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Launch presentation of the International Geneva Gender Champions Leadership Network

1 July 2015
Launch presentation of the International Geneva Gender Champions Leadership Network

Opening Remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Launch presentation of the International Geneva Gender Champions Leadership Network

Palais des Nations, Mezzanine, Door 40
Wednesday, 1 July 2015 from 12 noon to 13:00

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

A warm welcome to you all, and thank you for being here today.

Leadership matters. As leaders, every day you make a real difference in spearheading programmes for change across the world and in setting the tone and vision in your missions and organizations. We are pleased that you are all here today to enable that leadership to matter even more for a cause that unites us all: gender equality and the full empowerment of all women and men.

When it comes to gender equality, we all have a role to play. In confronting and eliminating bias in our own actions. In making sure that we conceive and implement programmes that promote empowerment of both women and men. In contributing to a working environment where all can contribute equally and fully. But as decision-makers we have a special responsibility to show the way and to create conditions where these individual and daily actions can be taken.

With the unique concentration of Member States, international organizations, civil society, research and academic institutions and private sector entities, International Geneva provides an ideal platform to demonstrate that leadership in a most practical way. Together, our actions have a truly global impact. They make a difference for peace, rights and well-being for all people across the planet. As International Geneva leaders, we have an obligation to capitalize on this potential for greater gender equality.

And now is exactly the time to do it. 2015 is a critical year for advancing gender equality, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and as the new post-2015 development agenda is being put in place. If this agenda is to be truly transformative, we must place gender equality at the heart of all of our efforts. This is particularly important from a Geneva perspective, as much of the critical work in implementing the new agenda will be driven from here. It makes our responsibility and also our ability to really make a difference all that much greater.

This is why we are inviting you all to join the International Geneva Gender Champions - a new network of decision-makers in Geneva who will lead by example through concrete actions that bring genuine change both in organizational culture and in programming.

The network draws on the US Mission’s Future She Deserves Initiative and the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – also known as UN-SWAP - and it engages leaders at the highest levels here in Geneva. And we hope that you will be part of it, all of you, to use your unique positions to galvanize action.

All Geneva Gender Champions will commit to undertake three, concrete measurable, accountable institutional actions in the calendar year to advance gender equality. It can be either in the executive management of the organization or in the programmatic work. One of these actions will be to sign up to the Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge to have more inclusive panels when we have discussions here.

Last week, at the successful Power of Empowered Women event, I announced that I will no longer accept invitations to serve on a panel without any women participants. This is the essence of the Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge, which is an integral part of the Champions initiative.

As two additional concrete initiatives, I will initiate the compilation of a Gender Policy for UNOG, and we will introduce a gender equality component as part of induction and training programmes at UNOG. With this combination of initiatives, I aim to both change mindsets within the Organization and ensure greater inclusivity and equality in the substantive discussions in International Geneva.

These are just two examples that are appropriate and helpful for UNOG. There will be many other activities or initiatives that will work for others. The key is to consistently and consciously prioritize gender equality, and make the results public to raise awareness of what is possible. We are providing some ideas as part of the event today. And we will keep collecting good examples that we will post on the new website, to serve as a pool of inspiration.

It is now my pleasure to hand over to Ambassador Hamamoto who has been a key driving force in bringing together the Champions initiative. It is truly an honour and a pleasure to be working alongside her on this project, and to benefit from her passion and visionary leadership. Ambassador Hamamoto will provide more details on what it means to be an International Geneva Gender Champion, and what the next milestones in the project are.

After that, we hope to hear from you as well.

Concluding remarks:

Gender equality is a mission that connects our efforts across sectors. It is very much an example of how International Geneva is more than the sum of its parts when we pool our expertise and our commitment.

Progress is hardly ever accidental. It only happens through unity of purpose and hard work. That is what we can deliver here.

Let’s make our leadership count for gender equality.

Thank you for being part of that effort.