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Women’s Leadership Central to Poverty Eradication

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 17 2014 (IPS) - The twenty-first century will be the century for ending inequality, patriarchy and discrimination against women once and for all, Lakshmi Puri, UN Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women said Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Puri added that the gender equality and poverty eradication goals in the post-2015 development agenda were central to addressing these issues.

“We very much fervently hope that member states will safe guard this, and strengthen it and consolidate the gains that are represented for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda“, she said.

Puri also spoke about the importance of women’s “voice, participation and leadership”. She said that these were important not only for women as beneficiaries but also for women’s agency and leadership to be harnessed.

Linking gender equality to the eradication of poverty, Puri told a panel of civil society organisations that more than 60% of the world’s poor are women.

Puri also discussed intersectionality, adding, “if you are an indigenous women, you are a rural women, you are poor, it’s a triple whammy.”

“While both men and women suffer in poverty, gender discrimination means that women have far fewer resources to call, they are likely to be the last to eat, the least likely to access health care, routinely trapped in time consuming unpaid domestic work”, said Puri.

Puri said that governments and agencies needed to recommit to eradicating poverty and achieving gender equality, emphasising the importance of addressing these two issues together.

Jeanne d’Arc Byaje the Deputy Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the U.N. had a positive message for the panel.

“Twenty years ago in Rwanda we had a genocide and the situation was completely catastrophic, after the aftermath of the genocide we started from scratch”

“But currently, just to give you some figures, in leadership we have 64% women representation in parliament, about 50% of the judiciary, all of that because we have enacted laws to protect women.”

“What is happening in Rwanda is really amazing, I want you to have hope”

The empowerment of women has to start from the early age, the education of the girl child, to be empowered when they are really young. If the government is very supportive, things can happen.”

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