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Joint statement by the OSCE Women Ambassadors’ network on International Women’s Day 2021

Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Katrīna Kaktiņa, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia, Permanent Council No.1305, Vienna, 11 March 2021.

Madame Chair,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Women Ambassadors and Representatives to the OSCE of Andorra, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Mongolia, Norway, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, the US and on behalf of my own country Latvia.

We would like to commend the Swedish Chairpersonship for including International Women’s Day on the agenda of today’s meeting and for prioritizing the topic of gender equality throughout the Chairpersonship. It is important to reaffirm that promoting gender equality is a commitment agreed to by all participating States.

UN Women has announced that the overall theme of International Women’s Day this year is “Women in leadership”. What could be a more suitable topic for this year, as the leadership of the OSCE for the first time in its 45-year long history is in the hands of women: the CIO, Secretary General, Chairperson of the Permanent Council, the Chairperson of the Forum for Security Cooperation and Director of the CPC are all women.

We support conflict resolution as a priority of the Swedish Chairpersonship. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the decision on the Conflict Cycle. Women’s participation is crucial at all stages and at all levels of conflict prevention, peace negotiations and peace building processes. Research has shown that women’s participation in peace processes is vital for sustainable peace and long-term solutions. Peace agreements should also include provisions on sexual and gender-based violence.

The OSCE launched a useful toolkit for the inclusion of women in peace processes in 2019, which provides concrete recommendations for increasing women’s direct and meaningful participation at the negotiation table. A concrete means to strengthen women as agents for peace is working through Women Mediators' Networks. At the OSCE, we can step up our efforts to connect women’s networks from various parts of the OSCE area with each other, and to strengthen links to civil society.

A quarter of a century after the Fourth UN World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Generation Equality Forum will take stock of the progress made up to now. Unfortunately, we know that the covid-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected women. The pandemic has exacerbated many problems, such as violence against women and economic inequalities. At the OSCE, we have made progress on gender equality, but more remains to be done. We commend Secretary General Helga Schmid’s commitment to address the remaining challenges across the OSCE Executive Structures. The participating states should do their share across the OSCE region.

Now is the time to deliver on our commitments. We have to fight for equality each and every day. Every day is women’s day.

Dear Colleagues, Men Engage Network aligns itself with this statement. The statement stays open for other alignments that we warmly welcome. The final version of the statement will be distributed later on.

Madame Chair, I would kindly ask you to attach the distributed statement to the journal of the day.