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Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms

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2019年9月24日

Theme: Gender-responsive initiatives to accelerate gender equality

Mr. Vice President
Excellencies,
Distinguished panellists,

It is an honor to represent the HC in this annual discussion on gender integration.

More than a decade ago, the – newly established – Human Rights Council adopted resolution 6/30 in which it set out its commitment to consistent and systematic gender integration throughout all aspects of its work, and across the entire human rights architecture. 

Nearly 12 years later there is significant evidence of impact of the resolution:

  • Gender equality is the second most frequent topic on which UPR recommendations are made.
  • This Council’s initiative on the causes and implications of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity – has helped to highlight just how this threat to life for women, girls and infants is a consequence of discrimination and thus a grave human rights concern.
  • The Council’s Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-finding missions increasingly are documenting evidence of the ways in which conflict and crises have differentiated impacts for women, girls; men, and boys and LGBTI people and are also exposing key aspects of the root causes of gender-based discrimination and violence. The recent report of the FFM on Myanmar, for example, which the Council considered at this session, provides analysis of the nexus between the wider socio-economic and political restrictions imposed on women and girls and incidents of sexual and gender-based violence against them.
  • The Council’s expert mechanisms, including Special Procedures, have enhanced our understanding of the gender specific dimensions of human rights violations. The work of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls is fundamental in this regard.   But across diverse mandates too – on torture, health, summary executions, freedom of religion, human rights defenders, cultural rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, leprosy among others - special procedures have highlighted critical gender dimensions pertinent to their mandates and issued recommendations on what that means for State practice.

Excellencies

All human rights are meant for all.  Gender-sensitive human rights analysis and gender-inclusive application of human rights standards are essential if laws, policies and practices to be fully gender relevant.  That matters if our responses to violations are to be fair; if full accountability for violations is be secured; if protection of survivors is to be effective and if prevention and non-recurrence is to be possible.

The equal application of human rights standards to the circumstances of all people, not just some, is the very essence of universality.   Which only underscores how disturbing are contemporary efforts to affect a roll back on women’s human rights; efforts increasingly supported by populist narratives with their racist and xenophobic overtones.

The Council has an important role to play in resisting these regressions including by promoting understanding of the ways in which gender-based discrimination affect African descendant women, women of color, indigenous women, immigrant women, women with disabilities.  The gender integration for which this Council strives must be inclusive of all identities, addressing gender’s intersection with all stratifiers.

Excellencies,

While in human rights treaties and the laws that flow from them Member States have detailed how gender discrimination is wrong in principle – the evidence shows clearly just how wrong gender exclusion is in practice.  The evidence is clear- advancing gender equality brings improvements in quality of life for all of us:  Gender equality is proven to be a much more reliable predictor of peace than is a country’s GDP or level of democracy.  Gender equality is proven to be an economy multiplier - eliminating barriers to women’s workforce participation and promoting women’s participation and leadership, drives economic growth, stability and resilience. 

Tomorrow, as Heads of State and Governments gather in New York to review their implementation of the 2030 Agenda, they must also consider how to more fully unlock the power of gender equality given that the SDG Gender Index has found that 2.8 billion women and girls currently live in countries that are not doing enough to improve women’s lives.

And as the international community then turns to celebration of  the 25th anniversaries of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the Beijing Declaration, the focus must be for more comprehensive application and implementation of these standards; ensuring that legal and policy frameworks protect from, rather than perpetuate, discrimination; ensuring that work environments are free from discrimination and harassment; ensuring that universal health coverage fully integrates sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Mr Vice President

Gender integration also requires concerted efforts to ensure that women are included in leadership roles and in the means of participation in public life.  This is true for the human rights system itself.  While there have been improvements in gender equality of appointments to the human rights mechanisms, that progress was off a low base and more must be done if gender equality is to become a hallmark of all Council bodies. 

Gender integration is in everyone’s interests.  But greater progress - better integration, inclusive relevance and higher participation – will continue to require “leadership and political will on the one hand, and deliberate measures and accountability, on the other”.   

Strong leadership, clear objectives and accountability for their delivery on the floor of this Council, and through its decision-making processes, are key ingredients to fulfil and maintain the role that this peak human rights body can and should make in the spirit and intent of its resolution 6/30.  

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