Stand as One Human Family, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Model United Nations, Urging Young People to Help Create Economic, Gender Equality

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed's remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the National Model United Nations, in New York today:

Good morning! It is wonderful to see all of you here. Thank you so much for meeting at the United Nations. I heard it has been a really dynamic conference. Lots of speeches. Lots of position papers. Lots of friendships.

You chose a really historic time to visit. On Monday, we named Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai as our youngest-ever United Nations Messenger of Peace. The ceremony was at a big meeting with hundreds of young people.

One of them asked Malala about her most difficult experiences. Malala took us back to the moment when she woke up in a hospital in the United Kingdom. She couldn't remember how she got there, but she could tell she had been attacked. And Malala thought to herself: "The extremists tried their best to stop me. They tried to kill me. They didn't succeed. This is the clearest evidence that no one can stop me."

I was really in awe of her courage. Malala's life proves that nothing - not sexism, not injustice, not even bullets - can stop a just cause. Her message to everyone was: you are a change-maker. That's also my message to all of you.

At Model United Nations, you represent a country. I hope you take this word seriously - "represent". Once a young man from Tanzania said to me: "You are speaking about issues and people you represent, but how representative are you of those people?" We are only as good as what we take back to our communities.

I have a fancy title - Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations - but really that just means I want to build a world where every girl and boy can run fast, climb high and be free.

There are 1.8 billion young people with hopes and dreams in our world. That is the largest-ever generation of youth in history - and you are part of it.

The problems are everywhere: war, poverty, environmental degradation and injustice. Eight people - eight men - own as much as half of the rest of all people combined. Unemployment is a huge problem that affects tens of millions of young people. Discrimination is on the rise. Some of your grandparents remember the Second World War. We are hearing echoes of the very disturbing rhetoric that spread around that time. Now, we have a serious responsibility to learn from history and stand together as one human family.

Women and girls around the world are suffering from gender discrimination. Experts say that at the rate we are going, it would take 170 years to achieve economic equality. I have four daughters - and we are about to welcome our first granddaughter. I refuse to accept a world where they are not equal to men. I also have two sons. Men and boys have to be part of our fight for equality. This world is not going to get better on its own. We all have to be part of the struggle.

Fortunately, we have a plan. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our commitment to leave no one behind. Its 17 Sustainable Development Goals are not just charitable ways for the rich to give to the poor. They are a pact between all Governments and peoples. They promise a life of dignity for everyone.

That is our vision - and you can help us realize it. When I look at you, I see the future - but more than that, I see the now. I understand that, being young, you may have moments of doubt. Let me tell you: I still have them myself.

But I have learned that the real question is not "How do I compare to someone else?" - but rather "How can I help someone else?"

This is your world, your life, your moment. At the United Nations, you gain a big picture of what is going on. I hope you also gain a big ambition to stand up for what is right. We need you - and we are here for you.

Thank you for bringing your enthusiasm and energy to the United Nations. And thanks to DPI [Department of Public Information] for its UN4MUN initiative.

Speeches are important. So are position papers - and especially friendships. But action is what really matters. When you walk out of these doors, please act for a better future.

Source: United Nations