25 September 2015 – Following the morning’s opening plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, Director-General Irina Bokova participated in the Summit’s interactive dialogue on “Inequalities, empowering women and leaving no one behind”, co-chaired by H.E. Ms Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of the Republic of Croatia, and H.E. Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.
The President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft, also participated in the dialogue, which included Heads of State and Government, ministers, high level UN officials, heads of international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
"Inequalities must not be allowed to become the defining feature of our times, nor of our future," said Irina Bokova.
The Director-General said that this is why tackling inequalities, empowering women and girls, and leaving no one behind had to stand at the heart of the new sustainable development agenda.
"The world has never been so wealthy but inequalities are deepening within and between societies, at all levels."
The President of Croatia said "inequalities present deep challenges to sustainable and inclusive development."
In response, she called for action at all levels encompassing human rights and the principles of equity, equality, justice, democracy and the rule of law.
"Inequalities raise social, economic and political challenges," said the President of Kenya, "weakening the structures that hold our societies together and undermining our forward momentum."
“We need to tackle inequalities not only at the symptoms level, but at their very root causes," said Irina Bokova.
"This must start first and foremost with addressing inequalities in education, so that every child and adult student or learner has access to relevant quality education -- especially to empower girls and women, throughout the full educational and lifelong learning cycle."
Irina Bokova underlined the importance also of equal access and participation in science, technology and innovation as well as in cultural life. She noted the vital importance of equality in freedom of expression and redoubling efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Countries from across the world stressed that gender inequalities remained among the most persistent and difficult challenge to overcome -- underlining the imperative of empowering girls and women, at every level.
This calls for new focus on lifelong learning, on sexual and reproductive health as well as on legislative measures and capacity building across the board.
On 27 September, the Director-General will be present at the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A commitment to action, co-chaired by His Excellency Mr Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.