UN: UN official urges more rapid change for gender equality

New York, US (PANA) - The Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Lakshmi Puri has
stressed the need for more rapid advancements on gender equality, saying the pace of change
since the 1995 World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, on many issues has not been
sufficient and major disparities between genders remain.

Speaking Thursday at an event in New York, held on the margins of the current session
of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Ms. Puri said the world had witnessed
"numerous improvements" in women’s lives in fields such as employment and education
since Beijing, but equality was still elusive.

"No sector or country has met the standards laid out in Beijing, where gender equality is a
reality, while we should rejoice at the progress made when we look back and see where we
are at present. We do have to convey a strong message that we need to take every step,
every measure, every law, every programme in order to push the pace and push the
envelope on this issue.

"Otherwise, we are going to take almost another century to get to Planet 50:50 by 2030, and
this is absolutely not acceptable," she stated.

She called for evaluation of the progress achieved, but also of the gaps, with a focus on what
the challenges have been and on how to get to Planet 50:50 by 2030.

The Beijing Platform for Action, the UN official noted, mandated the full participation of women
in the public, private and governmental realms.

"It also affirms that the equal and active participation of women is fundamental for the
achievement of equality, development and peace,” she said, going on to note the demands it
made of the UN system as well.

Ms. Puri said responsibility for implementing the Beijing Platform lay at the highest level,
pointing to the proven importance of the role of senior leaders in catalysing and bringing
about change, while highlighting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a good example
of a leader who had stood behind positive change.

She, however, noted that even within the UN system, the situation of women faced significant
challenges and had not achieved the aims of the Beijing Platform.

"Good progress but not enough," she said, adding that "the slow rate meant it would take
until 2043 for some parts of the UN to achieve full gender parity, and so even we are not
going to be able to say 50:50 by 2030 if we do not speed up."

Also speaking, Ms. Deborah Gillis, CEO of research advisory organisation Catalyst,
described the research her company has done and the significance of the data produced.

"Clearly there is so much work ahead, and significant movement in the percentages of
women in several sectors of economies," she noted.

She said "the extent of those moves had been nowhere near the expectations,
and the picture that emerges from this data is that we have failed to make the significant
progress that we would hoped to."

Ms. Gillis stressed the need to shift that picture and accelerate change, and called for
leadership commitment and individual intent.

She also underlined the importance of engaging men and abandoning the idea that gender
equality was an issue about women, for women, run by women.

"It really must be a multi-sector focus for us to really see the kinds of achievements that
we really all are in for," she said, noting that "men need to be core to that conversation,
and we need to find more ways to empower them to make change happen."
-0- PANA AA/AR 19Mar2015

19 march 2015 18:25:24

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