Deputy UN chief cites need to move from commitment to action on gender equality

1 March 2010
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro

While there have been advances over the past 15 years to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, there is still a clear need to move from commitment to action in several key areas, the Deputy Secretary-General said today at the start of a two-week United Nations meeting on women.

Addressing the opening of the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Asha-Rose Migiro noted that many countries have achieved gains in various areas, including education and the development of national laws, policy and programmes, thanks in no small part to the efforts of women’s groups and networks around the world.

“More and more people now understand that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security,” she told delegates gathered at UN Headquarters.

This year’s session of the Commission marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 – which remains the most comprehensive global policy framework to achieve the goals of gender equality, development and peace.

The Platform called for action on 12 key issues: poverty, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and girls.

Member States, representatives of civil society and the private sector are meeting for two weeks to assess what has been achieved since the Beijing Conference, share experiences and good practices and discuss priority actions to deal with persistent obstacles and new challenges.

Among the areas where progress has lagged is in tackling the scourge of violence against women, said Ms. Migiro. “Violence is the most blatant manifestation of discrimination against women, but it is not the only one. Injustice and inequality persist in developing and developed countries and in all regions.”

In addition, she also noted that women still outnumber men among the world’s poorest people, and that two-thirds of illiterate adults are women – a statistic that has not changed in 20 years.

“We have also seen limited progress on reproductive health. Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high. Almost all these deaths could be prevented,” said the Deputy Secretary-General.

“So, while we have seen advances in the past 15 years, we have not seen enough,” she stated. “The message emanating from the regional meetings held in preparation for this CSW session is clear – we need to move from commitment to action.”

She urged participants to use the current session to explore how to scale up and better support the many good and promising practices worldwide, and build on the good lessons learned over the years in areas such as education, participation in decision-making, maternal health and ending violence against women.

Ms. Migiro added that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has designated gender equality and women’s empowerment as priority areas with clear opportunities for progress.


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