News / Americas

UN Launches Women’s Rights Organization

Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women (file photo)
Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women (file photo)

The head of a new United Nations organization promoting women’s rights said Tuesday that a major goal of the agency is to empower women throughout the world.

The new organization likes to call itself U.N. Women, shorthand for United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.  U.N. Women was established by the U.N. General Assembly last year, combining four U.N. agencies and offices.

At the first meeting of the agency’s executive board, the executive director of U.N. Women, Michelle Bachelet, outlined the organization's basic themes. They include giving women a high profile public forum as well as ending violence against women and enhancing economic empowerment for women.

At that same meeting, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, welcomed the new organization.

"With the creation of U.N. Women, for the first time in the U.N.’s 65-year history, member states voted to put women’s challenges and opportunities at their rightful place at the forefront of the U.N.’s mission.  This commitment is not simply about equality and fairness.  Empowering women is a precondition for development, prosperity and security," she said.

Bachelet, the former president of Chile, said at the same meeting that the strength, industry and wisdom of women are humankind’s greatest untapped resources.

Later, at a news conference, she avoided answering a reporter’s question about the possibility of a woman becoming U.N. secretary-general.  But she said she is going to work very hard at building the case that there should be more women in leadership roles in organizations throughout the world.

"We have some progress in some areas like in Latin America, now we have the first woman president of Brazil and that’s very important.  Brazil is a very powerful country.  We have also [a woman president] in Argentina and in Costa Rica and the prime minister in Trinidad and Tobago.  So I would say from a political point of view, women are getting into higher positions, but still very few, 19 in 192 countries as head of governments and head of states," she said.

Bachelet said that greater empowerment of women would lead to increased gender equality.

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