The countdown to 2030 starts today – Executive Director

Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the UN Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September.


[Check against delivery]

Madam Chair,
Distinguished guests,

I take this opportunity to join others that have come before me in congratulating the General Assembly on the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Today is day one on a trip that will take us to September 2030. Today is the day when we are planning to create a world that will be different from the world as we know it today. A girl that is born today and who will be 15 in 2030 must experience a totally different world.

This is a mission that is possible, a mission that we can accomplish.

The countdown to 2030 starts today.

We have an enormous responsibility to the women and girls of the future to fulfill the promise that we made today.

The Sustainable Development Goals should hold the promise to transform our world for the better. A world where gender equality is achieved, where a girl can truly be and do whatever she wants to be and do, and women are able to participate equally in leadership across all areas of society.

In 2030, we should have in this room more women presidents, more women CEOs of companies, more generals in armies who are women, more presidents of universities who are women.

Implementation of this agenda must now become a top priority. It must be a priority for us as international organizations, as countries, as civil society, as private sector, as young people and as ordinary people who are not affiliated with any specialized body. And it must be a top agenda for our leaders.

As UN Women, we look forward in this regard to the commitments that will be made by Heads of State and Government on 27 September at the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which will be convened for the first time, but hopefully not for the last time. At this meeting, we will document the commitments that leaders will make, which will attempt to close the gaps that we identified in the review of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. At the same time, they will also be kickstarting the Sustainable Development Agenda. And this will mean that we have begun to institutionalize gender equality and women’s empowerment at the very top.

With youth strongly involved and closely engaged, the future will be bright.

National budgets must be realistically funded to make this viable, with gender-responsive budgeting, to support women’s machineries, and women’s organizations – including UN Women.

UN Women intends to track the progress that we are going to make from year one. We intend to establish a mechanism that will allow us to measure where we are today, track how we shape progress, and hold each other accountable.

This is a global agenda in which success or failure of any one of us will help or hinder collective results.

Civil society is critical in this regard. It has shouldered this Agenda so far and has collaborated in the most systematic way with governments.

There are key areas in which we need to see immediate action, where we are asking leaders to frontload strategic action so that we can see positive results sooner than later, in fact by 2020.

We must repeal as soon as possible the discriminatory laws and enact laws that are beneficial to women and girls.

We must prevent and respond to violence against women, including the growing and under- regulated scourge of cybercrime.

We must make sure that extremism that affects women, including women human rights defenders, is addressed in a most systematic way.

We must make sure of equal representation of women in decision-making and leadership in political, social and economic spheres.

We must ensure that girls’ education goes beyond secondary education. We must make sure that those that have dropped out get “second chances”. We must ensure that girls have access to services for their reproductive health and that their sexual and reproductive rights are respected.

Men and boys must be partners. They must say no to violence against women, no to early marriage, no to female genital mutilation, and no to unequal pay. Men must lead in this regard.

Creating a world with greater equality for generations to come is the defining and most urgent challenge of this century.

We will know that we have succeeded in achieving gender equality when all women and girls – irrespective of who they are or where they live, can enjoy equal rights, and equal access to justice, power, resources and opportunities.

We will truly know that this Agenda is an agenda for all. It is the future we want.

UN Women stands ready to be an integral part of this journey.