UK & World News

  • 8 March 2014, 8:51

Clinton's 'Unfinished Business' On Women's Day

Hillary Clinton has called achieving equality for women and girls "the great unfinished business of the 21st century" as the world marks International Women's Day.

During a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the former US Secretary of State urged UN member states to include gender equality at the forefront of new goals to promote development.

She said: "When women succeed the world succeeds.

"When women and girls thrive, entire societies thrive. Just as women's rights are human rights, women's progress is human progress."

Mrs Clinton said the goals must ensure women everywhere have the right to find a job, to own and inherit property, to have a valid and legal identity, to have gender parity in primary and secondary education and help end violence against women and child brides.

She stressed there can be no progress "without safeguarding women's reproductive health and rights", saying the platform agreed to by 179 countries at the 1994 UN population conference in Cairo ensuring such rights "must be the starting point for work today".

"If we get it right, we can put the world on the path to less poverty and more prosperity, less inequality and more opportunity," Mrs Clinton added.

Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, head of UN Women, drew applause from representatives of the 193 UN member states when she echoed Mrs Clinton, declaring: "The 21st century offers an opportunity for a big leap forward - not baby steps. We've done baby steps."

"The face of poverty is that of a woman," she added. "The majority of the world's poor and illiterate are women and girls."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also made "a special appeal to the men and boys of the world" to join the conversation about women's rights including reproductive rights, women's empowerment and ending violence against women.

"Where men and women have equal rights, societies prosper," he said. "Equality for women is progress for all."

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