WATCH: "Gender equality is a right and not a gift" - Michael D Higgins tells World Humanitarian Summit

He was speaking on day two of the gathering in Turkey

Michael D Higgins, World Humanitarian Summit, Turkey, gender equality, women, girls,

President Michael D Higgins speaks at the World Humanitarian Summit | Image: Fennell Photography

The President Michael D Higgins has told a gathering of global leaders that gender equality is a right and not a gift.

He was speaking on day two of the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey.

"For yes it is so that gender equality is fundamental for every aspect of sustainable development", he told delegates in Istanbul.

The summit, organised by the United Nations, is an attempt to reform the global emergency aid system and reduce the current gap between the needs of victims of disasters and conflict on the one hand - and available funding for support programmes on the other.

"Yes it gives us our best prospects for eliminating global hunger, reducing and recovering from conflict situations" Mr Higgins continued.

"I believe that it must be central to all humanitarian action".

"The opportunity of this summit then must be seized upon to galvanise action and achieve the transformative change that would turn our words into action".

"We must unequivocally recognise that gender equality is a right and not a gift - we must place the dignity and participation of women and girls as rights, values in consciousness and at the heart of all our actions globally".

Mr Higgins said gender inequality "remains the most persistent and prevalent form of human rights violation in today's world".

"What is natural about excluding half of the world's population on the basis on gender?".

"We must recognise...that no distorted version of culture, or mythical structures should be used to justify the most egregious violations of women's rights in so many regions as happens at the present time", he said to applause.