The Words of the Kagawa Family

Iraq Mission Hosts Luncheon with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Genie Kagawa
March 5, 2012
UPF Office of UN Relations

UN Headquarters, New York -- The Permanent Mission of Iraq hosted a luncheon on March 5 with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Keynote Speaker, on the theme of "The Role of the Secretary-General and the UN in the Empowerment of Women," held at the Ambassadors Riverview Tent at the UN headquarters New York. More than 200 distinguished guests attended from the UN diplomatic community, UN agencies and secretariat, as well as members of the UN NGO community.

UPF leaders, including President Dr. Thomas Walsh and his wife, Lynn, and Secretary General Mr. Taj Hamad, participated along with distinguished guests, by invitation of H.E. Dr. Hamid Al Bayati, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations. UPF guests included H.E. Babiker Khalifa, former Ambassador of Sudan to South Korea, and his wife, Mrs. Amira Elhussein; Mrs. Annie Franklin, Representative of Family Watch at the UN; Mrs. Tsu-Wei Zoe Chang, UN Women's Guild; Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Head of the New York Office of UNITAR; and Ms. Genie Kagawa, Deputy Director of the UPF Office for UN Relations.

In his keynote speech, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that he has made the empowerment of women a top priority agenda during his term at the United Nations. He appointed a woman for the position of Deputy Secretary-General and created a new department for women called UN Women. Recently, he appointed a woman as Chef de Cabinet in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He set the bar, beginning with his own office, and significantly increased the participation of women in the senior levels of UN leadership. As the lower echelon of the UN has a higher percentage of employed women, he intends to focus on the middle-range positions for women. In particular, the Secretary-General spoke about encouraging countries to adopt measures that guarantee women's equal access to political leadership, manage elections to promote women's engagement, and build the capacity of women to be effective leaders. Mr. Ban noted that nine countries still have no women represented in their Parliaments and that he is carrying out ongoing dialogue with those countries to alter the situation.

H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, Acting President of the United Nations General Assembly, represented President H.E. Mr. Nassir Al-Nasser in delivering remarks. He affirmed that the access of women and girls to education, training, science, and technology and women's equal access to employment will ensure their empowerment and advancement in their communities. This fact is at the heart of economic growth and development in contemporary global society. He said he welcomed the establishment of UN Women and fully supported its objective in accelerating the organization's goals of gender equality and the empowerment of women. He anticipates that UN Women will be coordinating closely with the Member States with renewed commitment to achieving its goals.

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director, emphasized that countries with higher levels of gender equality enjoy faster growth and better performance. "And the growth is more inclusive, which benefits all of us," she said. She reported that the priority theme of the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women concerns action plans for rural women, which is a matter of human rights, equality, and justice on behalf of women. Rural women and girls comprise one out of four people worldwide. Supporting rural women is fundamental to ending poverty and hunger and achieving peace and sustainable development. Research shows that empowering women is good for everyone because it promotes peace and human security and for future generations.

Ambassador Al Bayati reported increasing opportunities for women in public life in Iraq. For example, the new Iraqi constitution requires that 25 percent of the members of parliament be women, and 27 percent are now women. "I think the quality of our politics will improve if we have more women in government," he stated. Mostly importantly, women are the center of love in the family, and as wives and mothers they have the most important role in the family and, therefore, in society.

The luncheon was a Side Event of the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, in recognition of great strides that have been made with regard to gender equality and the advancement of women's issues. 

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