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EU Commissioner for Development
Speaking points of Commissioner Piebalgs - press point with UN Women Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet
Press conference (VIP Corner)
Brussels, 25 March 2011
As I said in many occasions, the more I visit countries, the more I meet people, the more I am convinced that without women's empowerment, there will be no development and exit from poverty. Women are the agents of change. This is why I will make women's empowerment one of the priorities of the Development policy.
I am therefore very honoured to have had the chance to meet Michele Bachelet twice over the last two days:
We first discussed about the future cooperation between the Commission and UN Women she is chairing with a contagious enthusiasm and professionalism.
I ensured her that the Commission will bring strong support to the newly born agency to promote women's empowerment and gender equality on the ground; not only moral support, but also financial support. We will jointly define the envelope and the best ways to allocate it to support UN Women's work.
If we combine EU resources and presence in the world with UN Women expertise and networks, we have a good chance to make a difference and to reach the Millennium Development Goals related to women – notably Maternal Health and Child mortality. More generally, this will enable to strengthen the work towards women's empowerment in social, economic, but also political and cultural fields.
This morning, we jointly opened the EU Member States meeting on Gender and Development, to reiterate the Commission and UN Women's commitment to this issue.
As far as EU development policy is concerned, I will pay attention to include the "women factor" in all EU funded programmes and projects.
This will be implemented through the EU Gender Action Plan, which is shared by the Commission and the Member States.
Any project we conduct, be it in agriculture, education or health should make sure it reaches women and empower them to further actions.
As Michelle Bachelet rightly says, action on gender must not be fragmented: you won't change the situation by working only on Health or Education. Our approach must be comprehensive, including all relevant actors in all relevant policies: from awareness raising campaign to concrete provision of micro-credit to women working as smallholders in agriculture for instance.
My final words will go to the victims of the terrible sexual violence that occur in Northern Congo. This is one of most unacceptable act of violence against women. The EU is providing support to the RDC government to assist the victims but also to fight against impunity. I will work to further strengthen this support on this specific but symbolic issue.