USUN PRESS RELEASE #176 October 11, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11, 2013
The United Nations General Assembly established International Day of the Girl Child to remind us that the dignity and rights of every girl must be upheld not just on this day, but on all days. This year, we especially remember that education is critical to this goal.
According to UNICEF, approximately one out of every three females in the developing world is forced to marry as a young teenager or child, and there is clear evidence that girls who marry before adulthood are more likely to leave school early due to pregnancy. Yet educating girls enables them to fight discrimination and violence, lift themselves out of poverty, and escape the harmful situations in which so many become trapped, all while helping society as a whole and saving lives. It is the key to narrowing income gaps between men and women, and countries like Jordan, Pakistan, and Argentina have shown that when girls get a secondary education they can increase their earning potential significantly. Education also helps prevent child hunger, as providing mothers with just a primary education would save 1.7 million children from stunted growth and malnutrition each year.
As we redouble our commitment to the right of all girls to grow into independent, educated women, we should bear in mind the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani who was shot by the Taliban because she bravely insisted that girls be allowed to attend school. Today I met Malala and was reminded of her powerful speech at the United Nations last July. Speaking for all children, she urged the world to guarantee free education so that girls and boys might “empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and . . . shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” On this International Day of the Girl Child, we should rededicate ourselves to removing the obstacles of bigotry and poverty that hold girls back, and to constructing new platforms of learning and opportunity upon which future progress may be built.
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Secretary-General's Message for 2013
This year’s observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty comes as the international community is pursuing twin objectives: intensifying efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and formulating the next set of goals to guide our efforts after we reach the MDG target date of 2015. This post-2015 agenda must have poverty eradication as its highest priority and sustainable development at its core. After all, the only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path.
We have much work ahead. While poverty levels have declined significantly, progress has been uneven. Our impressive achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide. Too many, especially women and girls, continue to be denied access to adequate health care and sanitation, quality education and decent housing. Too many young people lack jobs and the skills that respond to market demands. Rising inequality in many countries -- both rich and poor -- is fueling exclusion from economic, social and political spheres, and we know that the impacts of climate change and loss of biodiversity hit the poorest the hardest. All of this underpins the need for strong and responsive institutions.
We need to do more to listen and act for those whose voices often go unheard – people living in poverty, and in particular among them indigenous people, the older persons and those living with disabilities, the unemployed, migrants and minorities. We need to support them in their struggle to escape poverty and build better lives for themselves and their families.
If we are to realize the future we want for all, we must hear and heed the calls of the marginalized. For the last year, the UN has been doing just that by spearheading an unprecedented global conversation on the world people want. That dialogue must continue – and lead to the active and meaningful inclusion of people living in poverty -- as we chart a course to ending poverty everywhere.
Together, we can build a sustainable world of prosperity and peace, justice and equity – a life of dignity for all.
A special briefing on the Post-2015 Development Agenda issues before the General Assembly.
Thursday, 03 October 2013
10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
ECOSOC Chamber, E. 46th Street & 1st Avenue
United Nations Headquarters, New York
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In September 2000, Member States joined together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and to promote basic human rights. This universal pledge, with a global deadline of 2015, delineates a combination of timesensitive targets, as well as tangible investments, political volition, and countries and people working together towards the eradication of extreme poverty in its many dimensions. The promises made by Member States at the Millennium Declaration, put into action, are known today as the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The world has made substantial progress towards achieving these goals, with three of the eight targets – poverty, slums, and water – having been achieved prior to the 2015 deadline. Nonetheless, huge disparities still exist across the MDGs, and within countries and regions. Thus, greater efforts along with a stronger global partnership for development are needed to accelerate progress and reach the goals by 2015 (www.un.org/en/ecosoc/about/mdg.shtml). This awareness of the existence of gaps and imbalance, move towards inclusiveness, and of the urgent need to both expedite momentum and start planning past the 2015 deadline, serve as the foundation of the Post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda.
The Victories and Shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) As noted, the world has made tremendous headway towards achieving the MDGs, and with reaching specific targets globally and in individual nations. Since their inception in 2000, the world has seen the most rapid reduction in poverty in human history. There are now half a billion fewer people living below an international poverty line of $1.25 a day; Child mortality rates have decreased by more than 30%, with about three million children’s lives saved each year; and, deaths from malaria have fallen by one quarter. This extraordinary progress has been guided by a mixture of economic growth, better policies, and a global commitment to the MDGs (report.post2015hlp.org/digital-report-executivesummary. html).
However, the liklihood of meeting all of the Goals differ pointedly as the MDGs have not adequantly addressed some of the world’s poorest and most excluded individuals. Todate, more than than a billion people still live in extreme poverty, with the greatest occurances in rural areas, and vast growth ensuing in urban regions. Many still endure severe deprivation in health and education, with any hope of advancement impeded by significant inequality related to income, gender, ethnicity, disability, age and location. (www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/) (report.post2015hlp.org/digital-report-executive-summary.html) (www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/A%20Life%20of%20Dignity%20for%20All.pdf). Furthermore, the MDGs had little impact on the debilitating effects that conflict and violence have on development. The prolonged global economic deterioration, and conflict and violence in recent years have exacerbated poverty, inequality, and exclusion. The manner in which good governance guarantees freedom, the rule of law, and transparent and accountable governments were also not addressed, nor was the need for inclusive growth to provide jobs. Pertaining to the environment, and to climate change and extinction, biodiversity loss, and the degradation of water, dry lands, and forests, threaten to undo progress and sabotage chances of future advancement. Towards that end, the MDGs fell short by not integrating the economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable development as envisaged in the Millennium Declaration, and did not sufficiently focus on promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production. As a result, environment and development were never properly brought together. And most seriously, one of the largest issues with the MDGs was the lack of inclusion and collaboration: People were working hard – but often separately – on interlinked problems (report.post2015hlp.org/digital-report-executivesummary. html).
The Origin and Formation of the Post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda
The Resolution of the 2010 High-level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly assessed progress on the MDGs, and subsequently requested the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to initiate thinking on a Post-2015 Development Agenda (http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/about/mdg.shtml). To support this effort, the UN Secretary-General has taken several initiatives. He has established the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, launched a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons, and appointed his own Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. These processes are complemented by a set of eleven global thematic consultations and national consultations in over 60 countries, facilitated by the United Nations Development Group (UNDP) (www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/untaskteam_undf/index.shtml).
The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the MDGs: What Will Change?
The discussion on the new development agenda – currently underway – is forward-thinking and optimistic. Talks surrounding the creation of the new Agenda aim to celebrate and to embrace the best parts of the MDGs, while recognising the aforementioned shortcomings, and consequently, to implement changes. Thus, the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda will carry forth the spirit of the Millennium Declaration, and the most successful portions of the MDGs. As stated in the “Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” the new timetable will continue in its pragmatic approach, thereby targeting poverty, hunger, water, sanitation, education, and healthcare. With respect to promoting sustainable development, however, the agenda moves forward with the realisation that further action, exceeding the scope of the MDGs, is required. Ultimately, the findings of this report concluded that the Post-2015 Agenda remains a universal one, and must be driven by five transformative shifts. These “shifts”, entitled the “5-Point Plan”, outline the following approach to the Post-2015 Development Agenda: (1) Leave no one behind –We must end hunger and provide a fair chance in life for everyone; (2) Put sustainable development at the core – We must find ways for ours and future generations to thrive on this planet; (3) Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth – We must create stable growth that improves all people’s livelihoods; (4) Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all –We must ensure honest governments that respond to all people’s needs; and, (5) Forge a new global partnership – We must embrace a spirit of cooperation and mutual accountability (report.post2015hlp.org/digital-report-executive-summary.html).
The UN System Task Team was established by the UN Secretary-General to support system-wide preparations for the Post-2015 UN development agenda, in consultation with all stakeholders, including Member States, civil society, academia and the private sector. It brings together over 60 UN entities and agencies and international organizations. The Task Team supports the multi-stakeholder consultations being led by Member States on a Post-2015 Development Agenda by providing analytical inputs, expertise, and outreach.(www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/untaskteam_undf/index.shtml)
The UN-SG’s High Level Panel – In July 2012, the UN Secretary-General brought forth a High Level Panel to advise on the global development framework beyond 2015. The Panel was part of the Secretary-General’s Post-2015 initiative mandated by the 2010 MDG Summit. The panel consulted thousands of people from around the world and in various sectors of society: 5,000 civil society organizations in 120 countries and in every region; 250 companies in 30 countries, with annual revenues exceeding $8 trillion; thematic, regional, and country consultations all over the world; survey results from over half a million individuals on priorities for the future (report.post2015hlp.org).
Global Thematic and National Consultations – One of the biggest changes moving forward with the Post- 2015 Agenda is the call for an increasingly open, inclusive consultation with stakeholders, towards achieving the amended MDGs. This includes truly listening to, and working alongside, civil society, the private sector, academia and research institutions from all regions, in addition to Member States and the UN system to advance and develop the framework beyond 2015 (www.post2015hlp.org/about). The World We Want, a platform created by the UN and civil society, has initiated a “Global Conversation” surrounding the eleven global thematic and national consultations towards this end. Moving forward, the Post-2015 agenda will better incorporate the priorities of people from every corner of the world and assist with building a shared vision that will be used directly by the United Nations and World Leader to plan a new Post-2015 Agenda.
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