Step It Up for Gender Equality

8 March 2016


For millions of women and girls around the world, gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights remain elusive. 

Here in Myanmar, there are gender inequalities in legislation, in access to economic opportunities and in political representation. In addition, gender-based violence, which includes sexual violence, intimate partner violence, trafficking, forced and early marriage, and exploitation of women, is widespread. 

UNFPA is one of the UN’s lead agencies working to further gender equality and women’s empowerment, and addressing the physical and emotional consequences of gender-based violence. 

One important tool for addressing these inequalities is the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women 2013 -2022. UNFPA supported the development of the Plan, especially in the areas of women and health, women and emergencies, women and human rights, violence against women, and the girl child. Through its contributions to the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women, UNFPA supports the right of women and couples to freely and responsibly decide the number and spacing of their children. 

In Myanmar, “Women and Girls First” is one of several UNFPA initiatives designed to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in Myanmar. The initiative is a commitment to work across sectors of Myanmar society towards inclusion and participation of women in political dialogue and decision making; towards women and girl friendly legal processes and responses from police, prosecutors and court staff; towards protecting women and girls from gender-based violence. 

Today, on International Women’s Day, I call on all of you to take action to protect the rights of women and girls and to rectify long-standing gender inequality. 

Gender equality and equal protection of human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, are important in their own right. But they are also a means to achieving internationally agreed-upon social and economic objectives, including the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the international community in September 2015. These goals emphasize the achievement of gender equality, good health and quality education for all and the elimination of poverty. 

For more than four decades, UNFPA has helped improve women’s health and advance their rights. The Fund will continue pushing the health and rights agenda through 2030, when the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved, and beyond, until all women and girls everywhere are on an equal footing with men and have the power and the means to exercise their basic human rights.