Advancement of Women
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
I would like to begin by offering our congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman, as well as to the whole Bureau, on your election. You can be sure of my delegation's full cooperation in the work of this important committee in your capable hands.
The theme of today's discussion, Advancement of Women, is of critical importance. Not only as a fundamental human rights issue - and as such an important end in itself - but also as a precondition for successful peace-building, for sustainable achievements in the global fight against poverty and for the general health and wellbeing of all peoples.
World leaders have repeatedly called for the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration, the platform of action and the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. However, it remains a disappointing fact that despite some progress, full implementation continues to fall short of commitments. We therefore have to remain vigilant and active in continuing to work for women?s rights and gender equality.
Iceland is firmly committed to the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and its optional protocol, and we urge all those that have not done so to ratify the Convention and the Protocol as soon as possible. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Committee which actively monitors the implementation of the Convention. Over this time the Committee has made significant contributions to advancing women's equality around the world, and Iceland will continue to firmly support its work in the years to come.
Iceland attaches great importance to the Commission on the Status of Women, and we look forward to next year's discussions on key issues in financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Violence against women remains a pervasive and persistent reality. Be it domestic violence behind closed doors, trafficking in women and children, or a systematic aggression involving thousands of girls and women, gender based violence is a universal phenomenon, affecting almost one in every three women around the world. This fact, often unrecognized, or even silenced, needs to be systematically addressed. Here, the UN plays a central role, both through global advocacy and leadership, as well as through operational work at national and regional levels.
On that note, we welcome the report of the Secretary General, contained in document A/62/201 on the Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and strongly support the measures introduced there within. Moreover, we truly appreciate the attention the Secretary General?s study on violence against women has received, and hope that it will contribute to increased awareness of the need to systematically address this pervasive problem.
In this context, Iceland would also like to underline the importance of Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace and Security, as an instrument to ensure that women in war, and women that have endured war, enjoy justice and protection, and that they are fully included in the rebuilding of communities in the aftermath of war. Iceland continues to strongly support the resolution, and accordingly we are working on an action plan to integrate the resolution into the policy and working methods of the Iceland Crisis Response Unit (ICRU).
In order for the UN to be an effective contributor to the advancement of women and gender equality, the organization needs to be able to deliver its normative and operational role in a coherent and coordinated manner. Iceland therefore welcomes the establishment of the Inter Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, which we hope will contribute to increased and coherent focus on the importance of women's empowerment and gender equality throughout the UN system.
However, Iceland continues to believe that the current UN structures and approaches to gender issues remain too fragmented and do not appropriately reflect the importance of the matter. We therefore support the establishment of a new gender entity to strengthen the UN's performance in this field of work. Establishing the post of Under-Secretary General for gender equality issues should provide strong leadership and coordination, and it is Iceland's hope that this post will be quickly filled.
Women play a central role in economic and social development and experience has shown that strong links exist between women's empowerment and poverty reduction. The advancement of women and women's rights should therefore be a central theme in all development efforts and in our global fight against poverty.
This is duly reflected in Iceland's policy on development cooperation, which attaches central importance to the advancement of women. UNIFEM has been a key partner in this regard, and I am particularly pleased to conclude my intervention by formally announcing that in order to support the excellent work of UNIFEM, the Government of Iceland has decided to double its current contribution to the Fund. This marks a thirty fold increase in Iceland's contributions to UNIFEM since 2003, an increase which will bring Iceland amongst the top donors to UNIFEM