Press Releases

    9 March 2005

    UN Must Live Up to Own Charter Principles on Equal Rights for Men, Women, Says Secretary-General, in Remarks at Headquarters Women’s Day Event

    NEW YORK, 8 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the International Women’s Day event hosted by the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the United Nations, to honour the Manager of the Year, in New York, 8 March:

    Thank you, Madam President, for those kind words.

    I am very happy to be with you today.  Let me thank the Group on Equal Rights for Women in the United Nations for organizing this event, and for bringing us together in celebration.

    Much has indeed happened for us to celebrate over the three decades that we have observed International Women's Day at the United Nations.

    The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has been ratified by 179 countries.

    Milestones such as the Beijing Conference and Platform for Action have served as engines of progress for women around the world.

    And the voices of women are being heard loud and clear across the whole range of issues before the United Nations.

    But we are still not hearing as many of women’s voices as we should.  And there are still far too many obstacles that prevent women from advancing and thriving in the Organization.

    We must work harder to correct this.  The reasons why are obvious:

    First, women possess half the brain power of the universe.  Any institution that fails to make use of half its potential intellectual or creative assets is short-changing itself.

    Second, there are no issues we deal with in the United Nations that do not affect women every bit as much as men.  It is, therefore, right and indeed necessary that women should be here to work on these issues, with equal strength and in equal numbers.

    And third, the United Nations must live up to -- and be seen to live up to  -- the principles that we set out for the rest of the world.  The first page of our Charter proclaims the equal rights of men and women.  What we do in our own house surely sends a powerful message to the nations we represent. 

    In other words, our work for equal rights is not about a set of statistics and numbers to be pulled out of a file on International Women's Day, or on any other occasion when it is time to report on the status of women.

    It is about instilling attitudes and awareness every day, in all dimensions of our work.

    That is why the managerial qualities that you are stressing with these awards are so important.

    And the fact that there are some men among those nominated for Manager of the Year fills me with a great deal of hope.  Hope that, together, we can form a united front for the advancement of women in the United Nations.

    I thank you all, and wish you a happy International Women's Day.

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