Since this is the first time Iceland takes the floor in the third committee during the 59th Session of the General Assembly, allow me at the outset to congratulate you and the other members of the Bureau on your election.
Iceland, as a member of the European Economic Area (the EEA), aligned itself with the statement made by the European Union yesterday, but in addition I would like to stress a few points of special Icelandic interest.
Gender equality is one of Iceland’s priorities at the national and international level. We are among the many supporters of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, both of which we have ratified. We urge all States that have not yet done so, to ratify the Convention and the Protocol as soon as possible. We are concerned about the scope of reservations that countries have made to the Convention.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption by the General Assembly of the CEDAW convention. My Delegation is very pleased that a commemorative event has been organized today to celebrate the anniversary.
We welcome the report of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on its 30th session.
At the 48th session of the Commission on the Status of Women the commission agreed upon conclusions on “The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality” and “Women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building”. It is our view that the participation of men and boys in achieving gender equality is of great importance. During our presidency in the Nordic Council of Ministers Iceland has focused on the issue of closing the gap between women’s and men’s salaries and on the importance of promoting a reconciliation of occupational and family responsibilities.
The 49th session of the CSW in 2005, at which Iceland will take a seat as a member of the commission, will be a very important event in the field of women’s issues and promotion of gender equality. The session will be dedicated to the review of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. Iceland stays fully committed to the Beijing Platform for Action and the Beijing +5 declaration and outcome document. The CSW49 will provide an excellent opportunity to take stock of implementation of commitments made and to identify where we need to step up our efforts towards full implementation. Women’s issues are closely related to other issues such as development. Therefore, we concur with the view that the review of the Beijing Platform for Action requires us also to look at other events of the United Nations, especially the Major Summit in 2005.
We have come a long way in improving the rights of women during the past decades. While a lot of progress has been made - including through international instruments - we still have to remain vigilant regarding women’s rights and gender equality.
My delegation has, during previous third committee debates on the advancement of women, stressed its issues of concern. I’d like to emphasize them once more. Firstly, trafficking in women and girls – a modern time slavery which is on the increase. Secondly, violence against women, not the least domestic violence. Third, restrictions on the freedom of movement of women in some countries. Fourth, lack of women’s participation in political life and the unequal pay of men and women. Fifth, the reproductive rights of women. As I said, we have previously elaborated on all the Icelandic concerns.
Lastly, I’d like to say that my delegation appreciates highly the opportunity to discuss in an open debate of the Security Council on 28 October the issue of women, peace and security, on the fourth anniversary of resolution 1325. We look forward to a fruitful and useful debate there.