8th March 2023.
Thank you, President,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on International Women’s Day on behalf of Finland, Mexico and 66 States.
This year we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Hence, this seems to be the right time to reflect on how much has been done, and actually achieved to effectively ensure that all women, adolescents and girls around the world fully enjoy and exercise their human rights.
The Declaration clearly establishes that everyone, has the right to education; to equal pay for equal work; to freedom of opinion and expression; to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; to freedom of movement, among others.
Then why, after 75 years of building upon this foundation and having developed a set of international treaties and standards aiming to achieve equality for all, are we still observing that human rights and fundamental freedoms of all women, adolescents and girls continue to be contested and eroded.
Almost a century ago, we all agreed that equal rights are key to ensuring freedom, justice, and peace. Such a universal principle was, is and will always be applicable. We cannot allow this bedrock to be challenged.
This is a wake-up call. We must be vocal on emphasizing why the respect, protection and fulfillment of women and girls’ rights, including full, equal, and meaningful participation in all spheres of political and public life are indispensable for sustainable peace and development. We must ensure that women are at the table in all political decision-making processes.
We shall not allow crisis situations, conflicts, health emergencies or any other global challenges to exacerbate gender-based discrimination and violence, or other harmful practices. It is indispensable to overcome any social and institutional patterns that could lead to women, adolescents and girls’ exclusion or marginalization.
It is time to redouble our efforts to effectively implement our human rights obligations, and we should start by transforming our norms, structures and legal and policy frameworks. For example, States should invest in creating comprehensive care systems to adequately value care work and redistribute it so that women, adolescents and girls can fully enjoy their rights and educational, professional and economic opportunities.
We must protect and amplify the voices of all women and girls human rights defenders and activists. Their role has been – and continues to be – crucial to make progress on this agenda. It is necessary to take concrete actions to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, both online and offline, support victims and survivors, and guarantee their access to justice and effective remedy.
We must address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, meeting specific challenges of structural and dynamic consequences of the interaction between two or more grounds of discrimination. For instance, efforts should be channeled to address the digital gender divide and promote all women and girls’ access to new and emerging digital technologies on equal grounds.
We should ensure adequate means for women, adolescents and girls to exercise sexual and reproductive health and rights with comprehensive strategies encompassing health, autonomy, education and justice.
Equality is the core of the Universal Declaration, and there is no space for regression. We cannot allow discrimination, disinformation, fear, or detrimental trends to hold women and girls back and hinder their rights. We must keep working constructively to advance standards and put in place practical measures that can translate into tangible changes into the daily lives of all women and girls’, including by placing women and girls at the forefront of decision-making processes.