Remarks by Executive Director at the a side event on Engaging Men and Boys to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls

Remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at a side event on Engaging Men and Boys to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls, New York, 12 March 2014


[Check against delivery]

Thank you, Mr. Baettig for the introduction.

It is a pleasure to join you all here today.

I would like to thank the Permanent Missions of Brazil and Switzerland, as well as the MenEngage alliance, for partnering with us to organize this event.

Since my first day as Executive Director of UN Women, I have been working on engaging with men and boys.

Last week in an interview, I said that it was a strange sight: UN Women is looking for men!

But gender equality is not a women’s issue – it is an issue for us all.

The gender equality agenda has been led by the women’s movement for decades, and I salute the achievements we have made.

All of us have benefited from this relentless advocacy and activism.

But we will not succeed without engaging more forcefully the other half of humanity – men and boys.

Gender equality is about transforming unequal power relations between men and women.

It is about changing institutions, changing economic and social structures that perpetuate discrimination.

It is about breaking social norms and gender stereotypes that limit opportunities for women and girls and constrict men and boys to certain roles.

And so working with men and boys, transforming masculinities and traditional perceptions of manhood must be part of the gender equality agenda.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action recognized this.

It emphasized the principle of shared power and responsibility between women and men at home, in the workplace, and in the wider national and international communities.

But these principles were not carried forward sufficiently in the MDG framework – a real missed opportunity.

Nevertheless, we have seen successful initiatives on engaging men and boys to achieve the MDGs for women and girls.

Particularly in MDG 4 and 5 to reduce child and maternal mortality, and in MDG 6 to fight HIV and AIDS.

These programmes have addressed and engaged men in their roles as sons, fathers, husbands, partners, elders, educators, journalists, and leaders.

They have used soap operas and pop music, websites and hotlines, peer educators and group counsellors, games and theatre productions, radio and talk shows.

UN Women has been part of these efforts.

In Mozambique, we developed the “Men in the Kitchen” programme with partners.

1,600 young men have already participated in the programme to improve men’s participation in domestic activities.

In Georgia, we have engaged the National Rugby Union in a campaign to end violence against women.

In Fiji, we are working with the Ministry of Education – working in schools to change negative masculinity and end gender-based violence.

A similar programme in Rwanda worked with 3,000 local male leaders to promote women’s rights.

Now is the time to scale up such programmes.

Engaging men and boys must be central to achieving gender equality in the post-2015 development agenda.

Three days into this CSW session, some key messages are already emerging.

I am hearing strong calls for a new agenda that is comprehensive, transformative and rights-based.

To achieve greater progress, it must tackle structural inequality.

With 1 in 3 women worldwide experiencing gender-based violence, it must forcefully address violence against women.

It must address women’s unpaid care work, and unequal access to productive assets and resources, such as land and finance.

And it must address unequal decision-making.

Women should be able to make their own decisions and to be equally represented in decision making positions.

This is a powerful agenda, but progress will depend on political commitment from all of us.

That is why last Friday, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, I launched the “He for She” campaign.

This campaign is part of our build-up to Beijing+20.

It encourages men all over the world to speak out against inequality faced by women and girls.

It ties in elements of social media, online engagement and mobile communications, to engage and connect with audiences worldwide.

The campaign has already reached over 19 million people on social media since launching!

My goal is to create a global movement that engages the whole of humanity.

I call on all of you to join the He for She campaign!

Thank you.