[UN Women, New York, 24 February 2011] The UN today celebrates the historic launch of UN Women, its newest organization, with an evening including luminaries from the worlds of politics, entertainment, business, the media, music and film in the UN General Assembly Hall.
UN Women, formally known as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, combines four previous UN bodies and represents the United Nations’ most ambitious effort ever to accelerate actions to achieve gender equality. Around the world, supporters of women’s rights have heralded its debut.
“With the birth of UN Women, we welcome a powerful new agent for progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The challenges are great, but I believe that with the new energy, the new momentum and the new authority that UN Women brings, these challenges will be met. True gender equality should be our shared legacy in the 21st Century.”
The Secretary-General appointed former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to be the first Executive Director of UN Women. Calling the launch the first of many important milestones in the global pursuit of gender equality, she emphasizes that the decision to establish UN Women reflects ongoing frustration with the slow pace of change. UN Member States unanimously agreed to create the new organization, following longstanding advocacy by women’s activists.
“Think of how much more we can do once women are fully empowered as active agents of change and progress within their societies,” Ms. Bachelet says. “Historically, we are at a point of great potential and change for women. Now we must seize that opportunity.”
She adds, “My own experience has taught me that there is no limit to what women can do.”
UN Women will support individual countries in moving towards gender equality in economics and politics, and ending the worldwide phenomenon of violence against women. It will assist in setting international standards for progress, and lead coordinated UN efforts to make new opportunities for women and girls central to all UN programmes for development and peace.
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and Academy-Award winner Nicole Kidman describes personal experiences of seeing women change the world. “There are incredible testimonies of resilience, strength and dignity — and ultimately of hope,” she says. “This is why I say that the women and girls I have met are my personal heroes. It is my pleasure and pride to be with UN Women, the new, strong voice for women around the world.”
H.R.H. Princess Cristina of Spain, in her capacity as President of the Institute of Health of Barcelona, urges broader understanding of how an investment in women is an investment in families, communities and nations. Citing uneven progress on aspects of the Millennium Development Goals such as reduced maternal mortality, she calls on“all stakeholders and champions — governments, foundations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individuals — to invest in women’s empowerment as an instrumental strategy to achieve the MDGs.”
Ms. Juju Chang, news anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America, serves as emcee of the celebration. Other speakers include UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss; the President of the UN Women Executive Board and former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Ambassador Joy Ogwu; Nepalese activist Bandana Rana and former Commander of the all-female Formed Police Unit in Liberia Rakhi Sahi.
CNN founder and Chairman of the UN Foundation Ted Turner urges men and the private sector to get involved in achieving gender equality. Actress Geena Davis highlights the role of the media in promoting positive images. The singer Shakira has offered a special message emphasizing the importance of education.
The programme concludes with the performance of the song “One Woman,” which was written for the occasion, with lyrics by Beth Blatt, and music co-composed by Graham Lyle and Clay.
The celebration of the launch of UN Women can be seen via webcast at http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2011/02/ban-ki-moon-official-launch-of-u-n-women.html
Ms. Bachelet’s speech on the occasion is available at http://www.unwomen.org/2011/02/un-women-launch-remarks-by-usg-michelle-bachelet/.
Original article available at: http://www.unwomen.org/2011/02/un-women-celebrates-launch-as-powerful-driver-of-womens-equality/