Ministry Statements & Speeches:
Let me start by emphasising that Aotearoa New Zealand is fully committed to the ICPD Programme of Action and the outcomes of its reviews. In line with our collective resolve to build back better, we must all do more to accelerate implementation of the ICPD agenda to achieve a more equitable and sustainable future. We believe that investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment is essential if we are to achieve this.
Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services using a rights-based approach is a critical enabler for achieving gender equality. Access to the full range of safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of contraception and safe and legal access to abortion are essential if we are to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
We note with concern that hard fought advances made regarding these rights have come under significant threat as a result of the global pandemic. It has disrupted access to essential social and health services and increased rates of sexual and gender-based violence and child, early and forced marriage. In many countries, access to quality family planning information and services remains limited, and preventable maternal and infant mortality is high. Against this background, we call on the Commission to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights remain central to its work.
As the Secretary-General asserts in his report: all persons deserve opportunities to engage productively and creatively in the economy. New Zealand is concerned that women and girls, racial, religious and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, rural communities, indigenous peoples and the LGBTQI+ community are often denied those opportunities. We must ensure that everyone is able to benefit from and contribute to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and that women and girls in all their diversity are not left behind.
Aotearoa New Zealand remains committed to empowering women to lead independent and self-determining lives, including the ability to decide freely whether and when to have children. Examples of how New Zealand supports this commitment include: extending parental leave payments to six months; enabling paid bereavement leave in the event of a miscarriage or a stillbirth; providing equitable access to quality methods of contraception; decriminalising abortion; comprehensive sexuality education; and allowing pay equity claims for work which may be subject to systemic sex-based discrimination. Like all countries, New Zealand has work to do, and we are committed to continue our work to achieve equitable outcomes for all women and girls.
Mr Chair, we thank the Commission for bringing us together to reflect on our work to date and the work still to come.
Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to working in partnership to implement the ICPD Programme of Action and the outcomes of its reviews, and to realise sustainable development for all.