“We cannot underestimate the opportunity and responsibility of the task in our hands,” Tarja Halonen, co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for ICPD and former President of Finland told a panel at the President of the General Assembly’s High Level Event on the Contributions of Women, the Young and Civil Society to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
High-Level Task Force for ICPD Co-Chair President Tarja Halonen, with John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
In the panel she chaired on bridging the inequality gap, in her opening remarks, President Halonen said the international community is facing a critical choice: the easy option of a Post-2015 Agenda that is not much more ambitious from its predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals; or taking a brave step forward.
In the new development agenda, and “for societies to be successful, we need women’s empowerment, gender equality and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights,” said President Halonen. These investments in gender equality and on young people have “high payoffs for the well-being of children and families. It also advances poverty reduction, economic growth, environmental sustainability and inclusive governance.”
She endorsed the stand-alone goal on gender equality, also urging leaders to propose related indicators across the new development agenda, as a way to fulfill the human rights of women and girls in a holistic way.
President Halonen said that not enough has been done for adolescents and youth. “We know we have the largest generation of young people in history. We must do more to bring them to the forefront of our discussions. This includes addressing youth unemployment, but also their sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as education.”
She called for a strong, vibrant civil society, to participate in decision-making, monitor how decisions get implemented, and hold responsible entities accountable.