For information only - not an official document.
Press Release No:  UNIS/DSG/37
Release Date:   6 June 2000
Deputy Secretary-General Says Increased Number of Women
In United Nations Ranks Making a Difference

NEW YORK, 5 June (UN Headquarters) – Following are the remarks made today by  Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at the Non-Governmental Organization Public Event held at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to mark the opening of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly: 

 Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you for a few minutes.  There are basically two things I would like to say:

 The first is to underline that a lot is at stake in the success of this review conference. 

You just have to talk to women in leadership positions in government and elsewhere, (which is one the interesting parts of my job), to realize what a big difference the series of United Nations conferences on women have made in the lives of millions of women around the world. 

There can be no going back on what was achieved in Beijing.  Indeed, we must continue to move forward.

It is not only a matter of giving women what is rightly theirs -– a noble enough goal in itself.  It is also central to the achievement of all the goals the United Nations was set up to achieve:  peace, justice and “social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom”.  Indeed, the implementation of the plans of actions arising from the other United Nations conferences of the nineties require the full empowerment of women.

The second thing I would like to say concerns the role of women in the United Nations system.  You will have a chance to hear from most of them in the course of this week. 

For the first time, we have, around the senior management table of the United Nations, a good number of women.  The proportion of women in leadership positions right now is indeed higher than in most countries of the world, and on that score the north is not better than the south.

The Secretary-General would be the last one to pretend that we can rest on our laurels -– the goal remains parity and we will not rest until we get there.  

But the increased number of women in the United Nations ranks is making a difference.  Indeed, I don’t see how it is possible to “mainstream” gender considerations without an adequate number of women participating in policy-making.

This “mainstreaming” has very concrete meaning in the work of the United Nations:  it can mean ensuring that women’s needs are met in our humanitarian programmes, or making room for the participation of women in the new political institutions being re-built after a conflict, or promoting the education of girls in our development work.

Women at the United Nations are as keenly interested in the success of the Conference this week as you are.  We welcome your interest and your support, and we are trying to put into practice, in our work in the United Nations, all the values and principles that have been so passionately defended and promoted in Manila, in Mexico, in Nairobi and in Beijing.

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