States Share Tactics for Tackling Social Customs Hampering Economic Equality, as Third Committee Concludes Debate on Women’s Advancement
Social customs and norms often erected barriers to women’s access to the resources needed for them to gain economic independence, speakers today told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), concluding discussions on the advancement of women.
Economic independence required access to labour markets, resources, such as funds and land, and social services, such as education and flexible work schemes, many delegates said. Unfortunately, those resources were often out of reach for women because of deeply rooted social customs, said Eritrea’s representative. That point was echoed by Namibia’s delegate who said societal norms continued to present barriers despite the significant legislative progress made in his country to benefit women.
However, the obstacles to economic independence were felt most acutely by rural women, speakers said. Cabo Verde’s representative said rural women played important roles in agricultural production, land resource management and climate resilience but were affected disproportionately by poverty. In the same vein, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See said a large proportion of young women in rural areas often bore the greatest burden when access to clean water and sanitation was not readily available. Rural women were also more susceptible to risks of violence, sexual exploitation, child marriage and other violations, he added.
Elaborating on challenges, Zimbabwe’s delegate pointed out the majority of women in Africa worked in the agricultural and informal sectors where their rights were not fully protected. Canada’s speaker highlighted that indigenous women, many who lived in rural and remote areas, tended to experience low income levels and high unemployment rates.
The delegates said societal norms that condoned gender discriminatory work policies had to be changed in order for women to exercise their rights to fair employment. Costa Rica’s speaker said women were often overburdened by unpaid labour and there was a need to redistribute non-paid work between men and women. Highlighting the issue of unequal pay between men and women, Iceland’s representative said her country was taking measures to require companies and institutions to certify that they paid all employees the same, adding that Iceland’s Equal Pay Standard had the potential to be used universally.
However, delegates stressed it was also important to recognize the strides that countries had made to ensure economic empowerment and independence of women. Botswana had introduced a national gender programme that supported capacity‑building for gender equality and Tajikistan had developed an action plan to strengthen their employment and entrepreneurship while Kenya had rolled out programmes on gender and agriculture.
Many speakers described how they made progress. Indonesia had implemented pro-women policies such as the National Programme for Community Empowerment and microloans and organized a women business network which had more than 30,000 members across 34 provinces. Similarly, Namibia had introduced a national policy on micro, small and medium-sized enterprise which focused on economic empowerment of women. To promote more inclusive workplaces, the Maldives had made it mandatory for all Government agencies, commissions and enterprises to fill corporate boards with 30 per cent women. Likewise, Panama had established a gender equality stamp that established private sector policies which aimed to achieve equal participation of men and women and bridge the gender pay gap while fostering equal opportunity of men and women.
Some delegates pointed out that women had risen to leadership positions in the public sector. Qatari women had been appointed ambassadors and ministers. Tonga’s speaker said women made up about 54 per cent of the head officers of ministries and 50 per cent of the heads of diplomatic missions and consular posts. In addition, in national elections to be held in November, there were more than 10 women running for office, an increase from previous years.
Afghanistan’s representative said there had been an unprecedented involvement of women in socioeconomic and political realms. There were 69 elected women in Parliament, four female ministers, nine female deputy-ministers and five female ambassadors. Similarly, in Burundi, women occupied more than 30 per cent of seats in Government.
Also speaking today were representatives from Monaco, Cuba, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Dominican Republic, Spain, Chile, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Turkey, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Rwanda, Madagascar, Azerbaijan, China, Guatemala, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Hungary, India, Mauritania, Denmark, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Congo, Nicaragua, Oman, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bulgaria, Malawi, Kuwait, South Africa, Armenia, Timor-Leste, Libya, Ghana and Morocco, as well as the State of Palestine. A representative of the Red Cross/Red Crescent societies also spoke, as did a representative of the International Labour Organization, and a representative speaking on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.
Representatives of Japan, Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right to reply.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 9 October, to begin its consideration of the rights of children.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) continued its debate on the advancement of women today. For background information, see Press Release GA/SHC/4198 of 5 October.
ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) said the numbers were clear: one woman in three had suffered physical or sexual violence during their life. Statistics also showed that it was often the people closest to women who inflicted such suffering upon them. Monaco had mobilized against this scourge by, among other measures, signing the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). Her country commended priority given to the elimination of violence against women, and welcomed the holding of a fifth world conference on women. Noting that the United Nations had just held a high-level conference on trafficking of persons, she underscored that only the full implementation of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime would allow the international community to keep the promises made in the declaration.
EDGAR SISA (Botswana), associating himself the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the African Group and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said his country had established a national commission to ensure effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of gender instruments and commitments. The Government had also introduced other measures to promote gender equality and empowerment of women such as: a national gender programme which supported capacity-building for gender equality, women economic empowerment programmes which received a budget allocation of $3 million in 2017 and initiatives to fight gender-based violence while introducing a law to recognize sexual harassment.
Ms. AL-EMADI (Qatar), associating herself with the Group of 77, said promotion of women was central in her country’s policies. Qatar’s Constitution ensured that women were not discriminated against and that they could participate in economic activities and political life and have access to social protection. Her country was committed to fulfilling its commitments to international agreements which upheld the rights of women including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). She added that Qatari women had made huge strides in society and had taken leadership positions such as becoming ambassadors and ministers.
MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country had been undertaking comprehensive efforts to implement its gender policy aimed at providing equal rights and opportunities for women. Tajikistan had among other measures adopted a law on the prevention of domestic violence, and had also developed an action plan to strengthen women’s employment and entrepreneurship. Those measures demonstrated Tajikistan’s commitment to the implementation of the provisions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As the Sustainable Development Goals were related to gender issues, it was incumbent upon the international community to work together to solve the problems hampering the attainment of those goals.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) associated herself with the Group of 77, and said illiteracy disproportionately affected women, which was only one of the challenges facing women. Cuba had made strides forward in advancing women, having enacted laws and other legal provisions guaranteeing rights and possibilities for women and men, redefining the role of women in society and in the family. Cuba was also working to eliminate gender stereotypes. Universal and free education was a right for all in Cuba, and that made it possible to significantly move forward with the eradication of all violence against women, including in the workplace. Women’s rights to freely make choices about fertility were guaranteed in Cuba, and measures adopted in that sphere had never worked to the detriment of women’s rights. Cuba desired to continue developing according to the principles outlined in the United Nations Charter. Eradication of violence against women and girls required the end to all unilateral coercive measures.
MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his country was pursuing the empowerment of women and gender equality as a top priority through laws that provided guarantees of equality between men and women in politics, the economy, culture, society and the family. It had also mainstreamed those efforts into its “Five-Year National Socio-economic Development Plan”, set up a national commission for the advancement of women, mothers and children, and reflected the goal of gender equality in policies relating to population, health and human resources. In addition, the national budget law was amended in 2016 to allocate support for efforts to empower women in all public agencies and sectors.
ZEBIB GEBREKIDAN (Eritrea), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that despite normative and legislative progress in protecting the rights of women around the world, deeply rooted social customs stood in the way of empowerment of women and gender equality. A lack of social services and multidimensional poverty was prevalent in rural areas and women and children were affected the most. She said Eritrean women continued to face challenges such as climatic factors, social attitude and lack of human and institutional capacities in the implementation of programmes. External factors such as regional insecurity, occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories and sanctions were also challenges.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said that women often bore the brunt of armed conflicts and highlighted the need to protect all rights of women from reproduction to education. He said his country was committed to empowering women and eliminating violence against them. It had tabled a draft law on sexual violence and amended its penal code which had previously allowed rapists to avoid prosecution if they married their victims. Underscoring the country’s determination to work towards gender equality, he said that Lebanon was ready to work with international partners to achieve that goal.
LUZ DEL CARMEN ANDUJAR (Dominican Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said her country had a vast array of public policy instruments which contributed towards solving the problems faced by women. The Dominican Republic had taken great strides, having introduced working policies which had a crucial role to play in reducing gender gaps, as well as a number of policies in the field of employment and self-employment. Regarding the issue of violence against women, a campaign, entitled “This Has to Change”, aimed to raise awareness of the issue. As part of efforts to ensure gender was a cross-cutting issue, the Dominican Republic had undertaken a forum on the Sustainable Development Goals to present information to stakeholders on the role women could play in achieving Goal 5. Women’s issues were human rights issues, and all people had to make an unstinting commitment to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment.
SUSAN WANGECI MWANGI (Kenya), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that her Government’s ministries were obligated to mainstream the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals on gender equality into all policy, planning and budgetary processes. She described policies on economic empowerment, maternal health and access to education, particularly for vulnerable girls. Programmes on gender and agriculture had enhanced joint decision-making, leading to reduced workload for women, access to and control over production resources and increased overall production. Commenting that eradication of gender-based violence should be a priority for the international community, she stated that legal progress had allowed thousands of prosecutions of such violence. Legislation was not enough, though. Her country was also increasing awareness and strengthening protection of survivors. With many challenges to gender equality remaining, there remained a need to address structural barriers that hindered women’s advancement and security.
INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said the responsibility to deliver the unfulfilled promise of gender equality was not only that of men or women, but of society. Every country and society should have its own space to determine the best approach. Women empowerment was a must, but empowerment through quota was only a starting point. A greater role of female leaders in supporting leadership capacity for women was a vital component. Indonesia’s Ministry for Women Empowerment and Child Protection had launched the 3ENDS programme. That initiative aimed to end violence against women and girls, stop trafficking in persons and eradicate barriers to economic justice. Pro-women policies had been implemented through the National Programme for Community Empowerment and microloans. A women business network was being developed through the Indonesian Women’s Business Association (IWAPI), which now had more than 30,000 members across 34 provinces.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, emphasizing that poverty and location remained the greatest threats to the inclusion of girls in education, said rural women and girls living in poverty were at the greatest disadvantage in that regard. In working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and promote the integral development of the poor, the basis material needs of every school-aged girl in rural areas must be addressed. Young women in those areas were disproportionately involved in unpaid domestic work, bore the greatest burden when access to clean water and sanitation were not readily available and were most exposed to risks of violence, sexual exploitation, child marriage and other violations. The global migration crisis and the vulnerability of migrant women were of major concern, he added, noting that while the global community bore a responsibility to protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees, millions of women and girls were still exploited by traffickers and manipulators along perilous routes and even within host communities.
Mr. BASTIDA (Spain) said his country was committed to ending violence against women and ensuring the empowerment of women and girls. That could be seen in the formation of national strategies addressing violence against women and a plan for equal opportunity which ensured that rural women received help to progress in life. On an international level, Spain was committed to enhancing the role of women in peace and security. It had coordinated an international network in that regard and hoped that more members would join the network. However, he noted that more work must be done to ensure gender equality. To that end, Spain was committed to ensuring equal presence of men and women in decision-making positions and working multilaterally to achieve the goal of gender equality.
MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said his country witnessed unprecedented involvement of women in the socioeconomic and political realms. There were 69 elected women in Parliament, four female ministers, nine female deputy‑ministers and five female ambassadors. At the international level, Afghanistan promoted the work of its national Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Commission on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Attorney General’s office for combatting violence against women and the independent human rights commission. The country also recently passed an anti-harassment law, criminalized harassment of women and was furthering efforts to reform the family law to increase the age of marriage to 18. Afghanistan’s commitment to women was also exemplified in the national action plan on Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), the national peace and development framework and a national priority programme.
SAHAR ABUSHAWESH, State of Palestine, said countries all over the world had joined in solidarity with her people as they marked 50 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The impact of that had been catastrophic, and Palestinian women and girls faced additional hardships in the form of gender‑specific human rights violations stemming from Israel’s occupation. Yet the State of Palestine continued to exert efforts aimed at implementing projects related to the rights of Palestinian women. However, to truly protect women and achieve goals of their advancement, the international community had to assist Palestinian women and their families. They had endured decades of suffering, and the international community needed to pave the way for Palestinian women and their families to live a life of freedom and dignity in their own independent State.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said his country was committed to making progress on Sustainable Development Goal 5. Chile supported the appointment of the Ombudsman for Victims of Human Trafficking, he said, also noting the importance of fostering the equal participation of women and men within the United Nations system. Women and girls should be empowered to achieve equality for all, and equal opportunities were a fundamental pillar of the work of the Chilean Government. His country had enacted a law decriminalizing abortion on three specific grounds, and other achievements included gender quotas for candidates for political office. Chile was aware of the role women played as architects of peace, and his country had been working to comply with Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).
HELEN INGA S. VON ERNST (Iceland) said her country had experienced first‑hand the enormous potential of gender equality to reduce poverty, prevent crises, and end gender-based violence. Iceland was concerned at the high number of reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and urged States to narrow or specify those reservations. The international community needed to make use of women’s resources and talents, because without half the world’s participation, there would be no real progress. Gender equality would not be achieved by 2030 if the issue continued to be discussed mainly among women, she said, adding that men needed to be involved. Iceland was taking measures including requiring companies and institutions to certify that they paid all employees the same. Iceland’s Equal Pay Standard had the potential to be used universally.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) said his country had made significant legislative progress to benefit women, however, societal norms continued to present barriers. The prevalence of gender-based violence was estimated to be 33 per cent. In response, Namibia enacted several laws and policies, including the 2003 Combating of Domestic Violence Act and the National Gender Policy for 2010 to 2020. Through its Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, the Government prioritized campaigns to sensitize communities, including a “zero‑tolerance” campaign and the annual 15 days of activism against gender-based violence initiative. The judiciary strengthened the prosecution process by imposing stiffer sentences for offenders, and victims were supported through a multisectoral intervention process. The Fifth National Development Plan increased financial and human capacity of service providers for integrated prevention, protection and response services. The Government also introduced a National Policy on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise for 2016 to 2021 which emphasized the economic empowerment of women, as well as numerous income generating programmes.
AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that the importance of gender mainstreaming had become even more urgent with recent rapid changes, including a sharp increase in natural hazards and the onset of bloody conflicts. Women and children remained the most vulnerable to such events, while the former were also the key to change for the better. In that context, Sri Lanka had taken significant steps to empower women as it emerged from its long civil conflict. Multiple programmes were launched to benefit women-headed households. In addition, women participated strongly in the national reconciliation process. The Government had increased women-centred training in disaster preparedness and, during recent floods, partnerships between Government and women’s civil society groups boosted women’s leadership in recovery efforts. He reaffirmed the country’s commitment to ensure women’s participation and leadership in all economic and social sectors.
JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said protecting the rights of women in rural areas deserved special attention. They played an important role in agricultural production, land resource management and climate resilience. However, women in rural areas were affected disproportionately by poverty. He called on Governments to introduce policies which reflected the needs of rural women such as ensuring access to education and health service. To that end, Cabo Verde had ensured that its Constitution respected the rights of women and it had implemented policies and introduced institutional and legal frameworks to provide universal education, family planning and reproductive health-care services. At the same time, gender parity was also deeply rooted in the country’s history.
AZAT SHAKIROV (Kazakhstan) said his country was committed to its progressive gender-and women-oriented State policy and programmes, including through its national commission on gender and family demographic policy. Kazakhstan implemented a joint technical support programme, the outcomes of which would provide necessary indicators to further measures to prevent violence against women. The country also undertook efforts to ensure women’s political participation and economic empowerment, and as a result, women hold 55 per cent of all State public offices, held 30 seats in Parliament and represented 48.4 per cent of total employment. His country also successfully implemented its national plan of action and the strategy on gender equality for 2006 to 2016. In 2017, the Government would adopt the 2030 concept of family and gender policy.
Mr. ZAMBRANA (Bolivia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the feminization of poverty hindered the realization of rights of women. States needed to implement the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, among other measures, and recognize that even within the United Nations, women were not yet fully empowered. Over the last 10 years, Bolivia had made progress on the rights of women, with the introduction of gender‑neutral legal language. Bolivia now had a law to guarantee women a life free of violence. Recently, women could not vote, and they also had very little political representation. But now, Bolivia had 67 women members of Parliament. His country was looking to guarantee sustained peace, and aimed to achieve gender equality as well as women’s ability to access leadership positions.
Ms. AL JABRI (United Arab Emirates) said her country aimed to support women in all walks of life, and her nation’s current strategies were in line with international commitments. Social and legal protection of women was provided through rules and legislation, which were particularly relevant in workplace relations. A women’s union played an important role in the empowerment of women, and her country also tried to achieve a gender balance in leadership positions. A supportive environment for women at work included the provision of all facilities to ensure their participation in the economy. International efforts for the promotion of women within the field of peace and security included a foreign policy which considered the empowerment of women of prime importance.
MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga) noted that economic empowerment was a priority issue for his Government, as evident by the higher percentages of women in the labour force. Women made up about 54 per cent of the head officers of Government ministries and 50 per cent of the heads of diplomatic missions and consular posts. In the national elections to be held in November, there were more than 10 women running for office, an increase from previous years. The ongoing support of the Tongan Government to end violence against women was also a priority, and in that context, he highlighted the Tonga – UN-Women capacity-building project titled “Ending Violence Against Women” programme.
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said countries had an important role to play in empowering women and eliminating all forms of violence. To that end, Costa Rica’s Government had introduced national policies which aimed to achieve the full of integration of women in the workplace and provide equal political participation while ensuring access to social services such as reproductive services. On the issue of work, he noted that women were often overburdened by unpaid labour and there was a need to redistribute non-paid work between men and women. The Government had also reached out to specific groups of women such as those from indigenous communities to ensure that they could advance by participating in the labour market. In addition, the Government recognized the link between violence and poverty and had introduced programmes to boost economic independence among women.
Ms. KIPIANI (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, said her Government had introduced reforms to protect human rights and empower women. Georgia had introduced national legislation to combat discrimination against women, which was in compliance with international standards such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition, an inter-agency commission had been established to combat violence against women while legal framework and action plans had been introduced to address domestic violence and gender equality. She said her country was committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, she noted that women living in occupied areas of Georgia were left out of programmes for sustainable development as they lacked access to medical services and education and faced obstacles to their freedom of movement.
MURAT UĞURLUOĞLU (Turkey) spoke of his Parliament’s commission for equal opportunity which worked to protect and develop women’s rights at the national and international levels, including through assistance to the United Nation’s Women’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia Region housed in Istanbul. Similarly, Turkey carried out extensive legislative and practical protective work for combating violence against women. The Government actively contributed to the elaboration of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. Furthermore, it had established a national action plan on combating violence against women for 2016 to 2020, and created shelters, counselling centres and hotlines for victims. Turkey also provided humanitarian, education and health needs for women and girls under temporary protection in the country, and undertook measures to prevent human trafficking.
ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said his country had always shown a willingness to improve the representation of women, having promoted the development of a national gender policy and a national strategy to combat gender-based violence. Women occupied more than 30 per cent of seats in Government, he said. In education and training for women, a policy to reduce gender disparity had produced satisfactory results. In health care, the extension of medical networks had contributed to reducing infant mortality. Burundi reiterated its firm commitment to the promotion of equality between the sexes.
ALEXANDER TEMITOPE ADEYEMI AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, said the empowerment of women was vital to the transformation of the global economy. No country could achieve its potential without women. Nigeria had embarked on developing gender-based policies to enhance the position of women and girls. Gender-responsive budgeting had positively impacted 3.6 million beneficiaries, he said, adding that the Government had established programmes for rural women, too. Government empowerment measures had also led to the establishment of loan guarantee programmes, and pilot projects disbursed money to local trade associations with the aim of poverty reduction among rural women. Policies being implemented aimed to promote women’s welfare, he said, adding that the international community should ensure cross-board gender parity and empowerment.
SHIUNEEN RASHEED (Maldives) said her country selected the advancement of women as a key policy priority, as seen in its national gender equality action plan and the Gender Equality Act. Since 2014, it was mandatory for all Government agencies, commissions and enterprises to fill corporate boards with 30 per cent women. The Maldives also introduced special loan schemes and women’s development committees to promote a more inclusive workforce. Her country performed well on several gender parity indicators. In regards to sexual and gender-based violence, it had enacted stringent laws and policies, such as the Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 2012, the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Act of 2014 and the Sexual Offences Act of 2014. The Government also criminalized marital rape in 2014 and supported the call by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women for a global implementation plan on violence against women.
LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said her country was committed to fostering gender equality. Panama had established a gender equality stamp which established private sector policies which aimed to achieve equal participation of men and women and bridge the gender pay gap while fostering equal opportunity of men and women. In the public sector, the Government was committed to ensuring that 30 per cent of public administration seats were occupied by women. Her country had also made sure that domestic legislation to prevent gender-based violence was in line with international standards.
KANG SANGWOOK (Republic of Korea) said her country had enhanced women’s representation in public entities, reinforced the legal and policy architecture to combat gender-based violence and fostered public awareness for gender equality. Several women ministers were appointed, including the first-ever female foreign minister, thereby meeting the initial target of a 30 per cent female cabinet. On the international level, the Republic of Korea ensured a gender perspective in its development cooperation programmes while seeking to increase its overall official development assistance (ODA). Sexual violence in conflict remained a priority concern, and to that end, the Government would spare no effort to prevent that heinous crime. Similarly, her country contributed to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the Peacebuilding Support Office’s building back better project. As the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Republic of Korea would additionally seek to better reflect gender perspectives in the advisory body’s activities.
Ms. KANJANASOON (Thailand), aligning herself with ASEAN, said it could never be overemphasized that gender equality and empowerment of women were indispensable to sustainable development. Her country continued to improve domestic legislation and programmes to implement international standards and instruments and its Constitution gave priority to mainstreaming gender perspectives. Thailand had been making progress in developing a gender-sensitive curriculum in education, collecting sex-disaggregated data and promoting gender-responsive budgeting. Women accounted for 64 per cent of the workforce but there was still a need to increase their representation in the public sector, particularly at the executive level. The problem of gender inequality must be addressed at its roots and discriminatory values and attitudes must be changed.
Mr. ALGHAREEB (Bahrain) said his country had sought to fulfil its international commitments regarding women. Bahrain’s consolidated family law preserved the fabric of the family. A supreme council would be the reference for all to implement a national plan regarding women. Bahraini women had a great presence in the financial and banking sector, he said, adding that the high education levels of women enabled their participation in public life. An award had been launched reflecting the pioneering role of Bahraini women and aimed at expressing the importance of women’s participation. Bahrain looked forward to further work with the international community.
FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Africa Group and SADC, said his country had witnessed significant gender gaps in political, economic and social development programmes. Most women in Zimbabwe and Africa were employed in the agricultural sector, where they constituted 80 per cent of the workforce. Women employed outside of agriculture were confined to the informal sector, where they constituted 60 per cent of the workforce. Zimbabwe had made several legislative, policy and administrative changes to ensure gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, including the establishment of a national gender commission. The Government also established a domestic violence act in 2007. Furthermore, it had victim-friendly police units at every police station and community-based shelters for survivors. The Zimbabwe land reform and resettlement programme reserved a 20 per cent quota for women. In the future, Zimbabwe hoped to launch a women’s microfinance bank and promote gender, media and technology as an objective in its national gender policy for 2017.
SAMAR SUKKAR (Jordan) said that her country had adopted several legislative amendments since 2015. Those included new laws on parliamentary elections, decentralization and military retirement, as well as a regulation governing women’s shelters and legislation on protecting victims from domestic violence. Her Government had recently endorsed a law on flexible working hours and was working to achieve gender pay equality. Jordan’s Department of Statistics had also updated its national health sector database to prepare comprehensive sex‑disaggregated data. Her country’s anti-trafficking unit played a key role in addressing human trafficking and the newly opened “Karamah” shelter provided care for trafficking victims. The Jordanian Parliament also abolished the controversial article 308 of the penal code which allowed sexual assault perpetrators to escape punishment by marrying their victims.
Ms. ELMANSOURI (Tunisia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said gender equality was crucial to achieving a peaceful and prosperous world. Her country worked towards that cause by putting in place a Constitution that guaranteed gender equality and introducing a law to combat all forms of violence against women. In addition, her Government had used a gender-based approach when drawing up national policies on areas such as the labour market, professional advancement and training. She said public-private partnerships and involving the civil society had been useful in empowering rural women. Those partnerships had resulted in programmes which increased rural women’s access to work and technology. In addition, a national plan on the economic advancement of rural women had been developed.
Ms. BOUCHER (Canada) said her country had for the first time begun to use a gender-based approach in its federal budget. That meant that the budget was focused on the impact of Government investments on different groups of women and men and included measures to support greater gender equality. In June, the Government had also announced a new strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence. On the international front, Canada launched a feminist assistance policy placing women and girls at the heart of the country’s international efforts. The policy entailed the advancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights while protecting them against acts of sexual- and gender-based coercion and violence. Canada looked forward to working with Member States on advancing the rights of rural women, she said, noting that women living in rural and remote areas had lower employment rates and tended to have low income levels. She said those challenges were particularly pronounced for indigenous women in Canada who made up a large part of the population living in rural and remote areas.
Mr. ALI (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Constitution guaranteed equal rights for all citizens, with the Pakistan Vision 2025 serving as a blueprint for long-term and inclusive development. Pakistan’s had mainstreamed a gender perspective into its sustainable development strategy and policies on education, climate change and disaster risk management. Noting remaining challenges, he said Pakistan would continue to foster greater female participation in the workforce, expand social safety nets to women and enact legislation to protect them.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77, said remarkable success in the advancement of women included a national plan of action based on the Beijing Platform for Action. Government sectors employed a significant number of women, and they also made up a significant proportion of the work force. Bangladesh was building social awareness around violence against women and forced and early marriage, he said, adding that it had tabled the historic Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Women and girls were particularly vulnerable in any crisis situation, including the current situation involving hundreds of thousands of Myanmar nationals, he said, emphasizing that Member States needed to comply with their international obligations towards women.
NORA IMANE BELLOUT (Algeria), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said her country had acceded to the most important international human rights conventions and commitments related to women. On the national level, various legal amendments ensured women’s increased chances of representation in elected assemblies, among other improvements. All forms of violence were criminalized, including verbal abuse and psychological violence, she said. Turning to economic issues, she noted that rural women contributed to many income-generating activities. To develop public policy in that area, her Government had established a national council for the family and women.
Mr. KAYINAMURA (Rwanda), associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said the Beijing Platform for Action remained the most comprehensive global policy framework for the full realization of women’s human rights. However, deficiencies remained in the implementation of all 12 critical areas of concern. In Rwanda, women made up a significant portion of all decision-making positions and were important contributors to the development of the nation. Nevertheless, important gaps needed to be addressed. Moreover, gender equality was not only part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but a business case worth trillions of dollars to the private sector.
HANTASOA FIDA CYRILLE KLEIN (Madagascar), associating herself with the African Group, said gender perspectives were prioritized in national development strategies. In addition, legislative programmes were being enhanced to promote women’s empowerment and numerous legal aid services were being offered. The Government also encouraged greater coordination with the private sector to raise awareness of women’s rights. Every ministry had a gender focal point to mainstream gender issues into their programming, including at the community level. Other initiatives included funding education grants, professional training centres for women and girls, awareness campaigns to combat early marriage and health programmes. The Government had enhanced its five-year plan, enacted a new gender bill and strengthened its national action plan to fight trafficking.
LALA MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said the under-representation of women in public life and decision-making processes and other barriers continued to prevent women from reaching their full potential in all arenas of life. Reaffirming Azerbaijan’s commitment to uphold all related international instruments, she said the 2030 Agenda and the Beijing Platform for Action had linked women empowerment to overall social development and economic growth. For its part, Azerbaijan had adopted several initiatives, including increasing the number of female representatives in the National Assembly to 17 per cent in 2015 from 11 per cent in 2005. At the municipal level, women represented 35 per cent of elected candidates in the 2014 elections. Legislation was focused on providing equal access to education and health regardless of gender and guaranteeing equal opportunities and treatment in the workplace. Violence against women was being tackled, she continued, adding that the creation of an online database on cases had helped to streamline data collection and analysis on the issue.
YAO SHAOJUN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the full realization of gender equality had a long way to go. The international community should formulate and improve strategies for women’s advancement and implement, in a comprehensive and balanced manner, those objectives in the 2030 Agenda. It should also increase assistance to developing countries and give greater attention to the care and protection of special groups, including women with disabilities, elderly women and female victims of human trafficking. In China, the Government ‑ having set gender equality as its basic national policy – was putting greater emphasis on the comprehensive advancement of women through legislation, regulations and initiatives to improve women’s health and equal access to education.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala), associating himself with CELAC, said nationwide, 50 per cent of the economic population was women and 53,000 women were business owners or partners. A presidential secretariat for women had strengthened legal mechanisms to protect them and guarantee equal wages. The Government also provided training and educational programmes, promoted the rights of female migrants, raised awareness of women’s rights in the workplace and aimed to end the practice of early and forced marriage. Highlighting further progress stemming from laws against sexual violence and human trafficking, he said a new criminal code had ensured that human trafficking was considered a crime. The Government sought to bolster women’s roles in peace and security operations and, to that end, had established an institutional bureau on the issue, and developed a national action plan.
KAMBA DOUTI (Togo) said the rights of women, particularly in education and health initiatives, had been prioritized in national programmes. Citing examples, he said a tuition-reduction project had resulted in an 83 per cent educational completion rate for women and subsidies had aimed at providing employment and training opportunities, particularly for women in rural areas. The country also created literacy centres and libraries to bolster women’s literacy rates, and had intensified economic growth through women’s increased participation in employment programmes. A national female entrepreneurship programme had been launched and access to financial services had been enhanced. The proportion of seats occupied by women reached 15.3 per cent in the National Assembly. Highlighting health gains, he reported a decrease of 30 per cent in maternal mortality.
BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and with the Group of 77, said that where they once had been disadvantaged, women were now seeing significant progress, even if challenges still existed. Nationally, women’s access to credit had been facilitated with a support fund. Important reforms in education included a law making it obligatory for girls to go to school. Gender equality had been established in Côte d’Ivoire’s Constitutional Council. Meanwhile, the Government intended to eliminate all forms of discrimination and improve women’s legal status and rights. The problems of gender equality should be approached from a perspective of human rights, as equality between women and men was needed to break down stereotypes.
MAGDOLNA PONGOR (Hungary) associating herself with the European Union, noted her country’s support for international efforts toward ensuring a future where women were safe from violence and empowered through education. Some of Hungary’s achievements included a programme providing specialized psychological and legal advice and another offering protected accommodation for women in need. Eliminating poverty and reducing inequality were prerequisites for women’s empowerment, she said. Hungarian action on individual Sustainable Development Goals included a programme aimed at keeping Roma girls in school and efforts to partner with local authorities and the private sector to create an enabling environment for the advancement of women in society.
MAYANK JOSHI (India) said the principle of gender equality and empowerment of women in its Constitution and more than 1.3 million elected women representatives at the local Government level were helping to formulate and implement gender-sensitive policies. Women also held several key positions, such as the Speaker of the Lower House of the Indian Parliament, and ministerial positions, serving as role models. Various programmes for poverty eradication and financial inclusion had focused on empowerment and women comprised more than 70 per cent of beneficiaries of credit to small enterprises. India was also committed to eradicating violence against women and girls through several protection and prevention measures while initiatives had been launched to curb trafficking and sexual exploitation. India also promoted cooperation with the United Nations system and contributed to the voluntary fund for UN-Women since its inception.
EL KHALIL EL HACEN (Mauritania), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77, said women were given special places in national social programmes and the Constitution stipulated that gender equality was law, guaranteeing women’s equal rights. The Government had adopted all relevant international instruments and conventions, while strengthening legal mechanisms to empower women. It had also criminalized all forms of violence against women and ensured equal retirement rights. Women also played a key role in the executive, legislative and judiciary branches, including in the armed forces. On economic empowerment, women had easy access to the labour market and business credit, particularly in rural areas. The Government also undertook initiatives to promote women’s health and education.
Ms. HALVORSEN (Denmark), associating herself with the European Union, said the Government promoted progressive and human rights-based approaches for women’s equal rights, particularly in sexual and reproductive matters. Denmark was one of the founding members of the She Decides movement and Government efforts addressed a range of issues, including youth empowerment. The Danish Youth Council had worked in partnership with numerous Government agencies and local youth stakeholders, promoting a gender perspective in all its programmes. To that end, she called for greater linkages between gender and youth empowerment initiatives, as the fields remained intertwined.
JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said women were making significant contributions to social development. Recalling that Japan had forced 200,000 Korean women and girls into sexual slavery during the Second World War, he said Japan must duly admit its State and legal responsibility for that crime against humanity, make an official and sincere apology and provide compensation. He also said that two years had passed since gangsters of the Republic of Korea’s intelligence service abducted 12 women citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea abroad. If those authorities sincerely wished for national reconciliation, unity and reunification, they must apologize and return the abducted women without delay, he said.
DARYNA HORBACHOVA (Ukraine), associating herself with the European Union, highlighted improved and strengthened national legislative and policy frameworks with regard to gender equality. The Government efforts included raising gender-related issues at a higher political level. Women’s participation and leadership must also be included in all aspects of peace and security initiatives, as well as post‑conflict recovery and reconstruction. Ukrainian women had become critical agents of change in the face of the Russian Federation’s aggression. The inter-party caucus, Equal Opportunities, continued to lobby legislative initiatives to defend equality in Parliament. Advancing women’s rights, and particularly empowering them economically, was vital not only to women, but for the national security and economic growth of every country. “We are convinced that none of the world’s most pressing economic, social and political problems can be resolved without full participation of women,” she added.
LAURIA NGUELE MAKOUELET (Congo), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said empowerment of women and girls and the elimination of violence against women were national objectives. Legislative, local and senatorial elections had shown commitment to Congolese women, she said, as a quota for their inclusion had been set. In spite of encouraging results, the entire population needed to act against inequalities. Congo was committed to the advancement of women and to combat all forms of discrimination against them, she said. The Government would continue to combat stereotypes to achieve the objectives of sustainable development, as they were linked to gender.
JUANA SANDOVAL (Nicaragua), associating herself with CELAC and the Group of 77, said her Government was committed to all international obligations arising from instruments her country was party to. In Nicaragua, important and significant changes were occurring, and women were central to those changes. Laws and public policies ensured that women had more and more rights, she said, adding that 52 per cent of civil servants were women. Among a range of actions, Nicaragua had improved their quality of life and health care for those in rural areas. Her Government continued striving to achieve women’s empowerment, she said, as that was crucial for social and economic development.
SULAIMAN SALIM MOHAMED AL-ABDALI (Oman) said that nationally, women constituted the majority in education programmes and labour markets. Oman celebrated a national day of women each year on 7 October. Women held posts in public administration, and in the private and public sectors. Women also held the right to vote and to run as political candidates. They benefited equally from governmental housing assistance, and the Government upheld numerous laws to protect them from all forms of discrimination. In addition, women were also awarded 50 days of paid maternal leave.
NOËL DIARRA (Mali), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77, said numerous measures had been adopted to improve the legal, economic and social status of women. The Government passed a national gender policy that encouraged greater representation of women in decision-making policies, public administration and in the security and armed forces. A law required a minimum of 30 per cent of elective and normative posts be held by women, thus they made up 31 per cent of candidates in the 2016 communal elections. The Government continued numerous initiatives to eradicate discriminatory sociocultural practices, established a fund for the empowerment of women and a programme to support women in business and trade. In March 2017, the country launched a competency programme to foster women’s participation in business management. Among other efforts, Mali also adopted several policies to strengthen the social protection of women, namely through obligatory health insurance and assistance programmes to facilitate access to services.
MARIAME FOFAMA (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Group of 77, said that as women made up half the population of most countries, there was a fundamental need to ensure that harmonious development was inclusive. Burkina Faso had committed itself to the empowerment of women, prompting outstanding progress, including the adoption of a law in regard to rural property and a national education strategy for women and girls. Those achievements should not obscure the need for further progress and a plan of action was now promoting women’s entrepreneurship and other initiatives. No development could be sustainable without the inclusion of women, and all actors needed to work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. MUKHTAR (Sudan), associating herself with the African Group and Group of 77, said strategies were promoting the role of women in society and a section of the national development plan focused specifically on women. A national policy to promote women dealt with issues including economic development, conflict resolution and the protection of rights. The State guaranteed equal rights for men and women, including equal pay for equal work. Sudan had a strategy to fight violence against women, with a special police unit protecting women and children. The Government had also created a unit within the demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration commission to support women.
MAYRA LISSETH SORTO ROSALES (El Salvador), associating herself with CELAC and the Group of 77, said a national law prohibited discrimination of women and the number of institutions with gender policies has increased by 22 per cent, with several undertaking awareness-raising campaigns to promote gender quality. Similarly, the Government disseminated information about relevant gender-related laws to the public. In June 2017, El Salvador had launched a national action plan on women, peace and security to advance their participation in peacebuilding initiatives. As a member of the CELAC working group on the advancement of women, El Salvador enhanced efforts to address the needs of vulnerable and migrant women and youth access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health services. Despite significant progress made in eradicating gender-based discrimination, she called for greater coordination on that issue on national, regional and international levels.
HAILESELASSIE SUBBA GEBRU (Ethiopia), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77, said the Constitution had guided the second growth and transformation plan, which included a gender perspective to ensure women’s participation in governance and socioeconomic and development processes. Harmful traditional practices continued to negatively impact the conditions of women, however, the Government undertook a number of initiatives to criminalize and raise awareness of such practices. An all-inclusive strategy and action plan was designed to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls, while ensuring justice. Due in part to policy interventions, about 52 per cent of urban condominium apartments were owned by women and urban development packages reserved 50 per cent of job opportunities for women. Policies in education and health sectors had resulted in significant gains for girls at all education levels. An ongoing health extension programme succeeded in deploying over 41,000 health extension workers, of which 98 per cent were female.
NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, said gender disparity continued to grow and violence against women persisted despite enormous progress in protecting their rights. Rural women were more susceptible to gender disparity and violence as they lacked access to social protection. Nepal was committed to ensuring the rights of women in areas such as education and employment. The Constitution ensured that 33 per cent of women held positions at the federal Government level while recent elections had resulted in women winning half of the offices at the local level. Nepal was also implementing a national plan of action to ensure that it met requirements set out by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and had made significant progress in improving literacy rates and maternal health as a part of the Millennium Development Goals.
GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, said gender equality had been mainstreamed into national legislation, policies and programmes. In 2016, the Government had adopted a law on equality between women and men and had signed the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. Bulgaria had increased the participation of women in the labour market, including through legislative and policy measures. Those achievements had resulted from long-term, sustained and coordinated policies, he said, adding that civil society had also played a crucial role by participating in the elaboration of legislation.
LOT THAUZENI PANSIPADANA DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and SADC, said strong commitments had been made to achieve gender equality and women empowerment through the implementation of various national initiatives. Outlining some achievements, he said efforts had included disseminating gender-related laws to traditional authorities, rolling out a module on gender-based violence as part of an integrated information management system, implementing a nationwide strategy to enhance HeforShe initiatives and training 389 groups of women in business skills.
Ms. ALFUHAID (Kuwait), associating herself with the Group of 77, and noted a policy of empowerment had been adopted alongside the 2030 Agenda. Kuwait encouraged women to participate in all sectors of society, including civil society, and more than 55 women held senior Government positions and increasing numbers in the public sector. Kuwait had sought to revitalize the role of women by implementing projects for their empowerment and reviewing all legislation. Development in societies could not be done with just one gender’s participation; Kuwait was keen to support women’s equal status with men to enhance national development through cooperation with all relevant international agencies.
Mr. HENDRICKS (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the advancement of women had been a priority for the Government since the advent of democracy in the country. As women continued to be disproportionately affected by poverty, South Africa prioritized policies that aimed at assisting them, particularly those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Ending violence against women should be a priority for all. For its part, South Africa had a range of legislative measures to address domestic abuse, sexual offenses, trafficking and other forms of violence, he said, calling for intensified implementation efforts of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
LILIT GRIGORYAN (Armenia) said national efforts included executive and legislative reforms and an action plans related to the advancement of women. Recent amendments to the electoral code had also reinforced measures to promote the participation of women in decision-making processes. In addition, laws had aimed at identifying and assisting victims of trafficking and human exploitation and ensure the equal rights and opportunities of women. In 2016, by a decree of the Prime Minister, a working group had been set up to draft a law on domestic violence and protection of victims. That law had been finalized in August and submitted to the President for consideration.
MANUEL DA COSTA E SILVA (Timor-Leste), aligning himself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said he was encouraged by the increased participation of women in decision-making processes, which had increased their influence and presence in all sectors of development. Outlining national progress on the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality, he said gains included the adoption of laws to protect women’s rights and to encourage their involvement in politics. Meanwhile, to combat violence against women, Timor-Leste had enacted a law against domestic violence, which codified it as a public crime. Nevertheless, changing societal attitudes and stereotypes was a long process that required generational change, he said, noting the importance of education in that regard.
Ms. ALAMIN (Libya), associating herself with the African Group and Group of 77, said Libyan authorities were committed to fighting discrimination against women. Women had the right to enjoy their rights, as enshrined in international instruments, she said, emphasizing that Libya was committed to implementing all relevant international commitments. She condemned of all forms of violence against women, including in the workplaces, as it affected women in all societies. Raising other concerns, she said human trafficking, especially of migrant women, was a crime against humanity. Mentioning areas that were receiving special attention, she said Libyan women’s participation in decision-making was still not as high as could be desired, but the new Constitution would help to eliminate discrimination between men and women. In addition, training and education were critical.
FAWAZ ALIU (Ghana), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77, said policies to enhance women empowerment and advancement of women across sectors had been established. In addition, the Government had implemented special measures to assist rural women, providing them with access to credit, loans and skills development programmes. Other measures included campaigns against child marriage and female genital mutilation. As part of a free senior high school education policy, thousands of young people would get access to secondary education. Ghana’s health sector gender policy offered access to free maternal care services, which had contributed to a decline in maternal mortality.
Ms. HAIDOUR (Morocco) said several challenges stood in the way of gender equality and empowerment of women. She pointed out that significant disparity in school enrolment rates existed between boys and girls while some women lacked crucial health-care services such as maternal health which had led to high infant mortality rates. She also highlighted the prevalence of HIV and AIDS among women. However, it was also important to recognize the progress that had been made in protecting the rights of women from all strata and regions in Morocco, she said. The Government had made protecting the rights of women a priority and introduced measures such as reforming the family code and enshrining gender equality in the Constitution while also outlawing discrimination in the country’s legislation.
ANNE CHRISTENSEN of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the debate on the advancement of women had to recognize the imperative of supporting women and girls to “survive, thrive and transform” in all countries. The international community had to do better in reaching those in fragile settings, and one approach could be through investing more in the institutional capacity of local actors. Turning to the issue of protecting women and children on the move, she described some programmes implemented at the national level, such as a cash-transfer programme in Greece that included identifying gender-related needs. States should ensure that vulnerable migrants received assistance and protection, regardless of their legal status. The distinct needs of women and girls needed to be addressed as part of the new global compact on refugees and for safe, orderly and regular migration.
KEVIN CASSIDY of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said the significant progress that women had made in educational achievements had not translated into comparable improvement in their position at work. In many regions around the world, women were more likely to remain unemployed, had fewer chances to participate in the labour force and were more likely to accept lower quality jobs. Even in many countries where gaps in labour force participation and employment had narrowed, the quality of jobs taken up by women remained an issue. The ILO had launched research initiatives to better understand the status and work conditions of women and teamed up with Gallup World Poll to develop a first-ever account of global perceptions and realities of men and women regarding work.
Ms. ELLIOTT, speaking on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP), said discrimination, particularly in rural areas, directly impacted the health, well-being and economic situation of women and their families, and perpetuated cycles of poverty and hunger. Environmental degradation and climate change disproportionately impacted poor rural women, and they were also more at risk of hunger and malnutrition. In responding to those challenges, women were more likely to resort to negative coping strategies. He called upon the international community to acknowledge the strengths, capacities, networks and resiliency of women. The work of the Rome-based agencies promoted the engagement and leadership of rural women and their communities, including through successful initiatives to address food waste, and invigorate gender-responsive climate-smart agricultural practices and interventions.
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan, responding to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that allegations and figures cited by that country were totally groundless.
The representative of Republic of Korea, responding to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that through the assistance of Seoul, more than 30,000 North Korean defectors had settled in his country. Pyongyang was urged to improve the human rights situation of its people rather than pursuing nuclear development.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to Japan, said it was universally accepted that that country forced thousands of women to be sex slaves during the Second World War. He called on Japan to unconditionally admit that heinous crime. Turning to the issue of the abduction of 12 women from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the Republic of Korea, he said that Seoul had refused to provide information on the victims. He called on the United Nations to uphold its human rights mechanisms and hold the South Korean authorities accountable for their crimes.
The representative of Japan said he refrained from going into a detailed rebuttal. However, he reiterated that, for more than 70 years, since the end of the Second World War, Japan had become a democratic and peace loving nation committed to the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
The representative of the Republic of Korea urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to change its policies to improve the human rights situation and to implement United Nations resolutions regarding the issue of human rights.
The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that Japan was engaged in deceptive behaviour to cover up brutal sex slavery crimes. As long as it denied the crime, Japan would not be accepted by the international community as a real, peace-loving country. Turning to the Republic of Korea, he said it was South Korean authorities which had committed the real human rights violations, citing the existence of “fascist evil laws” and world records in high numbers of suicides. South Korean authorities should put an end to the human rights campaign against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and focus on its own behaviour.