A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

International Women’s Day 2015, March 8

Theme 2015: Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!


Twenty years ago, when the world convened a landmark conference on women’s human rights, the devastating conflict in the former Yugoslavia prompted deserved attention to rape and other war crimes there against civilians. Two decades later, with girls as young as seven not only targeted but used as weapons by violent extremists, it would be easy to lose heart about the value of international gatherings. But while we have a long way to go to achieve full equality – with ending gender-based violence a central goal – progress over the past two decades has proven the enduring value of the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women.
Since the adoption of its Declaration and Platform for Action, more girls have attained more access to more education than ever before. The number of women dying in childbirth has been almost halved. More women are leading businesses, governments and global organizations.  I welcome these advances. At the same time, on this International Women’s Day, we must acknowledge that the gains have been too slow and uneven, and that we must do far more to accelerate progress everywhere. 
The world must come together in response to the targeting of women and girls by violent extremists.  From Nigeria and Somalia to Syria and Iraq, the bodies of women have been transformed into battlegrounds for warriors carrying out specific and systematic strategies, often on the basis of ethnicity or religion.  Women have been attacked for trying to exercise their right to education and basic services; they have been raped and turned into sex slaves; they have been given as prizes to fighters, or traded among extremist groups in trafficking networks. Doctors, nurses and others have been assassinated for trying to operate in their professional capacity. The women human rights defenders brave enough to challenge such atrocities risk – and sometimes lose – their lives for the cause.
We must take a clear global stance against this total assault on women’s human rights. The international community needs to translate its outrage into meaningful action, including humanitarian aid, psycho-social services, support for livelihoods, and efforts to bring perpetrators to justice.  With women and girls often the first targets of attack, their rights must be at the centre of our strategy to address this staggering and growing challenge.  Empowered women and girls are the best hope for sustainable development following conflict. They are the best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best buffer against radicalization of youth and the repetition of cycles of violence.
Even in societies at peace, too many girls and women are still targets of domestic abuse, female genital mutilation and other forms of violence that traumatize individuals and damage whole societies.  Discrimination remains a thick barrier that must be shattered. We need to expand opportunities in politics, business and beyond.  We need to change mind-sets, especially among men, and engage men in becoming active change-agents themselves.  And we must back up our resolve with resources based on the sure understanding that investments in gender equality generate economic progress, social and political inclusion and other benefits that, in turn, foster stability and human dignity.
This is a vital year for advancing the cause of women’s human rights.  The international community is hard at work on establishing a new sustainable development agenda that will build on the Millennium Development Goals and shape policies and social investments for the next generation.  To be truly transformative, the post-2015 development agenda must prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment.  The world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realize their full potential.  When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.
Ban Ki-moon

In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, world leaders committed to a future where women are equal.
One hundred and eighty nine countries and 4,000 civil society organizations, attended the conference.
Women left Beijing with high hopes, with a well-defined path towards equality, and firm commitments at the highest level. Their hope was that we would see this by 2005.
Today, not one single country has achieved equality. It is more urgent than ever that we define – and stick to – a time frame.
There has been some progress in the last 20 years – although it has been slow and uneven.
Countries have narrowed the gender gap in education and some have even reached gender parity in school enrolment.
They have reduced the toll of maternal mortality and morbidity. Many more women survive pregnancy and childbirth than in 1995.
Many countries have created institutions that address gender inequality. Many have passed laws against gender-based discrimination. Many have made domestic violence a crime.
This is all good news.
And yet we are still a long way from achieving equality between men and women, boys and girls.
Implementation of good policies has been patchy. Allocation of the resources needed for effective implementation has been insufficient to fund women’s ministries, gender commissions, gender focal points, and gender-responsive budgeting.
For too many women, especially in the least-developed countries, not enough has changed.
In Africa, 70 per cent of crop production depends on women yet women still own only 2 per cent of the land.
Violence against women continues to blight lives in all countries of the world.
And no country has achieved gender equality.
Women need change and humanity needs change. This we can do together; women and girls, men and boys, young and old, rich and poor.
The evidence is overwhelming of the benefits that equality can bring. Economies grow, poverty is alleviated, health status climbs, and communities are more stable and resilient to environmental or humanitarian crises.
Women want their leaders to renew the promises made to them. They want leaders to recommit to the Beijing Declaration, to the Platform for Action, and to accelerated and bolder implementation.
They want more of their leaders to be women. And they want those women, together with men, to dare to change the economic and political paradigms. Gender parity must be reached before 2030, so that we avert the sluggish trajectory of progress that condemns a child born today to wait 80 years before they see an equal world.
Today, on International Women’s Day, we call on our countries to “step it up” for gender equality, with substantive progress by 2020. Our aim is to reach ‘Planet 50:50’ before 2030.
The world needs full equality in order for humanity to prosper.
Empower women, empower humanity. I am sure you can picture an equal world!
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

High-level Conference in the framework of International Women's Day 2015


Beijing 20 Logo
When, local time: 
Wednesday, 4 March 2015 - 2:00pm to 5:00pm
France, Paris
Type of Event: 
Special event
Contact: -
Against the background of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted twenty years ago in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education For All (EFA) objectives, both set in 2000 for 2015, and the preparations for the Post-2015 agenda, 2015 is a pivotal year to understand the positive feedback loops that can be found between gender equality, development and peace; to take stock of the challenges ahead; and most importantly, to explore the need for and the parameters of a new vision to accelerate the pace to achieve gender equality.
The theme "Re-thinking Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in 2015 and beyond”.
By invitation, limited seating available :
- See more at:

 Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of International Women’s Day “Empower Women, Empower Humanity-Picture it!” 8 March, 2015.

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women that culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

In 1995, States and civil society representatives signed a commitment for gender equality, guided by the conviction that “ women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation
in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for theachievement of equality, development and peace."
I was among the 17,000 delegates from across the world, who gathered in Beijing in 1995, and I remember leaving Beijing with hope and a sense of accomplishment.
As we celebrate the anniversary of this historical event,it is clear that,despite significant advances and much hard work,inequalities still exist in countries across the world. 2015 is the year to review achievements and look to the challenges that remain, as well as to untapped potential and opportunities. This is especially important as States shape a new global sustainable development agenda.

In moving forward, we must support women’s empowerment as a transformational force for human rights, for economic growth, for sustainability–and place gender equality at the heart of all development efforts.

These goals guide all of UNESCO’s work to take forward its Global Priority Gender Equality through all of its fields of competence--to ensure girls’ and women's equal access to quality education and skills development, science and technology, information and communication. These objectives underpin UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls and Women’s Education, as well as the activities supported by the Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education.

Our work is one of partnership, across the United Nations system, working ever more closely with UN Women, as well as with the private sector, reflected in the longstanding L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women
in Science programme,to support girls and women into scientific careers. 2015 is a decisive year. Twenty years after Beijing, as the world decides on a new agenda, we must craft a new vision that builds on lessons learned and outlines new actions to tackle new and remaining challenges.

 In this spirit, I call on UNESCO Member States and all partners to join forces to place the transformational power of gender equality at the heart of the post-2015 global sustainable development agenda.

Irina Bokova
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