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95/03/20 Statement: Amb. Albright at Comm. on Status of Women
U.S. Mission to the United Nations



Statement by Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, United States
Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Before the
Commission on the Status of Women, on Agenda Item 4, March, 20,

     Thank you Madam Chair. I join my colleagues in congratulating you 
on your election; you may count on the full cooperation of my delegation 
in making this session of the Commission successful and productive. 

     As a woman and as a policymaker, I look forward, like many of you, 
to participating in the United Nations's Fourth World conference on 
Women in Beijing in September. 

     As we work on the Platform for Action during these next two weeks, 
we are conscious of the opportunity -- and of our responsibility -- to 
design a strategy that will achieve real progress towards the further 
empowerment of women, not just in some societies, but throughout the 
world. The work we do here and in Beijing will have profound 
implications not only for women's rights, but for the achievement of 
sustainable development and peace for qenerations to come. 

     On Friday, my colleague and co-delegate, Marjorie Margolies-
Mezvinsky summarized the United States' priorities for this Preparatory 
meeting and for the Beijing Conference. She spoke of the indivisibility 
of women's rights; the importance of a life-span approach to health and 
education; the nurturance of girls and young women; the need to balance 
work and family responsibilities; the vital role of NGOs and other 
important goals. My delegation will be addressing these issues further.  

     However, I would like to use my brief time today to emphasize one 
critical area of concern on the Platform of Action -- that is equal and 
full participation by women in formulating policy and making Political 

     Establishing goals is a necessary task, but not usually a difficult 
one. The greater challenge is to design and implement policies that 
achieve those goals. So it is with the Platform of Action. The United 
Nations should be an effective vehicle to help women implement the 
global changes outlined in that Platform. It provides a forum for moral 
and political leadership, a mechanism for formulating norms of universal 
application to help guide our actions, and thus influence the course of 
our common future. To do so, the UN must lead by example. Unfortunately, 
in some ways the UN is still falling short of its full potential. We 
must address together the status of women in the offices and corridors 
here in this building. A good place to start is with recruitment. 

     The United States Government supports fully the Secretary General's 
"Strategic Plan of Action for the Improvement of the Status of Women in 
the Secretariat for the years 1995-2000." This is an important document, 
not least, because it recognizes that the UN failed badly to achieve its 
fiftieth anniversary goal of 50/50 parity between men and women at the 
Assistant Secretary General and Under Secretary General level. On the 
eve of the fiftieth anniversary, women still fill only twelve percent of 
those positions. The UN can do better -- it is committed to doing better 
-- and we can help. 

     As member nations, we must nominate qualified women for both high-
level and professional positions. My own government is making a very 
strong effort in this area. Fortunately, Secretary General Boutros 
Boutros Ghali has recognized the need to improve opportunities for women 
at the senior levels of the UN. Some other elements of the UN 
bureaucracy, however, have been resistant. 

     The UN also must address -- and address aggressively -- the 
existence of sexual harassment in the UN system. My government is 
sensitive to this problem and has brought it to the attention of the 
UN's senior leadership. We have urged the UN to develop a system of 
internal justice that will deter any supervisor from creating a hostile 
work environment for women in the workplace. Under Secretary General for 
Administration and Management, Joseph Connor, has begun steps to 
establish needed reforms. His efforts deserve our strong support. At the 
same time, the Specialized Agencies need to begin the same process of 
review and reform in their personnel systems. 

     Beyond the personnel system, we can help make the UN a more 
effective policy vehicle for empowering women by trimming the 
bureaucracy and dedicating more assets to programs in lieu of overhead. 
The International Conference on Population and Development made the 
important decision to reshape the priorities and programs of the UN 
system to ensure that they would benefit women's lives and promote 
women's rights. Under the principles agreed to in Cairo, fully half of 
all development resources should be directed towards women. Better 
management of UN development resources can translate into greater 
resources directed towards women throughout the UN system. 

     By the same token, we should take steps to ensure that UN programs 
with portfolios specific to women are focused properly and not 
duplicative. For this reason UNIFEM and INSTRAW should be merged as soon 
as possible. Savings that result from that merger should be directed to 
programs that advance the combined goals of the new agency -- not more 

     Finally, it is critical to support the Secretariat of the Fourth 
World Conference on Women so that it will be able to accomplish the 
enormous task of organizing this Conference successfully. 

     As the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton said 
here just a few days ago at a Conference dedicated to the memory of 
Eleanor Roosevelt: "The UN must play a leadership role and must play a 
role by example. Every program, policy and decision that emanates from 
this building directly and indirectly affects women. Women must be a 
part of the process within the UN as we search for answers and women 
must continue to demand that their rights and opportunities be respected 
in nations around the world. 

     In this fiftieth anniversary year, member states must understand 
that it is our responsibility -- and in our shared interest -- to help 
the UN succeed. My government remains fully committed to the UN as an 
instrument to help nations achieve world peace and greater international 
cooperation. We look forward to working with the delegations from all 
nations, with the Secretariat and with outside organizations to energize 
this institution, and to bring about the full participation of women in 
policy formulation and decision-making. This is but one step towards the 
larger goal of sustaining progress towards equal rights and protections 
for women around the globe. Thank you.   
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