United Nations, Mar 15: The head of UN Women has said that world leaders attending an annual meeting on the status of women have a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to better the lives of women and girls by implementing a set of sustainable development goals agreed on last year.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, speaking at the opening of the 60th Commission on the Status for Women, yesterday said the theme of this year's meeting is the link between women's empowerment and sustainable development.
She urged members to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development endorsed last year, saying it is crucial to advancing equality for women and girls around the world.
The document includes 17 broad goals and 169 specific targets, with overarching aims of reducing poverty and inequality and preserving the environment. The ambitious agenda is expected to cost between USD 3.5 trillion and USD 5 trillion every year until 2030.
The two-week session that began yesterday focuses on achieving gender equality by 2030. "Excellencies, in your hands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end poverty and transform gender relations irreversibly for the next generation, making the world a better place for all," she said.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said that for many women and girls still at risk change is not coming fast enough. The meeting, attended by hundreds of women from member countries, non-governmental agencies and civil society, is the first since the development goals were endorsed by member nations last fall.
Language in a working document being considered by delegates at the session acknowledges the link between sustainable development and gender equality. "Women play a vital role as agents of development and the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities," it says. Meetings during the commission's session include work on implementing laws and policies that enable gender equality and funding. UN officials agree there is much work that still needs to be done to ensure equality. Dubravka Simonovic, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, said that for the first time since the start of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, there are more women and girls on the move than men. She said more information is needed on the subject but it is clear that migrant women and girls face high risks of sexual violence from smugglers, criminal groups and individuals both while in transit and in camps and shelters. (AP) DBS