New York

20 March 2019

Remarks at the Launch of Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030: A Multi-stakeholder Strategy for Accelerated Action

[As delivered by Ms. Ana María Menéndez, Secretary-General's Senior Advisor on Policy]

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
 
I am honoured today to launch Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030: A Multistakeholder Strategy for Accelerated Action.
 
This strategy is both timely and relevant to the theme of this years’ Commission on the Status of Women.
 
Women and girls must be both beneficiaries and active participants in the design of social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure, and this can be achieved more effectively when laws are gender equal and include the specific needs of women.
 
For example, discriminatory land laws which limit women’s ability to own and inherit property prevent them from effectively contributing to food security for their families. This can spiral into malnutrition, higher health costs and lower productivity and income.
 
Women’s inability to pass on their citizenship to their children and spouses can result in family separation, as well as barriers to accessing education, health care and employment in the absence of appropriate identity documents and residence permits. This often results in an intergenerational spiral of poverty and destitution.
 
The impact on migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and persons living in crisis situations can be especially dire. These conditions exacerbate the vulnerability of women and children in such situations and increase the risk of statelessness.
 
These are the voices that we need to be listening to.
 
Today, Jakomba will tell us how discriminatory laws are impacting on girls’ education in communities such as the one she comes from in The Gambia. We look forward to hearing from you.
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is a pleasure for me to launch this strategy on Equality in law for Women and Girls for a number of reasons:
 
It focuses on the repeal or revision of discriminatory laws, not in isolation, but as an important part of a broader legal reform agenda that supports the achievement of gender equality.
 
It aims to fast-track the repeal of discriminatory laws in six thematic areas in 100 countries from 2019 to 2023 and is expected to address the legal needs of over 50 million women and girls.
 
The strategy’s six areas of focus were selected through extensive consultation with partners and aim to eliminate legal frameworks which deepen discrimination in the areas of employment; marriage and family; protection from sexual violence; age of marriage; and nationality.
 
The strategy builds on existing programmes and partnerships which align with and contribute to the objective of eliminating discriminatory laws and further optimizes the benefits of sharing platforms, resources and technical expertise. Examples of such initiatives include the EU-UN Spotlight initiative on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls; the Global Programmes to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage and FGM; the report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment; and the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and the objectives of the Equal Pay International Coalition. 
 
The strategy is truly multi-stakeholder. It is heartwarming to witness the engagement of several regional and inter-regional bodies, civil society organizations and UN agencies.
 
An evaluation to be conducted at the end of 2024 will serve as a basis for reporting on lessons learned and promising practices that will feed into various processes such as periodic reviews of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the High-level Political Forum.
 
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, over 2.5 billion women and girls around the world are affected by discriminatory laws and the lack of legal protections, often in multiple ways.
 
We cannot continue to preside over a preventable catastrophe. We have a duty to reverse this for the sake of Jakomba and her generation. There is no time to waste. We have only three years to implement this strategy. It is not impossible.
 
I declare the strategy duly launched and call on all of us to rally behind it.

Let us get to work.
 
Thank you.