Keynote Speech at the International Forum on Women

2015-10-26 14:02:22   China Soong Ching Ling Foundation

By Ms. Agi Veres, Country Director of UNDP Representative Office in China

Dear representatives, guests and Colleagues,

Good morning!

I am very delighted to participate in the workshop and I would like to firstly extend my gratitude to our partner, China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, who brought people together today to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the fifteenth anniversary of UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security. Moreover, the post 2015 Development Agenda has just been adopted by 193 UN member states at the UN Sustainable Development Summit with 17 Sustainable Development Goals to chart new era of development by 2030.  At the same time, I would also like to give my thanks to every representative here for your contribution and support in gender equality and women empowerment and look forward to your insightful discussion in the following sessions.

UNDP promotes sustainable human development to help build resilient nations and to empower people to build better lives.  In its three decades of cooperation with China as the UN's development network, UNDP draws on worldwide experience to assist China both in developing solutions to its own ongoing development challenges, and in its south-south cooperation and engagement in global development.  Human development emphasizes capabilities of people to access resources and freedoms of people to choose their own lives.  Gender equality is central to human development and serves the practical purpose of influencing the efficiency and sustainability of development efforts.  The empowerment and participation of all people advances when gender is no longer a hindrance.  As Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put it this way: the world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realize their full potential.

Looking back at the past two decades since the 1995 Women's Conference in Beijing, tremendous advances have been made in gender equality and women empowerment. Globally and regionally, policies and strategies acknowledge the importance of the Beijing Platform for Action for achieving development, peace and security. Many countries have adopted policies to promote gender equality. Many countries have enacted laws and legislations to remove discrimination and address violence against women and girls. Maternal mortality has fallen by nearly half from 1990 levels. The gender gap in primary education has closed, more girls are in school, and more women are in the labor force. 

Women and girls are essential to both economic growth and social development. According to UNDP Regional Human Development Report, a growing body of evidences showed that over the last ten years, the increase of women employment in developed countries is estimated to have contributed more towards global growth than China's remarkable economic record. People access resources and livelihood for survival and sustenance. But beyond that, economic power helps them acquire capabilities that enlarge choices for satisfying and creative lives.  It is equally critical to  provide opportunity and participation of men and women in decision making and executive operations, which signify more sources of information available and more voices to be heard.  It will further bring social stability and harmony when most people feel they have a stake in development. 
Women and girls are crucial to the future of human being.  Now more development challenges ahead are awaiting for people to address. Women's participation in responding to climate change, building peace and security, and helping their countries recover from crises will make contributions towards our next and next generations.  By promoting gender equality and empowering women as agents of change and leaders in the development processes, UNDP envisages a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient world. 

At the UN summit, President Xi Jingping called for an equitable, open, comprehensive and innovation-driven development path in implementing the post-2015 development agenda. Specific commitment has been made to achieving SDGs by 2030 including gender equality and women empowerment as the fifth goal. 

Today we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which remains the world's best blueprint for achieving gender equality and empowering women. The review of this visionary roadmap, adopted at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995, is an opportunity to celebrate the world's progress toward ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and also to renew and reinvigorate commitments to achieve gender equality. 

Finally, I wish you every success in the event and thank you!