Gender Equality

11/14/2006 // Norway's statement in the Third Committee on the advancement of Women, delivered by H.E. Guro K. Vikør, Ambassador, Women's Rights and Gender Equality:

12 October 2005

Mr. Chairperson,

In March 2005, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the fourth UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, by reaffirming the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The Secretary General, weeks before the 2005 World Summit, called on the international community to turn their commitments into action to achieve full gender equality, within the context of the Millennium commitments.

It is also time for the UN to turn its commitments into action.

Norway calls for and supports critical and necessary efforts of gender mainstreaming within the UN. A gender perspective must be integrated into all strategies, programmes and activities created to reach the MDGs. We call on the Secretary-General to develop common indicators to track UN country teams’ progress on doing this.

The integration of gender within the budget procedure and the increase in gender-sensitive reports to the General Assembly's Second and Third Committees are important steps forward. We strongly request concrete recommendations as to how further implement and integrate the gender perspective into debates and decision-making within the UN.

It is crucial that the UN itself is a rolemodel in securing balanced and fair representation at all levels. The underrepresentation of women, at senior level in particular, is therefore a cause for concern.

UNIFEM's participation in all high-level meetings and inter-agency meetings, committees and bodies, such as the Executive Committee on Peace and Security, the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee is crucial. We strongly urge UNIFEMs inclusion at programme level with UNDP and with the UNDG and the RC system. The position of Director of UNIFEM needs to be upgraded to Assistant Secretary General-level, which would ensure UNIFEM access to all the relevant meetings, committees and bodies. Tri-annual comprehensive policy-review resolution calls for the UN system to avail itself of UNIFEMs technical expertise and UNIFEM needs to be strengthened to be able to provide this expertise.

Universal access to reproductive health for women and girls across the globe goes beyond a basic necessity; it is often a matter of life or death. The inclusion of this principle, as set out in the International Conference on Population and Development in the outcome document of the World Summit is therefore a major achievement. Let us galvanize the efforts to position gender mainstreaming, HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health at the forefront of the development agenda. We call on the United Nations to develop tangible targets and indicators to improve monitoring.

Mr. Chairperson,

Let me turn to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

180 states have ratified CEDAW. More than 70 states have ratified the Optional Protocol (OP). The growing number of States parties to the Convention and the Optional Protocol have naturally resulted in an increasing number of reports submitted to the Committee every year. As of today the Committee is faced with a backlog of more than 140 reports from 64 State Parties. This is the consequence of the fact that the Committee has been given significantly less annual meeting time compared to that of other human rights treaty bodies with comparable responsibilities.

Norway, on behalf of the Nordic countries, is this year presenting the resolution on CEDAW. In order for the CEDAW Committee to perform its duties as a monitoring mechanism, and deal with the backlog, the Committee has requested three annual sessions and parallel working groups for parts of those sessions. One cannot justify that the Committee does not have the working conditions needed to monitor state parties commitments to the convention. If we are serious about our commitments when ratififying the Convention, we have to put action behind words and make sure that the body we have established to monitor the implementation of the Convention is able to function effectively. Otherwise our commitments are just empty promises. We urge the Member States of the UN to approve the CEDAW Committee's request.

Another concern is the the many reservations placed on the Convention which hinder its full-fledged implementation. It is critical that states withdraw the reservations that are contrary to the objects and purposes of the Convention.

Finally we call for the universal ratification of CEDAW, which would be in line with the Secretary General's appeal to turn the millennium commitments into action.

Mr. Chairperson,

It has become clear that achieving the MDGs can only be done through women's leadership and female empowerment, in times of war and conflict, as well as during peace. The commitments derived from Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000) must be realized both within the United Nations system and by the member states.

Women are important actors in peace processes and key to achieving sustainable peace. The UN, the DPKO in particular, must turn words into action and include women in all stages and at all levels of peace processes.

In our engagement in the Sudan peace process, we have worked with the Sudanese women to help build a platform for their active engagement in building peace in the country. We will maintain our commitment to promote women as key actors in the peace process.

We welcome and support the letter from the 14 female ministers, addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly on the need to incorporate women’s needs, priorities and roles in peace processes within the Peace-Building Commission’s activities and programmes.

Mr. Chairperson,

Norway strongly condemns the sexual abuse and exploitation perpetrated by peacekeepers in field operations. Such abuse undermines both peace efforts and the credibility of the United Nations. Every effort must be made to bring the perpetrators to justice, to address the needs of the victims and prevent future abuses.

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals demands creative and extraordinary measures to tackle challenges. Some challenges, such as violence against women and discrimination remain. We have seen the emergence of new challenges, such as the proliferation and feminization of HIV/AIDS and trafficking in women and children. We welcome the study on all forms of violence against women, and strongly urge for the inclusion of this topic at the 61st General Assembly.

The 2005 World Summit reaffirmed that each nation has a responsibility towards implementing the Millennium commitments, which includes striving towards promoting gender equality and empowering women.

This must also ring true for the United Nations.

As the Secretary-General stated "Let us redouble the efforts to turn those commitments into reality".

Thank you.


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