4 March 2005

United Nations in Vienna Commemorates International Women’s Day

Promoting Gender Equality Beyond 2005 Discussed by Panelists at the VIC

VIENNA, 4 March (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, in collaboration with the City of Vienna, the Vienna NGO Committee on the Status of Women, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), today held a panel discussion to commemorate International Women’s Day. The discussion was held in the context of a ten-year review of the implementation of the Beijing platform for action as agreed upon during the Fourth World Congress on Women at the Chinese capital in 1995, and the 30th anniversary of the First World Congress on Women held in Mexico in 1975. UNIS tour guides at the Vienna International Centre made special mention of the events being commemorated.

Guided by this year’s theme of International Women’s Day “Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future” members of the diplomatic community, United Nations staff, non-governmental organizations, civil society and media representatives participated in a lively discussion on issues that affect gender equality such as security, development, disaster response and human rights.

City Councillor Sybille Straubinger of the Municipal Committee for Gender Issues and Integration introduced strategies and measures taken by the City of Vienna to curb poverty among women.

On the theme “30 Years after Mexico: Women are still the Losers of Globalization”, Susanne Shaked, Chairperson of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, expressed her belief that gender equality can only be effective when women are truly empowered, so that their voices are heard and their work and contribution to society is respected and valued in the context of parity democracy. Ms. Shaked also noted that political will at the highest levels of decision-making continues to be widely insufficient.

Three specialists of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) introduced their areas of specialization, and the impact it had on women. Kristiina Kangaspunta of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit  described the consequences of trafficking in women as a challenge for human security. Fariba Soltani, Global Challenges Section, discussed tailor-made solutions offered by UNODC, to address the special needs of female drug addicts; and her colleague Irka Kuleshnyk, Terrorism Prevention Branch spoke on how terrorism affects women.

In her presentation on space applications on disaster management, Alice Lee of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs demonstrated that females can contribute equally towards the goal of building a more secure future, for example by studying science and engineering and increasing their share in the field of space science and technology.

Participants in the panel discussion referred to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the opening of the 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women last Monday in New York that “…one thing stands out above all else: we have learnt that the challenges facing women are not problems without solutions. We have learnt what works and what doesn’t.” Panelists and audience alike also emphasized that pursuing the goal of gender equality is integral to building a more secure and sustainable future.

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