March 8, 2011 marks the 100th commemoration of International Women’s Day. On this important anniversary, United Nations Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth issued the following statement:
“This year, as the world marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, it is more important than ever that we put women and adolescent girls at the top of the international agenda. As many of us witness in our own families and communities, strong women and girls have the power to help us solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Since the UN Foundation opened its doors more than a decade ago, helping the United Nations promote gender equality, empower women and girls, and improve reproductive and sexual health has remained one of our main priorities.
Today, women and girls face many challenges. It is unacceptable that two-thirds of illiterate adults worldwide are women. Also, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death and disability. These deaths could be easily prevented if women have the resources to plan for their families. Yet an estimated 215 million women cannot access family planning. When a girl is educated, healthy, skilled, and empowered, she is more likely to invest in her family and community.
In the current economic climate, I am reminded of how critical it is to invest in solutions that produce the biggest impact. One of the best investments we can make is in improving maternal and child health. The UN and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have made great strides in advancing the rights and health of the world’s women and girls. In early 2011, the UN launched a new agency, UN Women, to consolidate the power of the UN and its resources to accelerate progress in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. Corporations, governments, and individuals are taking note and standing alongside the UN with pledges of more than $40 billion for Ban Ki-moon’s recently launched Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. We applaud these efforts as a step in the right direction for women to achieve all they can in their lives.
This week, UN Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin is in Liberia with UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet to meet with Liberian women and girls to learn firsthand how we can help them succeed. Addressing the needs and rights of the world’s women and girls is essential to alleviating poverty and creating a better world for future generations. We urge people everywhere to join with us in standing up for the next generation of women around the world by supporting the UN Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign at www.girlup.org and signing up for regular updates on how you can take action to support women and girls at www.unfoundation.org.”
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. These campaigns focus on reducing child mortality, empowering women and girls, creating a new energy future, securing peace and human rights, and promoting technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.