“The time to hold strongly to the achievements …and continue being a progressive global force to promote gender equality”

Remarks by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at the opening ceremony of the XIII Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 25 October 2016

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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H.E. Rodolfo Nin Novoa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,

H.E. Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC,

H.E. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA,

Ministers, heads of national women’s machineries and government officials of Latin America and the Caribbean,

Representatives of civil society, women’s organizations and networks, and the feminist movement of Latin America and the Caribbean,

Colleagues of the United Nations System,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Firstly, allow me to acknowledge and extend my condolences for the recent passing of the former Uruguayan President, Dr. Jorge Luis Batlle.

I would like to thank the Government of Uruguay for their generous hospitality. Please allow me to warmly thank Director Mariella Mazotti of INMUJERES for the hard work and dedication to ensure a successful and substantive Conference.

I was very much looking forward to joining you here in Uruguay, a country that has produced inspiring feminists from all walks of life: from politicians and statesmen such as President Tabaré Vazquez, our esteemed HeForShe IMPACT Champion; writers such as Juana de Ibarbouru and Idea Vilariño, who have created a vision of women’s freedom through poetry. Even in such a male-dominated world as football, a passion that all Uruguayans share, renowned footballers have pledged their commitment to end gender inequality by joining our HeForShe ranks, such as Marcelo Zalayeta and Sebastian Fernandez. 

Moreover, Uruguay has become a reference in the region for the significant advances it has achieved, among others, in institutionalizing gender and equality policies, including the creation of a National System of Care, in the provision of maternity, paternity and breastfeeding leave, in the passing of laws related to voluntary termination of pregnancy, in ensuring the right to sexual and reproductive health, equal marriage and the right to gender identity.

What a truly inspiring and fitting venue for this edition of the Conference. I hope that Uruguay’s recognition of equality and rights can serve as an inspiration and guide for the discussions and debates of the next few days here in Montevideo.

I salute Alicia Barcena and our colleagues from ECLAC, with whom we are proud to join forces to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

I bring to all of you the salutations and sincere wishes of success from our Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who regrets not being able to join you in person today. She is following closely the development of the Conference and, as all of us, is looking forward to a progressive outcome.

For us at UN Women, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is a decisive progressive force globally to promote gender equality and women’s rights. In global normative and intergovernmental forces, we can consistently rely on your region to promote and foster solid and forward-looking language and commitments.

Three years ago, I had the privilege of joining you for the previous edition of the Regional Conference in Dominican Republic. At the time, thanks to an intense advocacy effort undertaken by governments, civil society and UN Women, national delegations included in the Santo Domingo Consensus an express reference to the “the need to include gender equality in the development agenda beyond 2015 and to define the outlook and priorities for the future, in relation to both a stand-alone goal on equality and the mainstreaming of gender across the entire set of goals to be adopted under the new sustainable development agenda with a view to ensuring a rights-based approach to development.”

This is the first edition of this Regional Conference since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and there is much to celebrate looking in retrospect.

The decisive global action and advocacy efforts, in which Latin America and the Caribbean played an important role, made it possible for gender equality and the empowerment of women to be central to the Sustainable Development Goals, through a standalone goal and a systematic integration throughout all goals and indicators.

The Agenda that Member States have adopted is truly ambitious and transformative. Its gender equality compact has been included as an end in itself but also as a critical prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable Development. Now efforts must be centred to define and ensure the Agenda’s effective gender-responsive implementation modalities to match the boldness of the commitments we have made and bring about real change in the lives of women and girls.

Over the past decades, the Regional Conference on Women in LAC, has played a key role in highlighting the need for gender equality and the empowerment of women as a prerequisite for development and justice. 

Therefore, in this new time, the Conference is called on to play a key role, by shaping a regional gender agenda that ensures effective implementation of previous agreements at the global and regional levels, including the Consensus of the previous editions of the Conference, and particularly, gender responsive SDG localization, implementation and monitoring.

We applaud the active participation of civil society in this important forum and I am delighted to see so many renowned and prestigious representatives of the Latin American and Caribbean women’s movement here in Montevideo. Your wisdom and your energy are vital to the success of all our efforts in this regard and I look forward to hearing the outcome of the Feminist Forum held earlier today which I unfortunately could not join due to travel.

I would like to close by calling on you to uphold the vision that inspired Agenda 2030 in negotiating and adopting the Montevideo Strategy. In addition to ensuring Goal 5 and the gender equality compact of the SDGs become a lived reality for all women and girls, we have identified enablers for gender responsive implementation that must be considered and committed:

Inspiration from the intergovernmental normative frameworks and human rights conventions including the historic gender equality compact and commitments of 2015 to achieve sustainable development, human rights, peace and security, and humanitarian response and related strategies at all levels. Governments must own the agenda and citizens must too, and both state action and movement building should happen simultaneously.

Implementation – localization through adoption and reform of laws, policies and measures including special measures and actions, the removal of discriminatory laws and policies, and ensuring their  full, effective and accelerated implementation.

Indivisibility of the SDGs and targets—horizontal and vertical.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and all SDGs must deliver for gender equality and women’s empowerment.  In this regard, the prioritization of SDG 5 and gender-sensitive targets threaded across all SDGs in their implementation is a key task for all governments and will have a force multiplier effect on the achievement of all SDGs.

Integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment across all SDGs and the entire 2030 Agenda and systematic mainstreaming in the implementation of its three dimensions, an all-of-government approach including in development assistance activities and initiatives.

Inclusion of all key stakeholders, particularly civil society, women's movements, youth, men and boys, faith-based organizations and the private sector, for movement building, transforming social norms and addressing the needs of all women and girls especially those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization. Not only must the implementation of the 2030 Agenda ensure that no woman or girl is left behind, it must mean that the poorest and most vulnerable groups of women—for example disabled and indigenous women and girls, move forward.

Institutions - creating, empowering, strengthening and resourcing gender equality and women's empowerment institutions at all levels—global, regional, national and local—and ensuring that all key institutions—political, economic, judicial, social, cultural, public services, etc.—work in a gender-responsive manner.

Investment – significantly increased and enhanced financial investment and resource mobilization from all sources, including ODA, to close gender equality gaps at all levels—targeted and mainstreamed, transformative actions for financing gender equality and women’s empowerment as committed to in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Information - generating comprehensive gender equality and women’s empowerment related value chain of data, statistics, indicators, monitoring systems, frameworks, and capacities in SDG implementation, follow-up and review at all levels to assess progress and gaps and guide policies and actions. There are 50 indicators on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Global Indicators Framework on SDGs which require a gender statistics revolution and support.

Innovation – driving political, economic and social innovation that is gender equality through deployment of science, technology and innovation, modalities and means of implementation, information and communications technology (ICT), and media, including social media, innovative partnerships and advocacy platforms is a priority.

Impact – these commitments must lead to actual change in the enabling environment and make systemic and substantive impact on the situation of all women and girls, especially those most marginalized and must be the benchmark for accountability.

We have before us an opportunity to end poverty and transform gender relations irreversibly, with the mission to end gender inequality by 2030. And, here in Latin America, the time is to hold strongly to the achievements and progress women have conquered in the past years and to continue being a progressive global force to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. We are counting on you.

!Muchas gracias!