New York- UN (PANA) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that empowering women was vital to achieve peace and security, improved living standards and respect for human rights.
Ban made the statement in New York at Americans for UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Gala for the Health and Dignity of Women.
"Today, we understand, even better than our founders did, that the empowerment of women is a fundamental condition, if we are to make progress towards the goals for which the United Nations was created,'' he said.
He noted that too many women died during pregnancy and childbirth because their right to sexual and reproductive health was denied.
The secretary-general noted that too many women had also been infected with HIV because they did not have the power to protect their own health, while others were subjected to violence.
He described violence against women as "one of the most systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world''.
The UN chief said: "All of this underscores the importance of UNFPA's efforts, which needs to be understood and needs to be supported'.
" He encouraged Americans for UNFPA to continue their support "for this vital UN agency'', saying that by doing so they were "contributing directly to the health and dignity of women in nations all over the world''.
The Pan African News Agency (PANA) at the UN, reports that organisers of the event honoured four Americans from the media, financial and political fields, along with women from Niger, Mongolia and Cambodia.
They were honoured for combining passion and entrepreneurship with social responsibility to advance the health and dignity of women.
The group also honoured Ted Turner, who Ban called "one of the staunchest allies of the United Nations and of women around the world'', with its Lifetime Achievement Award.