General Assembly - 23rd Special Session
ALE. Ms. Margareta Winberg
Minister for Gender Equality
5 June 2000
PERMANENT MISSION OF SWEDEN TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Madame Chairperson, Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Sisters from all over the world, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In addition to what was stated by the Minister of Portugal on behalf of the European Union this morning, I would like to add the following.
The adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action was a great achievement, but it has only taken us part of the way towards gender equality. The Secretary-General demonstrated in a very good way the present unequal situation we have.
Let me add the unacceptable fact that, five years after Beijing, a recent analysis of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has demonstrated that gender only accounts for some 3 % of UNDP core expenditures.
Another alarming fact is that 25 years after the first UN Conference on women, only 10-12 % of the world's parliamentarians are women. The male structure consists.
The Nordic countries continue to be exceptions. The Swedish government has 11 female ministers out of 20, and women constitute 43% of all parliamentarians. We have, however, recently been joined by South Africa, where firm actions by women in political parties have resulted in women obtaining a third of all seats in Parliament. This shows that fundamental changes are possible, provided there is political will and political commitment.
Now we all must ask ourselves "Is there a political will for changing in our countries and in the UN?"The answer must be yes. Because that is needed for the full implementation of the actions enumerated in the Beijing Platform, and the UN must be in the forefront setting normative targets and carrying out the goals set. The description from the Secretary-General must be followed by action.
A key issue to this end is to ensure reproductive rights and services for women and men - in particular adolescents -which is a strategic part in our own policy for health development.
It is extremely important for young people of both sexes to have access to relevant information and education, which should be given to them in privacy and confidentiality, without the presence of parents. In Sweden this has enabled adolescents to handle their sexuality in a responsible way, with a result of fewer teenage mothers and extremely good reproductive health. Information and education is also a precondition to combat HIV/AIDS.
Madame Chairperson/Mr. President,
Men's violence against women is a violation of women's rights and the worst expression of male dominance and must be condemned and punished wherever it takes place, in public or in private. A broad range of measures are needed for an efficient struggle against gender-based violence in all its brutal forms; domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation and so called "honor killings" - shamed killings as the Secretary‑General said this morning. It is unacceptable that the life of a woman should be seen as less worth than that of a man.
It is our obligation to provide adequate support for the survivors of violence, to prosecute the perpetrators and to combat the violence. We need to develop methods for treatment of men, but also methods for preventive work and break the culture of silence that is prevailing among men.
In Sweden, thousands of men are networking to combat male violence against women. They are brave enough to speak up, not only in protest to violence committed against women, but also in protest to gender based discrimination in general.
So far the work for gender equality has focused far too little on the role of men. The Nordic Ministers would therefore like to share some of the experiences we have gained in this area. I would like to invite you all to our seminar on Men and Gender Equality tomorrow at 3.00 p.m.
Madame Chairperson/Mr. President,
Without the active participation of men in the work for equality, we cannot reach our goals of creating equal societies. I therefore propose that we, in a near future, arrange an international conference on men and masculinity and on how men can cooperate with women and help us attain the goals set for this session: the promotion of gender equality, development and peace.