Deputy Secretary-General, at New York Event, Urges Action to End Discrimination, Inequality by 2030, Stressing Societal Attitudes Still Stacked against Women

Following are the closing remarks of UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, as prepared for delivery, at the Commission on the Status of Women Intergenerational Dialogue on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, held in New York today:

Good afternoon!  Thank you for the opportunity to address this dialogue.

Today you had the privilege to hear Beijing veterans sharing their wisdom, rich knowledge and experience of carrying out the battle for women’s rights for over 20 years.  You have heard the inspiring voices of a new generation, full of hope and energy, ready to move this battle forward.  You have heard men and boys challenging power structures from within and taking responsibility for change personally, and in their communities and organizations.

You have heard faith leaders, indigenous women, representatives of LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] groups, persons with disabilities, policymakers, academic scholars, trade unions and the private sector.  Voices have been heard come from villages and the street, from universities and boardrooms, from churches and mosques, and they have resonated here in the Economic and Social Council chamber.

The result has been a stimulating, mobilizing and wide-ranging meeting of many constituencies.  This is the coalition we need to achieve our common vision of gender equality by 2030.  Much has been achieved since Beijing 20 years ago.  But we still have a long way to go.

The attitudes of societies in all regions are still stacked against women.  Progress towards gender equality has been particularly slow for those who experience different forms of discrimination.  Those who have struggled and have gone unheard must be given a voice.

Today’s dialogue among interest groups and across generations will be critical to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of ending discrimination and inequality.  The world needs an inclusive, powerful and practical vision.  Dag Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke about the future in two dimensions — one, the horizon, the vision and, second, the step, the concrete action, we take tomorrow.  Gender equality is not simply a desirable objective, it is central to attaining all our goals of durable peace and sustainable development.

I congratulate all participants and the organizers of this event and I thank UN-Women as convener and facilitator.  I am proud today to be at the side of my colleague, friend and sister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.  I thank all of you for making this intergenerational dialogue such a unique and energizing day.

Your dedication and commitment are contagious.  We need you to spread this liberating spirit around the globe with a combination of passion and compassion.  Without passion nothing happens — without compassion the wrong things happen.

Let us go to work to protect the advances we have achieved, and build on them in the months and years to come to create lives of dignity for millions of women and girls around the world — and by that making life better and richer for all men and women.  Let us fully continue to be inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the foundation for all our efforts.  I am glad and grateful that this wonderful document will end today’s and this week’s ground-breaking encounters, deliberations and activities.

For information media. Not an official record.