“This is truly the century for women and girls” — Lakshmi Puri at the United State of Women Summit

Remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the United State of Women Summit, convened by the White House, on 14 June 2016 in Washington.


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Mr. President, distinguished panellists and participants, I am pleased to represent UN Women – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – at this summit.

UN Women is the only United Nations organization with the mandate to promote and realize the largest and most transformative and high impact project for humanity: accelerating progress for women and girls and realizing their rights worldwide. UN Women works with governments, civil society, private sector and other partners to advance global norms and standards on gender equality and women’s rights, is a global advocate and mobilizes all spheres of society to transform global commitments into reality for women and girls on the ground.

Last year, a historic gender equality compact was adopted by all governments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with truly transformative, comprehensive and universal ambition. Promising to ‘leave no one behind’, the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals address a fundamental environmental, economic and social issues and position the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment as a precondition and necessary outcome of sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda with its Goal 5 on achieving not just promoting gender equality and empowering all women and girls, has six targets. They commit to:

  • end all forms of discrimination in law and practice;
  • eliminate violence against women and girls, including harmful practices such as child marriage;
  • women’s equal participation and leadership in all levels of political, economic and public life;
  • recognize and redistribute unpaid care work and provide for public services, infrastructure and social protection
  • ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

The Agenda promotes women’s economic rights and independence by calling for decent work, equal pay and equal rights to economic resources – such as land, property, technology and financial services.

None of these will be possible without the full engagement of the whole of society. UN Women launched the HeForShe campaign to engage men and boys and promote male responsibility for the achievement of gender equality. Our youth strategy engages young men and women as part of this chorus of activism. I am pleased to see that President Obama has made specific commitments in the context of our campaign Planet 5050 by 2030: Step it up for gender equality.

I call on the United States of America and the United State of Women to be part of this global movement for gender equality. You can be flag bearers and prove that gender equality is not just an American dream, but a mission possible, and that too within this generation. This means women and girls are safe and free from violence in their homes, at work and in public spaces; women participate at all levels of government and in the private sector; and women have jobs that make them economically independent and guarantee a decent standard of living, from birth to old age.

We count on your leadership to ensure that this is truly the century for women and girls.