UN Women "strong champion" of gender equality, new chief says

13:51, September 23, 2010      

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The head of the newly-launched United Nations "superagency" on female empowerment said Wednesday that she hopes the body to be a "strong champion" of gender equality to hasten existing UN efforts to advance the cause of women.

Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean president who heads the new agency, made the comments when talking to reporters in New York.

The UN Women agency, with the full name as the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, was established on July 2 by a unanimous vote of the General Assembly to oversee all of the world body's programs aimed at promoting women's rights and their full participation in global affairs.

Bachelet said creation of the UN Women was "clearly a huge opportunity to significantly accelerate all the efforts that the UN system has made in order to achieve better conditions for women."

She pointed out that while the UN has made great advances in promoting gender equality, it faces serious challenges, including inadequate funding, as well as fragmentation "with no single recognized driver to direct UN activities."

"We now need to move forward or otherwise UN priorities such as addressing the high level of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls" will not succeed, Bachelet warned.

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