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Australia carries MDG3 torch.

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Media release

28 August 2008

Australia carries MDG3 Torch

I am pleased today to accept a Millennium Development Goal 3 Champion Torch from the Danish Government to highlight Australia’s commitment to gender equality.

The MDG3 Champion Torch initiative was launched in Copenhagen in March. More than 100 torches will travel around the world prior to the UN High Level MDG meeting on 25 September 2008.

Millennium Development Goal 3 is to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. The goal is critical to the practical achievement of progress in developing countries.

MDG3 aims to address gender equity in education, to increase the share of women in employment and increase the role of women in leadership roles including in Parliamentary and Government roles.

Australian Government initiatives are addressing these objectives.

Australia’s international development assistance program has helped improve teacher gender balance, redress gender stereotypes in learning materials, encourage more girls into school through infrastructure like providing separate toilet facilities, and empowered women to play a greater role on school boards.

Educated women are more likely to secure employment and have healthier, better educated children. They are more likely to vote and participate in community activities.

In the Pacific, where just two per cent of Parliamentarians are female, the Government has announced a $6.2 million leadership program to train women for leadership and governance roles.

The Australian Government is also working with the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation on an initiative to promote women entrepreneurs and overcome barriers that Pacific women face in business.

The Government will also release shortly a study with partner Governments in Melanesia and East Timor on the elimination of violence against women.

Australia, along with the Danish Government and other developed assistance partners will continue to advocate increased commitment to MDG 3 in international forums such as the United Nations.

The Government’s support for gender equality though MDG3 complements the significant steps Australia is taking towards accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women recently announced by my colleagues the Attorney-General and the Minister for the Status of Women.

Media inquiries: Mr Smith's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555