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    Press Release No:  UNIS/SG/2588
    Release Date:   6 June 2000
    Secretary-General Tells Gathering of Non-governmental Organizations
    Women's Beijing Action Plan Cannot Be Implemented without Them

     NEW YORK, 5 June (UN Headquarters)  -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the 5 June gathering of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the occasion of the General Assembly special session "Women 2000:  Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-first Century":

     Welcome!  We celebrate today in the open air.  The sun shines on us today as we join forces and renew our commitment to fairness, justice, health and opportunity for half the human race.

     Five years ago, many of you were in Beijing with a banner reading, “Women hold up half the sky”.  Yes, with one hand women hold up half the sky.  The further miracle is that with the other hand, you also write books, invest for the future, manufacture computer parts, and cultivate the land.  You work to uphold the rights and opportunities of all women.

     Five years ago, thousands of NGO representatives went to Beijing determined to promote women’s rights, and address the wrongs they are subjected to.  You went to ensure that women’s contributions are recognized, and to make the discrimination and deprivation women endure plain for all the world to see.  You went to show the world that gender equality is not only a goal in itself, but a road to peace and development for all the peoples of the world.

     The result was the largest NGO gathering in support of a United Nations conference the world had ever seen, and one of the most remarkable documents since the United Nations Charter itself, “The Beijing Platform for Action”.

     Today, you come to New York to celebrate an anniversary, to measure progress and to see how and where we can do more.  You gather in the thousands to demonstrate your commitment to gender equality, development and peace in the twenty-first century.

     I welcome you!  Because the Beijing Plus Five negotiation is among the most important that we will undertake in this Millennium year, its outcome will not only be crucial to the rights and lives of women everywhere; it will also be crucial to the achievement of the goals I have asked the world’s leaders to support at the Millennium Summit on behalf of the all the world’s peoples.

     In the past five years, we have made progress in implementing the Beijing Platform.  But as you all know, we still have a long way to go.  Just as the Platform for Action could not have been drafted without you, it cannot be implemented without you.  We need your energy, expertise and extraordinary spirit to move it forward, to demonstrate that empowering women not only means better lives for women; it means better lives for everyone on the planet -– men and women alike.

     You have my respect, my thanks and my support.  On behalf of the United Nations, I wish you all a most successful session.

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