure world.

And by working with men and boys, we will engage humanity in a task that is a responsibility for all.

The way forward cannot be business as usual. The 21st century has to be different for every woman and girl in the world.

That is why I am making a global call for the SHE Imperative.

So SHE can be secure and safe from gender-based violence.

So SHE has human rights that are respected, including reproductive rights.

So SHE has economic empowerment, equal opportunity, education and leadership and full participation.

Together we can make the 21st century the century for equality between men and women.

I invite you to please join us tomorrow for the commemoration of International Women’s Day, which will be in the Trusteeship Council.

Thank you.