Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
I am honoured to present the New Zealand Government’s national statement to the Commission on the Status of Women.
New Zealand welcomes and endorses the statement made by the Minister for Women of Kiribati the Honourable Tangariki Reete on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.
I reaffirm New Zealand’s strong commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Vienna Declaration and Programme for Action, the International Conference on Population and Development, UN Security Council resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions relating to the women, peace and security agenda. These commitments have underpinned the positive progress we are witnessing in closing the gender gaps and empowering women. We should celebrate this.
At the same time, the fact that so many senior figures from around the globe have gathered here this week demonstrates that there is still much to do. That is why this year’s priority theme, Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls, is timely and appropriate. For New Zealand’s part, you can be assured that we remain committed to the achievement of the MDGs and working with others to support their efforts to overcome the challenges they face.
Women have, and continue to, play an important role in the political, social and economic fabric of New Zealand. Our first-hand experience tells us that empowering women and girls, and achieving gender equality, is critical to the development of a peaceful, secure and prosperous nation. Investing in women and girls pays off – there is a flow on effect for families, communities and the wider economy.
As a professional woman, mother and wife, I am grateful to those New Zealand women who worked hard to pave the way so that I am able to participate as an equal in my country’s affairs. That said, as the Minister of Women’s Affairs, I am also conscious that some challenges for New Zealand women remain. In this regard, our Government is focused on three priority areas:
A changing demographic, with a large growth in our indigenous Māori, Pacific and Asian communities, is resulting in a trend towards a more ethnically diverse female population in New Zealand. This reminds us that only change is constant and that we need to continually innovate to find new solutions and responses to emerging challenges.
Our growing Pacific communities in New Zealand offer a key source of understanding about how we might share our knowledge and experiences with our neighbours and friends in the wider Pacific region as they strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The Pacific region has a complex report card on its progress towards achieving the MDGs. Progress has been mixed. There are great variations between countries and also the geographical sub-regions of the Pacific; Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.
Most Pacific Island states are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. New Zealand seeks to help ameliorate this by focusing on the Pacific region as the priority for the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The majority of Pacific Island states have made good progress on MDG 2 and have achieved gender parity in primary education. This trend is also continuing into secondary school and in some cases through to tertiary level.
On MDG 3 and MDG 5, Pacific Island states’ progress has been slower.
The Pacific region’s experience has demonstrated that while there have been many positive advancements since the adoption of the MDGs, there are many on-going challenges which will need to be picked up in the Post 2015 Development Agenda discussions.
I look forward to the remainder of the proceedings this week as we work collectively to progress gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.