I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Last year’s developments have shown the importance of women’s participation in the public, political, social and economic life of society. Women were at the forefront of the change in the Arab world. Women joined together with men to impose changes that what was once thought to be impossible.
Equality between women and men must be a crucial part of any modern society: it is a cornerstone for social and economic sustainability as well as for the fulfilment of the MDGs whose goals can only be achieved if women and girls are at the heart of the global response and the development of the post-2015 agenda. All individuals - irrespective of gender – should have the same possibilities to education, to economic opportunities and to participate at all levels and in all sectors in society.
Girls and women make up half of the world, yet many of the human rights of these 3,5 billlion individuals are not being fulfilled. Many women are refused the right to vote, inherit, owe property, work and even to drive a car. The situation of the world’s women is an area of concern as they are not allowed to fulfil their potential as powerful agents for economic development as well as for peace and security.
A country in which half the population is denied or deprived of its right to contribute on an equal basis to the country’s development is denying itself a valuable resource. The economic empowerment of women will make economic growth and recovery faster and more equitable. Economic empowerment also makes other rights conceivable for women. Empowering women is not a distinct Nordic or a Western value, it's universal.
Gender equality is not only a crucial human rights issue, but also a question of smart economics, which has been confirmed by the World Bank’s Annual Report. Thus strengthening women’s economic status is not only an international obligation but also a powerful tool in increasing productivity, economic growth and prospects for future generations. Not at least in these times of global economic crisis, it seems obvious that we must realize the full potential of all human resources. To achieve this, we must end the discrimination of women in the legal frameworks of the economy: we must for example ensure equality for women on property, land- and inheritance rights.
Shortfalls in these rights are not only the loss of the women affected. They are a loss to the society as a whole. The enhancement of women’s rights should be seen as a possibility for the advancement of countries, politically and economically. Investing in gender equality and women's empowerment, with a special focus on women and girls, has been shown to have a multiplier effect on sustained economic growth and a more just society. Hence, no country can afford to ignore women’s talent, knowledge and capacity in building their societies.
When women take greater part in society - by shaping institutions or taking leading roles in politics or business life - there are clear improvements for the public good. Lasting solutions require the full participation of both women and men. Gender equality should thus been seen as an investment for the future. We should invest in the equality between women and men, and in girls and boys – the leaders of tomorrow. We believe the Human Rights Council has an important role in this regard.
Thank you for your attention.
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