Empowering women and advancing their rights is
not only the right thing to do but it can lead to progress on a range
of issues, including the fight against poverty, hunger and violence,
the head of the United Nations agency tasked with promoting women’s
rights said today.
“Promoting gender equality
and women’s empowerment is not solely a plea for justice or for
fulfilling human rights commitments. It is both of those things, but
also so much more”, Michelle Bachelet said in her opening statement to the annual session of the Executive Board of the UN Entity for
Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
“Where we fail to
capitalize on the potential and talents of one half of the
population, we also squander the potential to reduce poverty, hunger,
disease, environmental degradation and violence”, she stated.
“The evidence base for
this is growing”, added Ms. Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN
Women and former Chilean President.
She noted that in a recent
report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
estimates that closing the gender productivity gap arising from
unequal access of women to productive resources would reduce the
number of undernourished people by 12 to 17 per cent. That translates
into 100 to 150 million fewer people living in hunger.
Countries, she added, are beginning to count
the cost of domestic violence to health and in lost workplace
productivity, which in the United States reaches $5.8 billion each
year. “In today’s world, can we afford not to increase investment
in eliminating gender discrimination when it has the potential to
yield such high returns?
“UN Women’s good fortune is that it comes
into being at a time when countries and businesses are asking this
question, and rethinking their investment strategies,” she stated.
“Our challenge now is to meet the rising demands and expectations.”
Ms. Bachelet has identified six priorities for
the new agency, including ending violence against women, ensuring
their full participation in conflict resolution and enhancing their
(Source: UN News Centre)