U.N. Commission On The Status Of Women Opens In New York

Kicking off the two-week 55th Annual Session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in New York on Tuesday, Michelle Bachelet, the first under-secretary-general and executive director of U.N. Women, highlighted the role of gender equality in country development, peace and security, Angola Press reports (2/23). The commission draws together government officials, U.N. representatives, and members of the private sector and civil society groups, according to a U.N. press release (2/22).

Addressing the meeting, Bachelet “noted that despite progress in the status of women in many fields, women continue to be trafficked, girls are forced to drop out of school to get married and many women and girls lack access to social services,” U.N. News Centre writes. “Worldwide, there are too few women who are at decision-making tables when peace, trade or climate change agreements are being negotiated,” Bachelet said. “The specific and urgent challenges of reaching women – especially in rural areas, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, is something that we need to hear more about,” she added.

During her address, Bachelet highlighted the top priorities for U.N. Women, including the agency’s “focus on expanding women’s voice, leadership and participation; ending violence against women; strengthening the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda; enhancing women’s economic empowerment; and making gender equality a priority in national, local and sectoral planning and budgeting,” according to U.N. News Centre.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro also addressed the commission, highlighting the importance of investing in women’s education as a means of promoting gender equality. “Girls and women are under-represented in science and technology, education and employment. They are simply not getting the knowledge and skills they need for today’s competitive and changing job market,” she said (2/22).

Inter Press Service also summarized the gender-related issues expected to take priority as the commission works to create an agenda for the newly formed U.N. Women. Such issues include: “gender equality in science and technology; elimination of preventable maternal deaths; rural women as drivers of poverty and hunger eradication; gender equality and sustainable development; and the elimination of discrimination and violence against girls,” according to the news service.

The piece includes quotes from Charlotte Bunch, founding director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, and statements made previously by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the creation of U.N. Women. According to Bunch, a more detailed strategic plan is due to be presented in June (Deen, 2/21).

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