Tena koutou katoa
New Zealand government expresses our solidarity and support for the people of Chile and Haiti. Our thoughts are with the women and families who will be bearing the brunt of the aftermath of these devastating earthquakes.
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, New Zealand reaffirms our enduring commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Over the past fifteen years, New Zealand has made steady advances in the improvement of women’s lives and choices. The major progress has been in access to education and employment at all levels. In the current economic climate, no country can afford to under-utilise women’s skills and talents. That is why a key focus for us is increasing the number of women in leadership and governance positions.
I also consider it vital for New Zealand to play its part in promoting the rights of women and girls internationally. Last year, together with Colombia, New Zealand presented a resolution in the Human Rights Council that, for the first time, recognized maternal mortality as a human rights issue. We are pleased to support the resolution by the US at the Commission this year on the maternal mortality.
We must redouble our efforts to improve access to health services for all women and girls with a focus on emergency obstetric care, family planning, skilled birth attendance.
Discrimination against women such as equal pay and employment opportunities remains the major barrier to the empowerment of women and girls. New Zealand is a long-standing party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This Convention has now achieved near universal status. We call on those few non-State Parties to join without further delay.
Some women face greater discrimination than others. Since the 10th anniversary of Beijing, we have celebrated the adoption and entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As the former Chair of the Convention negotiations, we call on all States to ratify this Convention, which includes a specific provision on women disabilities.
Chair, we deeply regret that we have not made greater progress in combating violence against women. In New Zealand, one in five women will be subjected to violence in their lifetime, compared to one in twenty men.
I reaffirm my government’s commitment to ending this violence.
Our challenge is to be much more upfront in reporting on violence against women. It will only be through knowing the full extent of the problem before us that we can have a real chance of addressing the causes of violence against women and stopping the perpetrators in their tracks.
Chair, in determining the path ahead, we look to the United Nations to provide a stronger, more co-ordinated approach to the empowerment of women and girls.
New Zealand therefore fully supports the establishment of the new UN gender entity and we call on the Secretary-General to appoint the new Under-Secretary-General on Gender without delay.
I would also like to welcome and associate New Zealand with the statement of the Pacific Islands Forum.
By working together towards improving outcomes for women and girls, we are working towards improving outcomes for all people.