International Women's Day

8 MARCH 2014 | GLOBAL

Leaders say gender equality is everyone’s responsibility

7 March 2014 | UN Headquarters, New York — A high-level event held at the United Nations in observance of International Women’s Day brought together top international leaders to reflect on the achievements and challenges in addressing the needs and priorities of women and girls in implementing the MDGs and in the formulation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda. It was also an opportunity to reinforce the call for equality and empowerment and the need to make women and girls central players in the future.

During the discussions, panelists acknowledged the importance of full engagement of men and boys in achieving equality. Such commitment it was felt, should be reflected not just in national and international frameworks but, in daily practice in communities and families and embedded in the social fabric of society, allowing boys to grow up into men who respect women and girls.

While unveiling a new powerful campaign -HeForShe, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN, made a stirring call for men and boys to add their voice in telling the world why they believe all women and girls should have equal rights, and what everyone can do individually to support them.

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of the United Nations

“There have been important advances – more girls in schools, more women in parliaments. Yet progress has been far too slow and uneven. A baby girl born today will still face inequality and discrimination, no matter where her mother lives. We must commit to her right to live free from the violence that affects one in three women globally; to equal pay for equal work; to an equal say in the decisions that affect her life; and to her fundamental right to decide if and when she will have children, and how many she will have.
 To every girl born today, and to every woman and girl on the planet, our message is that human rights are not a dream. They are a duty for which we must all work until they are universally realized.”

H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe President of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly

“If we are to realize our vision for a world in which women and girls can achieve their full potential, we must address the root causes of gender inequality. We must reaffirm that women and men, boys and girls have equal rights and do our utmost to ensure a woman’s right to sexual and reproductive health. Let me be clear: we want to ensure that women and girls take their rightful place in the new development paradigm we are all aiming for, not only because it is critical for development, but also because equality is their right.”

H.E. Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton Former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator

“The more data that we have the more we find what we knew in our hearts was true all along that when women and girls thrive, societies thrive. Just as women's rights are human rights, women's progress is human progress. For all the achievements made, this is the big unfinished business of the 21st century."

“Women and girls and the cause for gender equality must be at the heart of our new development agenda both because it is the right thing to do and evidence proves it is the smart thing to do.”

Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

“The response we need, needs to be bigger and bolder, and we need to act so that women’s equality can be a game changer for women and girls, but also for humanity. Together we can choose to be liberators or risk being footnotes of history. That bold action is to embed women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality in all we do, now and beyond 2015 and provide measurements and modalities that will give us significant impact that is transformative." The 21st century offers an opportunity for a big leap forward not baby steps.”

Ms. Andrea Nunez Vice President of the World YWCA Board

I am here today as young woman and as a young leader as the president of the World YWCA, but there are many young women who are not here and maybe they will never be. Let’s change that, recognize us young women as leaders, as people with knowledge, perspective, insight and solutions on the core issues of today-peace, development and human rights.

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