Gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge of our time, and one way to achieve the goal is by empowering women to have greater choices economically and control over their lives, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today, urging the international community to spearhead efforts that provide opportunities for women and girls.

“I look forward to a time when all societies everywhere can reap the benefits of gender equality,” said the Secretary-General at the high-level panel on women’s economic empowerment event today at UN Headquarters in New York, co-organized by the panel’s secretariat and UN Women.


“As I said this week to the General Assembly – and the world – I am proud to call myself a feminist,” he added.

Ban launched the 20-member panel at the World Economic Forum earlier this year in order to lead a discussion on closing gaps for women’s economic empowerment and in line with his leadership on and commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Consisting of representatives of government, business and civil society, and co-chaired by Luis Guillermo Solis, President of Costa Rica and Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO IKEA, Switzerland, the high-level panel is charged with supporting and providing guidance on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to improve economic outcomes for women and promote women’s leadership in driving economic growth. An interim report of the panel was presented to the Secretary-General at today’s event.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said today that gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge of our time, declaring, once again, that he was proud to call himself a feminist. Mr. Ban was speaking at a high level event on women’s economic empowerment, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Ban said that a 50/50 planet where there is gender equality, can be achieved through women empowerment.

Noting in his remarks that he established UN Women – which was created in 2010 – to be the global champion for women’s empowerment, helping to bring the Beijing Platform for Action to life, the UN chief also recalled that he launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, and was also the first person to sign up to the #HeForShe campaign to engage men and boys in the fight for gender equality.

“I firmly believe in a ‘50-50 planet’,” Ban said.

“One way of achieving this goal is through women’s economic empowerment. This is a uniquely potent way for women to have greater choice and exert control over their own lives. At the same time, it will benefit their families, their communities and their countries’ economies,” he noted.

In that regard, the Secretary-General said that the panel is already making progress to curate a portfolio of activities that can overcome barriers and promote fruitful investment.

“I urge you to continue to this work in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Your work is an important contribution to fulfilling the promise to leave no one behind,” Ban told the panel, encouraging members to set indicators of achievement by 2020 so that progress towards substantive equality can be measured.

Noting that he has “great faith” in the panel, the Secretary-General said that the group’s work has the ability to transform opportunities for women and girls. He also thanked the panel for its strong commitment and leadership.

The high-level panel is backed by the UN Women, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with support for its work provided by the UK Department for International Development.

A second report of the panel, informed by the first year of implementations of the 2030 Agenda, will be issued in early 2017. SOURCE: UN NEWS CENTRE/PACNEWS [/restrict]