Australia-UN Women joint press conference

Date : 23 August 2012

Good morning,

It is wonderful to be here in Australia and to be joined by Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr.

One of the main reasons for my visit here is to thank Australia.

I would like to thank the Government and people of Australia for their strong support to UN Women and leadership for gender equality and women's empowerment.

UN Women is the newest agency of the United Nations. We were created in 2010 to accelerate progress for women worldwide.

Our top five priorities are:

  1. Advancing women's political participation and leadership
  2. Enhancing women's economic empowerment
  3. Ending violence against women and girls
  4. Expanding women's participation in peace talks and peace building, and
  5. Supporting gender-responsive plans and budgets that benefit women and men, and boys and girls, equally

UN Women is a strong advocate for women's health and education and for reproductive rights and family planning.

Australia is one of the top supporters to UN Women, both politically and financially. This support goes a long way in advancing women's rights and equal opportunities here in the Pacific and worldwide.

From training the military and police to protect women's rights, to providing skills to women entrepreneurs, to providing services to survivors of sexual violence, Australia is supporting women's empowerment and equality on the ground.

I commend Australia for its leadership in promoting equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men, and for taking action to end violence and discrimination against women and girls.

UN Women looks forward to continued and strengthened cooperation with Australia, particularly here in the Pacific.

We have programmes underway and plans in the pipeline to advance women's role in politics, in the economy, and in managing climate change and reducing risks from natural disaster. We are also working together to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

Right now the Pacific, excluding Australia and New Zealand, has the lowest rate in the world of women in parliament, at only 3.5 percent compared to 20 percent globally. So we are working to get more women to vote and be elected.

We are also working together to open up opportunities for women in the economy, in the labour market. We are doing this by focusing on training and skills, and advancing policies and laws for equal rights and opportunities.

Given climate change and the threat it poses to Pacific Island States, we are working together to ensure that women are part of the solution and fully engaged in planning and decision-making.

And finally, we are working to end high rates of violence against women. In Australia one in three women experiences violence in her lifetime and in some countries in the Pacific, two in three women are subject to abuse and violence. So this is a very serious issue.

And we are drawing on the innovative and comprehensive programme in Victoria as a model to be shared in other countries in the Pacific.

This involves ending impunity and bringing offenders to justice, raising awareness for zero tolerance, and providing survivors with essential services such as housing, legal aid and medical and social support.

UN Women would not be able to do all that we do without the strong support of Australia.

I thank you very much and look forward to your questions.

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