Statement by Rena Tasuja, Counsellor to the Mission of Estonia to the UN on the UN Observance of International Women’s Day , Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for gender equality, March 8, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
Firstly, I would like to thank UN Women for organising this event, and especially I would like to thank the Executive Director for her statement and her efficient leadership of UN Women.
Last year the Commission on the Status of Women commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which has remained the world’s best blueprint for achieving gender equality and empowering women.
While the 2030 Agenda and the Beijing Platform for Action successfully define what needs to be done, it is equally important to discuss how this will be done, including in terms of what exactly is expected from different actors.
Today we should focus on accelerating the 2030 agenda, especially the concrete commitments on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment – and building momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We have much to celebrate today, but progress towards gender equality has slowed in many places. Women and girls make up more than half of the world's population and they are often more deeply impacted than men and boys by poverty, climate change, food insecurity, lack of healthcare and global economic crises. Despite the fact that women in developing countries provide nearly 70 percent of the agricultural labour, they continue to account for over 60 percent of the world’s population who suffer from hunger. And, while more laws exist to protect women from violence, sexual and gender-based violence continue to occur on every continent and in every country, often reaching horrific levels where there is war and conflict.
Therefore we need to go from words to actions. To build stronger economies and healthier societies we need greater women’s participation at all levels, including greater participation of women in decision-making bodies. Effective action is required in addressing the issue of leadership, as it is the key to making Agenda 2030 inclusive. A great leader, former Prime Minister of UK Margaret Thatcher once said “if you want something done, ask a woman”. It is true, worldwide, women continue to take actions and greatly contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement.
In conjunction with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, Estonia, among many other governments has answered UN Women’s call for action to “Step It Up for Gender Equality”:
Estonia has included protection of women in national strategies on conflict prevention and recently adopted its second National Action Plan for years 2015-2019. Estonia is actively promoting women’s rights, gender equality and education and we attach great importance to women and girls’ empowerment, inclusion of women in conflict prevention and sexual and reproductive health. Moreover, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls remains one of the priorities of Estonia’s development cooperation. This is reflected in our contributions to international programs and funds, including UN Women, UNICEF and UNFPA, as well as in our bilateral development co-operation projects, in countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Afghanistan, Armenia, Yemen, Moldova, Central African Republic, Democratic republic of Congo, South Sudan, and many others.
Today, at the International Women’s Day, we call to join the forces and to maintain momentum for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals to achieve full gender equality.
Happy International Women’s Day!