Friday, March 18, 2011

UN Director charts on gender equality and women’s rights

The agenda to secure gender equality and women’s rights is a global agenda, a challenge for every country, rich and poor, north and south, the Executive Director of United Nations (UN) Women Michelle Bachelet has said.
“It was in recognition of both its universality and the rewards if we get this right that the United Nation brought together four existing organizations to create the UN Women,” she said on the occasion of the hundred year marking International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011.
The theme for this year is “Equal access to education, training, science and technology” and Bachelet said it underscores the need to tap this potential. The goal of this new body, UN Women, is to galvanize the entire UN System in order to deliver on the promises of the UN Charter on Equal Rights for Men and Women.  
Going into history, she said hundred years ago, women across the world took an historic step on the long road to equality. The first ever International Women’s Day was called to draw attention to the unacceptable and often dangerous working conditions that so many women face worldwide.
This occasion, she said was celebrated only in a handful of countries bringing over a million women out onto the streets, demanding not just better conditions at work but also the right to vote, to hold office and to be equal partners with men.
Since then there has been remarkable progress as the century has seen an unprecedented expansion of women’s legal rights and entitlements, she said.  “Indeed, the advancement of women’s rights can lay claim to be one of the most profound social revolution the world has seen.”
She said at the beginning of the century only two countries allowed women to vote, but today that right is virtually universal, and women have now been elected to lead governments in every continent.
“Far more recently than a century ago, the police, courts and neighbors still saw violence in the home as a purely private matter. Today two-thirds of countries have specific laws that penalize domestic violence, and the United Nations Security Council now recognizes sexual violence as a deliberate tactic of war,” she said.
However, she lamented that the hopes of equality expressed on that first International Women’s Day are a long from being realized. Almost two out of three illiterate adults are women.
Girls are still less likely to be in school than boys, every 90 seconds of every day, a woman dies in pregnancy or due to childbirth related complications despite them having the knowledge and resources to make birth safe.
“It is not just women who pay the price for this discrimination. We all suffer for failing to make the most of half the world’s talent and potential. We undermine the quality of our democracy, the strength of our economy, the heath of our societies and the sustainability of peace,” she stressed. Source - The Voice

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