New York, US (PANA) - UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro, on Wednesday stressed the importance of education in raising the status of women in society.
She also called for greater investment in measures to ensure gender equality, deploring the fact that two-thirds of illiterate adults across the world were female.
``Investing in women and girls is a force multiplier,” Migiro told the opening of the two-week session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women at UN headquarters in New York.
She noted that, ``not only is education a key driver of economic growth, but it is also a catalyst for empowering women''.
She also pointed out that global commitments to achieving universal primary education and gender parity, at all levels of education, have had a beneficial impact on girls’ school enrolment and retention rates in many countries, but the quality of education has not kept pace, particularly in the developing world.
``Many children leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills. Girls and women are under-represented in science and technology, education and employment.
``They are simply not getting the knowledge and skills they need for today’s competitive and changing job market,'' the UN deputy scribe stated.
She, however, expressed the hope that, ``discussions at the session can help connect the dots among those key issues affecting women’s prospects and well-being''.
Migiro also said the launch of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) would galvanize worldwide efforts to realize the rights and opportunities of women and girls.
According to her: ``UN Women will build on the strong foundation of international norms and policies developed by the United Nations over decades. It will provide a strong and unified voice. It will work throughout the United Nations system to strengthen coherence
and to ensure accountability''.
She also encouraged the Commission on the Status of Women, a functional body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to explore ways to reinforce the new Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which aims to save the lives of more than 16 million women and children over the next four years.
Also speaking, Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women, noted that despite progress in the status of women in many fields, women continued to be trafficked, girls forced to drop out of school to get married and many women and girls lack access to social services.
``Worldwide, there are too few women who are at decision-making tables when peace, trade or climate change agreements are being negotiated,” Bachelet told members of the Commission.
She said: ``The specific and urgent challenges of reaching women especially in rural areas, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, is something that we need to hear more about''.
She also said that, ``the ways that women are affected by natural disasters, as well as conflict and displacement and the challenges they face gaining access to decision-making in every sector are also important topics for this body''.
Outlining UN Women’s priorities, Bachelet said the agency would focus on expanding women’s voice, leadership and participation, ending violence against women and strengthening the implementation of the women peace and security agenda.
Others are enhancing women’s economic empowerment and making gender equality a priority in national, local and sectoral planning and budgeting.
She also stressed the need for women to have equal access to ICT training and education as well as the new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities generated by ICTs.
``Women globally are challenging gender stereotypes about ICT users and demanding the right to participate in ICT research and development,” Bachelet added.
The priority theme of the Commission’s session this year is: ``Access and participation of women and girls in education, training and science and technology''.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 23Feb2011