Thank you, Madame President, and thank you, Executive Director Bachelet, for your excellent leadership of UN Women.
UN Women is off to a promising start. As we heard from the Executive Director, through consultations with a wide range of partners in more than 100 countries, UN Women’s leadership has developed a plan and a vision to protect the rights of women around the globe.
The creation of UN Women was a landmark—a clear decision by member states to put women’s challenges and opportunities at the forefront of the UN’s mission. That is not just right but it’s also necessary. Women’s empowerment is a precondition for sustainable development, prosperity, and security.
The United States strongly supports UN Women. For Fiscal Year 2011, we will contribute another $6 million to core resources for UN Women, and we aim to increase our contribution in future years.
We urge our fellow member states to contribute generously so UN Women can achieve its vital mandate—and we call on all countries, not just traditional donors, to do their part.
It is not enough simply to state our principles and our commitments. We must also implement them. UN Women must make tangible improvement in women’s lives, especially by helping to provide essential services in developing nations.
UN Women’s new Strategic Plan lays out a compelling vision for addressing the challenges of poverty, lack of political recognition and rights for women, and the stresses of daily life amidst conflict and humanitarian crises, and we fully support its priorities. Executive Director Bachelet has taken an important step by undertaking a Field Assessment Survey and developing an ambitious plan to overhaul the way women’s issues are dealt with in the field. That plan includes ensuring that staffing decisions are based on actual needs, rather than past practices, and that staff members can provide overall advice and coordination, rather than focus on a single issue.
My government looks to UN Women to help strengthen the UN system’s overall capacity to promote gender equality and empower women. All elements of the UN system must work together to make the full participation of women in their societies a mainstream priority, rather than a peripheral concern. And when UN Women’s priorities arise in the work of other UN agencies, they must make them their priorities as well.
More can and should be done to ensure that UN Women has the resources it needs to meet its ambitious mandate.
UN Women inherited a budget of about $200 million, but Executive Director Bachelet anticipates needing substantially more than that. She envisions partnerships not only with governments but also with the private sector, including foundations and individuals.
For our part, the United States will continue to work at home and abroad to reduce and, ultimately, to end violence against women. We were pleased to host Rashida Manjoo, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, for her January visit to the United States. We strongly support her mandate and work.
My government is also working on a National Action Plan to implement Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. We have several programs in place to support the important work of Special Representative Wallstrom, and we will continue to work with others to fully implement Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960. The work of UN Women and its expert staff has been invaluable in keeping the issue of women, peace, and security at the top of the international agenda.
Madam President, Executive Director Bachelet, distinguished colleagues, we salute the progress that UN Women has made even as we expect it will expand and accelerate. Last July, UN Women was as much aspiration as reality. Now it has offices, staff members, a budget, and a Strategic Plan. With harmonized planning and budget cycles, UN Women is becoming integrated into the wider UN family. And with a Strategic Plan that runs through 2013, we have now laid the groundwork for far more progress to come.
Together, we must support UN Women as it works to ensure that women and girls can fulfill their potential, to end rape and sexual abuse, to combat discrimination, to mainstream gender concerns, to improve accountability, and to stand up for full and equal participation and full and equal rights.
Thank you, Madam President.
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