The Nordiskt Forum – New Action on Women’s Rights

Closing speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the Nordiskt Forum on 15 June, 2014, in Malmö, Sweden.

Date: Monday, June 16, 2014

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First of all let me say thank you to the Nordic Ministers and to Nordic civil society. This has been a very important and dynamic forum.

We all need to work together and stay strong for women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality. We need to push for women’s full and equal participation in leadership, political representation and decision-making.

Beijing+20 is our time to create high level political energy and public attention to women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality and to make much greater progress. We cannot take for granted hard won gains. There is backlash and regression so we need to stay strong and expand our circles of friends and allies!

At UN Women our goals are to:

• generate renewed political will and commitment,
• enhance social mobilization and awareness-raising,
• revitalize public debates,
• strengthen the evidence base, and
• increase action and funding!

UN Women stands ready to support all the Member States to ensure that women and men are equal partners and beneficiaries in sustainable development.

We are working with all partners in ongoing national, regional and global preparations for Beijing+20 culminating in the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, in March 2015.

UN Women has made a strong case and will continue to push for addressing the structural barriers to gender equality as priorities for the post-2015 development agenda.

We will continue to push for strong goals and targets to address issues such as:

• women’s disproportionate share of unpaid care work,
• violence against women and girls,
• sexual and reproductive health and rights and
• women’s access to productive resources.

We will continue to push for a gender data revolution and increased investment in this important area.

We will continue to push for a transformative agenda that is rights-based and inclusive to achieve equality for women and girls.

We will continue to push for stronger action to challenge the culture of acceptability and impunity around discrimination and violence against women that we see in every region of the world.

Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment is a matter of human rights.

The protection of women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, is a fundamental condition for sustainable development, and peace and justice.

The realization of women’s human rights is critical to achieving progress in all 12 areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action.

The ability to have a voice and participate in decision-making in all spheres of life is essential to women’s and girls’ freedoms.

We cannot allow the excuses of tradition, culture or religion to be used to trample on the human rights of girls and women. And we can no longer allow the historic under-investment in women and girls to continue.

This under-investment is costing us in lives lost and human suffering. And it is costing us billions and billions of dollars, euros and every other currency in lost productivity, lost opportunity, and lost prospects for peace, justice and sustainable development.

Violence against women alone is estimated to cost between 1.5 and 2 per cent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

We need to step up financing for gender equality.

We need full financing to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to achieve strong results for and with women and girls.
This Nordic Forum paves the way forward. And I thank all of you, the Nordic governments and people for your strong support of UN Women, women’s rights and gender equality. Forward ever, backwards never!

Together we can make the 21st century the century to achieve equality between men and women.