New York, US (PANA) - The Executive Director of UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Ms. Michelle Bachelet, said on Thursday that her priority this year is to enhance the economic empowerment and political participation of women.
Speaking at a news conference in New York to mark the agency's first anniversary, Ms. Bachelet however called for the support of the international community, as well as a concerted effort by the entire UN system, to ensure success.
"With rising demands for justice, upcoming elections in many countries and political transition, we have an opportunity to open doors wider for women. We simply can no longer afford to deny the full potential of one half of the population.
"The world needs to tap into the talent and wisdom of women. Whether the issue is food security, economic recovery, health, or peace and security, the participation of women is needed now more than ever,” she said.
The UN official also outlined the successes of UN Women over the past year, noting that she had focused on building a strong organization with clear goals and strategies to boost gender issues.
Bachelet also added the agency had so far established a presence in 75 countries.
"Examples of UN Women’s response to advance the cause of women’s equality included the support provided for women’s participation in constitutional reform, elections and political transition in Tunisia and Egypt. In October, UN Women called out for concrete proposals from governments and civil society in Arab States to support women’s political participation and empowerment.
"In response, we are providing US$4.8 million through the Gender Equality Fund to advance women’s empowerment in the Arab world,” she said.
Bachelet said the agency also provided support to candidates, political parties, voters, electoral commissions and legislative efforts in more than 25 countries last year to ensure that more women voted and got elected, adding: "This year, UN Women will support women’s movements in 52 countries."
She also disclosed that contributions to UN Women last year totalled US$235 million, a 33 per cent increase from 2010, and pledged that the agency would intensify its efforts to raise US$700 million for its work this year.
On women’s economic empowerment, Bachelet called for increased resources to fund projects to build capacity of women to enable them participate in economic activity.
“Unleashing women’s economic potential will make economic growth and recovery faster and more equitable. Economic empowerment makes other rights possible for women,” she said.
She said violence against women “diminished” humanity and cited UN Women’s first flagship report, entitled: "In Pursuit of Justice", which found that in many countries, the rule of law still excluded women.
"It is also found that legal reform, policy change, raising the number of women police and judges, and supporting women’s legal groups can ensure justice," Ms. Bachelet said.
She also underlined the need to include women in peace building efforts, pointing out that UN Women had taken steps to ensure that women played a central role in peace talks, and that those affected by conflict got justice.
"UN Women worked in more than 50 countries to build capacity on gender analysis and budgeting, using sex-disaggregated data to ensure gender sensitivity in the allocation of national resources," the UN official said.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 3Feb2012