“Take intense measures” to accelerate women’s full and equal participation in politics, leaders say in Chile


Many of the participants in the "Women in power and decision-making: Building a different world,” high-level event pose for a group photograph. Photo: UN Women/Mario Ruiz.


Santiago — More than 300 global leaders gathered today in Santiago, Chile, to take part in a high-level conference on women in power and decision-making as part of UN Women’s global Beijing+20 campaign. It aims to galvanize political support to achieve gender equality and honour commitments made by 189 governments to uphold the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The event was inaugurated by the President of Chile –and founding Executive Director of UN Women– Michelle Bachelet, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Attended by Heads of State, parliamentarians, UN and government representatives, the private sector, activists and a Nobel Laureate, the Conference will review the last 20 years in terms of achievements towards realizing women’s rights, especially in politics and the private sector.

Globally only one in five women are in parliament, and 19 women serve as Heads of State or Government. A Call to Action will be adopted on Saturday, the closing day of the Conference, with concrete recommendations on how progress can be accelerated and on the way forward. This outcome document will be an important contribution to the 59th Commission on the Status of Women, which will take place from 9-20 March at UN Headquarters in New York.

In her opening address, President Bachelet said: “We need to energetically push for the presence of women in all decision-making and leadership spaces, not only as the final goal, but as a real lever that will allow us to change the inertia of all gender inequalities. Only by distributing the power equitably, by executing this power democratically, and by incorporating the two hemispheres of humanity, will we achieve a more legitimate political system and institutional order for all societies.”

In his opening remarks, Mr. Ban urged the political and private sectors to engage in more partnerships to mobilize substantial new resources. “We need to increase investments in gender equality to achieve a truly transformative new agenda for sustainable development. Failing to invest in women’s empowerment does not save funds – it wastes the opportunity to generate enormous returns in a country’s financial health and social stability.”

Throughout the opening day, attendees and leaders stressed the importance of accelerating women’s full and equal participation in decision-making in all sectors under the Beijing Platform for Action. Political parties were asked to create more spaces, and women were encouraged to increasingly take on their role as forerunners of change.

Reminding participants that it will take around 50 years to reach parity in the political arena if things move at the slow pace they have over the last decades, in her speech Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka urged participants to take concrete action, saying: “I am calling on everyone here today to take intense measures, and to frankly discuss what we can and must do differently.”

For more information on the conference, visit: Women and Power: Building a Different World. For more information on the Executive Director's first official visit to Chile, see our special coverage.