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Author Picture By - Mar 23, 2016

Throughout March and the Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nations has gathered governments, civil society groups, and private sector leaders to discuss how to make progress on gender equality and advance the rights of girls and women. 

Under the leadership of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other committed UN officials, these issues are part of the UN’s work year-round. 

Since Secretary-General Ban took office in 2007, he has made the empowerment and equality of girls and women a cornerstone of his work – from increasing the number of women in senior leadership positions at the UN to launching new global efforts to advance women’s rights. 

Here are five highlights of the Secretary-General’s commitment to gender equality and the UN’s work on the empowerment of girls and women worldwide. 

UN Women

Photo: UN Photo/Chasi Annexy (Copyright UN Women)

Photo: UN Photo/Chasi Annexy (Copyright UN Women)

Under the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on July 2, 2010, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution to create UN Women, a UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Here, the Secretary-General speaks at a UN Women Planet 50-50 by 2030 Step It Up for Gender Equality event.

“I remain outraged by the denial of rights to women and girls – but I take heart from the people everywhere who act on the secure knowledge that women’s empowerment leads to society’s advancement.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, February 29, 2016


Photos: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Photos: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban was the first to declare “I am HeForShe” on September 20, 2014 when UN Women launched HeForShe, a global campaign inviting people – men and women – around the world to stand together for gender equality.

“I am HeForShe” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, September 20, 2015

Every Woman, Every Child

Photos: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

In 2010, the Secretary-General launched Every Woman, Every Child, an unprecedented global movement that has mobilized and strengthened international and national efforts to address major health challenges facing women and children. 

“The three overarching objectives of the updated Global Strategy are Survive, Thrive, and Transform. With its full implementation – supporting country priorities and plans and building the momentum of Every Woman, Every Child – no woman, child, or adolescent should face a greater risk of preventable death because of where they live or who they are.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, September 26, 2015

UNiTE to End Violence against Women

Photos: UN Photo/Cia Pak

Photos: UN Photo/Cia Pak

In 2008, the Secretary-General launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign to raise funds, awareness, and political will to end violence against girls and women. This is an issue that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been particularly passionate about. In these photos, he gives an address in observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

“Worst of all, violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country, and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. Most societies prohibit such violence – yet the reality is that too often, it is covered up or tacitly condoned. That is why International Women’s Day is so important. It spells out our responsibility to work for enduring change in values and attitudes.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, March 5, 2007

First Female Force Commander in UN Peacekeeping

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

In 2014, the Secretary-General appointed Major General Kristin Lund as the Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, the first female force commander of a UN peacekeeping force. Secretary-General Ban has made elevating women within the UN a priority, increasing the number of women in senior management positions by more than 40% to the highest-level in UN history. 

“Today we shatter another glass ceiling.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, May 14, 2014