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Sixty-ninth session,
10th & 11th Meetings (AM & PM)

Women Must Co-pilot Talks on Post-2015 Development Goals, Ensure Inclusion of Gender Equality, Empowerment, Third Committee Hears

As discussions begin shaping the post-2015 development agenda, women must have a strong presence to cement the intrinsic link between achieving gender equality worldwide and the global goals of sustainable development and eradication of poverty, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), heard today during the second day of its thematic debate.

“It is not enough for women to be in the room,” said Canada’s speaker, “they must be at the head table.”  He, along with many others, supported inclusion in the new agenda of women’s empowerment as a stand-alone goal.

Since next year would also see the confluence of several major United Nations processes, including the 20-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, the end of the Millennium Development Goals era and start of a new one, Member States should seize the opportunity to further advance women’s rights, many delegates agreed.

Despite current successes, many speakers lamented that more must be done.  South Africa’s delegate said that in the 19 years since the creation of the Beijing Declaration, much remained to be done to succeed in making substantial progress.  A delegate from Zimbabwe said “poverty continues to wear a feminine face and women continue to be victims of violence both in…private and public life” in spite of the progress made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.

A number of delegates also discussed the grim reality of women facing crimes and abuses by occupying powers and armed groups, including “the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS)”.  Iraq’s speaker said women had faced horrendous attacks at the hands of ISIL.  A speaker from the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine said that Israel’s occupation had stifled Palestinian women’s efforts to realize national strategic plans and programmes geared towards their empowerment, much less implement international development instruments.

Still, many speakers described how new laws and initiatives had addressed a range of issues regarding women’s rights, from maternity leave to the right to own land.  Some speakers, such as Nepal and Belarus, reported reaching gender-related Millennium Goals ahead of next year’s deadline.  Speakers also said that women had also made enormous national gains in the political sphere, including the Dominican Republic’s delegate, who said women had surpassed men on the electoral roll in her country.

Another common thread at the day-long meeting was many speakers agreeing that barriers to gender equality must fall.  Bolivia’s delegate echoed that call, stating that gender equality could only be achieved by questioning the patriarchal systems that allowed for their subordination.  To tackle discrimination, New Zealand’s delegate said “diverse women facing diverse challenges” required targeted approaches to ensure they had access to equal opportunities. 

Also participating today were speakers representing Egypt, Mongolia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Namibia, Finland, Pakistan, Viet Nam, Peru, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Oman, Qatar, China, Kazakhstan, Ecuador, Paraguay, Cambodia, Panama, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Norway, United Republic of Tanzania, Lebanon, Haiti, El Salvador, Yemen, Turkey, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Congo, Rwanda, Cabo Verde, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile and Argentina as well as the Holy See.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Israel as well as the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 15 October to conclude its discussion on the advancement of women and take up its agenda item on the rights of children.


The Third Committee met this morning to continue its consideration of the advancement of women.  For background information, see Press Release GA/SHC/4101.


MICHAEL DOUGLAS GRANT (Canada) said the advancement and protection of the human rights of women and girls were key priorities for his Government.  “It is not enough for women to be in the room,” he said, “they must be at the head table.”  Further, Canada strongly supported inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda of a stand-alone goal on the empowerment of women and girls, which focused on the structural drivers of inequality.  In that regard, the advancement of women and girls acted as a multiplier force on development goals, including maternal, newborn, and child health, as central to the post-2015 agenda.  Further, he noted that the Government was joining the United Kingdom for an assessment mission in Iraq to identify initiatives that would help victims of  crimes and abuse attributed to “the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS)”.  His Government would continue to provide leadership on the issue of sexual violence, ensuring that the plight of victims and survivors of ISIL’s attacks remained at the top of the global agenda.

TSHAMANO COMBRICK MILUBI (South Africa) said it had been 19 years since the creation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, yet much needed to be done to make substantial progress in advancing women’s rights.  Job creation, education, health, rural development, food security and land reform, as well as fighting crime and corruption, had been adopted as South Africa’s five national priorities, in which gender equality and the advancement of women’s human rights had been placed at the centre.  Recognizing the positive impact of UN Women, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to addressing existing challenges to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women.

MILDRED GUZMÁN MADERA (Dominican Republic) recalled that her country had proposed to the General Assembly the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  Today, women in her country surpassed men on the electoral roll, indicating that their vote was decisive.  In the last decade, the Dominican Republic had two female vice-presidents as well as several women judges.  The Government was also implementing measures to support rural women, including the introduction of solidarity banks that provided microcredit and credit to women.  Paying tribute to the United Nations bodies that were coordinating the Organization’s efforts to achieve gender equality, she lauded the extraordinary progress made by UN Women.

OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said that the critical vulnerable position of women in humanitarian situations all over the globe was alarming.  Trafficking of women, especially minorities, had increased in the past months.  Highlighting recent developments in his country, he said that the new Egyptian constitution had introduced provisions to ensure that women were free from violence.  Female genital mutilation was one of the forms of violence that had been fully criminalized according to Egyptian laws.  In order to address the challenge of underreporting of violence against women, the Government had been raising awareness and increased the number of female police officers.  In closing, he said Egypt was committed to all international conventions for the protection of the human rights of women.

ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) said a national programme on gender equality had been designed to combat violence against women, support rural women’s development and promote women’s political participation and economic empowerment while ensuring equal access to technology and other assets.  Supporting the recommendations set forth in the Secretary-General’s report on trafficking of women and girls, she called for reinforced efforts and resources in the area of prevention, focusing on the root causes of trafficking.  In closing, she said “poverty, unemployment [and] gender inequality are among the main factors that make people, particularly women and girls, vulnerable to trafficking.”

ZAHRAA SALMAN (Iraq) said her Government had adopted numerous measures to tackle domestic violence against women, including a programme involving police officers.  In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs sought to build national capacity to improve gender parity through training in technical and vocational skills and Iraq’s constitution enabled women to participate in policy design.  Yet, she continued, Iraqi women had been suffering from the horrendous attacks by ISIL while the Government was doing its best to assist survivors and those in areas under the control of terrorist groups.

MALAK SALIM (Libya) said her country had acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its protocol so that Libyan women enjoyed the right to health services, education, equal wages, social security and pensions, ownership and participation in all social and economic activities.  However, she said, Libya was going through a critical stage as women and children faced extraordinary challenges due to trafficking and conflict between armed groups, leading to displacement and violence.  Further, she noted that Libya’s constitution promoted gender equality.  Women occupied 16 per cent of the National Congress, and the Constitution Drafting Committee had female members.  Concluding, she called for the protection of Palestinian women living under Israeli occupation.

RANIA TALAL A. ABDULBAQI (Saudi Arabia) said that her Government had taken several measures to ensure the advancement of the Saudi woman in all development programmes, while preserving “her Islamic and Arabic identity”.  Saudi women had proven their ability to be productive within society and had held high positions in many educational, cultural, political, legal and media sectors, in addition to serving on the consultative shura council.  Several Government agencies, in partnership with civil society organizations, had launched a national campaign to raise women’s awareness about their rights with regard to maternity protection, occupational health services, study leave with pay, social welfare services and personal status procedures relating to marriage, divorce and birth registration.  Saudi Arabia’s accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women affirmed its commitment to further women’s human rights in accordance with the Islamic sharia and international standards.

WILFRIED EMVULA (Namibia) said the advancement of women was key to socio-economic development.  In that vein, a specific national programme had been designed to promote income-generating activities and small- and medium-sized enterprises run by rural women in order to increase employment opportunities and improve living conditions.  On violence against women, he noted that victims tended to choose not to report incidents due to social stigma, cultural restrictions, limited information about their rights, high legal costs, complexity of criminal processes and lack of confidence in authorities.  To address those challenges, a number of initiatives were ongoing, including awareness-raising campaigns, legal literacy programmes and projects targeting men and boys to change their behaviour on negative gender stereotypes.

KAI JÜRGEN MIKAEL SAUER (Finland) said that education increased job opportunities, improved earnings and reduced maternal mortality.  Therefore, a lack of educational opportunities came with very heavy costs.  Remedies included quality teacher training, removing primary school fees and making school environments safer and sanitary.  Many girls dropped out of schools when they reached puberty because of a lack of safe spaces for menstrual hygiene.  Women and girls were also subjected to discrimination in ownership of property, which limited their decision-making capacities.  Discussions on both climate change and food security must be interlinked with gender equality, he said.  For its part, Finland encouraged men to become more active partners.  Gender equality was not just a human rights issue, he concluded, it was also an economic and social question.

ILLA MAINALI (Nepal) said that despite emerging from conflict, Nepal had made significant progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  The majority of health-related goals had already been achieved, and the targets related to poverty, hunger and universal primary education were likely to be achieved by 2015.  Her Government had adopted a five-year national strategy related to gender empowerment and was making a sustained effort to review laws that discriminated based on gender, age, class, caste and ethnicity.  Further, Nepal had established the Anti-Human Trafficking Act in 2007 and was party to seven core international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

DIYAR KHAN (Pakistan) said 2015 would witness the confluence of several major United Nations processes, including the 20-year review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, end of Millennium Development Goals and start of the post-2015 development agenda.  Underlining that violence against women remained a universal concern, he said it was vital that the post-2015 agenda addressed women’s empowerment in a more holistic and effective manner.  For its part, his Government had taken steps to promote women’s participation in all stages of political and economic decision-making.  Women occupied 69 of the 342 seats of the National Assembly and 17 of the 100 seats in the Senate.  Pakistan was the first country in the region to set up the First Women Bank, which had been promoting asset ownership for women by financing women-dominated business entities throughout the country since 1989.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe) said that despite progress made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, “poverty continues to wear a feminine face and women continue to be victims of violence both in their private and public life”.  Conscious of the importance of legislative measures for creating an environment conducive to gender equality, he noted the need for the implementation of those laws.  With regards to violence against women, he called for awareness-raising efforts as well as education of both for women and men. 

NGUYễN PHƯƠNG NGA (Viet Nam) said sustainable development could not be realized without equality for and empowerment of half of the world’s population.  At the national level, despite progress made in those areas, she noted that there was persistent violence against women and girls, a need to address the gender pay gap and the issue of women living in remote areas who fell victim to local customs.  In addition, she noted that climate change and natural disasters were affecting women disproportionately.  She reaffirmed her country’s commitment to redouble its efforts, combined with effective international cooperation, to address those challenges. 

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ (Peru) said that his Government was an active partner in gender-inclusive development and was cooperating with various United Nations bodies to mainstream gender into public policies.  Peru had recently adopted a law on feminicide, according to which the minimum punishment would be 15 years of imprisonment with a maximum of life, if warranted.  The definition of feminicide was also revised to include “intimate feminicide” when such acts occurred within families.

KIRADIT SACHDEV (Thailand) said gender equality was becoming a reality in many places around the world, noting that increasing numbers of women were taking up high positions in public and private sectors.  Despite that achievement, he continued, violence against women remained a pressing issue, especially in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace, gender-related killing and trafficking.  Efforts that had been made to address those issues included special investigations, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators, as well as the protection of victims.

PALITHA T. B. KOHONA (Sri Lanka) noted the progress made by his country in the areas of education, health and political participation of women.  Since the country’s internal conflict, he added, addressing women’s issues had become critically important, as the number of female-headed households had increased.  Measures had been taken to assess their condition, identify vulnerabilities and address their needs, while supporting them in overcoming the psycho-social trauma of conflict, he added.  The anticipated decline in the population would affect the labour market, he continued.  To address that issue, the participation of women in the labour market had been expanded by improving women’s access to vocational training, science, technology and continuing education.

IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus) said her country had met the Millennium Development Goals on gender equality before 2015.  Having among the lowest maternal mortality ratios, with 1 death for every 1,000 live births, she said the Government was working to create better conditions for gender equality, including programmes such as protection of motherhood, equal salary and the elimination of violence against women.  Stressing that Belarus had experienced a weakening of traditional families and increasing youth crime, the Government had taken extra steps to get men involved in paternal responsibilities and household work.  Concluding, she congratulated all women present in the committee, wishing them to live in a better world, as it was national “Mother’s Day” in Belarus. 

SOMAIA BARGHOUTI, Permanent Observer, Mission of the State of Palestine, said gender equality should become a reality in which women would overcome all difficulties and challenges they faced in their struggles to achieve full advancement and empowerment.  Palestinian women had been living under the most unbearable and tragic conditions for far too long as a result of the continued Israeli military occupation and its oppressive policies and practices.  Turning to the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, she underlined that Israeli occupying forces had slaughtered and wounded thousands of Palestinians, at least 2,150, among them more than 577 children and 261 women.  That reality, she said, had stifled Palestinian women’s efforts to implement their national strategic plans and programmes geared towards their empowerment and the international instruments and norms relating to women issues.  Concluding, she called upon the global community to address the current unjust and unsustainable situation in accordance with obligations and responsibilities under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.

AZZA HAMOOD ALI AL-BUSAIDI (Oman) said her Government had always encouraged women to be equal to men in all respects.  Oman had affirmed women’s rights to own property and promoted women’s education.  Women’s literacy had increased and birth rates had lowered significantly over the last thirty years.  The age of marriage had been increased and because of birth spacing, maternal mortality rates had dropped.  Turning to employment, she said that women had the right to 50 days of paid maternity leave and one year without pay. Every 17 October was the National Day of Women and prizes were given to women leaders.  In closing, she said Oman believed that protecting women meant protecting society as a whole.

FAHAD MOHAMMED AL-KHAYARIN (Qatar) commended the pivotal role played by UN Women in coordinating international efforts to promote gender equality and said that the international community must make a concerted attempt to eliminate all forms of violence against women.  Qatar had achieved a socio-economic transformation in the field of women’s issues and was keen to apply the principle of gender equality in all areas.  Qatar had adopted a pre-emptive policy with regard to human rights and was pursuing an ambitious vision that would transform the country by 2030 to an advanced nation with a decent standard of living for women.  He emphasized the indivisible link between women and family.  Further, Qatar was concerned about women chafing under the yoke of occupation, such as in Palestine, who were deprived of basic rights to education, employment and freedom of movement.

JISHENG XING (China) said 2015 marked the target year of the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, prioritizing poverty reduction and the empowerment of women.  He noted that women’s participation in productive activities and social protection would enable their advancement, facilitating economic recovery and sharing development benefits.  Highlighting the importance of reflecting women’s needs, he said his Government was working to formulate policies that would strive to achieve the Millennium Goals.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide was closely linked to sustainable development, eradication of poverty, strengthening peace and security and the protection of human rights.  Being fully committed to achieving overall gender equality and promoting economic and social empowerment, Kazakhstan had actively advocated for the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda.  Further, he said, Kazakhstan’s 2050 Development Strategy had underscored the importance of promoting maternal health, economic empowerment of women and the extension of their social rights and capacities.  Extending his country’s appreciation and support for UN Women, he called on Member States to come forward to support the agenda for women through an approach that eliminates discrimination and marginalization.

MARY ANN DANTUONO, Permanent Observer, Mission of the Holy See, said her delegation was alarmed over the impact of violence on women in conflicts, calling on the international community to make humanitarian aid accessible and to protect women and children from abuses and human trafficking.  “Rescuing women and girls from poverty is the key to their advancement and the best guarantee to achieve equality for them,” she stated.  Assuring women equal access to resources, capital and technology was the most concrete way of recognizing their contribution to society and assuring their advancement, she said.

AMANDA ELLIS (New Zealand) said that her county had “diverse women facing diverse challenges”.  Indigenous women, Pacific women, Asian women, women with disabilities and migrant women faced unique challenges that required targeted approaches to ensure they had equal opportunities.  Therefore, the Government had launched Whanau Ora, an initiative driven by indigenous Maori values that aimed to provide health and social services to New Zealand families.  In the Pacific Islands region, the Government had supported projects to prevent domestic violence and increase the number of female parliamentarians.  Turning to Security Council resolution 1325, on women, peace and security, she lamented that 15 years after its adoption, too few United Nations missions and United Nations-mandated peace agreements explicitly included the senior and direct participation of women in their leadership.  In closing, she said her country was also in favour of a stand-alone goal for women in the sustainable development goals.

XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) said that his country had established a new paradigm for development that prioritized human beings over capital.  His country promoted gender equality as a cross-cutting principle in various national strategies.  The Government had undertaken surveys on family relations and violence and was granting funds to women to encourage their economic autonomy.  Other measures included policies on remuneration for domestic work and the extension of social security coverage for domestic work.  In the last seven years, Ecuador had also encouraged women to participate in the Government.  An inter-sectoral national strategy on family planning was focusing on preventing teenage pregnancies and promoting sexual and reproductive health, among other things.

MARCELO ELISEO SCAPPINI RICCIARDI (Paraguay) said that the women in his country had played an unparalleled role in rebuilding after conflict.  However, they continued to be vulnerable, facing rampant discrimination and violence.  In order to transform that structural inequality, his Government had formulated three plans designed to implement policies that incorporate a gender component.  Paraguay was working to bring about a culture of equality by providing women with access to economic resources and labour, a life free from violence, a sustainable environment and opportunities for social and political participation.  As a result, participation of women in education and labour sectors had increased.  Regarding violence against women, he said that national laws had prohibited domestic violence, adding that public institutions had to provide preventive services and protection to women facing risks of violence.

PAMELA GRACE LUNA TUDELA (Bolivia) said that her country had made great strides in the political participation of women.  Gender equality could only be achieved by questioning the patriarchal system that allowed for their subordination.  Therefore, post-2015 agenda goals and indicators should aim at removing structural inequalities between men and women.  A life free from discrimination and violence was the right of every woman and girl, she said.  Further, her Government had established a law that would give economic resources to women.  Despite the important progress in recent years, huge challenges remained.  In light of the discussion taking place on sustainable development, it was vital to ensure that women were part of an inclusive development process.

RY TUY (Cambodia) said programmes had been developed to provide women with expanded opportunities, including developing their professional skills and knowledge capacity according to labour market requirements and easing their access to small- and medium-sized enterprise credit.  On the legal protection of women, the Government had adopted specific legislation to protect them from violence, trafficking and sexual harassment.  Other policies had aimed at increasing educational opportunities for female students through increased scholarships, additional training programmes, accommodation, safe transportation and increasing the number of female students.

PAULINA FRANCESCHI (Panama) said, despite the recognized advancement of women, many still faced violence and discrimination.  With a view to improve the quality of life of women, legal tools to promote their rights had been developed and adopted, she added.  For example, changes in the criminal code included preventive measures, a definition of feminicide and changes that made violence against women punishable by law.  The major challenge was a lack of greater allocations of technical and financial resources to deal with the implementation, she concluded. 

KOKI MULI GRIGNON (Kenya) said her Government had established legislative and policy measures to address women’s under-representation in public positions.  On violence against women, she said that measures had been taken to improve access to justice, including through the elimination of court fees for instituting proceedings that claim the infringement of rights or fundamental freedoms on behalf of women and girls.  Aiming at eradicating poverty and improving the economic status of women, a special fund had been created to disburse essential capital to finance business opportunities for women in remote areas.

USMAN SARKI (Nigeria) said women could add value to every aspect of social interaction as skilled negotiators, credible community leaders, business entrepreneurs and problem solvers.  Turning to women’s political participation, he noted the need to build the capacity of female candidates in elections, which should begin in homes, classrooms and faith-based forums.  On fistula, he said efforts that included counselling and rehabilitation for women and girls, providing credit facilities to boost income-generating activities and promote vocational skills training had enabled a number of vulnerable groups of women to live independent and meaningful lives.

RAHAMTALLA MOHAMED OSMAN ELNOR (Sudan) said that his Government had been taking many active steps to promote women’s advancement.  A law to combat violence against women had been established in 2003 and high-level mechanisms were being created under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice to protect women.  A regional conference on human trafficking would be held next year, he said.  Adding that the Government had established a detailed work plan and various departments within various ministries were formulating plans to improve women’s rights in different sectors, he said there were also special campaigns for women in the rural sector and microcredit programmes.  Climate change had led to certain setbacks in the advancement of women, he said.  In closing, he said Sudan called on the international community to take into account the problems of least developed countries as they made efforts to achieve gender equality.

FOROUZANDEH VADIATI (Iran) said that the Beijing+20 process was a unique opportunity to acknowledge achievements, review lessons learned and tackle remaining and emerging challenges.  Based on the United Nations Human Development Index, Iranian women and girls had made outstanding progress in education, research, science, entrepreneurship, employment and sanitation despite the existence of severe and unprecedented unilateral sanctions against the nation.  Further, the outbreak of violent extremism presented an imminent threat to the life and rights of women and girls in the region.  It was alarming to observe women and girls from the West joining extremist groups, she said.  Iran also strongly condemned the explicit targeting of women and children from religious minorities, including Christian and Yazidi women.

GEIR PEDERSEN (Norway) said recent increases in violent extremism continued to have devastating consequences for women and girls in affected countries.  “If one schoolgirl can take on the Taliban,” he said, “then, surely, the world community can defeat extremism and terrorism.”  Indeed, educating girls was key to achieve gender equality, sustainable development and eradicating poverty.   Young people needed knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their lives, including sexual education, he concluded. 

GEORGINA MSEMO (United Republic of Tanzania) said a new constitution was being drafted, which included a section that acknowledged women’s rights in a number of areas, including access to and owning land and maternity protection.  It also gave widows rights to inherit property and protected women from gender-based violence.  On female genital mutilation, she said the reasons why the practice had prevailed included illiteracy, poverty and social pressure.  To tackle that issue, educational programmes and mobilization initiatives involving schools, communities, religious institutions and the media had been developed, as well as the direct engagement and mobilization of communities, including girls and boys.

MAYA DAGHER (Lebanon) said that her country welcomed the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on women in the post-2015 development agenda and reiterated the importance of mainstreaming gender into all other goals.  It was outrageous to see that women and girls were often easy victims for abuse and sexual violence as a weapon of war.  Lebanon reaffirmed its support for Security Council resolution 1325 and other subsequent resolutions on women, peace and security.  Last April, after more than three years of deliberation, the Lebanese Parliament had passed a law on the protection of women and other family members from domestic violence.  The law provided for the establishment of temporary shelters for the survivors of abuse, the assignment of a public prosecutor in each governorate to investigate domestic violence and the establishment of specialized family units within the Internal Security Forces to process complaints.  She concluded by calling on the international community to share Lebanon’s burden as a country that was hosting more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees, most of whom were women and children.

NICOLE ROMULUS (Haiti) said women made up 52 per cent of her country’s population and progress had been made in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, including the achievement of gender parity in primary and secondary education.  Turning to women in the labour market, she noted that 60 per cent worked in informal sector.  She also noted their high quality of work in electronic device assembly and the clothing sector.  Social programmes had been developed to improve their living conditions, including revising the education sector and providing food aid and transport.  To reduce the gender gap in political representation, an amendment to the constitution allocated 30 per cent of public posts to women with the aim of increasing their participation in decision-making roles. 

RUBÉN IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) said that 35 per cent of women worldwide had suffered from domestic, physical and sexual violence, calling for a systematic approach when tackling violence against women.  Specifically, he addressed violence against indigenous and older women, asking the international community not to neglect the needs of women after menopause.  Turning to Security Council resolution 1325, he said that as a country that had suffered long years of conflict, he confirmed the importance of women in settling conflicts and promoting peace.

INTISAR NASSER MOHAMMED ABDULLAH (Yemen) said her country was sparing no efforts to reinforce the rights of women.  Yemen was among the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  The Government had established a national strategy for the advancement of women, focusing on six objectives, including education, health and eliminating violence against them.  Yemen was currently redefining the responsibilities of the state and private sector.  She said a transitional process that had started in 2011 had shown increasing participation by women.  Further, 30 per cent of the electoral lists were reserved for women and the Government established the minimum marriage age as 18.  In conclusion, she emphasized the suffering of women in Palestine living under Israeli occupation.  The international community must put an end to the occupation and allow the Palestinian women to live in peace, she implored.

YIĞIT CANAY (Turkey) said that the failure to recognize the rights of women had led to gender-based violence and no country was immune from that.  Turkey had carried out extensive legislative work to combat violence against women, including the establishment of centres to provide services to victims.  The country was also addressing other issues, such as early marriage and dowries.  Turkey acknowledged the role of grassroots organizations in strengthening the scope of the legislative framework.  Women’s shelters were an important mechanism in Turkey for the protection of women.  A free, equal and prosperous world required the empowerment of women, he said.  Responding to allegations by another Member State, he added that Turkey had been a safe refuge for thousands of fleeing Syrians.  Turkey had given Syrian women and girls an open welcome, he said, adding that allegations suggesting otherwise were attempts to divert attention from the destruction in that country.

AMJAD MOHAMMAD SALEH AL-MOUMANI (Jordan) said that when a woman was empowered, she could participate in setting policy and decision-making in all spheres of life.  A dedicated national strategy had been developed, he continued.  It had aimed at gender equality and women’s empowerment, resulting in improving the participation of women in public sectors.  Providing an overview of achievements, he said that there were 18 female members of parliament and women voters comprised 48 per cent of election rolls.  In the private sector, he added, women accounted for 14 per cent of the total labour force and 20 per cent in non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

DAVID BEYI (Burkina Faso) said that “educating a woman is educating a nation”, especially in those countries where women counted for more than half of the population.  Regarding violence against women, he said that human trafficking, female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage constituted flagrant violations of their human rights.  At the national level, he continued, female genital mutilation modules had been integrated within teaching materials and hotlines had been set up to report incidents.  “Eliminating gender inequality is a requisite to achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” he added.

MASNI ERIZA (Indonesia) said “the advancement of women is the advancement of humanity”, yet the structured marginalization that persisted had kept them in poverty, exposing them to inequality, violence and even death.  At the national level, legal and policy frameworks had been set up and law enforcement officers were taking part in training and capacity-building to support or assist victims of violence.  On preventative measures, he added, aside from incorporating gender and human rights issues into educational curricula and organizing national awareness-raising campaigns on violence against women, the Government also worked with civil society, media and women’s organizations to sensitize the public about gender issues concerning families and communities. 

LAURIA NGUELE MAKOUELET (Congo) said that despite intensified efforts to achieve gender equality, the status of women continued to be low.  For its part, the Government was increasingly aware of the gaps limiting her country from providing equal opportunities that match the potential of women.  Aware of its international commitments, the Government had strengthened efforts, including improving women’s social, political and cultural status and protecting the family.  Other strategies included microfinance programmes, accelerated literacy initiatives and targeted training.  Female genital mutilation was not a Congolese custom, she said, but it was a widespread practice among foreign communities in her country.  The practice had been outlawed and a zero tolerance campaign had been launched, she said, adding that the legal aspects were being complemented by outreach efforts in partnership with civil society organizations.

JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda) said the advancement of women was a key factor in the realization of human rights and social and economic development.  Rwanda strongly believed that women were not just a strong asset to rely on in ensuring the future of the country, but were also key drivers of sustainable development.  Noting that in the immediate aftermath of the genocide, women and girls made up 70 per cent of the population, she said women had to assume the roles of community leaders, financial providers and heads of households.  Further, she underlined, “Rwanda is not interested in having Rwandan women but quality Rwandan women”, as they were instrumental in improving social and economic status of women.

FERNANDO JORGE WAHNON FERREIRA (Cabo Verde) said gender equality was a moral obligation and no country could claim to develop peace and development without achieving it.  The constitution recognized all citizens as equal, irrespective of their gender, and the family code stipulated that women and men had the same responsibility for running the family and caring for the children, he continued.  On sexual and reproductive rights, a maternal protection programme had been developed to reduce maternal mortality, as well as to allow access to family planning.  Despite the progress made, there was a need for greater presence of women in the country’s political life, he added. 

 DRAGANA ANĐELIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was the first legal instrument to address issues related to gender equality and women’s empowerment and called for its universal ratification.  She also called for a stand-alone goal on those issues in the post-2015 development agenda.  On women, peace and security, she said that the mobilization of men was essential to prevent violence in conflict.  Involving women in conflict prevention and peacekeeping operations was also central, she added, as shown by the participation of her country’s female police officers in United Nations peacekeeping missions, who had, among other things, contributed to peacebuilding and protection of civilians. 

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that more than a decade into the twenty-first century gender equality was still in the distance.  The drawing up of the post-2015 sustainable development goals was an opportunity to ensure that the empowerment of women was highlighted.  Lauding UN Women as an effective tool to fight against gender inequality, he added that the international community had a valuable opportunity and responsibility to do things differently.  Chile had joined other countries in recognizing the achievement of Malala Yousafzai in winning the Nobel Peace Prize and applauded her strength and courage.  For its part, his Government was designing a national plan to tackle gender violence that would be implemented by 2015.  The Chilean Parliament had established a ministry for women and gender equity, thereby creating a national mechanism with authority to design, coordinate and evaluate gender empowerment policies.

MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said that integrating a gender perspective was key to achieving social transformation.  “If we really want to achieve women’s empowerment,” he stressed, “we cannot afford to simply debate every year using the same words used twenty years ago.”  It was necessary to reflect on the problems faced by women today and build on lessons learned over the years.  In his country, various ministries were working together to coordinate efforts to tackle violence against women.  Argentina was also working regionally and internationally with partners. In closing, he lamented that in the 15 years since the Millennium Declaration, no country had been able to achieve full gender equality.

Right of Reply

A representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said while other speakers had been professional and spoke about the status of women, the representative of the State of Palestine had preferred to ignore the real reasons and to attack Israel.  “Religious extremism was the real reason for the low status of women” in Palestine, he said.  For 50 days during the recent conflict, he said women and children in Israel had been subjected to a rocket barrage from the Palestinian side.  In closing, he said it was unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority supported the terrorist attacks of Hamas against Israel.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, an observer for the State of Palestine said that she would not respond to the distortion and lies in the words of the delegate of Israel.  Instead she wished to bring the Committee’s attention to the Secretary-General’s press release today, made after visiting Gaza and seeing the destruction caused by Israel.  Quoting the press release, she read, “The enormous destruction of Gaza is a source of pain to me personally and a shame to the international community.”  Israel was not a normal state, it was an occupying power, she concluded.

For information media. Not an official record.