At the 2013 Women Deliver Conference, Julia Wiklander and I had the incredible opportunity to meet and interview Lakshmi Puri, Acting Head of UN Women. Aiming to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world, the United Nations General assembly created UN Women in 2010. By focusing on areas such as violence against women and economic empowerment, UN Women helps women and girls achieve gender equality in their villages, communities and nations. By both providing leadership for the Bureau of Intergovernmental Support and the United Nations Coordination and Strategic Partnerships and by serving as a member of the senior leadership team, Lakshmi Puri played an integral role in laying the foundation for UN Women’s active global presence in promoting gender equality and women’s rights.
Lakshmi spoke with passion and zeal at the Women Deliver Conference’s Opening Ceremonies, challenging the over four thousand conference attendees to implement the existing and future commitments aimed at empowering women and girls – including the commitment to ensure all women have equal access to sexual and reproductive health services. Throughout the Conference, Ms. Puri emphasized the inextricable link between sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and empowerment and remained adamant that, in order to ensure women’s sustainable sexual and reproductive health, all other human rights for women and girls must be strictly enforced. During our interview with Ms. Puri declared:
You can not attain higher standards of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights unless you also attain and support all of the other rights that lead to gender equality.
Ms. Puri continues by explaining the societal value of, among other human rights, women and girls’ right to education, health and economic empowerment. The overwhelming consensus from conference attendees was that women must be aware of all basic human rights, including those of sexual and reproductive health. As stated in our Girls’ Globe Manifesto, we too believe that all women and girls should be free to live to their full potential and have access to their human rights.
Watch the Girls’ Globe interview with Lakshmi Puri to learn more about her views on sustainability and sexual and reproductive health rights in the post-2015 agenda.
Access videos on plenaries and press conferences attended by Lakshmi Puri at Women Deliver on the conference’s official live stream page:
Presidential Session: Ending Violence Against Women: Moderator: Shereen El Feki, Author, Sex and the Citadel; Panel: Bachi Karkaria, Columnist, The Times of India; Gary Barker, International Director, ProMundo and Co-Chair, MenEngage Alliance; Lakshmi Puri, Acting Head, UN Women; Mabel van Oranje, Advisory Committee Chair, Girls Not Brides, The Netherlands; Mahnaz Afkhami, Former Minister for Women’s Affairs, Iran