Madam President, Madam Executive Director, dear Colleagues.
I deliver this statement on behalf of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Kingdom of Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, and my own country Iceland.
Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Madam Executive Director, on your appointment and warmly welcome you to your first UN Women Executive Board session. Thank you for your statement Madam Executive Director. We are confident that you will continue to move this important organization in the right direction. A good first step is strengthening the relation between the Executive Board and the UN Women leadership, and we thank you for your decision in that regard.
Madam Executive Director,
Through concerted efforts, we have seen progress in key areas of gender equality globally over the past decade. More girls are going to school. Fewer women are dying in childbirth. Women’s economic inclusion has improved and women’s representation in parliaments has increased.
There is no denying, however, that due to the pandemic, climate change, the high number of complicated and protracted crises and persisting discriminatory structures and social norms, progress made is at risk of stagnation, or worse, reversal. We see extreme poverty rising globally for the first time in a generation. Gender gaps in labor force participation persist and women are still excluded from decision-making, including in building sustainable peace. Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights has deteriorated and sexual and gender-based violence has increased, including in the digital world.
UN Women plays a key role in getting us back on track during this decade of action. The transformative results that UN Women seeks to achieve are clearly articulated in the newly endorsed Strategic Plan. It has a human rights-based, intersectional and Leaving No One Behind approach and underscores UN Women’s unique triple mandate, with a commitment to significantly step-up UN Women’s coordination of the UN system on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The task ahead of us, Madam Executive Director, is therefore to implement it.
We urge UN Women to ensure the Strategic Plan is fully incorporated at regional and country levels, leaving no one behind. The business transformation, or UN Women 2.0, is also crucial for delivering on UN Women’s triple mandate and achieving impact at scale through stronger implementation at the national level.
Strengthening and broadening partnerships, both inside and outside the UN system, is key to achieving transformative results for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, as exemplified by the Generation Equality Forum.
First and foremost, we support your objective to intensify and deepen UN Women’s support to, and work with, programme countries. This is key. Civil society, especially women’s rights movements and human rights defenders, also need UN Women’s support and vice-versa. Partnerships with the private sector and international financial institutions are vital to ensure reach and impact. Engaging men and boys is particularly important, especially when it comes to promoting positive social norms, and we commend UN Women for highlighting this through their systemic outcome approach in the Strategic Plan.
Implementing the Strategic Plan requires sufficient, predictable, timely and quality funding, in line with the commitments in the Funding Compact. Such funding also allows for flexibility and is necessary to support UN Women’s ability to support the UN’s crisis response and deliver effectively at country level, most recently exemplified by the COVID-19 and Afghanistan response. Quality funding is essential to enable UN Women to successfully deliver on its triple mandate, including in fragile and conflict-affected situations.
Madam Executive Director,
You take the reins at a particularly challenging time for the organization and for women and girls. We have full confidence that you will make real progress this year and the following years. You can count on our support in advancing gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls in all their diversity, everywhere.