United Nations General Assembly: High Level meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women - New Zealand statement
United States of America
Delivered by Craig J. Hawke, Permanent Representative of the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York
E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa, ka nui te honore, ki te mihi, ki a koutou (Distinguished guests. It is a great honour to greet you all at this important event today)
25 years ago the global community agreed a roadmap to gender equality.
25 years on the global report card for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action could be described as: ‘good progress – should do better’.
It is true that many glass ceilings have been broken – women are much more visible in political and economic leadership; we are closing the gender pay gap, albeit slowly; and, women and girls enjoy improved rights and freedoms today. But, it is not yet equality.
We must raise the ambition across all of the Beijing Declaration’s 12 critical areas – each remains equally important and in New Zealand’s view indivisible. We cannot pick and choose the agenda if we are to fully realise gender equality.
Today’s global challenges threaten that progress. COVID-19, climate change, and the politicisation and erosion of international norms relating to women and girls impact us all, no matter what region we are from.
Achieving gender equality necessitates meaningful outcomes for all women and girls. This requires Governments to recognise and address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi, our country’s founding document, requires a particular focus on Māori women and girls.
We reaffirm our commitment to achieving the shared goal of gender equality at home as well as in our region, the Pacific, and supporting our neighbours in that journey. And, we will play our part globally.
As New Zealand noted in our statement in 1995: we must see that women are empowered politically and economically so that they themselves have the tools and the ability to make the decisions which will bring about real change in their own lives.
This remains true today.
Economic independence for women and girls cannot be achieved if we do not address historical and structural inequalities.
Access to quality and universal education and comprehensive social protection has the power to transform lives. We must support women and their partners to remain in and return to the work force, if and when they choose to have children.
Promoting healthy lives and achieving universal health care and services for all has never been more important. Vital primary health services, including for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, must be protected. The politicisation of health puts lives at risk.
Sexual and gender based violence has long impacted all of our communities, but has unfortunately been further exacerbated during the pandemic. It should not be a big ask that everyone, including women and girls feel safe - at home, and in the community.
Promoting the voices and leadership of women and girls in decision making processes is critical. Unequal power relations and structural forms of discrimination prevent women from engaging with processes that affect them.
On the 20th anniversary of Women, Peace and Security, we must also recognise that women and girls are agents of change critical to sustainable and lasting peace.
25 years ago, we embarked on a journey.
We must heed the call from Beijing and the Sustainable Development Goals to accelerate meaningful action on gender equality.
This is everyone’s responsibility. It is simply non-negotiable and we cannot rest until it is achieved. We owe it to the women and girls of the future.
Ngā mihi nui. Thank you.