The UN and Women´s Empowerment

Closing Equality Gaps

The UN and Women´s Empowerment

"Only through women´s full and equal participation in all areas of public and private life can we hope to achieve the sustainable, peaceful and just society promised in the United Nations Charter." -- Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

The UN has been at the forefront of improving the status of women by spearheading change and raising awareness of their rights throughout the world. Equal rights for women are a fundamental human right. This was enshrined in the Preamble to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

More than 160 countries have legally committed themselves to women´s equality, by ratifying the UN Convention on The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1979.

To achieve equality between men and women, a number of international documents have been adopted. Among the most important are the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. These documents set actions to ensure that women secure equal human rights with men. They point to twelve critical areas of concern that need to be addressed. They are:

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  • The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women;
  • Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to education and training;
  • Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to health care and related services;
  • Violence against women;
  • The effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation;
  • Inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources;
  • Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decision-making at all levels;
  • Insufficient mechanisms to promote the advancement of women at all levels;
  • Lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women;
  • Stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media;
  • Gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment; and
  • Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child.

United Nations organisations and specialized agencies, mainly though their development arms, undertake many programmes and projects to help improve women´s lives, especially in the developing world. The IAEA has Technical Cooperation Projects helping to improve the quality of life for women. More »

For more information please visit:
- Gender Equality Policy, 25 January 2008
- The UN´s gateway website on women - WomenWatch »
- UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women - UN WOMEN »

Graphic: Logo of the United Nations