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Women’s empowerment in the spotlight

20 August 2008 Media Statement

Women’s empowerment in the spotlight

A torch accepted by Women’s Affairs Minister Steve Chadwick today symbolises
New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to an international campaign for gender equality and the empowerment of women.

“It is an honour to receive this torch and I am pleased to announce the government’s increased financial support for international development work that promotes women’s rights,” Steve Chadwick said.

“We are increasing our annual contribution to the United Nations Development Fund (UNIFEM) by $500,000 this year and next, which is a trebling of New Zealand’s support in recent years, and our contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will increase from $4.5 million to $6 million in the coming year.

“Through NZAID, this government supports a range of important initiatives in the Pacific, including improving sexual and reproductive health services and a programme to improve the quality of nursing – the majority of whom are women.

“Today we add New Zealand’s voice to the international call for increased attention and investment in the third Millennium Development Goal (MDG3).”

The MDG3 was one of eight United Nations’ goals agreed to by 189 countries and leading development institutions. These goals range from providing universal primary education, to halving extreme poverty, and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“Women are the backbone of families, villages, communities and nations, but they are much more likely than men to be poor, malnourished, illiterate and denied access to basic health services.

“Advancing women’s rights has a direct link to the attainment of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and peace.

“The MDG3 seeks to promote gender equality and empower women at all levels. By accepting this torch, and joining the Global Call to Action, we are committing to ‘do something extra’ to achieve the Goal.

“New Zealand has always been a strong supporter of women’s rights and I am proud to be able to say that ‘we commit to do more’ for gender equality and the world’s women.”

Background information:

Millennium Development Goal 3
The Global Call to Action on MDG3 is a Danish Government-led initiative. At least 100 torches are travelling the world and those who accept them commit to ‘do something extra’ for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
World leaders will come together in New York on 25 September 2008 to renew their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and to set out concrete plans and practical steps for action. At this meeting the United Nations’ Secretary-General will be invited to accept the last torch.

United Nations Development Fund (UNIFEM)
UNIFEM is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality.

UNIFEM is one of a number of UN agencies charged with helping countries move forward on the Millennium Development Goals, but it has the only specific mandate to advocate for gender equality. The fund assists efforts to monitor progress on the goals from a gender perspective, analyse steps to achieve them and spread awareness to encourage women’s participation

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.

UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.


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