Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/DSG/47
        20 October 2000
     Deputy Secretary-General Welcomes Women Marchers to Headquarters

    NEW YORK, 17 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to participants in the World March of Women, delivered (in French) on 17 October to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty:

     I am delighted to welcome you to the United Nations on this symbolic day when we are celebrating the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

     Since your action was launched on 8 March this year -- at the initiative of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, which is to be congratulated -- you have spared no effort to publicize women’s concerns and mobilize world opinion in favour of their cause.  And it is obvious that your campaign has been a success, as witness the millions of cards of support which you have collected.

     By marching together, you have strikingly demonstrated your strength, your solidarity and your determination to put an end to the poverty, violence and discrimination from which too many women continue to suffer daily.  As we all know, we still have a long way to go.

     The figures speak for themselves:  2.8 billion people, or almost half of the world population, continue to live in poverty, with an income of less than two dollars a day.  Of this number, 1.2 billion people have to manage with less than one dollar a day for food, housing and clothing.  The majority of these most deprived inhabitants of the planet are women.

     For it is true -- poverty has a gender, and it is feminine.  Yet the majority of poor women are gainfully employed.  They play a vital role in agriculture, commerce and light industry.  And when they earn their living and contribute their means of subsistence, the whole family benefits.

     And so you are right to concentrate on the need to ensure the economic and social independence of women.  This is one of the best ways of combating the scourge of poverty throughout the world.  But this requires more economic opportunities and more sources of income.

     In our increasingly interdependent world, the best course is for countries to be integrated in the world economy.  I believe that the poor are poor not because of excessive globalization but because of insufficient globalization, from which they are excluded.  Our greatest challenge is therefore to ensure that globalization does not only mean bigger markets but also serves to build a better future for all humankind, in all its diversity. 

    As you know, at the recent Millennium Summit, heads of States and Governments decided to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty and to stimulate development.  They agreed on steps to reduce poverty by 2015 and set specific goals in various areas, such as education, health, housing and access to services.  And they promised to work towards the creation of a more inclusive and equitable society, where the benefits of globalization are more widely and evenly spread, and no one is left behind or excluded. 

    These commitments must now be translated into concrete actions.  Governments have the primary responsibility for this task but you can help by working in partnership with them to achieve their goals. 

    You can encourage governments to make the right choices on behalf of the world's poor.  And your work as implementing partners, can ensure that those policy choices have a real impact on people's daily lives.  You are also in the best position to help change the mentalities and attitudes towards women. 

    If we work together and combine our efforts, the twenty-first century will see rapid progress in the fight to end poverty and violence against women.  Your campaign has helped raise consciousness about the many obstacles which still prevent women from fully enjoying their rights.  I know you have specific views of your own on how to overcome these obstacles.  Be sure that I will pass them on to the Secretary-General.

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