Women Empowerment Must Go Beyond Rhetoric…Ellen Urges Int’l Community

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has acknowledged the progress being made by the international community towards strengthening women empowerment and equality; but stressed that such efforts must be sustained at all levels of socio-economic development.

According to a Dispatch from New York at the weekend, the Liberian leader made the assertion when she addressed the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Thematic Debate on the theme: “Advancing Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls for a Transformative – 2015 Development Agenda.”

The Liberian leader recalled the Beijing Conference 20 years ago, which brought  together world leaders and activists from all walks of life to envision  a world where women  and girls have equal rights, freedom and opportunity in all spheres of life.

She stressed that since the Beijing Conference, more girls are now educated, in addition to several women  holding professional positions, while others have broken the  glass ceiling.

President Sirleaf noted that in furtherance of the efforts to promote gender equality and to improve the status of women, in January this year,  the African Union promoted a stakeholders’ consultation on progress and challenges relating to women advancement, and designated  2015  as the year of “Women Empowerment and Development in Promotion of Agenda 2063.”

Similarly, the Liberian President indicated that last month the San Diego Women Leaders of the Global Community declared 2015 as the year for “Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.”

“In Rio,” President Sirleaf said, “world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to ensure the equal rights of women’s access to opportunity and participation in leadership in the economy, security and political decision-making,” but noted that despite these achievements, there remains a gap between the implementation and promises as evidenced by numerous challenges faced by women.

She noted that as the San Diego Conference pointed out, the current pace of change has been much too slow; pointing out that at the current pace, it will take 81-years to achieve gender equality in the work place where the highest echelon remains largely male; while it will take 75-years to reach remuneration between men and women for work of equal value and more than 30 years to reach gender balance in decision-making.

President Sirleaf argued that such situation is unacceptable, and urged that as the world is currently engaged in negotiating for a Post-2015 Development Agenda, the call for women empowerment and equality must go beyond rhetoric, and that the world must set goals that are realistic and achievable, coupled with monitoring and evaluation systems that motivate countries to action. “This was the success of the Millennium Development Goals as this is the spirit of progress and competition in the achievement of such goals,” she said.

The Liberian leader thanked the international community for the support especially during the Ebola crisis, and informed her audience that the country has not experienced any new case for the last 13 days and the last Ebola patient has been discharged.

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