Friday, September 26, 2008

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Statement during the session of

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Statement during the session of
the Women Leaders' Working Group
The Empire Room, Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, USA
September 25, 2008

One of our greatest achievements as a country under the MDG, the
Millennium Developing Goals, is improving gender equality.

In that meeting, it was revealed that the Philippines is among the top
six in the world and the top rated in Asia in terms of gender parity.
And I would like to congratulate again President Halonen because the
Philippines being number six ranked behind Finland, three other
Scandinavian countries and New Zealand, and we were number six.

And we are number one among several... we're number one in the world
in gender equality in terms of the literacy rate. In fact, females in
the Philippines have a slight edge in both simple and functional
literacy over males.

We are also number one in the world together with several others in
the number one slot in enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary
education. There are more females than males who enrolled in school
and there are fewer females who drop out.So, I believe that we have
made important gains not only in the Philippines but also all over the
world as far as gender parity is concerned, but more needs to be done
to ensure that we all meet our MDG goals by 2015, one of which is
gender parity.

In every corner of the world, we must attain today when all men and
women are truly treated with equality. Meaning, equal before the law,
equal in terms of pay and equal in terms of opportunity.

And now we face the most significant global economic and financial
crisis in a generation, and women especially suffer from that. The
poor feel this crisis the most, but women in particular take a harder
hit even in the best of times. Women bear a heavier burden when it
comes to economic equality. So, it is unfortunate that a
disproportionate number of women live in poverty. Many of them are
single heads of households and many of them receive less health care.
So, what more now during the hard times that the world is experiencing.
With soaring prices of food and fuel, the poor women the world over
are on the frontlines because they have to be the ones to manage the
strains of this uncertain economic times on their families and also on
their communities.

We have said traditionally women have a double burden. For instance,
in the Philippines, we have many career women but at the same time,
they must be the housewives as well. Now, there's a triple burden when
we have a global fuel, food and financial crises.

So, as women leaders, we must be champions of women in this special
hour of need. It is now, more than ever, that we need women's voices
to be heard to fight for the rights and opportunities of women both in
our respective nations and in the whole world.

Earlier, Secretary Rice talked about a great gain of women empowerment
within the U.N. organization.

I would like to add, therefore, that hopefully, we can have another
great gain after this particular year session of ours. Because right
here at the U.N., we can have another small but significant blow for
women that can be struck if we secure, if we continue to secure a seat
for a woman in the International Court of Justice. There is only one
woman in the International Court of Justice now and she is the
presiding officer but she is ending her term. Among the eight
candidates for five seats, where you can elect at large, there is only
one woman nominee and that is the candidate from the Republic of the
Philippines, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an eminently qualified
woman. So, if she is selected, we continue to have one even if it's
only one woman in the Court of International Justice. But if she's not
selected then a woman's voice will not be represented on that very
important court and that would be a shame.

So, it is important that within the U.N. we all fight for women's
empowerment. And beyond the U.N., we must also pledge here today, that
we should pursue justice, dignity and equality for women the world
over. And we must make sure that the burdens of a sagging economy do
not weigh disproportionately on the poor and particularly women.

That's why, I thank Secretary Rice for launching this group together
with originally 18 women leaders, and we hope that this will be one of
her legacies and that the work will continue as Secretary Rice
becomes, hopefully, our senior adviser on the Women's Working Group in
the years to come.

Thank you. (Applause)

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