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Exclusive interview with UN coordinator in China on gender equality

By Arianna James | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-12-12 11:36

Exclusive interview with UN coordinator in China on gender equality

Nicholas Rosellini, the United Nations resident coordinator, gave China Daily an exclusive interview on gender equality and China's efforts to end gender-based violence. On Nov 24, UN Women jumpstarted the 2017 #OrangetheWorld campaign with a bang. The Orange the World awareness campaign spans 16 days, where individuals and groups alike are encouraged to spread information and awareness about gender-based violence. Awareness about gender inequality and the violence so often perpetuated against women and girls is paramount in the fight to bring an end to these issues.

Rosellini said of the important movement, "The 16-day campaign and the Orange the World campaign come at a pivotal time in society, during which gender-based violence is being brought into the spotlight." China Daily had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Rosellini to discuss China's sustainable development goals, the effects of gender equality, and plans to target and solve these issues.

Rosellini stated, "If you look at poverty and environment, often the people who are most affected by environmental degradation are poor communities, poor people. If you look at health and education, the role of women is very important. One of the best ways to raise society is through educating young girls properly; so this is all very interconnected. What we have is something called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a plan adopted by the United Nations world leaders from over 193 countries in September 2015. It officially came into effect in 2016 and has set a basic framework to the year 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development spans over 17 goals that cover a variety of social problems such as health, education, water supply and sanitation.

Rosellini went into further detail, stating, "They cover issues such as jobs and industrialization, and they cover issues around environment and climate change. It is very much an interconnected comprehensive agenda for the world, adopted unanimously by the member countries in the United Nations. It gives us an agenda to help people and the planet, to improve the well-being of people and to protect the planet over the coming years."

While some may believe these sustainable development goals may have no implication or affect on gender equality, Rosellini would encourage them to consider otherwise. "I think gender is very much integrated into this agenda. It affects many of the goals, the 17 goals, both as an objective to improve the well-being of women and also as a means of promoting better development. Gender and women's issues are thoroughly integrated in this agenda."

As the UN resident coordinator in China, Rosellini has spoken extensively on China's sustainable development goals and attempts to completely eliminate poverty in the next 10 years.  Rosellini believes that, "If we look at gender equality, it is both a fundamental human right but it is also a means to achieving a prosperous and peaceful world. We can see many examples of this. Investing in girls' education has a multiplier impact on communities that the girls are in. Involving women in mediation and negotiations in conflict countries improves the likelihood of coming to peaceful solutions. Of course, women are a very important part of the workforce as well. So when one looks at women's contributions in society, it cuts across all aspects of what society needs in terms of development, peace and security."

Rosellini also emphasized that "gender equality is both the means to achieving a prosperous and peaceful world, as well as an objective in its own right." Rosellini has displayed his complete support for UN Women and the Orange the World campaign. The need for greater awareness about gender-based violence and gender equality is paramount and a vital part of the sustainable development goals. While there are undoubtedly many more challenges that China has on its journey to ending gender-based violence and attaining true gender quality, Rosellini is hopeful about the road to come.

"I think in China, gender equality is firmly part of the laws of the country. Just last year with support from the UN and UN Women, there was a domestic anti-violence law passed. We can see very significant and important strides being taken to make sure that we leave no one behind and achieve the sustainable development goals, including gender equality."

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