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On International Women’s Day, UN Entities Emphasize Equality for All

international-women-day-20148 March 2014: The world celebrated International Women's Day in 2014 under the theme, 'Equality for women is progress for all.' To mark the occasion, several organizations and individuals underscored the role of women's empowerment in sustainable development, including UN General Assembly (UNGA) President John Ashe, who also emphasized women's roles in eradicating poverty.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ashe and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka all called for including gender equality, women's rights and women's empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda. Ban and Mlambo-Ngcuka also recommended including reproductive rights and ending violence against women.

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) described women's empowerment as critical in achieving sustainable development and economic growth, noting that UNIDO focuses on inclusive and sustainable industrial development with the aim of leaving no one behind. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) emphasized the importance of women's involvement in all aspects of environmental management and protection to achieve sustainable development in the Pacific.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, stressed gender equality as critical for Africa. She emphasized that the region is not "pandering to an external agenda" but "it because it is necessary. It is about our lives.” The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's (CGIAR) website featured articles discussing the role of women in agriculture, forest, livestock and water. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) hosted a panel, titled ‘Closing the gender gap in agriculture,' at which Director-General José Graziano da Silva said reducing gender inequality is fundamental to eliminating hunger and developing more sustainable food systems. World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said “giving women the power to make choices over their lives is one of the first steps towards a world with zero hunger.”

UN Women launched: ‘He for She,' an equality campaign encouraging men and boys to speak out against inequalities; and ‘She will connect,' to expand digital literacy among girls in Africa. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched its annual 'Women Make the News' (WMN) initiative, calling on the media to commit to ensuring that 30% of all expert interviews are conducted with women. Currently, only 24% of people heard, read, seen or questioned about the media are women, according to UNESCO.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres described the challenges of keeping girls in school, and stated "without the education of girls, equality for women will remain an empty promise." UNHCR UK co-hosted the Women on the Move Awards, which celebrated the achievements of migrant and refugee women and their contributions to empowering and integrating their communities.

International Women's Day aims to provide a day of reflection on the progress made by women around the world, to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women and to call for further action and change. [AfDB Press Release] [CGIAR Press Release] [FAO Press Release] [ILO Press Release] [IAEA Press Release] [SPREP Press Release] [UNESCO Press Release] [UNIDO Press Release] [UNHCR Press Release] [UNHCR UK Press Release] [UN Women Press Release] [WFP Press Release] [UNGA President Statement] [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UN Women Executive Director Statement]