Feature story

54th Commission on the Status of Women opening calls for Action on Gender Equality

02 March 2010

A version of this story is published at www.unfpa.org

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During a high-level panel on the opening day of the 54th Commission on the Status of Women, 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. This Platform, which emerged from the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, reinforced the importance of women's rights and empowerment as established a year earlier in Cairo. It called for action on 12 key issues: poverty, education and training, health, violence against women (one of UNAIDS nine priority areas), armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment and girls.

We stand a better chance of solving the world’s problems if men and women join together as equal partners in finding innovative solutions.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A. Obaid

The commission will emphasise 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 has been 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 (ICPD), 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 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).

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 the International Conference on Population and Development and the Millennium Development Goals