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Press release

UNICEF Executive Director delivers remarks at Beijing+10

Beijing+10 opened this morning at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

Beijing,  29  August 2005 - UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, in  China  for a five-day visit, delivered her remarks at the opening day’s afternoon  plenary  session.  She began by emphasizing the need to not lose sight   of   the  girl  child  at  Beijing+10  and  after,  because  gender discrimination  can  begin  at the earliest stages of life. Noting that all eight  Millennium Development Goals impact children, Veneman emphasized the importance of UNICEF programs and partnerships that promote gender equality and  empower women. She noted the particular importance of girls’ education “because  of  its positive effects on the development of the individual and the well-being of societies”.

Girls’  education  is  not  only  fundamental  to the achievement and sustainability of poverty reduction, she said, but it also applies to other development  goals.  Veneman said that educating girls provides both short and  long-term  benefits,  “including  reduced  child  mortality, increased productivity and income, better-educated children and gains for women’s and girls’  social  status  and empowerment”. Veneman went on to note that 115 million children, the majority of whom are girls, were still out of school, despite the gains that had been made.

Veneman noted how gender disparities contributed to a greater risk of women  contracting  HIV,  with  the situation further exacerbated by sexual exploitation  and  the  trafficking of women and children. She told of how, during  a  recent  visit to Africa, she learned firsthand from children who had  been kidnapped, including girls who had been forced to become soldiers or sold into sexual slavery.

“Gender-based  violence  in  any  of  its  forms”, Veneman continued, “denies  girls  and  women  their  basic  rights and dignity, and harms the development  of  entire countries.” Ending violence against women therefore must  be  a priority for sustainable development and for the realization of the fullest potential of both children and women, she said.

Providing a better future for women and children therefore requires a renewed  commitment to the principles of the Beijing Declaration and to the Millennium   Development   Goals   by   “supportive  governments,  economic empowerment  and  a  focus on poverty, health, education and partnerships”, Veneman concluded.

Tomorrow  the  UNICEF Executive Director will speak at the opening of the  Annual  Workshop of the Framework of Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asia Pacific Region.

For more information please contact:

Mr Matt Raymond, UNICEF Senior Communication Advisor:
Cell-phone: (1-917) 349-0872

Mr Charles Rycroft, UNICEF Beijing Communication Officer:
Tel: (86-10) 65323107 Ex: 1301 Cell-phone: 13641290007




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