TEHRAN, Feb. 26 — The UN has celebrated the historic launch of UN Women, its newest organization, with an evening including luminaries from the worlds of politics, entertainment, business, the media, music and film at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York.
UN Women, formally known as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, combines four previous UN bodies and represents the United Nations most ambitious effort ever to accelerate actions to achieve gender equality. Around the world, supporters of womens rights have heralded its debut.
With the birth of UN Women, we welcome a powerful new agent for progress on gender equality and womens empowerment, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The challenges are great, but I believe that with the new energy, the new momentum and the new authority that UN Women brings, these challenges will be met. True gender equality should be our shared legacy in the 21st Century.
The secretary-general appointed former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to be the first Executive Director of UN Women. Calling the launch the first of many important milestones in the global pursuit of gender equality, she emphasizes that the decision to establish UN Women reflects ongoing frustration with the slow pace of change.
According to a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC), the UN member states unanimously agreed to create the new organization, following longstanding advocacy by womens activists.
Think of how much more we can do once women are fully empowered as active agents of change and progress within their societies, Ms. Bachelet says. Historically, we are at a point of great potential and change for women. Now we must seize that opportunity.
She adds, My own experience has taught me that there is no limit to what women can do.
UN Women will support individual countries in moving towards gender equality in economics and politics, and ending the worldwide phenomenon of violence against women. It will assist in setting international standards for progress, and lead coordinated UN efforts to make new opportunities for women and girls central to all UN programs for development and peace.
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and Academy-Award winner Nicole Kidman describes personal experiences of seeing women change the world. There are incredible testimonies of resilience, strength and dignityand ultimately of hope, she says. This is why I say that the women and girls I have met are my personal heroes. It is my pleasure and pride to be with UN Women, the new, strong voice for women around the world.
H.R.H. Princess Cristina of Spain, in her capacity as President of the Institute of Health of Barcelona, urges broader understanding of how an investment in women is an investment in families, communities and nations. Citing uneven progress on aspects of the Millennium Development Goals such as reduced maternal mortality, she calls onall stakeholders and championsgovernments, foundations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individualsto invest in womens empowerment as an instrumental strategy to achieve the MDGs.
ABC News anchor Christiane Amanpour serves as emcee of the celebration. Other speakers include UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss; the President of the UN Women Executive Board and former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Ambassador Joy Ogwu; Nepalese activist Bandana Rana and former Commander of the all-female Formed Police Unit in Liberia Rakhi Sahi. (PNA/IRNA)