By Josephine Agbonkhese, reporting from UN, New York, USA

World leaders and activists have set 2030 deadline for achieving gender equality worldwide.

While demanding a 50 percent equality for both women and men, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called for bolder actions from governments and louder mobilisation from citizens to move forward the agenda on women’s rights and gender equality, saying progress in the last 20 years had been too slow.

They spoke at Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality, organised by United Nations, UN, Women in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, as part of activities at the ongoing 59th Commission on the Status of Women, CSW, in New York.

Ban Ki-moon said: “Women’s and girls’ voices, too often, go unheard, their talents and initiative unused. This is to the detriment of the world’s prosperity and security.
“Too often, leaders have used women to advance power. I believe we must use power to advance women.”

According to President Johnson-Sirleaf, “it is time to recalibrate the global agenda. Today we celebrate Beijing at 20, but we still have a long way to go.
“As we walk this path, we bring the same courage, the same resilience, the same persistence, to make Planet 50-50 a reality, because we can build on the accomplishments and the experience that we already have.”

Underlining the benefits of a gender-equal society and the need for immediate concerted action, UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, put out an SOS to the world to step up gender equality.

She said: “We are celebrating women’s achievements since Beijing and also calling for focus and combined energy on the task ahead.
“We can no longer leave behind half the world’s population. Women and girls are essential equal partners for real progress, for peace, for development and for a world in balance.”

Hillary Clinton said: “Twenty years ago, declaring that women’s rights are human rights was considered ground-breaking – thankfully it is now routine.

“I see a future where we unlock the vast potential for women. To realise this vision, we will have to step it up – step up our commitment to finishing this, the great unfinished business of the 21st century.”

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