Charlotte Bunch, speaking on behalf of WEDO and the GEAR Coalition

 New York, June 29 2010 – From June 14th– 15th, government representatives as well as non-governmental, civil society, and private sector representatives gathered at the UN Headquarters in New York to take part in an informal interactive hearing to provide input to the preparatory process for the September 2010 ‘MDG Summit’.

The hearings touched upon the main initiatives currently being undertaken at WEDO, namely: global governance reform to advance gender equalty and women’s empowerment, promoting women’s political participation, and engaging in global climate change advocacy.

Speaking on behalf of WEDO and the GEAR Campaign during the first session of the hearings, Ms. Charlotte Bunch of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) highlighted the urgency in establishing a new gender entity. “If Heads of State and Senior UN leadership move the new women’s agency forward this year with significant high level leadership and financial support, the gender equality agenda could be advanced at the local level over the next five years, which would significantly advance progress on the MDGs.“ 

Ms. Bunch set a precedent as several other speakers reinforced the need for a strong gender entity at the UN by emphasizing the central role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in achieving progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.  

Speaking on MDG 1- Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Ms. Farah Kabir from ActionAid underscored that, “Investing in women smallholder farmers is the key to halving hunger and results in twice as much growth as investment in any other sector.” 

Representatives of the private sector connected the importance of advancing gender equality in the labour market to achieving the MDGs. Marie Gad from BUSINESSEUROPE stated; “There is a clear correlation between the female to male ratio in economic activities and the number of people living in poverty. Countries with higher levels of females in the labour market have thus not only achieved higher income levels, they have also managed to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line.” She emphasized that much needed to be done to remove the social structures and judicial obstacles which prevent women from becoming successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Ms. Martha Sanchez Nestor,  of Alianza de Mujeres Indigenas de Centroamerica y Mexico, put foward specific recommendations for recognising the unique contributions of indigenous women in advancing the MDGs. “Learning the models of intercultural services for the human rights of indigenous women we propose to improve the recognition and respect for the traditional medicine of the indigenous peoples, the role of midwives, the indigenous cosmovision, and the potential for indigenous women leaders to eliminate gaps of economic, social, cultural, civil, and political inequalities in their countries.” 

Ms. Constance Okollet, of the Osukuru United Women’s Network spoke on behalf of Climate Wise Women about the importance of women’s participation in combating climate change as a key factor in achieving the MDGs. Speaking about the unique position of women in her community, Constance shared; “Most of the responsibilities in homes are carried out by the women. This includes food production and preparation, caring for children (and husbands!) and families, as well as raising cash through farming and petty trade. These responsibilities have been made much worse due to climate change. This is because the women have to work many times harder to sustain their families.” Ms. Okollet asserted that women must play an integral role in developing solutions for adaptation and mitigation to climate change and emphasized that; “However much we talk about the structures and resources needed to take countries out of poverty, without talking about climate change it is all meaningless.”

Click here to view full statements from all speakers and respondents at the hearings 

For more information on the GEAR Campaign please go to campaign website – www.gearcampaign.org – contact the GEAR Campaign at: gearcampaign@gmail.com or Rachel Harris of WEDO at +1 212 873 0352 x211.

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