International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is a reminder and recognition of the vital role women play in not only the social, cultural, and political spheres of our lives but also in the development of our societies. This is a time to reflect on the progress made thus far, to call for further change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by all women who truly play extraordinary roles in their nations and communities.

I fully support platforms such as the "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality" who serve as a foundation and an initiative for governments to strengthen their commitment in creating conditions for women and girls to reach their utmost point of self-actualization.  Such initiatives are truly relevant because they remind us that the power of humanity lies not only in accepting diversity, but elevating equality high on the human rights pedestal.

Advances have been made in ensuring that women are being fairly represented in decision-making processes and positions. However, significant levels of discrepancies based on gender still persist, and I commit in my efforts to not only discuss gender inequality as an issue but rather to take concrete measures and actions. The gender gaps and the disproportionate employment rates and wages must be adequately addressed.

Women are agents of development and should always have access to inclusive and quality education, political and social liberties, and equal opportunities. In the 21st century, an era for progress and advancement, gender should remain as a mere description, a reason for celebration and not distinction.

National commitments should cover the full range of issues addressing the most pressing barriers for women, such as increasing investment in gender equality, reaching parity for women at all levels of decision-making, eliminating discriminatory legislation, and addressing social norms that perpetuate discrimination and violence against women. Vocational trainings and entrepreneurial opportunities should be provided for women in developing countries.

16 years later since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (S/RES/1325) on women, peace and security violence against women is still unfortunately a pertinent issue. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the UN Secretary General's report on the implementation of the Declaration should also serve as a corner stone and an example in the fight for gender equality.  

Precisely, during my tenure as the 62nd President of the UN General Assembly, I stressed the need for integrated and people-centered solutions at the crossroads between security, development and human rights as the heart of our efforts to fight gender-based crimes against women and girls in conflict situations.

Armed conflict has a disproportionately negative impact on women. Sexual violence against women is not only an affront to our human dignity, but an inherent and grave threat to our human security. When it is authorized and perpetrated as an instrument of war one cannot express in words the utter indecency.

It is my strong belief that women must be assured equal and full participation in conflict resolution and peace building processes, and represented in the structures and institutions in order to ensure that the results and outcomes are lasting.

Let us remember that, women are our colleagues, partners, daughters, sisters, and mothers. WE are warriors together, Fighters for a better world where each human being shall be respected and valued equally.

Nothing and No one should justify gender discrimination or violence against women.

Let us celebrate all WOMEN, who have driven, built and lifted up entire civilizations. Together we can create a better world built on partnership, love and solidarity.

Happy International Women’s Day!  

8 March 2016 

UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz