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No economic growth without women's rights: UN

Integrating women and girls into the life of a nation is a sure way to economic growth, a U.N. official said.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 16:35 IST

The world is beginning to understand that integrating women and girls into the life of a nation is the surest path to economic growth and development, a top U.N. official told an annual meeting that analyzes the global status of women.

Louise Frechette, the deputy secretary-general, spoke on Monday at the opening of the Commission on the Status of Women, which coincided with an exhibit honoring 1,000 women activists from around the world, who have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"The world is starting to grasp that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women and girls," Frechette said.

"Study after study has taught us that no policy is as likely to raise economic productivity or to reduce infant and maternal mortality," Frechette told the gathering, attended by some 1,000 activists and government officials.

In a building across the street from the United Nations, the pictures and biographies of 1,000 women activists from around the globe fluttered from strips of rope.

The names of the 1,000 women were gathered over two years by Swiss parliamentarian Ruth-GabyVermot-Mangold, who proposed last year that a Nobel Prize should be bestowed upon women contributing to world peace.

Only a dozen women have been given the peace prize in Nobel's 100-year history.

"Young women today desperately need role models," said Cora Weiss, president of the Hague Appeal for Peace, who organized the event, which included NaneAnnan, the lawyer-artist wife of U.N. Secretary-General KofiAnnan.

"These are women from 150 countries who represent all kinds of disciplines: environmentalists, social workers, nurses, grass roots organizers."

Among the women activists honored were DevakiJain, an Indian economist and social worker; NoleenHeyzer of Singapore, executive director of the U.N. Development Fund for Women; Mama LoiteDoumbia of Mali, a human rights campaigner and trade union leader; and BogaletchGebre of Ethiopia, a scientist who set up a center on women's livelihood, education and health and the dangers of female circumcision.

Also honored were Americans Betty Reardon, founder of the Peace Education Center at Columbia University; and Chris Norwood, who organizes low-income people in the south Bronx to train their neighbors in health education.

First Published: Feb 28, 2006 14:30 IST