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On eve of International Women's Day, Annan says all must work for equality

On eve of International Women's Day, Annan says all must work for equality

On the eve of International Women's Day - traditionally observed every year on 8 March - the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has emphasized the need for all members of society to work for gender equality.

"Let us all be mindful that the achievement of women's rights is not the responsibility of women alone - it is the responsibility of us all," Mr. Annan said in his message released in advance of Friday's commemorations. "Let us step up our efforts to create an environment where progress towards gender equality is not a daily struggle, but a natural part of all our actions."

The Secretary-General emphasized that success in this struggle would bring progress in other areas. "We are resolved to work for gender equality and the empowerment of women as vital tools to combat poverty and disease, and to achieve development that is truly sustainable; equally, we are determined to build on the contribution of women in managing conflict and building peace."

This year's commemorations of the Day are being held under the theme "Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities." In New York, the Secretary-General will be joined by United States First Lady Laura Bush in a commemorative meeting which organizers say will celebrate "the indomitable spirit, heroism and endurance of Afghan women," while showing global solidarity with their cause.