PERMANENT MISSION OF
TO THE UNITED NATIONS-
TEL. (212) 308-7009
THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ENTITLED "WOMEN 2000: GENDER EQUALITY,
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY"'
5 - 9 JUNE 2000
THE REPRESENTATIVE OF DENMARK
H. E. MS. JYTTE ANDERSEN
MINISTER FOR GENDER EQUALITY
Let me first of all express my Government's full association with the statement made by Portugal on behalf of the European Union.
We can be proud of the results of the UN World Conferences on Women. Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi, and Beijing have made a difference.
The Beijing Platform for Action is a strong forward-looking document. But we must keep moving forward. No setbacks can be allowed. Only then shall we provide hope for women. Hope for those women who experience
- lack of respect for human rights
- violence outside or inside their homes
- lack of influence over their lives and bodies
- lack of decision-making power
- lack of access to education
- lack of coherence between working life and family life,
Gender equality is still not a reality. Progress is too slow. We must focus on action. The political will to push the process forward is not strong enough. We must try harder. We must fight poverty. And we must focus on women, including the disabled. Poverty will remain if women are kept from credit, land, property, education, or decision-making processes.
Women's contributions and opportunities must be fully realized.
In Beijing we committed ourselves to mainstream a gender perspective into all policies and activities. Mainstreaming is not about integrating women into existing structures. It is about changing those structures. Such changes are necessary if both women and men are to participate on an equal footing in the development of their society.
For too long men have been side-tracked in the process. Partnership or a new "social contract" between women and men is necessary. Such a contract should clarify women's contribution to the economy as well asthe contribution of men to family life. Professional and family responsibilities must go hand in hand.
Let me highlight an area where progress is most important.
Trafficking is one of the most degrading violations of women's human rights. A root cause of trafficking is almost always poverty. Women are looking for better lives - not least for their families. In a recent trial in a Danish court a witness, a young Latin-American woman, was asked why she had ended up as a prostitute in Denmark. She answered, "You have no idea of the level of poverty my family and I were facing".
Long-term development is needed to fight trafficking. But other tools must also be utilised. International co-operation is essential to identify those behind the crimes. Traders must be punished and victims must be protected. Negotiations on a UN protocol on trafficking are taking place in Vienna. Let us make them a success!
Human rights instruments are imperative in the fight for women's human rights. All human rights must be respected. And human rights include reproductive and sexual rights.
I am pleased to announce that Denmark was the third UN member to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW-convention. It is my hope that other countries will soon follow. Women need the protocol. The protocol is a political signal that women's rights are human rights and that human rights are women's rights.
Only by keeping women's issues on the agenda will we be able to make progress. Gender equality has not yet been fully achieved.
Tomorrow we shall recommit ourselves to the Platform. We have come to New York to agree on further actions to strengthen and speed up the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Let us demonstrate our political will in action. Let us take important decisions tomorrow. Let us dedicate ourselves to the implementation of these decisions. Let us meet again in five years at the fifth UN World Conference on Women.
Women around the world are waiting for us. We cannot let them down.