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Excellencies, Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome so many distinguished guests. I am honored to be able to host this event together with the President of Liberia - Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The main result from our gathering today should be a strong Call to Action for the Millennium Development Goals.
Action needs to be concrete in order to really count. I believe people should be able to hold us accountable to the promises we make.
This is what is behind the Danish Government’s Call to Action on Millennium Development Goal number 3 on gender equality and empowerment of women.
We have set out to collect 100 very specific commitments to “do something extra” for gender equality. We have handed over torches with a clear challenge: To do more for the empowerment of women.
I am proud to say that we have reached that goal. Today, we can present 100 clear, specific and significant commitments to empower women. Commitments made by actors from all areas of society: governments, international organizations, private companies and the civil society.
Together, the torch bearers form a strong “global coalition” with one thing in common: A promise to go out and make empowerment of women happen. The broad variety of the torch commitments are documented in the book you have before you.
These promises send a strong signal of real commitment. The next question is: how do we go about empowering women in the most efficient way?
One important approach is looking at innovative best practices.
We have asked the UNDP to carry out a study. The study identifies such practices in three key areas:
1. Providing women with better financial opportunity
2. Ensuring women’s legal status and rights, and
3. Enhancing women’s effective involvement in decision-making bodies in the economic area.
The study provides inspiration for us all on how to scale-up activities to empower women in the economic, legal and political fields.
Ladies and gentlemen,
My ambition is clear: We should meet again in 2010 - and we should have achieved at least the following 5 targets:
1. Making the empowerment of women a key issue on the international agenda as well as on national agendas;
2. A substantial increase of government’s domestic resource allocation towards the empowerment of women;
3. A doubling of ODA to gender equality and empowerment by bilateral and multilateral donors;
4. A stronger accountability of gender efforts at both international and national levels; and
5. An active involvement of the private sector in improving gender equality and empowerment.
The Danish Government is putting resources behind the Call to Action. We are committed to double our yearly targeted assistance to gender equality and women’s empowerment from 2008 to 2010. But governments can not do it alone. The private sector plays an important role here.
I see a particular strong potential for the investment of the private sector.
We should develop new and innovative partnerships to mobilize investments in health, education and job opportunities for women. Young girls should get the opportunity not only to be enrolled in the schools, but also to complete their education at the highest possible level. Make use of their full potential. And qualify for decent and better jobs.
One needs to look no further than to one of our distinguished speakers, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Llyod Blankfein, to truly understand that potential. Goldman Sachs has launched an initiative that will provide 10,000 women with a business and management education. The initiative will invest in a significant resource – the exponential power of women as entrepreneurs and managers.
And there are similar examples of strong dedication and commitments when it comes to torch bearers from international organizations and civil society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am proud to conclude my intervention by presenting torch no. 100 to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Secretary-General, with your dedication and strong commitment to the development agenda, I highly appreciate your presence today. You have the ability to bring all partners together to address our common challenges and find new solutions. This is indeed necessary when it comes to promoting gender equality.
I am honored and pleased that you have accepted to become a Torch Bearer and join us in this Global Call to Action. Together with the Global Coalition, we should continue – and we should strengthen - our work in the run up to 2010.
Secretary-General, please receive this torch along with the booklet documenting the 99 other strong commitments for gender equality. I look forward to hearing your commitment.