United Nations, Jul 3 (IANS): With an Indian woman minister presiding, the UN General Assembly has unanimously approved the establishment of a single UN entity to promote equality for women.
The resolution adopted by consensus by the 192-member world body will put four existing UN bodies dealing with the advancement of women under a single umbrella that will be known as "UN Women."
"This is truly a watershed day," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "By bringing together four parts of the UN system dedicated to women's issues, member states have created a much stronger voice for women and for gender equality at the global level."
"It will now be much more difficult for the world to ignore the challenges facing women and girls or to fail to take the necessary action," he said.
Approval of the resolution culminates a four-year campaign to streamline the UN's activities promoting the status of women. It was strongly supported by women's organizations and other non-governmental groups who hailed the birth of UN Women.
India's Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur was one of the first ministers to address the General Assembly on the occasion of the creation of UN Women or the UN Composite Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women within UN, as it's officially named.
"India welcomes the creation of the UN Women as a significant victory for the cause of women worldwide" she said. "It is a reflection of our collective commitment to the pursuit of gender equality and the empowerment of women."
Noting that India has always been at the forefront of issues relating to gender equality, mainstreaming and empowerment, Kaur recalled that Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was the first woman President of the UN General Assembly in 1953.
She referred to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that "No society can claim to be a part of the modern civilized world unless it treats its women on par with men."
She also quoted euling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who has said that "Complete gender equality, nothing less, must be our over-riding goal. There must be neither compromise nor complacency. The struggle is joined. It must be brought to full fruition."
The minister was then accorded the singular honour of chairing the plenary session of the General Assembly which approved the establishment of the newly-created entity.