10 October 2016, New York – Statement delivered by H.E. Joanne Adamson, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, General Assembly Third Committee on Item 27: Advancement of Women
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
2016 is proving to be a year of many challenges for women and girls, men, and boys around the globe. More people are on the move than ever before. This human mobility – a phenomenon that has existed throughout time – is testing our political resolve.
Today women and girls represent approximately half of the world’s 1 billion migrants and comprise about half of the numbers of refugee, internally displaced or stateless population. When they are not forced to move by conflict situations or natural disasters, many women’s decisions to migrate are made in response to a combination of economic and social pressures. Some migrate for family reunification. However, violence, extortion, exploitation and multiple forms of gender-based violence are also amongst the reasons why millions of women and girls choose to leave their country of origin.
We know that women and children in refugee camps and IDP settings are at risk of sexual violence and abuse as well as trafficking in human beings for sexual purposes. Throughout the migration cycle, women are more at risk of physical and sexual violence by fellow migrants, smugglers, and even state officers, and can be forced to exchange sex for transport, food, or accommodation. Unaccompanied women and girls, pregnant, disabled and older women are at additional risk.
It is therefore clear that we, the international community, must address migration based on gender analysis and with an integrated gender perspective in order to appropriately respond to the specific protection needs of women and girls on the move. Tailored protection should also be ensured once they reach their final destination. With the New York Declaration adopted at the UNGA Summit of 19 September 2016, the international community has made the commitment to ensure that our responses to large movements of refugees and migrants mainstream a gender perspective, promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and fully respect and protect the human rights of women and girls. This Declaration will strengthen our commitments to reach some of the targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ensure that no one is left behind.
The EU is strengthening its efforts in order to ensure that the specific needs of women and girls who have experienced gender-based discrimination and violence, including sexual violence, are taken into account. This involves ensuring access, at different stages of the asylum procedure, to medical care, legal support, and to appropriate trauma counselling and psycho-social care.
All EU-funded humanitarian aid operations are required to be gender and age sensitive and address the differentiated needs and capacities that women, girls, boys and men face during crises. This is not merely a matter of compliance with EU policy and international legal framework but also a matter of quality programming. By taking into consideration gender and age concerns, the EU ensures that humanitarian aid reaches the most vulnerable, responds adequately to their specific needs and does no harm. To ensure effective implementation of its humanitarian gender policy the EU has invested in capacity building and tools, such as a Gender-Age Marker.
EU development assistance has also boosted efforts to more effectively respond to these challenges.
In the context of the creation of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey and other actions implemented in Jordan and Lebanon, projects and actions are based on gender-sensitive needs assessments, include gender considerations as part and parcel of programming, and ensure that monitoring will allow for tracking the impact that interventions may have on women and girls . In addition we require that our implementing partners ensure that their actions must equally benefit women and girls, as they benefit men and boys.
The EUR 1.8 billion EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is also a good example of this and projects totalling EUR 927 million have already been approved. Our approach is to promote gender equality at grass-root level and protect women and girls along migration routes. We firmly believe that reducing gender inequality and other forms of discrimination, can also help to prevent further violence and abuse and reduce irregular migration.
Beyond migration, the EU has solid frameworks in place that support our partner countries to achieve tangible results towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is key in addressing the root causes for gender inequality and in realizing the full rights and empowerment of all women and girls. The EU is strongly committed to supporting implementation efforts in third countries. The EU will put the Agenda’s pledge to “leave no one behind” at the core of all its efforts to promote women and girls as key actors of a sustainable development.
We have committed to implement actions in four priority areas throughout our external relations: ensuring physical and psychological integrity of girls and women; promoting their economic, social and cultural rights; strengthening their political and civil rights – their voice and participation; and shifting the institutional culture of the European Union, so that we can deliver more effectively on our commitments.
Transformative changes reflected in Agenda 2030 and in Beijing Platform for Action will take their full meaning only when realized at country level. Governments are key actors and carry the primary responsibility to implement their commitments. The EU welcomes the continued dialogue on collective lessons learned as well as the exchange on gaps and challenges for strengthening gender equality and gender mainstreaming within the UN system.
The newly adopted Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy highlights the urgency of full and effective implementation of UNSC Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and placed special emphasis on the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence and participation of women in peace processes and prevention of conflicts. We also stress the relevance of National Action Plans and other strategic documents on the implementation of UNSC Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.
The actions of the European Union in this field are anchored in a firm policy framework which guides our work internally as well as with partner countries. The accomplishments of the Women, Peace and Security agenda are embedded throughout the EU’s external action.
First, we have prioritised efforts to enhance the participation of women in conflict prevention and resolution. We have leveraged, both politically and financially, women’s equal and full participation in peace making and peace building.
Second, we have attached priority to preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. We have systematically followed up on our commitments made at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in June 2014 in London. We have continued to support the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, and all work aimed at an integrated approach to prevent and punish acts of sexual violence, as well as to bring justice, services and reparation to its victims. In this contex,t the EU allocated over € 11 million of its humanitarian aid to Sexual and Gender Based Violence in 2015, including in Syria, the Horn of Africa and Bangladesh. The EU is also committed to global initiatives in this area and has been an active member of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender Based Violence in Emergencies.
Third, we have prioritised work on addressing the gender dimension in countering emerging threats, including terrorism and violent extremism. We have retained our focus on tackling the root causes of violence and extremism through engaging with civil society and local communities. As mentioned earlier, we have also put a premium on the gender dimension of our humanitarian action and our policies related to migration and refugees.
Finally, we have placed priority on strengthening our networks, partnerships and cooperative frameworks. We have stepped up the role of our internal EU Gender Focal Point Network to share best practices, to enhance coordination and to reinforce partnerships, including with civil society and regional and international organisations. We reconfirmed our strategic partnership with UN WOMEN to further strengthen collaboration. We recognise the crucial role that UN WOMEN plays, together with other relevant stakeholders, in mainstreaming gender equality, empowering women, and eliminating violence against women and girls. We welcome and further encourage the enhancement of the gender dimension in the UN peace and security architecture.
The 71st session of the UNGA will see several important resolutions related to the human rights of women and girls; women’s empowerment and gender equality. The EU looks forward to engaging with its partners in making these resolutions as strong as possible. We recognise that important progress has been made in recent years, yet no country has achieved full gender equality. The EU will continue to work in cooperation with all partners to guarantee that civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are enjoyed equally by all, free from fear and violence.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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