LIBERIA: President Sirleaf Returns From AU Summit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Western Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

President Sirleaf on Sunday joined women in Africa and across the world to celebrate the creation of the newest United Nations entity, known as United Nations Women (UN Women).

The Seat of the Liberian Presidency, the “Executive Mansion” says the President, along with United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and other Heads of State and Government as well as the Executive Director of the new body, Madam Michelle Bachelet, graced the ceremony that featured the unveiling of the UN Women's new logo.

“The new logo is familiar yet different, the President observed, describing it as one which conveys the message of equality for women worldwide.

The Liberian Leader said she was truly confident that with Madam Bachelet, as head of the new entity “UN Women”, it is in very capable hands.

The President welcomed the decision by the General Assembly to place women organizations under a single umbrella. The consolidation, she pointed out, also brings together resources and mandates for greater impact.

The Liberian President also described the decision as one that was long overdue. “And although UN Women only became operational on January 1st, all indications are that it has ‘hit the ground running,' bringing greater coherence and coordination to the four entities that preceded it.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf assured the UN Secretary-General of her Government's support in contributing to gender equality and the empowerment and advancement of women worldwide, building on the milestones and the successes already achieved.
According to her, they need to empower African women who provide food, raise children and drive the economy. She told the UN Secretary-General that when women take their rightful place at the negotiating table, in the parliament and in leadership positions across society, they can unleash Africa's enormous potential, noting that UN Women is here to help reach this goal.”
“A vision of how much more is possible when men and women have equal rights and opportunities will drive UN Women,” said Executive Director Bachelet. We will be bold and ambitious in our aspirations. We will also be practical in building an organization that can make a lasting deference in women's lives.”

UN Women integrates four existing UN organizations, with a greater concentration of resources and expertise expected to accelerate gender equality efforts. It will focus many of its efforts on national programmes, including in the 48 African countries it currently supports. One early action will be to bolster the capacities of its existing network of 26 country and sub-regional offices in Africa.

The new organization's main activities will involve advocating for gender equality and providing expertise to assist countries in establishing policies, programmes and resources for achieving it. UN Women will work globally with Member States to forge international standards and goals for gender equality.

The agreement to create UN Women came from a July 2010 UN General Assembly resolution. In January this year, the new agency became operational under the leadership of Executive Director Bachelet, the former President of Chile. Her attendance at the African Union summit marks her first official visit outside UN headquarters in New York.