UN: UN urges more action to achieve gender equality

New York, US (PANA) - Marking the International Women's Day on Sunday, senior UN officials
highlighted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189
governments 20 years ago that set the agenda for realizing women's rights.

They noted that while much has been achieved since then in areas such as education,
healthcare and the economy, many serious gaps remain, stressing that the UN will be in the forefront of efforts to highlight gender equality.

In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, stated: "We must acknowledge that the gains have been too slow and uneven, and that we must do far more to accelerate progress everywhere."

Ban said that the Beijing Conference took place following the conflict in the former Yugoslavia,
which had prompted deserved attention to rape and other war crimes there against civilians.

"Two decades later, with girls as young as seven not only targeted but used as weapons by
violent extremists, it would be easy to lose heart about the value of international gatherings,"
he said, urging the world to come together in response to the targeting of women and girls
by violent extremists.

"From Nigeria and Somalia to Iraq and Syria, the bodies of women have been transformed into
battle grounds; women have been attacked for trying to exercise their right to education and
basic services; they have been raped and turned into sex slaves; they have been given as
prizes to fighters; or traded among extremist groups in trafficking networks," he noted.

The UN chief said outrage needed to be translated into meaningful action and, as women and girls are often the first targets of attack, their rights had to be at the centre of the global
strategy to address the staggering and growing challenge.

He also said that women living in societies at peace remained targets of domestic abuse,
female genital mutilation and other forms of violence that traumatise individuals and damage
whole societies.

"Discrimination remains a thick barrier that must be shattered, and we need to expand
opportunities in politics, business and beyond," Ban added.

Also, in her message, the Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said the world remained far away from achieving equality between men and women, boys and girls, saying: "Not one single country has achieved equality."

She stated: "It is even more urgent than ever that we define – and stick to – a time frame in order to achieve gender equality, as not enough changed in the 20 years since Beijing,
particularly in least-developed countries."

"In Africa, 70 per cent of crop production depends on women yet women still own only two per cent of the land, and women need change and humanity needs change. This we can do together, women and girls, men and boys, young and old, rich and poor," she said.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also pointed out the "overwhelming" benefits that equality can bring, such as economic growth, poverty reduction, health status improvements and increased
resilience to environmental and humanitarian crises.

She stressed the importance of empowering women to empower humanity.

"We call on countries to 'step it up' for gender equality, with substantive progress by 2020. Our aim is to reach 'Planet 50:50' before 2030," she said.

On his part, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, called for participation of women in all discussions of strategic responses to extremist violence, discrimination and to deprivation of all kinds.

"States can seize this opportunity to go towards gender equality – genuinely challenging and dismantling the power structures and dynamics which perpetuate discrimination against women," he said.

Mr. Al-Hussein stated: "All of us, together: men, women, boys, girls – we all have to do this to eradicate gender discrimination. Let us make it happen."

PANA reports that the two-week-long UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to assess gender equality and progress achieved is scheduled to open on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York.

The Beijing Platform for Action, a blueprint for gender equality, in which a target was set to reach 30 per cent of women in decision making positions, turns 20 this year.

The Platform for Action was adopted in Beijing, China.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 8March2015

08 march 2015 17:18:35




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