I am very pleased to welcome you all to this discussion.
The rights of women and girls to full, equal and meaningful participation in decision-making and in public life and to be free from all forms of violence are at the heart of the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity. These rights are essential not only for the full enjoyment of all human rights of women and girls but also for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Secretary-General’s call to action for human rights places rights at the centre of sustainable development, and urges the international community to support efforts towards the equal rights of women and girls in line with international human rights standards.
The background report prepared for this panel highlights actions taken by the United Nations system and regional organizations to support the efforts of member States in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls. In the same spirit, States seeking to benefit from the United Nations Programme of Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights are invited to submit a request for such assistance to the OHCHR Secretariat.
Distinguished delegates and friends,
Our Office, together with the rest of the United Nations system and regional and national partners, is supporting States to translate international human rights standards and commitments into national legal and policy frameworks. To highlight a few concrete examples, which can serve to inform our discussion today:
States were supported to promote inclusive electoral processes, including through technical assistance to electoral stakeholders. In Iraq, ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections, the Supreme Committee of the Council of Ministers was established, and UN-Women provided technical assistance for the development of an Electoral Code of Conduct with provisions to address the barriers, including violence, faced by Iraqi women to participate in political life. The committee also trained, in coordination with the High Elections Commission, 669 female candidates for the parliamentary elections. As a result, 96 women were elected into the Iraqi parliament, exceeding the national quota of 25 per cent by 13 seats.
Investing in the economic empowerment of women and girls is essential for nurturing their political aspirations and promoting their public engagement. In Türkiye, UNDP and the Sabanci Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Family and Social Services and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, launched the Young Women Building Their Future Project to empower and promote the active participation of young women in economic and social life through vocational training, mentoring and employment opportunities.
A key component of technical cooperation for promoting women’s participation has involved building the capacities, skills and expertise of women to participate in public life and exercise leadership. In Colombia, the Presidential Council for Women’s Equity, together with UN-Women and national partners, created the Leadership School of Women for Colombia with the objective of inspiring women to represent their communities and actively participate in decision-making processes. As of March 2022, 4,500 women had completed their training and more than 10,000 women were enrolled. Of the 3,500 women who enrolled in 2021, 62 per cent were aspiring to hold an elected position.
States have been supported to generate evidence-based research, knowledge and tools to inform the development of targeted policies and measures that promote women’s equal political participation, combat violence and ensure a safe environment for them to exercise their rights. In the Pacific, our Office launched in 2021 a report on the situation of women human rights defenders in seven countries in the region, and is using this study to develop a protection strategy for women human rights defenders and conduct relevant capacity-building activities.
Finally, States have received support to ensure that women and girl victims of violence have access to comprehensive support services. Togo, with support from UNFPA, launched its first holistic care centre, called the One Stop Centre, providing medical, psychosocial and legal services for victims of gender-based violence, and established a legal aid fund for women and girls who are victims of violence.
The international community must work collectively to protect the gains made with regard to the rights of women and girls, and to urgently advance their substantive equality. This panel discussion will highlight more concrete examples of, and opportunities for, technical cooperation in advancing the rights of women and girls to effective participation and to freedom from violence, making use of the expertise available within and across the United Nations system and other actors.
Our Office remains ready, working closely with the United Nations and other partners, to support the efforts of member States to achieve full gender equality and to empower all women and girls, everywhere, in order that no woman or girl is ever left behind.