Thank you, Mr. Chair,
I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Women Ambassadors’ Network consisting of the women ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the OSCE of Albania, Andorra, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, the EU, France, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Moldova, Norway, San Marino, Slovenia, Sweden, and Türkiye.
We warmly welcome Deputy Prime Minster Ms. Slavica Grkovska and Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office Ms. Liliana Palihovici to the Permanent Council and thank them for their insightful statements.
On behalf of the Women Ambassadors’ Network, I would like to recognize the importance that the International Women’s Day plays in highlighting the need for gender equal societies. Yesterday in the joint meeting of the Permanent Council and Forum for Security Cooperation the Network also highlighted the necessity of implementing the WPS agenda.
Mr. Chair, no participating State can claim to have achieved gender equality. Continued and joint efforts are needed in all our countries. Doing so will bring great benefits to all citizens, regardless of gender.
Gender equal societies – where human rights are fully enjoyed by all – are more secure, democratic, and have better prospects for sustainable, resilient, and prosperous development. Gender equality is good for everyone.
However, UN Secretary General Guterres said earlier this week that it would take 300 years at current rates to close the global gender gap. I believe that we can all agree that this is far too long – we need to step up our efforts.
In all conflict situations or situations of displacement, women and children are particularly vulnerable to abuses. It is of utmost importance that they are protected against sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, and other forms of exploitation, as required by International Humanitarian Law. At this stage, we would like to express our solidarity with the Ukrainian women. They are showing resilience and courage, in military and in civilian roles, defending their country and democracy in the face of Russia’s war of aggression. Russia’s actions put the lives and safety of all civilians at risk.
Mr. Chair, Gender equality is an integral part of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept of security, and all participating States have committed themselves to promote gender equality. In the 1999 Charter for European Security, the Istanbul Document, we committed to make gender equality an integral part of our policies, both nationally and within the OSCE. The 2004 Sofia Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality sets out a plan to ensure the monitoring and implementation of this commitment, as well as to promote and strengthen the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. The Ljubljana (2005), Basel (2014) and Milan (2018) Ministerial Council Decisions are strong commitments that help us to address the alarming prevalence of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, against women and girls in our region. The Milan Ministerial Decision (2018) also recognises the importance of engaging men and boys in addressing the root causes of gender inequality and violence, as well as raising awareness about the impact of negative attitudes, behaviours, and gender stereotypes.
Now is the time to deliver on our commitments. We welcome the Chairpersonship of North Macedonia’s strong engagement in the promotion of women’s effective participation in public and political life, and the eradication of violence against women. The objective to strengthen the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda makes an important contribution to peace and security in the OSCE area.
In connection with today´s meeting focusing on gender equality, the Women Ambassadors’ Network will hand over a box to the Chairpersonship – a gender equality box, that can be filled with concrete gender initiatives for 2023 and beyond. The handover will take place in the Vorsaal upon the suspension of the Permanent Council’s morning session, and we welcome everyone to join. This box was first given from the Network to Sweden at the end of its Chairpersonship in 2021. It was at that time filled with ideas on possible commitments to strengthen equality, drawing upon the work made by the Swedish Chair. This time the Network encourages the Chair to fill the gender equality box with its own initiatives throughout the year and come back to the Permanent Council with a summary of efforts made. We also hope that the Chair, together with the Network, can facilitate in passing forward the box to the next Chair.
In the meantime, we wish you all the best for your efforts to promote gender equality and stand ready to support you throughout the year.
After all, it is about people!