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Statement on Women’s Perspectives on the topics of the agenda of Conference on Disarmament

08.03.2022
Geneva

Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia[*], Montenegro[*]  and Albania[*], the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

Let me start by commending your excellent leadership as the President of the Conference on Disarmament in these difficult times. We appreciate your choice of the topic for today’s focused debate at the occasion of the International Day of Women.

We commemorate this important day as the war in Ukraine rages on. Ukrainians – including many women - fight bravely for their country and showing resilience and courage. They are taking a leading role in the political, military and humanitarian responses. We know that women and girls are particularly impacted by conflicts and displacement, and that they are at heightened risk of violence and gender-based violence. We are appalled by reports of alleged mass rapes perpetrated by Russian armed forces.

On 2 March 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution, which deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine as flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law. The reports of attacks on civilian facilities and of civilian casualties, women, older persons, persons with disabilities, and children are matter of grave concern. Devastating attacks have forced many people in Ukraine, in particular women and children, to leave their homes and flee the country. The Russian Federation bears full responsibility for this act of aggression and loss of life and human suffering it is causing. It will be held accountable for its actions.

Today we also speak to the women of Russia. Women around the world are building movements for peace, and we have seen in many Russian cities women leading peace protests in the face of violent crackdowns and at the risk of their freedom. We stand with you, support you and thank you for your mobilization in a difficult and dangerous time.

Madam President,

These recent developments – and many other situations around the world - underpin the importance of placing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at the centre of all efforts. Ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of all women and girls in all sectors – including a broad range of security issues – is a key priority of the EU, internally and externally, as set out in the EU Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

We commend the UN Secretary-General for the promotion of the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and support his efforts to promote gender equality and improve women’s full, active, equal and meaningful participation and agency, including in leadership positions in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control fora. In this regard, the EU is a supporter of Actions 36 and 37 aimed at full and equal participation of women in decision-making processes.

In the same vein, we also welcome the participation of UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu in our debate today, which reaffirms the UN commitment and engagement to advance this agenda across all sectors.

In business, politics and society as a whole, we can only reach our full potential if we use all of our talent and diversity. Women are key agents for social change, economic development and technological innovation, including also in the sphere of diplomacy and non-proliferation and disarmament; their participation can be ensured by innovative and alternative forms e.g. digital democracy tools. We are encouraged that relevant gender considerations are being included in an increasing number of disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, including in the first Committee resolutions.

However, the Conference on Disarmament is lagging behind. The discussion on gender equality and perspective have been objected by several delegations. Moreover, despite broad support, the Conference on Disarmament was not able to reach consensus on a technical update to its Rules of Procedure to reflect the equality of women and men during its 2021 session. We deeply regret this.

 

Madam President,

Together with human rights, freedom and democracy, equality represents one of the core values that make the European Union what it is. We are committed to lead efforts aimed at equal participation of men and women by example. The EU underlines its determination to make a leap forward in this field by strengthening its own capacity to deliver on issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment. This transformation requires gender-responsive leadership and sufficient institutional capacity.

We are multiplying our efforts across the board. By 2025, 85% of all the EU’s new external actions will contribute to gender equality and women's empowerment.

The EU is ready to cooperate with all countries and other partners, including civil society organizations, women’s rights activists and youth, in order to advance this agenda further.

I thank you, Madam President.

 

[*] The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.