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Empowering women is central to unlocking the economic potential of rural communities, says Bachelet

[UN Women, New York, 12 May 2011] At the opening session of the of the Fourth UN Conference of the Least Developed Countries (LDCIV), government representatives and high-level leaders, including UN Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Ms. Michelle Bachelet, came together to analyze and discuss the challenges as well as progress made within least developed countries.

Ms. Bachelet was one of a number of speakers, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Managing Director Mr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and government representatives, who stressed the need to promote gender equality within rural communities during the opening session, chaired by H.E. President of the Turkish Republic and the Government of Turkey Abdullah Gül.

“Globally, rural areas have lagged far behind in terms of progress on all of the MDG indicators, including those related to gender equality,” Ms. Bachelet said. “This is particularly significant for the LDCs, since more than 70 percent of their populations live in rural areas.”

In her speech, Ms. Bachelet spelled out the measures that need to be taken to make gender equality and women’s empowerment central in the next Istanbul Plan of Action to be adopted as forward looking recommendations to the LDCIV. In particular, she highlighted the need for greater investment in agriculture and rural development as well as women and girls’ access to healthcare, education, labour-saving technology as well as clean and renewable energy in rural communities.

During the session, participants assessed the implementation of the Brussels Plan of Action. Special emphasis was put on the need to enhance the productive capacity of the LDCs, promote potentials for agricultural development, health, education and trade, address climate change, increase aid for trade, oversees development assistance, good governance and accountability.

Speakers at the opening session included H.E. President of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni, H.E. Prime Minister of Nepal Jhala Nath Khanal, H.R.H First Lady of Bahrain Sheikha Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, President of the European Commission Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the General Assembly Mr. Joseph Deiss, Director-General of the World Trade Organization Mr. Pascal Lamy.

UN Women is hosting several events at the LDC IV Conference in Istanbul, Turkey (9-13 May 2011). The events will highlight the contribution of women, particularly rural women, in the least developed countries, and spotlight how best to unlock their economic potential to accelerate development.

For more information visit the official website.

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