01 March 2010

54th Commission on the Status of Women Opening Calls for Action on Gender Equality

UNFPA Executive Director addresses high-level panel on behalf of the United Nations

UNITED NATIONS  –  At the opening of the 54th Commission on the Status of Women, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro cited the need to move from commitments to action on gender equality. 

“More and more people now understand that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security,” she told delegates gathered at UN Headquarters.

The Beijing Platform for Action that emerged from Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 reinforced the importance of women's rights and empowerment as established a year earlier in Cairo. The Platform called for action on 12 key issues: poverty, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment and girls.

In an afternoon high-level panel, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid, speaking on behalf of the United Nations, called attention to the links between the right to sexual and reproductive health and women's empowerment, gender equality and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Throughout  the first two weeks of March, the 54th Commission on the Status of Women will conduct a 15-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The commission will emphasize the sharing of best practices as well as discussion of obstacles and gaps, especially those related to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, whose tenth year review will take place in September. The synergy among the three development platforms was articulated by UNFPA Executive Director in a statement she has issued to mark International Women’s Day 2010 (8 March).

“In 1994, at the International Conference on Population and Development, leaders declared for the first time that reproductive health and rights are fundamental to women’s empowerment, gender equality and sustainable development. And fifteen years ago, at the Fourth World Conference on Women, world leaders agreed on a platform for action for equality, development and peace.

“Today many of these agreements are reflected in the Millennium Development Goals to which world leaders have agreed to reduce poverty and put our world on a more sustainable path…With ideas spreading faster than ever, here is an idea whose time has come: We stand a better chance of solving the world’s problems if men and women join together as equal partners in finding innovative solutions.”

At the commission, UNFPA is participating in several side events (see below) on sexual and reproductive health rights, HIV, violence against women, peace and security, the role of men and boys as partners for gender equality, and female migration. The Fund is also releasing a review of its contributions to the Beijing commitments, Beijing at Fifteen: UNFPA and Partners Charting the Way Forward (2010).

On March 3, UNFPA is launching a UN Joint Statement on Adolescent Girls with UNICEF, ILO, UNESCO, UNIFEM, and WHO. In doing so, the six UN organizations pledge to increase their support to governments and partners to advance policies and programmes that empower the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls, particularly those 10 to 14 years.

Another initiative to promote the idea of gender equality and empowerment of women during 2010 is a special radio/audio series on gender equality and the empowerment of women with a focus on young woman and adolescent girls. The programmes, being produced by UN Radio with support from UNFPA, will explore the challenges facing young adolescent girls, as well as their dreams for the future. Additional activities throughout the year will call attention to the Beijing Platform and its links to ICPD and the MDGs.


1 March
3:00 -
6:00 p.m.
Formal High-level Round Table, including remarks by UNFPA Executive Director
Thoraya A. Obaid on behalf of the UN
2 March
1:15 - 2:45 p.m.
Side event on female migration as part of Migration and Development Series
3 March
1:00 -
3:00 p.m.
Side Event Panel Discussion by Swedish Mission

“Gender Equality and SRHR – a way to move forward on MDG 5”

3 March
1:15 -
2:45 p.m.
Side Event Panel highlighting success stories and lessons learned from the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGM/C
3 March
6:00 -
8:00 p.m.
Reception to launch Joint Statement on Adolescent Girls
4 March
1:00 -
4:00 p.m.
Side event

Boys and Men: Partners for Gender Equality

5 March
2:00 -
3:30 p.m.
High level intergenerational dialogue on reproductive health and rights, HIV and violence against women
9 March
1:00 -
2:45 p.m.
Side Event panel discussion: “Gender, Population and Sexual and Reproductive Health”

Focus on population growth, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights in a broader development context.

10 March
10:00 -
Side Event Panel Discussion on Women, Peace and Security