When Women Empowered, All Benefit

International Women Leaders Global Security Summit

New York – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro recently highlighted the importance of empowering women to build healthier, better educated, more peaceful and more prosperous societies.

“Study after study has shown us that when women are fully empowered and engaged, all of society benefits,” Ms. Migiro told the International Women Leaders Global Security Summit in New York.

“Only in this way can we successfully take on the enormous challenges confronting our world, from conflict resolution and peacebuilding, to fighting AIDS, and, reaching all the other Millennium Development Goals,” she stated, referring to the ambitious set of anti-poverty targets the world has pledged to achieve by 2015.

She recalled that at the 2005 World Summit, leaders declared that gender equality and human rights for all are essential to advancing development, peace and security. Five years before that, the Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

But while global goals and commitments on women’s empowerment are in place, “we still have far to go in implementing them fully, from school enrollment to women’s economic independence, and representation in decision-making bodies,” she stated.

The Deputy Secretary-General noted that in almost all countries, women continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions; their work continues to be undervalued; and violence against women and girls continues unabated worldwide.

“Changing all this requires all of us – women and men – to work for enduring change in values and attitudes,” she said. “It means working in partnership: Governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. It means men assuming their responsibility. It means ensuring that women and girls enjoy their full rights, and take up their rightful place in society.”

With regard to tackling violence against women in particular, she recalled that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had earlier this year urged the Security Council to establish a mechanism to monitor that scourge, within the framework of resolution 1325. He had also encouraged Member States to consider proposals to strengthen the UN’s “gender architecture.”

“The Secretary-General and I believe we could significantly advance our cause by replacing several current structures with one dynamic UN entity,” she stated. “Such a new body should be able to call on all of the UN system’s resources in the work to empower women and realize gender equality worldwide.”