Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland
to the United Nations
Agenda item 43:
Report of the Economic and Social Council,
Iceland has aligned itself with the statement made earlier by my colleague from the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Union and other European states, but would like to add a few comments.
I would like to begin by thanking Ambassador Munir Akram, the president of the Economic and Social Council, for introducing the 2005 Report of the ECOSOC which provides a comprehensive overview of the work of the Council. I would also like to thank the four Vice-Presidents of ECOSOC and the Secretariat for their excellent work and professional leadership in the extensive work of ECOSOC during the various segments which the report so aptly describes. This year Iceland was elected to the Council and is honoured to take part in its important work.
A wide range of key issues were addressed in ECOSOC this year, all of them worthy of further deliberations here today, as so aptly done by previous speakers. I would however, like to focus only on resolution E/2005/31, on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. I believe that by adopting the resolution the UN is creating a good precedent which should encourage all member states to mainstream gender perspective into their own policies, thereby advancing gender equality.
I focus on this issue only for yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the women’s walk out in Iceland. At least 45 thousand women took part in yesterday’s celebrations and Icelandic society came to a standstill.
Gender mainstreaming is crucial when it comes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Poverty is becoming increasingly feminized and it is a fact that the majority of the 1.5 billion people living on one dollar a day or less are women. Women living in poverty are often denied access to critical resources such as credit, land and inheritance. Moreover, their participation in decision-making at home and in the community are minimal. Therefore, it is vital that the policy of gender mainstreaming be implemented, monitored and evaluated on all levels, local and global.
The Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was a groundbreaking step forward in reaffirming the importance of equal participation and full involvement of women in all efforts of the maintenance and promotion of peace. We must strengthen our efforts to secure its full and effective implementation.
A decade has passed since the United Nations Global Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing. Improvements have been made towards gender equality and human rights of women, but our work to ensure and promote gender equality, must continue.
At the United Nations World Summit our leaders reaffirmed the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration, the Platform of action and the outcome of the twenty-third Special Session of the General Assembly. Iceland remains fully committed to the Beijing Platform of Action, the Beijing Declaration and the outcome document.
Yesterday, the 24th of October, marked the 30th anniversary of the women's walk out in Iceland, the day on which 90% of Iceland's women downed tools, both at home and in the workplace, so as to demonstrate the importance of women's contribution to society.
Needless to say, Icelandic society came to a standstill that day.
Despite the great progress Iceland has made in terms of gender equality since then, inequalities remain.
To show their discontent with these continuing inequalities, Icelandic women walked out from work yesterday. It is estimated that over one third of Icelandic women participated in the protest.
And again, of course, Icelandic society came to a standstill.
All stand to gain from increased gender equality. The United Nations is a central instrument for the advancement of these fundamental rights and Iceland will continue to actively participate in translating commitments into action.
I thank you, Mr. President.