Opening remarks at the media Q&A by the UNDP Country Director at the launch of regional Human Development Report on gender

Mar 9, 2010

Speaker: Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:       9 March 2010
Event:      Launch of regional Human Development Report on gender

Let me start by welcoming you to the launch of the Asia-Pacific Human Development Report on Gender. I am very pleased to see so many of you here and trust we will have a lively Q&A session on the issues covered in the report and how they relate to the situation in Viet Nam.

This year, the report looks at gender equality across Asia-Pacific. It focuses on the many instances where women are held back and disadvantaged, depriving the region of significant human potential. I know that a wide range of experts and stakeholders from across the region have contributed to this year’s report. In that sense it really is a report for Asia-Pacific, by the Asia-Pacific region.

I will shortly ask my colleague Ms Ingrid Fitzgerald, the UN gender advisor, to present the main conclusions in the report. After that, there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions to a panel of several UN colleagues.

Before that, I would like to spend just a couple of minutes on the notion of human development which the Human Development Reports have helped pioneer.

UNDP first introduced the human development concept in 1990 – in the first-ever Human Development Report. Since then, yearly reports have applied the human development approach to a range of themes, such as cultural liberty, climate change and migration.

So what do we mean by human development?

The human development approach is defined as the process of enlarging people’s choices and opportunities and enhancing human capabilities to achieve real improvements in people’s lives. When human development is successful, people are able to enjoy activities and states of being that they value and have reason to value. With human development, people live long and healthy lives, enjoy education and a decent quality of life. They are able to be productive and creative at home or at work, shape their own destiny, and together advance shared objectives.

Viet Nam will soon achieve middle-income country status based on the GDP per capita income threshold of US$1,000.  Human development is about much more than just economic growth and so it is time we shift our attention from ‘growth’ to ‘quality of growth’ or quality of life. It is time to have a long-term vision of quality and sustainability of growth in the national development strategy discussions. Some economists say that economic growth itself will not be maintained unless preceded by improvements in human development. I would like you, colleagues in the media, to play a role in promoting the human development concept and to look at our daily lives from that angle – whether people, particularly the most disadvantaged segments of the population, are reaping the benefits of development and economic growth. 

Looking through the lens of human development it is clear that increasing gender equality is central to achieving human development. Human development cannot be achieved if fifty percent of the population is excluded from the benefits it brings. Gender inequality puts a break on human development.
All people – men and women – should be able to make choices and have access to capabilities and opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. These choices, capabilities and opportunities should never be taken away solely on the basis of gender.

We all need to play our part in striving for gender equality. Each of you – as journalists and as mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers – has a role to play. Increased gender equality will benefit not just women, but whole societies.

I hope that the conclusions in the report will spark further discussion among media, policy makers and development partners in Viet Nam and will help to inform your work.

Let me end here and hand over to Ingrid. I know Ingrid has contributed to the report and she will take you through the main messages and findings.

Thank you.