Monday, September 16, 2013

UN Women Chief: Access to education for girls is vital to lift millions out of poverty

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Nanette Braun, Chief of Communications and Advocacy, address press. Photo Credit: UN Women
“Facilitating access to education for women and girls is vital to lift millions out of poverty and must be a priority for Governments and international organizations,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on September 12.

The new Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), who was speaking in New York during her first press conference, said: "Education is one of the founding services that all women and girls need to access in order for us to make a difference."

"Education is the foundation for everything we need to do to succeed," Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said following her appointed in July and her taking up the post in August. This issue will feature prominently in the entity's agenda as part of a push to accelerate the achievement of the anti-poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she added.

One of the goals of the MDGs is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

However, the head of the UN entity tasked with advancing gender equality, said it is not only crucial to facilitate access to education for girls but also to reduce the number of girls who drop out of school.

According to the UN News Service, Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka has several priorities in her agenda. One of which is ensuring women's reproductive health rights.

"I see reproductive health and reproductive rights as an essential building block on which we need to serve the women, and I see economic empowerment as another important layer. Having those layers we can then address poverty and we will be able to lead to women's emancipation. All of these are integral," she was quoted as saying.

But, she noted that working with men and boys is also important as they play an important role in actively fighting for the emancipation of women. While it is important to empower women and have their voices be heard, it is also important to strengthen national institutions to better serve women's needs, she added.

Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka’s hope and vision is “that together, and using the existing agreements as well as conventions, we are at a position where we can be game changers as far as supporting women's emancipation."

She stressed the need for women's voices to be heard, served by public institutions and must feel the service that public institutions are bringing to them. In doing this, she added that UN Women will seek to collaborate and coordinate with organizations and institutions within and outside the UN with both the expertise and the resources to advance women's interests.

Another priority for the UN Women boss is to increase funding for the entity.

She outlined that UN Women will seek to work with Member States to increase their contributions, as well explore ways to diversify funding sources from the private sector, foundations, philanthropists and individuals.

UN Women is currently looking to raise $100 million by the end of 2013, according to UN News Service. Source: UN News Center
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