Stefan Priesner: Welcoming Speech at the International Conference on the ‘Role of Women in Formation of Civil Society, Public and Social Construction: Experience of Uzbekistan’

Sep 9, 2015

Excellencies, dear ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here and welcome you today at this important conference that shows strong commitment of the Government of Uzbekistan towards sharing its own experience and learning the best from across the world to advance gender equality.

This year is historical for all the nations as a new sustainable development agenda will be adopted later this month at the UN General Assembly in New York. Governments are united behind an ambitious agenda of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are following on the Millennium Development Goals framework developed in 2000. SDGs and their targets aim to end poverty, combat inequalities and promote prosperity while protecting our vulnerable globe by 2030.

A stronger commitment on gender equality as a critical element in achieving those goals by 2030 was agreed by Member States earlier this year through the Addis Ababa Action Plan on transformative financing for Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment {following the Beijing Platform for Action}.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is no country in the world that enjoys gender equality in full. This is although we know that gender equality is not only an integral part of human rights but it is also a prerequisite of realizing a country’s economic potential. Societies gain not only socially, but also economically when gender inequalities are addressed. A number of studies provide evidence of significant ‘return on investments’ for the countries investing in women’s empowerment

{Example: we are all aware about Scandinavian countries that are on top of the Closing the Gender Gap index (2014) - including Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, largely because of long-standing equality in education and health; a large proportion of women in the labor force, small salary gaps and strong representation in high-skilled jobs.

In Uzbekistan, good achievements in the area of gender equality are observed (MDG 3 – parity in primary and secondary school enrollment is achieved), but as in other countries, there is still a long way to go. Increasing enrollment at tertiary level, promoting job opportunities and most importantly, enhancing women’s share in decision-making.

We see that more women begin to hold management positions in the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and we are delighted to see them today at this conference. Recalling our past and present achievements we need to look even further and ask ourselves what needs to be done in order to further promote participation of women in decision-making positions - in the Parliament, Ministries, local governments – with the goal of eventually reaching parity of {50/50} representation.

Indeed, in most societies women’s role was traditionally associated mainly with family and home, limiting their time for personal and professional development and consequently limiting the ability to enter the political/ decision-making arena. To address this SDGs recognize the value of unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, social protection policies and promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family.

These are important issues that need to be translated at national level through policy and decision-making processes. For this we need women’s voices to be brought to decision making at all levels.

There is a notable link across the world that when women have a strong say in decision-making, they begin to advance gender and family-friendly legislation at national level (Sweden, Netherlands, South Africa and more). We need to hear women’s voices for a more equitable and balanced policy-making.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is why SDG 5 sees equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life at the center of promoting gender equity.

The UN system stands ready to support the Government in implementation of the new sustainable development agenda, and further deepening the efforts towards gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment.

Welcome once again to this important conference.

Thank you!

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