Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri marks the 70th anniversary of the UN in Prague


UN Women Deputy Executive Director and UN Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri was one of the keynote speakers at the official event to mark the United Nations’ 70th anniversary in the Czech Republic. Held on 1 June, the conference, entitled “70 Years in the United Nations: Sustainable Development as a Challenge and Opportunity”, brought together 300 representatives of mostly local institutions including government, NGOs, business and academia.

“Seventy years ago, the United Nations was founded on the ashes of World War II,” she said. “The organization has since contributed to progress in development, peace and security and human rights. As we are facing new global challenges, in 2015, we have the historic opportunity to define a future agenda that delivers transformative change that people – women and men – around the world are demanding, and deserve.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, Lakshmi Puri, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek Photo: Czech Republic/Office of the Government. Photo: UNIC Prague

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek opened the Conference at the Grand Hall of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ms. Puri held bilateral meetings with both, highlighting the role and mandate of UN Women, advocating for major gender equality campaigns and inviting both leaders to join the HeForShe campaign.

“Women in the Czech Republic have been enjoying the right to vote since 1918 and the employment rate of women has been one of the highest worldwide. Gender equality, though, remains a relevant goal,” said Prime Minister Sobotka.

Ms. Puri offered assistance and technical support to the Government on the development of legislation and welcomed their enthusiasm to take part in several advocacy initiatives.

On the first day of her mission, Ms. Puri also met with the Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation, Jiri Dienstbier, and held public discussions with NGOs and UN agencies at the UN Information Centre in Prague, as well as with students at the Charles University School of Law.

Lakshmi Puri university (enhanced, readable logo HFS): Czech Republic PR to the UN in New York Edita Hrda, Charles University Prague Rector, Prof. Tomas Zima, Charles University Schoold of Law Dean, Prof. Jan Kuklik, LP. Photo: UNIC Prague

Ms. Puri promoted UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, the Minister for Human Rights, the Rector of Charles University and Dean of the Law School all signing on. They promised to champion the campaign, including among other faculty and parliamentarians.

“Gender equality is a human right and one of the basic principles of democracy. Everyone should be committed to promoting gender equality regardless gender,” Minister Dienstbier told Ms. Puri.