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HIV & Intl Women's Day Saturday
  Advocates worldwide ahead of International Women's Day on Saturday highlighted issues such as HIV/AIDS, gender equality, discrimination, violence against women and the need to invest in women and girls. As violence against women continues to skyrocket around the globe ActionAid is marking International Women's Day 2008, by calling for more effective responses to the links between violence against women and the spread of HIV.
UN calls on member states to 'invest in women and girls'
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 22:28:00 03/06/2008
UNITED NATIONS -- Noting that "progress for women is progress for all," the United Nations is urging the world to invest in its women and girls.
In a statement released ahead of International Women's Day, celebrated Saturday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon lamented the gap too often seen between policy and practice regarding women's empowerment and gender equality.
"A lack of political will is reflected in the most telling way of all: lack of resources and insufficient budgetary allocations," Ban's statement said.
"That is why the theme of this International Women's Day is 'Investing in Women and Girls'," he said.
"This failure of funding undermines not only our endeavors for gender equality and women's empowerment as such; it also holds back our efforts to reach all the Millennium Development Goals," he said.
These eight objectives, approved by world leaders in 2000 to halve poverty by 2015, include combating HIV/AIDS and malaria, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and promoting gender equality.
"As we know from long and indisputable experience, investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity and sustained economic growth," Ban wrote.
"No measure is more important in advancing education and health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as likely to improve nutrition, or reduce infant and maternal mortality," he said.
But he took note of some progress, including allocation of financial resources to increase women's employment, enhance use of microfinancing, and extend credit for women's businesses.
"More than 50 countries have launched gender-responsive budgeting initiatives. The private sector is scaling up efforts to finance women's economic empowerment, and women's funds and foundations are emerging as innovative sources of financing," he said.
"But we must do more," he added.
"All of us in the international community -- Governments, multilateral organizations, bilateral institutions and the private sector -- need to calculate the economic costs of persistent gender inequality, and the resources required to remedy it," he said.
2008 marks the mid-point in the effort to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, Ban noted. That can only be done by investing in women and girls, he said.
"On this International Women's Day, let us resolve to unite in this mission."

Rice Appeals for Equal Women's Rights
By CONSTANT BRAND - 3 days ago

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice led a group of powerful women, including presidents and prime ministers, in calling Thursday for a world where women's talents are used as much as men's to make peace and fight poverty.
Rice, speaking at a conference on women's rights, joined an international appeal for a fairer political role for women, especially in addressing the urgent problems of the day - climate change, terrorism, religious fundamentalism and impoverishment.
"In today's modern world, no country can achieve lasting success and stability and security if half of its population is sitting on the sidelines," Rice said.
"We in the international community should make sure that we hear the voices of women and account for their concerns wherever we seek to establish or keep the peace. If we do that, we are actually making the job of keeping the peace easier."
More than 50 participants, including Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele of Liberia and Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak, participated at the talks to promote women's empowerment. International Women's Day is Saturday.
The European Union's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who hosted the conference, said participants agreed to continue high-level talks to ensure that expanding the roles of women stays at the top of the international agenda.
She said they also agreed to push for the full implementation of the eight-year-old U.N. resolution 1325, which calls for the involvement of women in conflict resolution.
"Women can play a much bigger role," she said. "It's not yet totally implemented; therefore we have a lot to do."
Many participants, especially Israeli and Palestinian female lawmakers, complained they have been kept out of peace talks by their male counterparts.
"Women should be at the table," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Israeli lawmaker Amira Dotan said she was eager to work with her Palestinian counterparts "to look for new initiatives, a new way of thinking," to bring peace to the Middle East.
Ana Palacio, vice president of the World Bank, said women also should play a key role in fighting poverty, pointing to U.N. statistics that say 70 percent of the world's poor are women.
Tymoshenko said women could offer leadership that could prevent conflict. "It's up to women to break out of these unhealthy traditions and dogmas and lead people down a different path," she said.
Rice said it was important to send young girls a message of hope they can one day become whatever they want to be. She noted proudly that the U.S. has not had a white male secretary of state for 12 years.
At the United Nations, where International Women's Day was being observed two days early, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged nations to invest more spending on job opportunities, health care, nutrition and other pressing needs of women worldwide.
"Investing in women helps us fight all the challenges of our time - from poverty, hunger and illiteracy to environmental degradation and disease, including HIV/AIDS," he said during a meeting of a U.N. commission on gender equality and advancement of women.
Associated Press writers Uthayla Abdullah in Brussels and John Heilprin at the United Nations contributed to this report.

UN chief calls for end of violence against women to mark International Women's Day
2008-03-07 12:38:43 -
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Drawing attention to violence against women, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged nations to invest more spending on job opportunities, health care, nutrition and other pressing needs of women worldwide._《Investing in women helps us fight all the challenges of our time _ from poverty, hunger and illiteracy to environmental degradation and disease, including HIV/AIDS,》 he said during a meeting of a U.N. commission on gender equality and advancement of women.
U.N. officials have been urging all countries to mark International Women's Day on Saturday with renewed efforts to end rape, forced prostitution and other violence against women.
Joanne Sandler, acting director of the U.N. Development Fund for Women, has called on member nations to seize the chance 《to break new ground in the struggle for women's rights》 as they mark the annual event, which is being observed Thursday at U.N. headquarters.
She describes it as an 《urgent need to end violence against women in all of its forms.
Assistant Secretary-General Kathleen Cravero also has focused on violence against women, urging the U.N. Security Council to back up an eight-year-old pledge to protect women and girls from rape and sexual abuse during armed conflict with bolder action.
She argued that peaceful societies cannot take shape when half their populations live in fear.
{Rape is a crime and must be stopped,} said Cravero, who directs the U.N. Development Program's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.
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