Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite used her address to the United Nations today to call for much greater coordinated efforts to achieve global gender equality.
“Gender equality issues are rarely associated with overcoming the economic crisis or stopping climate change,” she told the General Assembly on the opening day of its annual session, held at UN Headquarters in New York.
“However, it has been estimated that the elimination of gender discrimination in the labour market could increase the GDP [gross domestic product] by as much as 30 per cent.”
Ms. Grybauskaite stressed that gender equality on a global scale will only become possible when a certain level of security and economic development has been achieved.
“Let us put all our efforts together to eradicate intolerance and discrimination which so often are the main reasons for so many conflicts in the world,” she said. “Security, environment and gender equality – all are interdependent. And all need to be adequately addressed on the international agenda. It is a prerequisite for ensuring sustainable development.”
Steven Vanackere, Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Belgium, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), welcomed the creation of the new UN Women entity, combining the functions of several UN bodies entrusted with gender equality and the protection and advancement of women.
“It has my country’s full support,” he said. “Of course gender will need to stay a mainstream theme influencing the actions of each and every UN institution.”
Mr. Vanackere also called for the UN to become more representative and voiced the hope that negotiations on enlarging the Security Council will soon lead to concrete results.
For his part, Slovakian President Ivan Gašparoviè told the Assembly that his country also welcomed the creation of UN Women.
“We believe that this entity will help curb all forms of violence against women,” he said, adding that Slovakia also backs the work of the Secretary-General’s first ever Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallström, who was appointed to the post near the start of this year.