he first ever female speaker to open theGeneral Debate, Dilma Rousseff, thePresident of Brazil, called on the worldleaders to find a solution to theeconomic crisis and declared Brazil's commitmentto the international negotiations on climate change.For the first time in the history of the United Nations,a female voice opens the General Debate. It is thevoice of democracy and equality reverberating fromthis, which has the commitment of being the mostrepresentative podium in the world. It is withpersonal humility, but with my justified pride as awoman, that I meet this historic moment. I share this feeling with over half of the humanbeings on this planet who, like myself, were bornwomen and who, with tenacity, are occupying theplace they deserve in the world. I am certain thatthis will be the century of women. In Portuguese, words such as life, soul and hope arefeminine nouns. Two other words that are veryspecial to me are also feminine: courage andsincerity. And it is with courage and sincerity that Iwish to speak to you today. The world is going through an extremely delicatemoment, which is also a great historic opportunity. We face an economic crisis that, unless it isovercome, could become a grave political and socialrift. Such a rift would be unprecedented, capable ofcausing serious imbalances in the relationship amongpeople and among nations. More than ever, the fate ofthe world is in the hands of its leaders -all of them,without exception. We can either unite and togetheremerge victorious; or we can emerge defeated. A CALLFORUNITYOpening of the General Debate of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly124G20 MEMBER COUNTRIESDILMA ROUSSEFF, PRESIDENT, BRAZILT
" "BRAZIL ISSTRONGLY COMMITTED TO A GLOBAL, COMPREHENSIVE,AND AMBITIOUSAGREEMENT TOFIGHT CLIMATECHANGE, UNDERTHE AUSPICES OF THE UNITEDNATIONSG20 MEMBER COUNTRIES125Below: Dilma RousseffPhoto: UN Photo/Marco CastroAt this moment, it is not so important to know whocaused the situation we face - after all, that isalready sufficiently clear. Our focus must be onfinding collective, rapid, and real solutions. This crisis is too serious to be managed by a smallgroup of countries. Their governments and centralbanks continue to bear greater responsibility intaking the process forward. Yet as all countriessuffer the consequences, all of them have the rightto participate in the solutions. It is not for lack of resources that the leaders of thedeveloped countries have not yet found a solution tothe crisis. If you will allow me to say so, it is the lackof political resources and of clarity of ideas that are to blame. Part of the world has not yet found the balancebetween appropriate fiscal adjustments and properand precise fiscal stimuli to demand and growth.They are caught in the trap that does not distinguishbetween partisan interests and the legitimateinterests of society. The challenge posed by the crisis is that of replacingoutdated theories, originating in an old world, withnew formulations for a new world. While manygovernments shrink, unemployment - the bitterestface of the crisis - grows. There are already 205 million unemployed peoplein the world: 44 million in Europe and 14 million inthe United States. It is vital that we fight thisscourge and keep it from spreading to other regionsof the planet. We women know better than anyonethat unemployment is not just a statistic. It strikesat families, at our children, and at our husbands. Itsnatches away hope and leaves behind violenceand pain. HBrazil is strongly committed to a global,comprehensive, and ambitious agreement to fightclimate change, under the auspices of the UnitedNations. For this to come about, countries mustshoulder their respective responsibilities. We presented a concrete, voluntary, and significantemissions reduction proposal during theCopenhagen Summit in 2009. We hope to be able to make progress in the Durban meeting, supporting developing countries in their efforts to reduce emissions and ensuring that the developed countries will fulfil their obligations,with new targets under the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. We will have the honour of hosting the UnitedNations Conference on Sustainable Development -Rio + 20 - in June of 2012. Along with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, I reiterate the invitation to all Heads of State and Government to attend. HBrazil has found that the best development policy iscombating poverty and that a true human rightspolicy must be based on reducing inequalitiesbetween people, regions, and genders. Brazil has progressed politically, economically, andsocially without putting in jeopardy a single one of itsdemocratic liberties. We have met almost all of theMillennium Development Goals well before 2015.Almost 40 million Brazilian men and women haverisen out of poverty and joined the middle class. I am fully confident that by the end of mygovernment, we will achieve our goal of eradicatingextreme poverty in Brazil. In my country, womenhave been fundamental in overcoming socialinequalities. Mothers play a central role in ourincome distribution programmes. It is they whomanage the resources that allow families to invest inthe health and education of their children. Yet my country, like every country in the world, stillhas much work ahead when it comes to empoweringwomen. I congratulate Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for making women a priority during his tenureat the head of the United Nations. I welcome inparticular the creation of UN-WOMEN and paytribute to its Executive-Director, Michelle Bachelet. I feel that here today, I represent all the women ofthe world. The nameless women, those who starveand cannot feed their children. Those who arewracked by illness and cannot receive treatment.Those who suffer violence and who arediscriminated in their jobs, their societies, and theirfamily life. Those who labour in the home to raisefuture generations. I add my voice to those of the women who dared tostruggle, who dared to participate in politics and inthe workforce, and who forged the political spacewithout which I could not stand here today. As a woman who was tortured in prison, I know howimportant the values of democracy, justice, humanrights, and liberty are. It is with the hope that these values continue toinspire the work of this House of Nations that I havethe honour to open the General Debate of the 66thUnited Nations General Assembly. nThe above remarks are excerpts from an opening addressby Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil, to the GeneralDebate of the 66th Session of the United Nations GeneralAssembly in New York, on 21 September 2011.