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Post-2015 Development Agenda Should Address Empowerment For Girls, Women

“Since beginning my work with the U.N. Foundation in February, I’ve been struck by startling statistics showing the harsh reality of life for many of the world’s girls and women,” Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. She notes “[o]ne out of every three women around the globe will be raped, beaten, or murdered”; “222 million women lack access to the reproductive health and voluntary family planning services they need to be informed and ready for pregnancy and childbirth”; and “33 million fewer girls than boys atten[d] primary school.” She continues, “Organizations such as the U.N. Foundation are working with community leaders, governments, businesses, and a host of other partners to turn such gender-based hardships into a thing of the past.” Smolyansky highlights the foundation’s Universal Access Project, the Shot@Life campaign, and the Girl Up initiative as examples, and she writes, “But a great deal of work still lies ahead.”

“Countries such as Russia, India, and Brazil must act faster and more vigorously to establish laws, institutions, and social norms that allow girls and women to live healthy, safe, and empowered lives,” Smolyansky continues. She notes a meeting in Russia, at which the U.N. Foundation’s board members “met with a host of Russian dignitaries, civil society leaders, and U.N. experts to discuss global development problems and priorities,” and states, “It was evident from the dialogues that emerged that while Russia faces numerous challenges on the road to gender equity, there are many people ready to take on those challenges.” She concludes, “As leaders in Russia and around the world turn increasing attention to establishing the post-2015 development agenda, let’s raise our voices to make sure that safety, equality, and empowerment for girls and women are at the top of that agenda” (9/9).