I welcome you to this gender mainstreaming training workshop. I am pleased that most of the staff members are able to participate in this important training. As you all know, promoting gender equality has been identified as an effective way to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.
The principle of equality and non-discrimination between men and women is enshrined in the United Nations Charter that was signed in 1945. In the Preamble of the Charter, faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women were declared. The United Nations has been instrumental in developing an international framework that encourages promotion of gender equality. In this regard it has helped member States to design and adopt internationally agreed goals and commitments to guide them in implementing policies, legislations and programmes that promote gender equality some of which include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, the MDGs, and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.
Although many countries including the OHRLLS’ groups of countries, have achieved some progress on a number of aspects of gender equality such as gender parity in primary education and improvements in women’s representation in national parliaments, gender inequalities still prevail particularly in accessing: secondary and higher education; technical and professional training; productive resources and assets such as land, capital, and technology; agriculture and rural development services; basic health services; employment opportunities and decision-making processes. Let me emphasize that gender inequalities are still starkly evident in the vulnerable groups of countries that we work with in particular the least developed countries and the landlocked developing countries.
Let me just give some examples using two gender equality indicators. According to available data presented in the 2011 MDG Report: The employment-to-population ratio in 2010 was 78.9% for men and 59.5% for women in LDCs; 77.6% for men and 62.2% for women in LLDCs and 69.3% for men and 46.5% for women in SIDS. The percentage of the population aged 15–24 years who can both read and write in 2009 was 74.5% for men and 65.9% for women in LDCs; 77.2% for men and 66.5% for women in LLDCs; whilst SIDS have achieved gender parity at 87% for both men and women.
It is therefore important for the United Nations to intensify our efforts to assist member States to achieve the goal of gender equality. Gender mainstreaming in all sectors of development is a globally accepted strategy for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women. This is in line with the ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions 1997/2 of 18 July 1997 on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, and all the ECOSOC resolutions that have been subsequently adopted annually since 2001.
UN OHRLLS’ mandate to raise awareness, advocate, mobilize and coordinate international support with respect to the three groups of countries and their respective programmes of action, demands that gender equality, should inform its work. Our assistance to these groups of countries with special needs can yield more successful and sustainable development results if we manage to systematically mainstream gender in our work.
Whilst this Office has endeavoured to mainstream gender equality in its work as recently demonstrated in the process of developing the Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries, it has become necessary to strengthen our capabilities to be able to systematically mainstream gender in all the sub-programmes of our work. In this context, I included this training workshop as a major staff development undertaking in my 2011 Senior Manager’s Compact. We are here to enhance our knowledge, identify practical and systemic approaches and tools to mainstream gender where relevant, in our daily activities. I also hope that this workshop will provide a good basis to develop a gender mainstreaming action plan for the Office.
Let me take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Office of Human Resources and Management for providing the financial support for this training to take place. I would like to wish you all a very productive training session.
Thank you for your kind attention.