Closing remarks by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the First Regular Session of the UN Women Executive Board

Date: Friday, February 14, 2020

[As delivered]

I want to start with some critical announcements. The 6th of March will be the day that we mark International Women’s Day at the General Assembly from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We will do it that day because the 8th of March is on a Sunday.I would like to encourage you to invite as many people as possible. We are fortunate to have the Prime Minister of Finland as our guest that day. This Prime Minister is delivering, and she is Generation Equality in every way. We think that it will really make a statement and there will be other items and discussions that I think you will find very exciting—from Beijing 1995 to 2020—and we will reflect the different age groups.

Also, I would like to remind you, especially the countries from the Global South, to do everything you can to encourage your countries to consider participating effectively in Generation Equality – especially making themselves available as either leaders or participants in the Action Coalition.

I want to emphasize the fact that at the [Generation Equality] Forum in Mexico, which will have a focus on leadership and celebrating women leaders, we will invite women Heads of State. So, those of you who come from countries where you have a woman Head of State or a Vice President who is a woman, please put in a good word for us and encourage them to attend. Otherwise, we will be happy to have participation at a ministerial level.

In France, [at the Generation Equality Forum] we will be happy to have participation at a Head of State level, but it has to be specially to announce groundbreaking contributions. It is not a Heads of State forum, it is a civil society forum. So, Heads of State are there as partners who are coming to show their support for civil society by announcing groundbreaking announcements. I want to make sure that you do not think that this will be presidential—it is not a General Assembly. The General Assembly in September in New York will be the forum for Heads of State.

Going back to today’s events, we appreciated the many helpful remarks. We heard 23 statements, including one that was on behalf of a group of 15 countries. We appreciated your good wishes for our birthday on the 2nd of July. But we also appreciate the fact that you made it clear that you expect us to be much stronger in our second decade and to demonstrate better expertise.

We also were very happy to hear your excitement over the anniversaries and seeing 2020 the way we see it; that it is the moment to leapfrog, to accelerate. Anniversaries tend to do that. When it’s your wedding anniversary you reflect how far you have come. If it is your birthday, you reflect. If it is the beginning of the year, you reflect, and you commit to doing things better. And this year we are hoping that these anniversaries will also have that same effect, except that in our case it is really ambitious because we are having to leapfrog, because we have been moving very slow, and we are saying that now is the time for giant steps. We just cannot afford baby steps anymore. It cannot be incremental change. We want change that is fast, but also it must be change that lasts. That is the caveat.

I thank Costa Rica for their statement, which highlighted the importance of eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment, and all other forms of abuse of power in the workplace, and that we have to take a victim-centred approach in the interventions made.

We appreciated and noted the concern of Sierra Leone about the closing of its country office and the risks of reversing the achievements made, and we will continue to work with them.

On the UK’s point, as I answered earlier, we noted their concern and contribution, which was on behalf of 23 countries. We also noted their welcome of the increased coherence with the funding compact and the update on the change management process.

Switzerland, we appreciated your statement on the Midterm Review of the Strategic Plan (MTR). We saw that your statements, by and large, were about looking at ways in which we could make the next decade truly action oriented.

I know we did not touch on the issue of climate a lot in our discussion today, but hopefully that would come in our implementation, and the urgency of having a truly action-packed decade.

Your comments showed an appreciation that the contribution that we are looking for in Generation Equality cannot depend on ODA and that we need to do everything to galvanize support from other sources. I am asking you to help us as well in your own countries to identify other new sources of funding, other partners that can come and add value to the Action Coalitions.

And then, in the next five years, we should be engaged in a fast sprint that takes us to 2025, at which point we should be so strong that we are ready to move to 2030.

We also appreciated your highlighting the role of young people and the emphasis on inclusion of disabled people. Again, this also augurs well for us.

Hopefully, we will be hearing something good about the decision on Working Methods of the Executive Board. We are very expectant at this moment.

We also noted all that was said about our financial situation and appreciated the discussion on improving the quality of the Structured Dialogue on Financing.

I thank you for the very efficient meeting today and we think that this has been a very fruitful session; the first session of 2020.

We look forward to seeing you at CSW [Commission on the Status Women] with your young people and with your determination to get a bold outcome out of CSW.

Thank you.