Dhaka – This international conference on people’s empowerment and development comes at a particularly opportune time. The recently concluded United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, adopted an action-oriented outcome document on “The Future We Want”. Empowerment is critical for attaining that future.
Empowerment is not new to the United Nations. Our long-standing efforts to protect human rights, promote job creation and obtain improved access to water, sanitation, energy, education and health care all have empowerment at their core – the goal of ensuring that people have the opportunities they need to live better lives in dignity and security. But we are also exploring new frontiers of empowerment. With the establishment of UN-Women, the effort to empower the world’s women and achieve gender equality received an important boost. We are also focusing greater attention on empowering the next generation through our work on youth. These are two critical planks of my action agenda for the next five years.
By looking at empowerment and development together, you are focusing welcome attention on issues that matter most in the lives of families and their communities: opportunities for decent work, the chance to enjoy basic services and participate fully in the political life of their countries.
These aspirations are embodied in many national laws and international agreements. Measures to ensure compliance with these laws and agreements should be an integral part of development strategies.
We must also harness the power of new communications tools and technologies. Access to information is a key means for enabling the citizenry to hold governments and others accountable.
This international conference is an important opportunity to explore these and other issues. Your deliberations can also contribute to those of the Commission for Social Development, which next year will address the issue of promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all.
Empowerment is a key means to achieving sustainable development and other vital goals. But it also has a value in and of itself. Thank you for your commitment to this effort. I wish you a productive conference.