National Statement – 59th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
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.
To start, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge civil society for its contributions to the preparation for this important meeting. In particular, I would like to thank the non-governmental organisations from New Zealand and the Pacific for their contributions to the national and regional preparations.
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 have made towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
I believe we have many opportunities to make even more of a difference.
As the Secretary General has noted, we are still very far from the vision set in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action.
The international normative framework has supported good progress across many areas, but this progress has been too slow and uneven.
New challenges have emerged and have compounded existing difficulties experienced by many Member States. Conflict is, in many instances, limiting and sometimes reversing progress, and the violation of the human rights of women and girls remains a too common occurrence.
I am heartened to see so many senior figures from around the globe who have gathered here this week, and I believe this demonstrates that there continues to be a strong commitment to collectively tackle these challenges and remaining gaps.
This show of commitment is particularly important as we give shape to the post-2015 development agenda.
Addressing gender equality, the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls in the post-2015 development agenda is essential and necessary to achieving other goals, be that poverty eradication, reduction of inequalities or inclusive economic growth.
2015 marks the thirtieth anniversary of New Zealand’s Ministry for Women. Thirty years on from its establishment in 1984, I am proud that the Ministry maintains a critical role in advising the Government, developing policy, and working with organisations to improve lives for New Zealand women.
Women 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.
We also know that investing in women and girls pays off – there is a flow-on effect for families, communities, the workplace and the wider economy.
As a professional woman who is also proud to be a mother, 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 the governance of New Zealand.
That said, as the Minister for Women, I am also conscious that some challenges for New Zealand women remain. In this regard, I want to make sure women have equal opportunities, equal expectations and are of equal value.
In order to do this, my government is focused on these priority areas:
- Supporting women in the workplace and growing women’s participation in the New Zealand economy, particularly through participation in education and training, as well as encouraging employment in non-traditional roles. We will continue to work to reduce the gender pay gap and address unconscious gender bias.
- Growing and developing our future pool of women leaders, by inspiring them to aim high in their careers and take the next step up from where they are now in the workplace.
- Supporting families, through promoting family-friendly and flexible workplaces.
- Preventing violence against women through the primary prevention of violence, and keeping women safe from harm and preventing the first instance of abuse. In addition, we will work across-government to support victims, reduce reoffending and address causes of violence.
The next two years are particularly important for New Zealand as we serve on the UN Security Council. It is an important opportunity for us to contribute to the Council’s efforts to address the gendered impacts of conflict and the role of women in conflict prevention, protection and sustainable peace.
The agenda set out in Beijing is more valid than ever as the realisation of its vision is still a prerequisite for achieving international development, peace and security.
For New Zealand’s part, you can be assured that we remain committed, both at the national and international levels, to turning the vision of Beijing Declaration and Platform for action into reality on the ground.
I look forward to the remainder of the proceedings this week as we work collectively to identify gaps and challenges, share best practices and innovation, and exchange ideas about how we can achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.