GENDER EQUALITY, WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT VITAL
NEW YORK, 28 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on International Women’s Day, which is observed 8 March:
The Millennium Declaration has given us an overriding mission for the twenty-first century. As we pursue that agenda and work for freedom from fear, freedom from want, and protection of the resources of this planet, our guiding motto is clear: putting people at the centre of everything we do. Thus, we are resolved to work for gender equality and the empowerment of women as vital tools to combat poverty and disease, and to achieve development that is truly sustainable; equally, we are determined to build on the contribution of women in managing conflict and building peace.
We can and should draw strength from the progress that has taken place in the past year. In Afghanistan, after years of conflict, hardship and human rights violations, hope has returned to women and girls who are yet again exercising their rights to education, work and an active role in society. At the United Nations, Security Council resolution 1325 of 2000 continues to inspire Member States to address women, peace and security on several fronts: to protect women from the impact of armed conflict, but also to strengthen their role in peace-building and reconstruction. In a growing number of countries, ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is ensuring the right of women to petition an international body when their rights are violated. And in the international community as a whole, there has been growing recognition of the importance of the advancement of women in the fight against the AIDS epidemic, as reflected in the outcome of the General Assembly’s Special Session on HIV/AIDS.
There will be several important opportunities for further progress in the weeks and months ahead. The International Conference on Finance for Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development offer important opportunities to recognize the central role of women in achieving sustainable development in a globalizing world. The Second World Assembly on Ageing will address the dramatic impact on women of global population ageing, and the need to ensure that all women can age with security and dignity. And the General Assembly’s Special Session on Children is expected to set specific, time-bound targets for protecting and fulfilling the rights of all children and women.
On this International Women’s Day, as we prepare for the vital challenges before us, let us all be mindful that the achievement of women’s rights is not the responsibility of women alone -- it is the responsibility of us all. Let us step up our efforts to create an environment where progress towards gender equality is not a daily struggle, but a natural part of all our actions. Let that resolve underpin all our work to translate the Millennium Declaration into reality.
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