International Women's Day message 2010

Progress for Women Is Progress for All

International Women's Day message 2010

8 March 2010

International Women’s Day is celebrated internationally on 8 March each year. 2010 is a milestone year for women’s rights and gender equality — marking the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, and the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Declaration and UN Security Council resolution 1325. In her International Women’s Day message Ines Alberdi, Executive Director of UN Women, called for more accountability for action on commitments and a greater role for women in decision-making.

Only five years are left until the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the same time women everywhere, but especially in developing countries, continue to face the enormous challenges of the global financial crisis, widespread food insecurity, natural and man-made disasters and climate change. Meeting those challenges requires greater accountability at all levels for action on commitments to promote gender equality and women’s rights.

For this reason, we call attention to another potential milestone in 2010 — a move to establish a new UN agency for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as strongly supported by the UN General Assembly in a resolution last September. As the Beijing+15 meeting takes stock of progress over the last 15 years, it will be clear once again that, despite improved frameworks, implementation still needs a push forward. The forward motion on the UN resolution is timely, too, in the context of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, for which the target date is also 2015. It also mirrors efforts to improve accountability for implementing UN Security Council resolution 1325, which recognised the key role women play in all aspects of recovery from conflict.

In recent weeks we have seen the significant role taken by women in helping countries recover from disaster. Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, women, who head nearly half of the country’s households, have taken the lead in recovery efforts - caring for communities and neighbourhoods, improvising communal meals and organising child care arrangements. UN Women staff members in Haiti witnessed women in temporary shelters trying to build a sense of security for their families, making connections and sharing what they have with their neighbours.

Two weeks ago the President of Chile, Michele Bachelet, travelled to Haiti to express solidarity with these women struggling to rebuild their lives and communities. This week she is inspiring her own country to come back stronger from another devastating earthquake. This is the kind of leadership, from the local to the highest level, that women have demonstrated in all places seeking to come back from conflict and crisis. But unlike in Chile, women are rarely part of the decision-making process on relief or resources, or on how to plan for the next time disaster strikes.

Human security and humanitarian assistance, like human development, requires greater numbers of women at all decision-making tables. Surely the world owes this to women in Haiti, as much as to those of Chile.

Don’t forget - you can donate online to the UN Women appeal for funds to support and protect Haiti’s women. Follow the link to the United Nations Foundation website in New York.

Alternatively, UN Women is happy to receive donations in the post and to send them on to New York; make your cheque out to UN Women, note ‘Haiti appeal’ on the back, and send it to:
UN Women, BM Box 6658, London WC1N 3XX

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