We need to take big and bold leaps, not baby steps, forward for gender equality – Executive Director

Speech by UN Women Executive Director at "The Voices of African Women and Girls in the Post-2015 Development Agenda" side event, New York, 17 March 2014.


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Good afternoon!

I would like to thank the World YWCA and ACORD for organizing this important event. Of course, you are both key partners for UN Women.

We appreciate ACORD’s efforts in promoting women’s voices in the post-2015 dialogue. Especially through the publication “African Women and Girls – their say on their world post 2015”.

And we appreciate the far-reaching work of the World YWCA to empower women and girls!

This Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is taking place at an historic moment.

As we lead up to the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as we accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and as we discuss the future post-2015 – we must seize this opportunity to bring women and girls to the centre of the global agenda.

It is no small task, and we all have a lot of work to do.

Inter-generational dialogue is absolutely essential to making existing and future commitments reality. Everyone, from all generations, must play their part.

Twenty years ago, the Beijing Platform for Action called for the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic and cultural life.

While progress has occurred, it has been slow, uneven, and – let’s be honest – just not good enough.

MDG 3 signaled that gender equality is a priority. But the Goals omitted important issues including important issues such as violence against women, forced and early marriage, women and girls’ unpaid care work, and many more.

We, the people of the world, have one more year to shape a new development framework. Our task is to ensure that it integrates the highest standards on gender equality, building on the MDGs, and the agreements we have already secured. 

Because the lesson we have learned is that without gender equality at its core, any framework will be inadequate.

The MDG Report of 2013 highlights that persistent gender inequality continues to undermine all efforts in achieving the MDGs. In the next two years we must change that.

We need to take big and bold leaps, not baby steps, forward for gender equality. We need discussion, engagement and action, and we must reach out across age groups, genders and borders.

A vibrant movement must embrace and bring together women and girls, men and boys, at all stages of life.

As the head of UN Women, I can assure you that we are committed to listening to women and girls, amplifying their voices, and making sure that their interests and needs are a priority.

My friends, as we campaign for equality, we have a strong argument on our side. We have all the evidence on our side. And I know that we have history on our side!

I look forward to working together with you for gender equality and progress for all. Forward ever, backward never!

Thank you very much.