I have the privilege of speaking to you today on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
I would like to begin by reaffirming our unwavering commitment to gender equality and to the empowerment of women and girls. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are proud to support UN Women, which, under the leadership of Michelle Bachelet, provides a powerful voice for women and girls around the world. We also reaffirm our commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Millennium Development Goals, which comprise the key international framework for advancing equality for women and girls.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand welcome and strongly support the commitments made at the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Commission on the Status of Women to intensify efforts to address violence against women and girls, including those from indigenous communities. Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to poverty, marginalization and social exclusion, a situation that renders them even more susceptible to violence.
CANZ would like to emphasize here that the issue of violence against women and girls cannot be fully addressed without the active engagement of men and boys.
CANZ also strongly supports the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and its related resolutions, including those addressing conflict-related violence. Eleven years after the adoption of the resolution, our world continues to face challenges in protecting women’s rights in conflict-related situations. We also face challenges in ensuring women’s effective participation in all responses to conflicts, crises and political transitions, and in peace-building. All three welcome the progress on the global indicators thus far and calls on all member states to commit to concrete, time-bound and measurable actions to ensure the aims of Resolution 1325 are realized.
We very much look forward to the findings of the study on violence against women and girls with disabilities, which is currently being undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This important work will enhance understanding of the intersection of gender-based violence and disability. It will also promote respect for the human rights of women living with disabilities.
CANZ also looks forward to the annual discussions on women’s rights that will take place next June. Our 2012 discussions will address the challenge of making reparations to women subjected to violence while focussing on both transformative and culturally sensitive solutions.
Further, CANZ welcomes the report of the United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. The report represents a significant step forward in realizing the goals and objectives of the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. It sets out 10 action-oriented recommendations to ensure delivery of long-overdue results. Successful implementation of the recommendations will require the active participation of all parties – donors, partner governments and communities. We believe that by working together, we can improve the lives of women and children and accelerate progress on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Within the context of the Global Strategy and as reviewed by the Commission on Information and Accountability, CANZ agrees that better promotion and protection of women’s rights will help reduce the unacceptably high global rate of maternal mortality and morbidity. We firmly support the commitments made in this regard by the Human Rights Council and look forward to the upcoming expert workshop to be convened by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The workshop will provide technical guidance on applying a human rights-based approach to policies and programs to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand are concerned by the high levels of discrimination still experienced by women and girls around the world. The working group appointed by the Human Rights Council in March 2011 will be an important resource for all Member States. We warmly welcome the independent experts on discrimination against women in law and in practice and looks forward to their contributions.
While the United Nations has taken an important step toward ending persistent gender discrimination, equality has yet to be achieved. CANZ believes Member States need to take active measures, including involving men and boys, to improve the status of women and girls, particularly with respect to safety, economic well-being and their status in society.
Despite progress, girls continue to face numerous barriers to development and freedom from harm. At its most recent session in March of this year, the Commission on the Status of Women reviewed the progress on the implementation of commitments, noting that violations of girls’ rights persist worldwide. The Commission concluded that greater efforts are needed to address equality gaps.
Last week, three women from Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize and, quite rightly, they were widely recognized and congratulated.
One of them was the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The world knows everything about these women because of their success.
But we will never know the secret struggles that millions of young girls across the world fight and lose every day to break the barriers they face in health, in education and in the challenges of everyday life.
I have met some of these girls and I have beside me here today one of them.
I have listened to their story.
I have been moved by what they had to say.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand agree that an International Day of the Girl would help raise awareness of these struggles and help these young girls improve their life, the life of their community, their village, their town and maybe their country.
That is why we are seeking support of all Member States for our initiative to declare an International Day of the Girl.