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UN POSITION ON ISSUES CONCERNING WOMEN

 

The Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, captured the essence of  the role of women to societal development in his message to mark the international women's day on march 8, 2003, in these words:

 

"The millennium development goals including the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women represent a new way of doing development business.

 

"These eight commitments drawn from the millennium declaration, which was endorsed by the member states of the United Nations, form a specific, targeted and time-bound blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century. They represent a set of simple but powerful and measurable objectives that every woman and man in the street, from New York to Nairobi to New Delhi, can easily support and understand.

 

"In our work to reach these objectives, as the millennium declaration made clear, gender equality is not only a goal in its on right, it is critical to our ability to reach all the others. Study after study has shown that there is no effective development strategy in which women do not play a central role.

 

"When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately, families are healthier and better fed, their income, savings and investments go up. And what is true of families is also true of communities and, in the long run, of whole countries. That means that all our work for development from agriculture to health, from environment protection to water resource management must focus on the needs and priorities of women. It means promoting the education of girls, who form the majority of the children who are not in school.

  

"It means bringing literacy to the half billion adult women who cannot read or write and who make up two/thirds of the world's adults illiterates.

  

"And it means placing women at the centre of our fight against Human Immuno-deficiency Syndrome/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS). Women now account for 50 per cent of those infected worldwide. In African, that figure is now 58 per cent. We must make sure that women and girls have all the skills, services and self-confidence they need to protect themselves. We must encourage men to replace risk taking with taking responsibility.

  

"Across all levels of society, we need to see a deep social revolution that transforms relationships between women and men, so that women will be able to take greater control of their lives financially and physically.

  

"There is no time to lose if we are to reach the millennium development goals by the target date of 2015. Only by investing in the world's women can we expect to get there. When women thrive, all of society benefits and succeeding generations are given a better start in life."

 

In an address, Mary Robinson, First woman president of Ireland, and former UN commissioner for Human Rights, remarked in a speech on October 18, 2002, to mark the 75th Anniversary of admission of Women to Columbia University Law School:

  

"Anniversary allows us to consider where we have been and where we are going. This anniversary gives - the chance to reflect on the significant progress made in educating women and preparing them for careers in law and other fields. Equally important, it offers an opportunity to reflect where challenges remain and how they can be addressed.

  

"As first women president of Ireland, it won't surprise you that I thought and spoke a great deal about changing role of women at home and around the world. I often remarked that the cause of women is inseparable from the cause of humanity itself.

  

"A society that is without the voice and vision of women is not less feminine. It is less human.