[***Below is the statement by the Executive Director of UNIFEM, Noeleen Heyzer, on the occassion of International Women's Day 2002, Mod.***] International Women's Day 8 March 2002 Statement by Noeleen Heyzer Executive Director, UNIFEM More than a year has passed since the historic United Nations Millennium Summit (September, 2000) when nearly 150 world leaders endorsed a clear set of development goals. They agreed to halve extreme poverty, reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters and achieve equal access of girls to all levels of education, all by 2015. They also committed the world to halt, and begin to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. Gender equality is paramount to the fulfillment of each of these goals. In order to halve extreme poverty and reduce maternal mortality, we must first specifically address the issue of feminized poverty and resources must be allocated to ensure women's survival, options and opportunities. In order to achieve parity in school enrollment between girls and boys, we must stop girls from being pulled out of school to care for their family members who are sick and dying from HIV and AIDS. In order for violence to cease being a daily reality for women across the globe, we must work towards more equal power relations between women and men. In order to curb HIV infection rates, we must take measures to address the fact that women are biologically, economically and culturally more vulnerable to contracting the virus and we must work to give women the right and power to refuse unwanted and unprotected sex and be heeded. Two upcoming global events are critical to advancing the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring that gender equality is seen as a pre-requisite for sustainable development and poverty eradication. The 46th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to take place this month in New York has identified the eradication of poverty and the empowerment of women throughout their life cycle as the main focus of this year's discussion. The second critical event is the International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD) to take place in Monterey, Mexico in March 2002. This is a unique opportunity to ensure that resources follow rhetoric. For the first time in history, the UN, World Bank, IMF, and WTO will come together to find new ways to use financial resources to meet basic human needs, such as health, education and social services. UNIFEM has been working closely with women's groups to ensure that their voices are heard at this important international forum. The FFD conference must address the issue of feminized poverty and promote equitable, effective and appropriate resource allocation to improve women's lives if we are serious about achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The best way to measure commitment to gender equality is to follow the money. UNIFEM has been working with partners on gender responsive budget analysis, which helps governments decide where resources need to be reallocated to achieve human development and gender equality. Gender budget analysis can also be applied to the distribution of official development assistance and we should start with the reconstruction process for Afghanistan. Over the past months we have witnessed an international outcry over the suffering and exclusion of Afghan women. Now is the time to ensure that international aid is used to help Afghan women regain their rights. Rebuilding the country will be a difficult and lengthy process. The majority of Afghan women have no access to clean water, energy or sanitation. Only 3% of Afghan women are literate and 1,600 out of 100,000 Afghan women die during childbirth. Women in Afghanistan are key players in recreating their communities and their country, but their contributions need to be recognized, valued and supported. Based on extensive consultations with Afghan women living inside and outside the country, we have outlined four key areas of concern that require immediate action. The first is women's security. The truth is that women don't feel safe and silence surrounds violence against women in the home. The promotion of gender justice is a second priority. In practice this will mean that violations of women's rights will be monitored, reported and remedied. Governance is the third priority. While a strong Women's Ministry is vital to making sure that commitments to women are honored, women's perspectives and leadership must also be included within other ministries and outside of government. The fourth priority is women's economic security. Women need to be employed and paid decent wages. On this International Women's Day, we want to express our solidarity with the women of Afghanistan and reiterate the need for women to be central to all levels of the reconstruction process. We want to call for increased commitment and financial resources to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals and for official development assistance to meet the needs of women, especially those who are most vulnerable and from marginalized groups. These challenges are not the responsibility of any single institution or government. It is an undertaking that requires the pooling of all human strengths and sources of creativity and it is the responsibility that men and women must share equally. *** The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) works to promote women's empowerment, rights and gender equality worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.unifem.undp.org ======== Global Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/ If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <email@example.com>. **You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source.
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