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Commitment to gender equality at UN General Assembly debate

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Summary of story from UN Women, September 30, 2011

The 66th General Debate of the UN General Assembly closed this week with a firm commitment to gender equality throughout the speeches of high-level government representatives.

Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, the first woman ever to have opened a session, stressed that in Brazil: “women have been fundamental in overcoming social inequalities … yet my country, like every country in the world, still has much work ahead of it when it comes to empowering women.”

Rousseff welcomed the formation of UN Women in January of this year, paying tribute to its Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet.

“I add my voice to those of the women who dared to struggle, who dared to participate in politics and in the workforce, and who forged the political space without which I could not stand here today,” Rousseff proclaimed.

The President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom both highlighted the need to tear down the economic barriers still facing women.

Other states stressed the link between gender equality and economic development.  The Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway underlined evidence that states with discriminatory policies tend to remain poor.

Citing recent research findings that empowering women in agriculture would reduce hunger by 30 percent, the President of Slovenia affirmed that Slovenia “strongly” supports UN Women in its efforts to tackle gender discrimination around the globe.

The Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso announced that the African Group of states would introduce a draft resolution on female genital mutilation.

The Foreign Minister of Tunisia announced that it had withdrawn all reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and adopted a mandatory parity system for its upcoming Constituent Assembly elections.

Several countries highlighted national strategies to increase gender equality.  The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea noted that his Government had passed the first vote on a bill reserving seats for women in the 2012 elections.

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