Ban sees progress toward gender equality
KABUL (PAN): Significant progress has been achieved toward gender equality and women's empowerment through determined advocacy and enlightened policy-making over the last one century, the UN chief said on Monday.
"Yet, in too many countries and societies, women remain second-class citizens," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message on the eve of International Women's Day
Although the gender gap in education was closing, far too many girls were still denied schooling, leaving them with few skills and fewer opportunities, he added. "Women and girls also continue to endure unacceptable discrimination and violence…"
In many conflict zones, sexual violence was deliberately and systematically used to intimidate women and whole communities, Ban said.
"My Unite to End Violence Against Women campaign, along with its Network of Men Leaders, is working to end impunity and change mindsets. There is also growing resolve to punish and prevent sexual aggression in conflict…"
Identifying women's health as another area where significant progress was needed, he said the September 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals recognised the importance of this issue.
In the realm of decision-making, Ban noted, more women in more countries were taking their rightful seats in Parliament. "Yet fewer than 10 per cent of countries have female heads of state or government."
The UN chief said this year's observance of International Women's Day focused on equal access to education, training and science and technology. Cell phones and the Internet, for example, could enable women to improve the health and well-being of their families and take advantage of income-earning opportunities, he concluded.
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