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New York, 24 February 2011 — PAHO's coordinator for gender, diversity and human rights, Marijke Velzeboer, represented PAHO Director Mirta Roses at the Feb. 24 launch of UN Women, the new United Nations agency created to improve the status of women around the world.

Velzeboer joined other PAHO/WHO colleagues and hundreds of others in the great hall of the United Nations to share and promote a "dream of a world where everyone understands gender equality," in the words of Michelle Bachelet, the first executive director of UN Women, appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

Photos courtesy of UN Women

“With the birth of UN Women, we welcome a powerful new agent for progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment,” said Ban. “The challenges are great, but I believe that with the new energy, the new momentum and the new authority that UN Women brings, these challenges will be met. True gender equality should be our shared legacy in the 21st Century.”

“Think of how much more we can do once women are fully empowered as active agents of change and progress within their societies,” said Bachelet. “Historically, we are at a point of great potential and change for women. Now we must seize that opportunity.”

Before becoming Chile’s first female president, Bachelet served as minister of health and was a member of PAHO’s Directing Council. In that capacity, she worked closely with PAHO's first female director, Mirta Roses, to advance gender equality and women's rights in health throughout the hemisphere.

UN Women will support individual countries in moving toward gender equality in economics and politics, and ending the worldwide phenomenon of violence against women. It will assist in setting international standards for progress and lead coordinated UN efforts to make new opportunities for women and girls central to all UN programmes for development, and peace.

Scenes from the celebration of the launch of UN Women can be viewed at

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:04

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